Tag Archives: Rep. Jim Cooper

Ogles Claims TN-5; Valadao Trails in New CA Poll; Salazar Holding Lead

By Jim Ellis — August 5, 2022

Primary Results

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles

Tennessee: Ogles Claims 5th District; Dem Gov Undecided — The Volunteer State voters engaged in the country’s only Thursday primary, and the open 5th District (Rep. Jim Cooper-D retiring) was the evening’s key race. The crowded Republican primary winner was Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. He defeated former state House Speaker Beth Harwell and retired National Guard Gen. Kurt Winstead along with six others.

Redistricting transformed this seat into a Republican domain, so Ogles becomes a heavy favorite to defeat state Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) in the general election. The three incumbents who faced competition, Reps. Charles Fleishmann (R-Chattanooga), David Kustoff (R-Germantown), and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) were all easily renominated.

The Democratic governor’s nomination is still undecided. With 98 percent of the vote counted, physician Jason Martin leads Memphis City Councilman J.B. Smiley Jr. by only 1,468 votes. Gov. Bill Lee was unopposed in the Republican primary. He will be the prohibitive general election favorite over either Martin or Smiley.

House

CA-22: Rep. Valadao Trails in New Poll — California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) represents the most Democratic district in the nation that elects a Republican to the US House, and redistricting made the seat tilt even further away from the congressman. The jungle primary saw him qualify for the general election, but with only 26 percent of the vote as he finished in second place.

A newly released David Binder Research poll (July 13-15; 600 likely CA-22 general election voters) finds state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) leading Rep. Valadao 43-35 percent as the general election campaign in California’s Central Valley is now fully underway. We can expect this race to close tight, but it is one of the best Democratic opportunities in the nation to convert a Republican seat.

FL-27: Rep. Salazar Holding Lead — Despite inheriting a slightly more favorable district for Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami) post-redistricting, but one that still favors the Democrats, a new Alvarado Strategies Poll for the Floridians for Economic Advancement PAC (July 26-29; 440 likely FL-27 general election voters; online) stakes the congresswoman to a lead slightly beyond the polling margin of error. Though the ballot test shows a large undecided factor of 27 percent, Rep. Salazar posts a 39-34 percent margin over state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami).

NM-2: Dead Heat — Freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamorgordo) was dealt a difficult blow in redistricting, and a new Global Strategy Group poll conducted for Democratic nominee Gabe Vasquez, a Las Cruces City Councilman (July 19-25; 500 likely NM-2 general election voters; live interview), projects a dead heat already forming for the general election. According to the GSG survey, Vasquez would hold a slight 45-44 percent edge over Rep. Herrell. The 2nd District was drawn as a D+4 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization transforming it from the R+14 seat that Herrell currently represents.

Governor

Minneosta: Gov. Walz (D) in Tight Race — A just-released Cygnal group survey of the Minnesota electorate (July 18-19; 500 likely Minnesota general election voters; live interview & text) sees Gov. Tim Walz (D) leading presumed Republican nominee Scott Jensen, a physician and former state senator, but only by a few percentage points. According to the Cygnal poll, Dr. Jensen trails the governor by a tight 50-46 percent margin. The Minnesota primary is Tuesday, but Dr. Jensen faces only minor Republican opposition by virtue of his state party convention victory earlier in the year.

The Cygnal poll found Gov. Walz with a 49:45 percent favorability rating and Dr. Jensen scored a 32:24 percent positive index. President Biden’s rating is an upside down 42:56 percent positive to negative ratio. Within the polling universe, 43 percent believe Minnesota is on the right track, while 48 percent feel the state has veered in the wrong direction.

Rep. Jim Cooper to Retire;
Alabama Map Tossed

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 27, 2022 — The Tennessee state Senate passed the state House version of the new 9-District congressional map on Tuesday, which led to a political move. The redistricting plan now goes to Gov. Bill Lee (R), and he is expected to sign the legislation.

Retiring Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville)

Upon passage of the new map that would significantly change the Nashville area, veteran Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) quickly announced that he will not seek re-election later this year.

The map drawers divided Davidson County, which houses the Democratic city of Nashville, and split it among three districts: Cooper’s 5th, Rep. John Rose’s (R-Cookeville) 6th CD, and Rep. Mark Green’s (R-Clarksville) TN-7.

The effect creates a new 5th District that moves from a victory margin of 60-37 percent for President Biden to a seat that former President Trump would have carried 54-43 percent according to the Daily Kos Elections site statisticians. Both Reps. Rose and Green would continue to have solid Republican seats even with the Davidson County additions to their districts. Under the plan, the Tennessee delegation is expected to move from 7R-2D to 8R-1D.

Cooper is serving his 16th term in the House, winning his first election from the state’s east/southeastern 4th District in 1982, which he represented until he ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1994. He returned to the House from the Nashville district in 2002 when then-Rep. Bob Clement (D-Nashville) left the seat to challenge then-Sen. Fred Thompson (R), the same man who defeated Cooper in his statewide bid.

During his second tour of duty in the House, Rep. Cooper was not seriously challenged for re-election. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee where he chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. He also is a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and the House Budget panel. It appeared that Cooper was preparing for a Democratic primary challenge this year, but that is moot now that the new 5th District becomes decidedly Republican.

Rep. Cooper is the 29th Democrat not to seek re-election. Counting the Democratic and Republican retirements along with the new and created (through redistricting) open seats, the House will see a minimum of 50 new members coming into office at the beginning of 2023.
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Rep. Hollingsworth to Retire;
Tennessee Map Advances

By Jim Ellis

Indiana Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Jeffersonville)

Jan. 14, 2022 — Three-term Indiana Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Jeffersonville) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in the autumn, becoming the 12th Republican to retire in this election cycle. The congressman’s retirement decision means at least 46 seats will be open in the 2022 House election.

Saying, “I ran for Congress to return this government to the people from the career politicians who had broken it, and I will be damned if I become one in the process,” Hollingsworth will draw his congressional career to a close after six years. When he first ran in 2016, he pledged to serve no more than four terms. He expresses a desire to return to the private sector.

Indiana’s 9th District occupies most of the state’s southern sector and for years was a Blue Dog Democratic area. For 17 terms, Congressman Lee Hamilton (D), who became chairman of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees, represented the district. Democrat Baron Hill succeeded him in 1998, and served until his defeat at the hands of Republican businessman Mike Sodrel in 2004. Two years later, Hill recaptured the seat and held it until his second loss in 2010, this time to attorney Todd Young (R) who is now the Hoosier State’s senior senator.

Since the Young victory in 2010, the 9th has performed as a solid Republican district. Donald Trump carried in the seat in 2016 with a 61-34 percent margin, and again in 2020 with a similar 61-37 percent vote spread.

Under the new Indiana congressional map, the new 9th moves to the north and east, but retains its population centers in Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany, all across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY, and in the college town of Bloomington where the Indiana University resides.

Dave’s Redistricting App rates the new seat as a 59.7 percent Republican domain, while the FiveThirtyEight statistical site projects the new IN-9 with an R+30 rating, up from R+27 on the current map. The Republican primary is expected to be crowded and competitive. The Indiana candidate filing deadline is Feb. 4 for the May 3 statewide primary.
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The Tennessee Rumor

Tennessee Congressional Districts (click on image to see larger)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2021 — Unconfirmed stories from Democratic sources are flying around the Internet suggesting that the Tennessee Republican state legislative leadership is in the process of drawing a new congressional map that would shred Rep. Jim Cooper’s (D-Nashville) seat and convert the current 7R-2D map into 8R-1D.

This may well be happening, but when looking at the population densities in each of the state’s nine congressional districts, drawing such a map may be unavoidable and not entirely partisanship-driven. The problem for Cooper and the Democrats is not the congressman’s Nashville-anchored 5th District. Rather, the Memphis seat of Rep. Steve Cohen (D) is the source of their difficulty. It is this 9th District, with a major population shortage and unfavorable geographic boundaries from a redistricting perspective, that could adversely affect Rep. Cooper.

Despite Tennessee ranking as the 17th fastest growing domain during the previous decade, the Volunteer State did not gain a new congressional seat in reapportionment. Additionally, and the fundamental problem for Rep. Cooper, middle Tennessee is experiencing explosive growth, while the east and the west are inhabitant deficient, at least from a congressional district equivalency perspective. Rep. Cohen’s Memphis anchored seat is the least populated of the nine CDs and must gain 77,122 people to meet the new Tennessee congressional district population requirement of 767,871 individuals.

As you know, Memphis sits in the far southwestern corner of Tennessee. Therefore, the Cohen district is bordered by Arkansas to the west and Mississippi to the south. Thus, the people needed to fill the 9th can only come from the north and east. To further complicate matters, the TN-9 is a Voting Rights majority minority district and must remain with relatively constant minority population numbers.

Additionally, the 8th District of Rep. David Kustoff (R-Georgetown), that stretches from Kentucky to Mississippi and the only place from where the 9th District can annex the people it needs, is also under-populated. To meet its own population requirements, the 8th CD must gain 51,524 inhabitants, hence having to stretch closer to the Nashville area districts, which is how Cooper’s Nashville seat factors into Memphis’ population swing problem. Combined, these issues making drawing western Tennessee difficult.

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Community Activist Odessa Kelly Gets Backing From Justice Democrats to Challenge Tennessee Rep. Cooper

By Jim Ellis

Community activist Odessa Kelly (Photo: Odessa Kelly campaign)

April 7, 2021 — In what could be the beginning of a national trend developing against perceived moderate Democratic incumbents, community activist Odessa Kelly on Monday announced a party primary challenge against veteran Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville).

What makes this candidacy potentially more serious is her backing from the Justice Democrats national political action committee that posted a successful 2020 election cycle. The group is most closely associated with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) and the other members of “the Squad” — Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

The Justice Democrats successfully backed Jamaal Bowman’s successful Democratic primary challenge of 16-term New York Rep. Eliot Engel, and they won another New York primary election with attorney Mondaire Jones in an open race to succeed retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D).

They also supported two other individuals who upset Democratic incumbents, Illinois challenger Marie Newman, opposite then-Rep. Dan Lipinski, and Cori Bush in St. Louis who defeated 20-year congressional incumbent Lacy Clay (D-MO). Overall, they endorsed nine non-incumbent Democratic challengers in primaries and were successful in five races.

Their two biggest losses came in Massachusetts and Texas. The failed to dislodge House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and veteran Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), though both campaigns were highly competitive.

Combined, the nine non-incumbents who the Justice Democrats supported spent an average of $2.25 million, meaning that a potential Odessa Kelly candidacy in Tennessee against Rep. Cooper could well become serious, at least in terms of available resources.

Tennessee’s 5th District contains the capital city of Nashville and all of Davidson County. The CD also includes to the west the neighboring county of Dickson and three-quarters of Cheatham. Demographically, the seat is 60.4 percent non-Hispanic white, 25.0 percent black, and 9.2 percent Hispanic. The gender division breaks 51.7 percent female. A total of 12.3 percent of the population is foreign born, which is a high number when compared to other districts around the country.

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