Tag Archives: Rep. Michelle Steel

A Look at Primary Results
From Across Seven States

By Jim Ellis — June 8, 2022

Primary Results

Wealthy developer, former Republican and now Independent Rick Caruso surprised many by claiming first place in the open Los Angeles mayor’s race last night.

California: The Golden State’s Mixed Results — Wealthy developer, former Republican and now Independent Rick Caruso surprised many by claiming first place in the open Los Angeles mayor’s race last night; he topped US Rep. Karen Bass (D) by five percentage points. Far left San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled with 60 percent of the vote, and the down-ballot congressional results look to yield some interesting general election campaigns.

On positive notes for the GOP, former state Assemblywoman Connie Conway successfully won the special congressional election in the 22nd District and will assume office immediately after race certification to fill the unexpired portion of resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ final congressional term. Additionally, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), in a district that was made more Democratic through redistricting, finished substantially ahead at this point, 50-35 percent, over former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), the opponent he has twice beaten including a 333-vote win in 2020. An estimated quarter of the vote remains to be added, so these numbers will change at least to a degree, but the pair will again advance into the general election.

Two Central Valley seats have very low vote totals reporting, but both are interesting. In the most Democratic district in the nation that a Republican represents, Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) badly trails state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), 47-26 percent, but with less than 15,000 votes counted. Surprisingly, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) holds only a 36-29 percent edge over San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R), but with less than 14,000 votes tabulated. In the neighboring new 13th District, Republican farmer/businessman John Duarte appears positioned to capture second place and is running just two percentage points behind state Assemblyman Alex Gray (D-Merced) with over half the votes counted. This appears to be a competitive race come the fall.

In Orange County, incumbent Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra) appears to be placing second in the jungle primary but will advance to the general election. Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County), after trailing most of the night, did place first in her new 45th CD and advances into the general election against Community College Trustee Jay Chen (D) as expected. Former state Assemblyman Scott Baugh, who was thought to be a strong Republican challenger to Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) in the coastal Orange County seat, saw the incumbent top 50 percent, some 20 points ahead of him, meaning this race may not be as competitive in November as once predicted.

The California counting, with almost all votes coming in through the mail and ballots accepted after the election will drag on for a period of weeks, so we won’t have final totals for some time.

Iowa: Admiral Franken Wins — Early in the election cycle, it appeared that former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer had the inside track to the Democratic US Senate nomination, but such was not to be as retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken easily defeated her by a 55-40 percent count to claim the party nomination. He will face Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who won a landslide re-nomination for what would be an eighth six-year term.

The governor and House races, most of which were unopposed last night, all turned out as predicted. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) runs for a second full term and will square off against Democratic marketing consultant Deidre DeJear. As expected, state Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Altoona) was an easy Republican primary winner in the state’s 3rd District. He will now oppose two-term Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) who has yet to reach 50 percent in any of her campaigns. Freshmen Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) and Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) will both defend their competitive seats each against a pair of sitting state legislators, state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) and state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha), respectively.

Mississippi: Incumbents Forced to Runoffs — It appears two Mississippi GOP congressional incumbents, Reps. Michael Guest (R-Brandon) and Steve Palazzo (R-Biloxi) will have to run in a secondary election to win re-nomination, an ominous sign for any southern incumbent. Because a majority of the voters chose a candidate other than the incumbent, a runoff vote will occur on June 28 between the top two finishers. Therefore, both Reps. Guest and Palazzo face difficult re-nomination prospects at the end of this month.

Rep. Guest and Navy Reserve officer Michael Cassidy will apparently battle in the 3rd District runoff election though about 15 percent of the estimated turnout is still outstanding. The two candidates are both hovering around the 47 percent mark, so it is unlikely that enough votes remain outstanding to allow one of the two to reach 50 percent. Challenger Cassidy labeled the incumbent as being too moderate, citing his vote to create the January 6 Commission, among other actions to justify his attack. Six-term Rep. Palazzo is under an ethics investigation for using campaign funds for personal use, and managed to only break 30 percent. His opponent looks to be Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell, who is clinging to second position but with almost a quarter of the votes still to be tabulated. Businessman Clay Wagner lags just over 2,000 votes behind Ezell in third position.

Montana: Tight Race Favoring ex-Rep. Zinke — In a surprisingly tight congressional race for Montana’s new western congressional district, a seat the state gained because of its strong population growth in national reapportionment, former US Interior Secretary and ex-Congressman Ryan Zinke appears to be successfully returning to the House but in a very close margin. At this writing, Zinke leads former state senator and frequent statewide candidate Al Olsewski by just about a percentage point as the final votes are being tabulated. The small margin will probably hold meaning that Zinke will become the new 1st District’s official Republican standard bearer. The final primary result should pave the wave for him to complete his political comeback attempt this November.

New Jersey: Key Re-Match Set — Without a statewide race on the ballot in 2022, New Jersey appears politically quiet this year. The top race in the state is a 7th District re-match between Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) and former state Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R). The two battled to a 51-49 percent finish two years ago. Kean easily defeated a crowded Republican field to earn another shot at Malinowski who faces his Republican opponent in a less Democratic district post-redistricting. The seat now trends Republican, thus making this one of the GOP’s top conversion opportunities in the nation.

New Mexico: Ronchetti Wins Big — Former Albuquerque TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti, who held Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D) to a closer-than-expected 52-46 percent win in 2020, romped to a win in the Republican governor’s primary topping the 58 percent mark after failing to qualify for the ballot through the Republican nominating convention. The Ronchetti win sets up a competitive battle with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) in the fall. The governor was unopposed for re-nomination last night.

In the gerrymandered southern 2nd District, freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) will face Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D) in a district that now leans Democratic with the inclusion of part of Albuquerque. This will be a highly competitive general election campaign and a must-win for Republicans if they are to capture the House majority as many predict.

South Dakota: Incumbents Score Big Wins — In an unsurprising result, both Sen. John Thune (R) and Gov. Kristi Noem (R) scored landslide Republican primary victories with each topping the 70 percent mark in voter support. In the state’s at-large congressional primary, second-term Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell) defeated Rapid City state Rep. Taffy Howard with a 59-41% spread to win re-nomination for a third two-year term. All three of the statewide GOP incumbents now become prohibitive favorites for re-election in November.

Notable Candidate Filings

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) faces little in the way of strong competition in 2022.

March 15, 2022 — Candidate filing closed in three states on Friday — California, Georgia, and Idaho — and we see some highly competitive primary and general election campaigns occurring in each.

Despite 26 candidates filing against him, appointed California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) has done a good job of securing his Democratic base. As a result, he faces no serious opponent. The only way Sen. Padilla would lose in the state’s jungle primary system is if another strong Democrat surfaced and forced him into a double-Democratic general election. No such individual filed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also faces little in the way of strong competition even though he has 25 opponents.

The Georgia governor’s race features the most important May 24 primary campaign, a Republican battle between Gov. Brian Kemp and former US Sen. David Perdue. Three minor candidates are also on the ballot, and they could be a factor to force a runoff if the Kemp-Perdue race evolves into an even contest. In that scenario, a secondary election on July 26 would occur should both Kemp and Perdue be stopped short of 50 percent support.

Former Georgia state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The state’s US Senate contest is already winnowing down to a battle between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and retired pro football player Herschel Walker (R).

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little faces a Republican primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Sen. Mike Crapo has four Republican primary opponents but is in strong shape for both re-nomination and re-election to a fifth term.

In the House races, veteran Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) will face a familiar foe in the Republican primary. Bryan Smith, who challenged the congressman in the 2014 Republican primary and attracted some national attention and support before falling 62-38 percent, returns for a re-match eight years after their original political battle.

Back in California in the US House races, it appears there are seven districts that will host competitive general election campaigns and many more that could send a pair of the same party’s members to the November election from the June 7 jungle primary.

Only one of the projected partisan general election battles comes in an open seat. The 3rd District, which begins in the Sacramento suburbs and stretches down along the Nevada border all the way into southern California, will yield a competitive Republican battle between state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones for one of the general election finalist positions. The state Democratic Party has endorsed physician Kermit Jones. The new 3rd, where Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) could have run, is rated an R+8 district.

Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) will likely face San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R) in the D+8 District 9 that retiring Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) currently holds.

Continue reading

DCCC’s Red to Blue Targets

By Jim Ellis

March 14, 2022 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their first targets in what they call their Red to Blue program or, in other words, the districts they hope to convert from Republican to Democrat. Curiously, two districts on the list are already blue.

Below is a look at the DCCC’s dozen released targets:


CA-22: Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.4% in District 21

• FiveThirtyEight: D+10
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 42.3% R / 55.1% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)

By the numbers, this is one of the Democrats’ best national targets, but Rep. Valadao has consistently won in Democratic seats. He lost in 2018, but won the seat back two years later. Assemblyman Salas is the Democrats’ top recruitment target. Despite the lopsided Democratic numerical advantage, the finish here will again likely be razor-thin.


CA-45: Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County)
2020 Win Percentage: 51.1% in District 48

• FiveThirtyEight: D+5
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 45.8% R / 52.2% D
Endorsed Candidate: Jay Chen – Community College Trustee

Freshman Rep. Steel is another Republican to whom the California Citizens Redistricting Commission members were not kind. Moving into the more inland Orange County district from her coastal seat, Steel has been a well known figure in Orange County politics for many years, particularly with her service time on the Orange County Board of Supervisors before winning the congressional seat.

A D+5 seat is exactly the type the Republicans must win to achieve their goal of re-taking the majority. With national redistricting cutting against them, the GOP must win a sizable number of the 22 seats so far within the Even to D+5 category.


CO-7: Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) – Open Seat
2020 Win Percentage: 59.1%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 43.8% R / 51.7% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Brittany Petterson (D-Lakewood)

This district does not really belong on the list since it is already a blue seat. Democrats are favored to hold the seat and Sen. Petterson is clearly their candidate to do so.


IA-1: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% (6 votes districtwide) in District 2

• FiveThirtyEight: R+4
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 49.7% R / 46.8% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City)

Rep. Miller-Meeks won the closest race in the country in 2020, a literal six-vote affair against former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D). This year, the congresswoman will see a different opponent since Hart chose not to return for a re-match. State Rep. Bohannan has two Democratic opponents, but she should have little trouble in winning the party nomination on June 7.

This will be another close eastern Iowa campaign, and this district is actually one point more Democratic than the previous 2nd according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization. This is a top Democratic target, but Rep. Milller-Meeks will be favored assuming the political climate remains favorable for Republicans.


IA-2: Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% in District 1

• FiveThirtyEight: R+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 51.1% R / 45.4% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha)

In the first redistricting map presented last year, Rep. Hinson would likely have been defeated. With the legislature rejecting that draw, a new one emerged. This gives the congresswoman a more favorable seat but one this is still highly competitive. Democrats have recruited a strong candidate in Sen. Mathis. She has no primary opposition at this time. In a favorable GOP political climate, this seat would become difficult for the Democrats to convert despite its statistical closeness.
Continue reading

Redistricting Challenges – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2022 — Today we begin a two-part series about incumbent US House members who could be considered redistricting “victims”, meaning those who find themselves in districts with a largely unfamiliar constituency.

A total of 27 states have completed their redistricting process, and 41 incumbents seeking re-election in these places will be in new seats where a majority of the electorate has not previously seen their names on the congressional ballot.

Interestingly, many of the changes are positive for some of the members in question, because the new constituents are favorable to the incumbent’s party. Others, however, face potentially tough re-nomination or re-election battles, and some will see challenges coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

Interestingly, the four incumbents with the most new constituents, those having a district where a range from just 10 to 20 percent of their current electorates are present in the new CD, actually chose to run in the new places. Each eschewed a seat where they have a larger number of current voters.


Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) has the least carryover of any member from a redistricting completed state. Moving from his current 35th District into the new 37th CD means just 10.0 percent of his current constituents reside in the succeeding district. Placing Doggett here was not the intent of the map drawers, however, as the 37th was meant to be one of the state’s two new seats, a Democratic district fully contained within Austin’s Travis County.

Doggett’s 35th District is now the open seat, in a domain that again stretches from Austin to San Antonio. Had he stayed in the 35th, a total of 60.7 percent of his constituency would have remained constant, according to the Daily Kos Elections site statisticians who have calculated the redistribution percentages for all of the states that have completed redistricting.

Rep. Doggett faces little in the way of Democratic primary opposition, and the new 37th is a similar Austin-anchored seat to his original 10th District in which he began his US House career back in 1995.

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) chose to run in the 13th District, which was designed to be that state’s new seat. Despite having only 11.1 percent of his current constituency in the new district, Rep. Cawthorn likes his chances. The 13th lies closer to the Charlotte metro area in comparison to his current western North Carolina seat.

Continue reading

Redistricting:
California & New Jersey Maps

Click on map of California above for detailed view

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2022 — The California and New Jersey redistricting commissions are completing the last steps of passing what look to be the final congressional plans for each state. The cursory analysis suggests that Democrats may gain a seat in California with Republicans doing likewise in the Garden State.


California

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members approved and sent toward final adoption a new 52-district congressional map that could give the Democrats even more seats in the delegation, though we will see several more competitive districts come into play. California lost one seat in reapportionment and Democrats are taking the loss of one of their Los Angeles County seats, but look to be replacing it, and then some, in other parts of the Golden State.

The 47th and 40th Districts of retiring members Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) were combined to construct a new 42nd CD, which is heavily Democratic. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who is leaving the House to enter the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles, sees her 37th District, which was on the chopping block in the first draft map, restored almost intact.

Major change is occurring in the Central Valley. Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) sees his 10th District going from an R1 rating according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis organization to R17. Therefore, it is unlikely he will run in his new designated 5th District.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) may leave what is a new 13th District at D7 and move to the downtown Fresno seat, now labeled District 21. This seat has much of resigning Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) territory but is rated a D16. Rep. Costa choosing the 21st might allow Rep. Harder to drop down into new District 13, which would be a much more favorable partisan situation but takes him away from his geographical base.

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), who won his 2020 election by just a 333-vote margin, sees his designated district, now numbered 27, become at least three points more Democratic. This endangers even further his re-election chances. The 538 organization rated his current 25th CD as a D5. The new 27th becomes a D8.

Several Republicans have proven they can win these D-plus single digit type seats, however. In addition to Rep. Garcia’s two victories in current CD-25, Rep. David Valadao’s (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) 21st district is rated a D9. His new seat, designated District 22, goes to a D10. Another option for him would be to also run in District 13 (D7), which contains some of his current territory. Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra) won a 39th District that FiveThirtyEight rated as a D6. Her new 45th CD is calculated at D5.

We could possibly see a district swap operation between Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) due to geography, and between Reps. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County) and Katie Porter (D-Irvine) for partisan reasons.

Rep. Steel’s district moves from a R2 to a D6, while Rep. Porter’s adjacent CD shifts in the opposite direction, going from a D6 all the way to a R4. The problem can be solved for both members by them simply switching districts. This would mean Rep. Porter would run in the new coastal 47th with Rep. Steel going to the inland new 40th.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) gets a solid Democratic district, but its new positioning is unfavorable to him from a geographic perspective. Garamendi’s new 8th District moves closer to the San Francisco Bay Area making him vulnerable to a challenge from a Bay Area Democratic state or local official. It is likely this new Vallejo-anchored CD would produce a double Democratic general election under the state’s top two jungle primary system.

Several members see their districts downgraded from a partisan perspective. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove/Sacramento) goes from R15 to R8 in a new 3rd District that stretches into southern California along the Nevada border.

Rep. Jerry McNerney’s (D-Stockton) 9th CD goes from D14 to D8, again according to the 538 analysis. Rep. Ken Calvert’s (R-Corona) designated CD, numbered 41, drops from his current R13 to R7. Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-San Juan Capistrano) 49th CD recedes two points from D7 to D5.


New Jersey

Click on map of New Jersey above to see detailed view

It appears that the New Jersey Redistricting Commission comprised of six Democratic elected officials, six similar Republicans, and a state Supreme Court selected tie-breaking member, have also agreed upon a new congressional map. New Jersey’s representation level remained constant with 12 seats, so it was a matter of adjusting the current districts.

It is evident that the rumor suggesting the commission would adopt a map that drastically weakened Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-Rocky Hill) seat in order to strengthen three other Democratic districts, those of Reps. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair/Morristown) proved true.

It further appears that Rep. Albio Sires’ (D-West New York) retirement did not change the commissioners’ outlook as to which district to weaken. Sires’ 8th District returns virtually intact, another indication that Sen. Bob Menendez’s son, Robert J. Menendez (D), will likely be the retiring congressman’s successor. The latter Menendez currently serves on the NY/NJ Port Commission.

While the NJ Democrats are securing three of their more politically marginal districts, Districts 3, 5, and 11, Republicans appeared poised, probably in the person of state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Edison) who held Malinowski to a 51-49 percent win in 2020, to convert the new 7th CD.

More research will be done on the likely-to-be-adopted California and New Jersey congressional maps when detailed district descriptions become available. It looks like several incumbent members will have decisions before them about where to run in California, while the focus of the New Jersey competitive action will center around the District 7 Malinowski-Kean re-match.