Tag Archives: Trump Administration

Michigan Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

April 22, 2022 — Major party candidate filing has now closed in the Wolverine State, and we see some highly competitive contests forming for November.

With no senator on the 2022 ballot, the governor’s race tops the ballot. No fewer than 10 Republicans filed in an attempt to oppose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in the November election. The governor drew no Democratic opposition for the Aug. 2 state primary.

The leading GOP contender appears to be former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, but he must first secure the Republican nomination.

Within the large field, he can expect competition at least from chiropractor and well-known anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano, former Berrien County Commissioner and ex-state police captain Mike Brown, and online talk show host Tudor Dixon. The general election yields a race that promises to be one of the top campaigns in the country and polling suggests that the projected Whitmer-Craig contest is already a toss-up.

We will also see serious November competition in most of the state’s 13 congressional districts on a map the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members purposefully drew to feature the maximum number of tight political districts.

In two contests, the major party general election pairings are already set. First District US Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/ Upper Peninsula) must subdue a challenge from Marquette County Medical Director Bob Lorinser (D). In an R+24 district, according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, where the congressman exceeded 61 percent of the vote in 2020, Rep. Bergman becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-election in November.

What began as an incumbent pairing between Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) because the state lost a seat in national reapportionment, is now a general election that will produce little in the way of political suspense.

With Upton recently announcing his retirement and state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo) deciding to exit the congressional race and seek re-election to his current position, those moves have surprisingly left Rep. Huizenga unopposed for re-nomination in the new 4th CD. His general election opponent will be retail banker Joseph Alfonso (D) in a race that should offer only minimal competition for the six-term incumbent.

Reps. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Lisa McClain (R-Bruce) face little in the way of competition for both re-nomination and re-election. Rep. Dingell, however, is placed in a new 6th District that contains 44 percent new territory and is without the family’s home base of Dearborn. A member of the Dingell family has represented Dearborn as a part of their district in Congress consecutively since 1933.

Freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) received one of the tougher draws on the new map. His 3rd District, while still anchored in Grand Rapids, moves from an R+9 rating to D+3. He first must secure re-nomination over former Trump Administration official John Gibbs and attorney Gabi Manolache. Meijer then will again face his 2020 opponent, Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten, who held him to a 53-47 percent victory in the more Republican 3rd District version. The new 3rd contains 50 percent new territory for the congressman, including the Democratic city of Muskegon.

Even though Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) loses her home base, finds herself in a district with 38 percent new territory, and must compete in an R+7 new 7th District, she actually gains a political point when compared to the current 8th District that she now represents. Still, winning re-election with just a 51-47 percent spread and facing tougher Republican competition from state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Lansing) means this race will become a top GOP national target.

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TX-6 Primary Saturday

By Jim Ellis

May 3, 2021 — The special jungle primary to begin the process of replacing the late Texas Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) began Saturday as 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, a Libertarian, and an Independent scratched and clawed to obtain one of the two available runoff positions.

With 23 candidates on the ballot and nobody even reaching 30 percent in published polling, there was virtually no chance any of these contenders win outright with a majority vote. Therefore, a secondary election between the top two finishers will be called as soon as the vote totals are made official. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) then will schedule the special runoff election for what appears to be a period in late June.

The candidate attracting the most attention is the late congressman’s wife, Susan Wright (R). She scored a major endorsement last week as former President Donald Trump announced his support for her candidacy. The Trump move was a major blow to candidate Brian Harrison (R), who is a former official in the Trump Administration’s Health and Human Services Department and an ex-White House aide to then-President George W. Bush.

Wright garnered 19.2 percent of the vote Saturday, which was enough to give her a first-place finish.

Aside from Wright and Harrison, who finished a distant fourth with 10.8 percent of the vote, the other significant Republican candidate is freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). He ran for the congressional seat in 2018 when Rep. Wright was first elected, forcing him into a runoff and losing just 52-48 percent to the eventual general election winner.

Just as he did then, Ellzey finished second, with 13.8 percent of the vote. Wright and Ellzey both will advance to the runoff, likely in late June.

Recently, both the Club for Growth and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have come out opposing Ellzey’s candidacy, with the former launching an opposition independent expenditure.

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More Redistricting Delays – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 17, 2021 — The Census Bureau announced just before the Presidents’ Day holiday break that there will be yet another long delay in transmitting the census data to the states. Without the new numbers, redistricting becomes unachievable.

The new target date is Sept. 30, postponed from their first postponement date of July 30. At this point, the postponed apportionment release date remains April 30, long after the statutory deadline of Jan. 1. Apportionment is the first critical step in the redistricting process since this informs the states how many congressional seats they will be awarded for the current decade.

The late September target (and there’s no guarantee even this date will be met) will make it difficult for many states to finish their redistricting on time, and could force the process into the courts if state legislatures are unable to convene or meet a legislative calendar in terms of allowing public input. Even now, at least several states will have to enact emergency legislation to change deadlines to avoid violating pre-existing legal redistricting deadlines.

The delays have already changed the political situation in New Jersey and Virginia. With both states having odd-numbered year state legislative elections, the two are always the first to receive their new census data. In both states, legislative elections will now proceed under the 2011 maps with previously enacted amendments. When the lines are eventually completed, it is possible that new elections, possibly for 2022, will be ordered in Virginia. New Jersey voters passed a referendum in November that allows redistricting to occur before the 2023 state legislative elections.

Another problem could be lawsuits filed against the eventual apportionment. Apparently, the principal problem for the delays is exactly which people to count and where they are placed. College students, for example, are typically counted at the university campus on which they reside. Now, however, so many are not attending in-person classes. Therefore, arguments are ongoing as to where this group should be counted, either at school or back at their primary residence.

Additionally, one of President Biden’s new executive orders reversed Trump Administration policies about whether or not to count non-citizens. This change of direction has also created further delays.

Based upon these controversies, and others, it is probable that at least one potential losing state – apparently Alabama is on the cusp of losing a seat but may not depending upon the counting criteria – could sue over the apportionment conclusion meaning even further delays as various potential lawsuits wind their way through the judicial process toward final determination. All of this could conceivably mean redistricting is postponed until the 2024 election cycle.

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Tuberville, Sessions & Sessions;
Moore, Hegar & Valenzuela

By Jim Ellis

Former Auburn Football coach Tommy Tuberville (center) overwhelms Jeff Sessions in Alabama.

July 15, 2020 — The Texas and Alabama runoffs were held yesterday along with the postponed Maine primary, and we have some winners and cliff hangers.

In Alabama, retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, as expected, pretty much demolished former US attorney general and ex-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions last night with the margin of victory being larger than expected. Though earlier polls had predicted spreads as large as 22 points, a 61-39 percent Tuberville victory margin was not forecast even though every pollster found the former coach leading the race. The Tuberville victory was so complete that Sessions, a man who ran unopposed in his previous Senate re-election campaign (2014), was limited to winning only three counties.

Tuberville advances into the general election to face incumbent Democrat, Sen. Doug Jones, who won a special election in 2017 ironically to replace Sessions after he was appointed to his Trump Administration position. Early polling suggests Tuberville will open the general election with a discernible lead over Sen. Jones in what will likely be a top-three state for President Trump.

Alabama hosted two significant Republican runoff elections last night, both of which almost assuredly identified a pair of new congressmen. In the Mobile-anchored 1st District, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl topped former state senator Bill Hightower, 52-48 percent, and will easily win the general election in November. In the adjoining 2nd District, despite being outspent by a 5:1 ratio, former state Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) easily defeated moving company owner Jeff Coleman who finished first in the regular primary.

Moore scored a 60-40 percent win over Coleman who dropped more than $1 million of his own money into his campaign and earned retiring Rep. Martha Roby’s (R-Montgomery) endorsement. Moore ran as a Trump Republican and mixed his campaign message with attacks on DC and clever issue targeting. He did not run a negative race against Coleman who had been attacked in the primary. Coleman attracted 38 percent on March 3 but could only expand his runoff vote to 40 percent. Moore, on the other hand, who barely qualified for the runoff – just 591 votes ahead of third place finisher Jessica Taylor – was able to build a winning runoff coalition of 60 percent as compared to his 20 percent in the primary.

Turning to the Texas Senate Democratic runoff, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar defeated state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) by only about 40,000 votes statewide with further precincts to count. Hegar was mathematically projected the winner, but her margin could continue to shrink once the final tabulations are calculated and reported. She will now challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R) in a race that should break the incumbent’s way by a comfortable margin in November.

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Alabama Runoff Today

By Jim Ellis

Former US attorney general and Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R), faces off today against retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

July 14, 2020 — The long-awaited Alabama US Senate Republican runoff between retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and former US attorney general and ex-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions will be decided today, and polls are suggesting we will see a clear winner relatively early tonight.

The primary election was held way back on March 3 with the original runoff scheduled for March 31. Shortly after the primary, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) postponed the runoff in response to COVID-19 suggested precautions. The primary election ended with Sessions trailing Tuberville, 33.4 – 31.6 percent, a spread of 12,528 votes from over 717,000 ballots cast.

Originally, it appeared the four-month voting delay might be a break for Sessions, giving him time to rebound from a rather poor performance in the primary election. It doesn’t appear he has been able to turn the tide. Since the primary, nine polls have been conducted and released from six different pollsters. Eight of the surveys post Tuberville to a lead, while one showed the race a tie.

The latest survey, conducted over the July 2-9 period from Auburn University at Montgomery, finds Tuberville expanding his lead to 47-31 percent. The polling methodology poses questions, however. The Auburn pollsters list 558 respondents, but this is their general election sample. They do not indicate how many people comprised the Republican runoff likely voter cell, so it is difficult to judge reliability.

It is possible, however, that Tuberville holds such a large lead heading into the election because he is averaging a 12.3 percent advantage in the eight other polls conducted during the post-primary period. In two of the polls, both taken in May by independent pollsters, the Tuberville advantage expanded to 22 and 23 points, respectively.

Sessions’ political problems took hold when he resigned as attorney general under a barrage of criticism from President Trump. Tuberville capitalized with a wave of advertising featuring a commercial that began with a NBC interview clip between Trump and Chuck Todd where the president said his biggest regret since taking office was appointing Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

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