Tag Archives: Virginia

Pennsylvania Voting Rules

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 21, 2020 — Pennsylvania’s Democratic controlled Supreme Court changed their state election procedures late last week in a series of rulings on a lawsuit that the Pennsylvania Secretary of State and PA Democratic Party previously filed.

Under the new process, receiving votes after the election is allowed if “no evidence exists” that the ballot was mailed after Election Day, Nov. 3. The deadline for ballot acceptance now moves from 8 pm on Election Day to 5 pm, Friday, Nov. 6. Pennsylvania becomes the 17th state to allow post-election reception for this 2020 election. The ruling increases the chances that we will not have a winner declared on election night.

Additionally, three other rulings will allow drop boxes to be used as ballot receptacles in the various counties, affirmed that poll watchers can only serve in their own county of residence, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins’ name was removed from the ballot. The court did not grant the lawsuit motion to allow ballot harvesting, which would permit third parties to deliver ballots to the authorities or ballot drop boxes.

The drop boxes will be placed in various locations around a county and voters can deposit their ballots without using the postal service to transfer their vote to the county election authorities. Hawkins’ name was removed from the ballot because the court said he “failed to comply with the Election Code’s strict mandate” and the attempts to fix the problem “did not suffice to cure that error,” but the specifics were not addressed.

With the large number of absentee ballots expected here and in other states, the trend toward allowing post-election reception, and the laws that some states, like Pennsylvania, have to control when the mail ballots can be counted, makes it less likely that we will see a definitive presidential campaign result on Nov. 3. The same will be true for certain US Senate and House races.

Of the 17 states, now including Pennsylvania, that are allowing post-election ballot reception, seven appear competitive. The others, Alaska, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia will likely declare a clear winner relatively early in the counting period.

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Eight Men Out

By Jim Ellis

Poster for the movie, “Eight Men Out”

Aug. 20, 2020 — The 1988 movie “Eight Men Out” about the 1919 baseball World Series carries a title that also aptly describes the 2020 congressional primary season. At this early point in the voting cycle, already eight US House members have been denied re-nomination, which will oust them from office — a large number when comparing to typical campaign years.

It’s worth noting these results because the incumbent defeats are geographically widespread and not confined to one party. Of the eight, five are Republicans, three are Democrats, and each come from different states.

Looking at the eight campaigns, however, only two reasons largely explain the incumbent losses within the respective intra-party elections: ideology and ethics.

Florida Freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R-Dover) from his Lakeland-anchored district this past Tuesday is the latest to lose. The others are, chronologically from the beginning: Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Steve King (R-IA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Steve Watkins (R-KS), Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Spano.

In each case, the Democratic losses are ideologically driven. In Illinois, New York, and Missouri, veteran Democrats lost their seats to challengers from the far left, all backed by the Justice Democrats PAC that is loosely associated with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The insurgent campaign strategy in each case was to cast the incumbent as not being sufficiently progressive in addition to more specific attacks.

In Illinois back in March, media consultant Marie Newman returned to again challenge Rep. Lipinski after losing to him 51-49 percent in the 2018 Democratic primary. Rep. Lipinski, an eight-term Chicago suburban congressional veteran whose father held the seat for 22 years before him, had established a moderate record — yet even moving left for the current term couldn’t stop the coming trend. Turnout increased 16 percent when compared to the 2018 primary, and Newman flipped a 49-51 percent loss into a 47-45 percent victory.

Eliot Engel represented the Bronx in Congress for what will be 32 years after serving for 12 years in the New York State Assembly. Aided by Engel campaign mistakes, middle school principal Jamaal Bowman swept to victory with strong assistance from the Justice Democrats. The key themes here were Engel losing touch with his constituents and being out of step with today’s Democratic Party.

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Primary Results: Many Undecided

By Jim Ellis

June 24, 2020 — Partial returns were reported last night in Kentucky and New York, but it likely will be June 30 before we see even unofficial final totals as both states wait for returning absentee ballots.

In Kentucky, an estimated 625,000 ballots are in the postal system and can take until June 27 to arrive in their respective county counting centers. The secretary of state is allowing the Kentucky counties to not report until June 30 and will not release statewide totals until then. News services, however, were reporting counted numbers.

Trends appear better established in New York, where a greater percentage of the overall vote is most likely counted. New York generally records low primary participation numbers. Most of the races have clear winners, however. Completed totals are reported in North Carolina and Virginia.

The Kentucky Senate Democratic primary, as closing polling predicted, is tight in early counting. Retired Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath leads state Rep. Charles Booker (D-Louisville), but with only a 5,104-vote margin (45-37 percent) among the just under 62,000 votes tabulated. No numbers are reported from the state’s two largest counties, Jefferson and Fayette, the homes of Booker and McGrath, respectively.

At this point, McGrath appears headed toward a close victory but, with so many votes outstanding, it will likely be a full week before we see an official winner declared. On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 87 percent total assures him of re-nomination.

All five of Kentucky congressional Republican incumbents have been re-nominated, as each total between 88-94 percent of the yesterday’s in-person vote. Kentucky is one of 12 states that does not allow early voting. In Rep. John Yarmuth’s (D-Louisville) 3rd District, no numbers have been reported in the Republican primary, but the congressman has been re-nominated because he was unopposed on the Democratic side.

In New York, state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) has been projected as the special election winner in the vacant 27th District. Of the totals counted, he topped former Grand Island town supervisor Nate McMurray (D), 69-29 percent. In the concurrent Republican primary for the regular term, Jacobs is capturing 71 percent of the vote to easily win the party nomination for the full term.
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The Unique New York Special;
Other Key Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 23, 2020 — Voters in five states — New York, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia — will cast nomination votes today, and some interesting races are on tap.

NEW YORK

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx), faces challenges from former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and two minor candidates today.

Though the intra-party challenges to Reps. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) have drawn the most political attention, Buffalo area state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R) is embroiled in a unique special congressional election to replace resigned-Rep. Chris Collins (R).

The special wasn’t designed to have such an interesting, and largely confusing format, but a quirk in New York election procedure has caused Jacobs to be campaigning simultaneously before two different electorates. He faces Democratic former Grand Island town supervisor Nate McMurray, who held Rep. Collins to a 48-47 percent victory in 2018 in the special general, and two strong Republican challengers in the regular 2020 primary.

It’s not particularly unusual to see a special election and a regular primary election being run concurrently, but it is strange to see a special general and a regular primary paired. Therefore, this forces Jacobs to campaign closer to the political center, a place where he typically falls, in his battle with McMurray to serve the balance of the current term, while also protecting his right flank against two opponents who are attacking him for being outside the Republican Party mainstream. McMurray has no such problem because he is unopposed on the Democratic side.

The 27th District is vacant because Rep. Collins resigned the seat when pleading guilty to an insider financial trading federal charge. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) scheduled the replacement election on the same day as the regular primary. Since the New York political parties give power to choose replacement nominees to the various county chairmen in the district, there is no special election primary. Therefore, voters only cast one ballot to fill a congressional vacancy.

While Sen. Jacobs needs the Republican rank and file to turn out heavily to support him against McMurray, two GOP candidates not chosen by the party leaders, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and attorney and former town judge Beth Parlato, are consistently hitting him from the right, thus cross pressuring his message to the GOP base.

In the closing days, Parlato, who also carries the Conservative Party ballot line, has launched an additional attack on Jacobs indicating that he’s being investigated for voter fraud. While a citizen charge was filed, the local District Attorney has already dropped the action as having no substantiation. Still, Jacobs’ has had to defend himself on another political front.

The 27th District is an upstate seat that begins in the eastern Buffalo suburbs and extends north all the way to Lake Ontario, and then drops south of Rochester and east as far as the town of Canandaigua. The district includes four whole counties and parts of four others, including Erie and Niagara. It is a reliably Republican district (Trump ’16: 60-35 percent; Romney ’12: 55-43 percent).

The CD did flip to the Democrats, however, the last time a special congressional election was held here. Kathy Hochul, now New York’s lieutenant governor, won the seat in 2011. She was then subsequently defeated in the 2012 regular election by Collins, however.
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KEEPING PACE WITH GEORGIA,
NEVADA, AND DRAMA IN VIRGINIA

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2020 — We continue to see vote counting ramifications stemming from the extensive mail electoral procedures employed in several states. A full week after the Georgia and Nevada primary elections concluded, a second previous result was reversed, while across the country in the Silver State a congressional contest winner finally emerges.

GEORGIA

Carolyn Bourdeaux wins Georgia’s 7th CD Democratic nomination outright.

In the immediate days following the Georgia primary, it was consistently reported that 7th District 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux had failed to win outright her Democratic primary and that she would be forced to an Aug. 11 runoff election with state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross). Now, that projection has been reversed.

A similar situation occurred in the state’s 13th District where veteran Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) was projected to have fallen into a runoff election only to see the outcome change when thousands of post-election ballots came streaming into the government offices. The now presumably final totals find both Bourdeaux and Rep. Scott exceeding 51 percent of their respective primary vote.

Bourdeaux now wins the Democratic nomination outright and advances into the general election against Republican Rich McCormick. McCormick is a physician and retired Navy officer who won his open seat primary with clear majority support on election night.

Two years ago, Bourdeaux came within just 420 votes of unseating Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville), which may be one reason why the congressman is retiring this year. McCormick defeated six other Republicans in last week’s primary with 55 percent of the vote, meaning he will be a very substantial candidate in the general election. Therefore, avoiding being bogged down for almost two months to win her nomination would have been a major setback for Bourdeaux’s general election chances.

NEVADA

In northern Las Vegas, after a full week of counting mail votes, it has become apparent that former state assemblyman Jim Marchant has won the Republican primary in the 4th Congressional District, thus earning the opportunity of challenging Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) in the fall. Marchant defeated insurance agency owner Sam Peters and a host of others by a 34-29 percent margin, with the other candidates splitting the remaining 37 percent.

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