Tag Archives: Wyoming

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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Trump Chooses Cheney Opponent

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 14, 2021 — Movement is occurring in the Wyoming Republican primary challenge race against at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson). At this point, however, the latest developments may still not be enough to deny her re-nomination in a crowded open GOP primary scheduled for Aug. 16, 2022.

Former Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Harriet Hageman late last week announced her candidacy as a Republican representative in the state’s lone congressional district to challenge Rep. Liz Cheyney (R-Wilson).

Attorney and former Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Harriet Hageman late last week announced her candidacy in the Equality State’s lone congressional district. She joined a throng of eight GOP candidates opposing Rep. Cheney in the 2022 primary.

A day after Hageman’s announcement, former President Donald Trump, who is the focal point of Rep. Cheney’s actions relating to the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol and her vote to impeach him, is now actively supporting one of the candidates.

Hageman, in a coordinated announcement and endorsement over a two-day period, entered the race knowing she had the support of the former national chief executive. Such backing has often helped other endorsed candidates prevail in similar Republican primaries.

After Trump publicized his Hageman endorsement, the field slimmed to seven as US Air Force veteran Bryan Miller and attorney Darin Smith ended their campaigns, thus answering the former President’s call for the party to unite behind one candidate.

The remaining group of contenders, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie), state Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper), retired Army Colonel Denton Knapp, former Pavillion mayor, Marissa Joy Selvig, and two minor candidates, have not yet followed suit.

Polling suggests that the crowded field, with the anti-Cheney vote split multiple ways, could allow the congresswoman to win re-nomination with a rather small plurality. Another point in her favor is that Wyoming does not register voters by political party affiliation. In this state’s nomination elections, and in many other places, voters simply choose the party primary in which they desire to participate.

This system would allow disaffected Democrats to vote in the Republican primary. They would likely support Cheney, having the goal of thwarting the Trump and conservative forces who are attempting to oust her.

Because Rep. Cheney has gone so far to oppose Mr. Trump’s post-election actions and stances, denying her re-nomination becomes a significant test of the former president’s party leadership. Cheney has even aligned herself with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in taking her Trump opposition to the ultimate level by serving as a member of the House select committee investigating the Capitol uprising. This was knowingly done so in defiance of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) directive to the GOP members vis-a-vis committee participation.

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Cheney: The Battle Intensifies

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY)

July 23, 2021 –The internal Republican strife involving Wyoming at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) reached a heightened negative level Wednesday.

In what seems like a news story that won’t die, Rep. Cheney again sided with the Democrats regarding the continuing saga of reviewing the violent situation that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6th and this time publicly attacked her party’s top House leader.

The controversy again erupted on Wednesday when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected two of the Republican members that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appointed to the select committee charged with investigating what occurred in the Capitol building on that January day.

Leader McCarthy had appointed Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) as the ranking Republican for the select committee and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) among his five designated appointments. Earlier, Pelosi had already chosen Rep. Cheney as her lone Republican committee selection, leaving McCarthy to recommend members to fill the remaining GOP slots.

After the Speaker rejected Reps. Banks and Jordan, Leader McCarthy pulled the remaining members on his slate and called the committee a partisan sham. Cheney, however, chose to remain as part of the Speaker’s contingent.

Rep. Cheney then held a news availability in front of the Capitol where she slammed McCarthy as being unfit to serve as Speaker, if the Republicans re-claim the majority in the next election, saying that “any person who would be the third in line to the Presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law, and Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that.”

Those comments then led to Texas Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) tweeting, “when will Liz Cheney officially switch to the party that she truly represents? We don’t want her in the Republican Party any longer! She is a disgrace!”

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It’s Down to a Dozen in SC-7

By Jim Ellis

South Carolina state Rep. William Bailey (R-Myrtle Beach)

June 17, 2021 — South Carolina state Rep. William Bailey (R-Myrtle Beach), who became the first individual to announce a Republican primary challenge to Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach) has become the first candidate to withdraw, with his announcement this past Tuesday. Bailey initially entered the race immediately after the congressman voted to impeach former President Trump in relation to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Rep. Bailey indicated that there are ‘enough conservatives in the race to give Mr. Rice a strong challenge,’ and says he is leaving the congressional race to seek re-election to his state House position.

After Bailey’s departure, and including Rep. Rice, there are a dozen announced candidates for the Republican congressional primary in a 7th District that currently occupies South Carolina’s northeastern sector and includes the cities of Myrtle Beach and Conway. In the two Trump presidential elections, the district’s voters strongly supported the former president and with very consistent margins: 58-39 percent in 2016 and 59-40 percent last November.

Normally, a large field of opponents would help an incumbent, but maybe not under the South Carolina election system. The state, like many others in the south, adopts a secondary runoff election process, meaning the winning candidate must secure an absolute majority. If no one can achieve the mark in the primary election, the top two vote-getters advance to a secondary election.

What makes the Palmetto State’s system different is that the runoff cycle lasts only two weeks. Typically, South Carolina holds its primaries in mid-June with the associated runoffs following in the latter part of the month.

Therefore, an incumbent under attack doesn’t have much time to recover before the next election commences. This calendar likely enhances the most common pattern of incumbents generally losing a runoff election if they are forced into a secondary vote.

The large number of contenders notwithstanding, and without Rep. Bailey in the field, the two most prominent challengers appear to be Horry County School Board chairman Ken Richardson and former Myrtle Beach mayor, Mark McBride, though the latter man was defeated in a runoff election for a third term. McBride was also beaten badly in a 2020 special election for the state House of Representatives.

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The Impeachment Ten

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY)

March 4, 2021 — Another credible opponent for Wyoming at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) came forward earlier this week, which continues the onslaught of political activity against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching then-President Donald Trump for his perceived role in the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising.

Already, Rep. Cheney has four credible opponents. The latest to announce is state Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper). He joins state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie), former Pavillion mayor Marissa Joy Selvig, and energy consultant Bryan Miller.

Of the four, Sen. Bouchard and Rep. Gray are the most credible, but the large field assembling against her actually helps Rep. Cheney. Considering that Wyoming is a plurality primary state, a person is nominated by simply obtaining the highest number of votes regardless of percentage attained. Therefore, with Cheney’s opposition split among multiple candidates, the chances of her winning re-nomination with less than a majority becomes a plausible outcome.

The other nine pro-impeachment members are in different situations. From this group, only New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) has not yet drawn Republican primary opposition.

Three others are from states with primary structures that will help them advance into the general election. Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) will file under a top-two qualifying system.

Rep. Valadao represents a Bakersfield-Fresno district that voted heavily in favor of both President Biden and Hillary Clinton, the latter back in 2016. With all candidates on the same ballot, and not being from a strong Trump district, it is less likely that his vote to impeach the sitting Republican president will greatly affect him.

In the race are former Rep. T.J. Cox (D), the man who lost to Valadao by a percentage point in 2020 after defeating him by an even closer split in 2018, former state Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D), and ex-Fresno City Councilman and 2020 congressional candidate Chris Mathys (R).

Washington Rep. Beutler, under the same top-two primary system as California’s Valadao, has already drawn three Republican opponents, none of whom have held elective office. We can expect a strong Democrat to emerge here, meaning the eventual preliminary vote division should provide Rep. Beutler with a relatively easy road into the general election.

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