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Weekend Open Thread for December 9-11, 2016

Happy Weekend as I write from the McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in what might be the most posts made by one moderator from different states in a five day period.  Saturday night we will have one more election night liveblog for the Louisiana runoffs.  Please see our preview of the Louisiana runoffs.  In addition, Macedonia and Romania go to the polls this weekend in parliamentary elections.

(1) What do you think of President-Elect Trump’s decision to appoint so many businesspersons and former generals to his cabinet?

(2) Please pick 5 Democratic held Senate seats up in 2018 and name who you think would be the best candidate to flip such seat to the Republicans.

(3) Whose the next global leader to be toppled by the anti-globalist revolt sweeping the world?

And since its the weekend, here is a video I kept referencing to colleagues this week due to issues they were facing at work!  Who would have thought the Democrats would be the party more likely to make such a move in terms of reorganizing after this election at the beginning of this year!

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WA-5: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) to be Named Interior Secretary

Yet another special election alert, as it looks like Trump is tapping Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) as his interior sec. McMorris Rodgers has been a big fish in the House, the fourth-ranking member of the GOP caucus, but she has not had quite enough pull to break into one of the top 3 jobs in leadership. Combine that with a state where a statewide bid looks unattractive for the time being and this would seem to be a pretty good move for her. McMorris Rodgers will thus vacate WA-5, an R+6 (2012) seat covering roughly the eastern quarter of the state, with the bulk of its population in the Spokane metro area. Washington holds it special elections in a regular California Rules Top-Two format, just like normal races in the state; the top two candidates will advance to a second round regardless of party or whether one crosses 50%. The special election will take place sometime in the spring.

Let’s go to the Great Mentioner: State Sen. and 2012 US Senate nominee Michael Baumgartner (R) is probably the most obvious contender and will probably start as the front-runner. Despite losing statewide by 20 points, Baumgartner has a good rapport with the local GOP and an interesting resume as a State Department official in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq War. Ex-Rep. George Nethercutt (R), who gave up the seat for a 2004 Senate run, may also try for a comeback, though at 72 he’d be a bit on the old side. Spokane Mayor David Condon (R) would also likely be a strong candidate as mayor of the district’s largest city, though he has faced bad headlines for his handling of a sexual assault scandal in the police force. State Sens. Brian Dansel (R), Mike Padden (R), and Maureen Walsh (R) also live in the district, while State Sen. Mark Schoesler (R) lives outside the seat but represents a big chunk of it. Seven Republican State Reps., Bob McCaslin (R), Matt Shea (R), Jeff Holy (R), Shelly Short (R),  Mary Dye (R), Joe Schmick (R), and Terry Nealey (R), all live in the seat and may also be worth watching.

Democrats may attempt to target this seat, though this district is moving away from them. That said, is the kind of long-shot seat Dems will at least need to compete in if they want to have any hope of flipping the House in 2018. Ex-Spokane Mayor Mary Verner (D) and 2006 nominee and former state Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark (D) may be possible choices, as could the three Dem legislators from the district, State Sen. Andy Billig (D) and State Reps. Marcus Riccelli (D) and Tim Ormsby (D).

UPDATE: Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart (D) announced on Facebook that he will run. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich (R) is considering a run.

127 Comments »

Political Roundup for December 9, 2016

President:

Trump: President Donald Trump will remain the executive producer on “Celebrity Apprentice” and will continue receiving payments from the show when it starts its new season in January 2017.

Labor: President-elect Donald Trump has named fast-food executive Andy Puzder as his choice for labor secretary. Puzder is chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., the parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains. He has been a vocal critic of the burdensome rules, red tape and regulations the Obama Department of Labor led by radical progressive Tom Perez had been imposing on America. The choice of Puzder to lead the Labor Department is a good indication that rolling back the regulatory overreach by the Obama administration will be a top priority of the Trump administration.

Governor:

AZ-Gov: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) will not run for Governor in 2018.

IL-Gov: Democrat scion Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, is interviewing potential pollsters and consultants as he moves toward a possible 2018 gubernatorial run. Democrats have been having trouble finding a candidate willing to take on the popular Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). Kennedy’s status as a rich member of the Kennedy clan makes him slightly outside the mold of the usual corrupt hacks the Illinois Democratic machine generally digs up.

NJ-Gov: What exit? Former SNL alum Joe Piscopo will probably make a decision in January about whether to run for Governor as a Republican.

NJ-Gov: Looks like Gov. Chris Christie (R) will not be going anywhere. After spending most of 2016 publicly debasing himself on behalf of Donald Trump, it looks like President-elect Trump will snub Christie and deny him a place in his administration. After hoping to be named Vice President Attorney General Secretary of Homeland Security Republican National Committee Chair, Christie will have to settle for finishing his term as governor and being an “informal adviser” to Trump. Although we here at RRH hold out hope that Christie can be named Ambassador to East Timor.

NJ-Gov: Former Trump campaign advisor and Nutley commissioner Steve Rogers has announced that he will enter the New Jersey gubernatorial race. Rogers is a borderline some dude and would have a tough time winning the GOP nomination let alone a general election.

NM-Gov: Sen. Tom Udall (D) will not run for governor in 2018.

VA-Gov: Rep. Rob Wittman (R) has dropped out of the 2017 Virginia governor’s race. This leaves three Republicans vying for the GOP nomination: former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner.

WI-Gov: Former state senator Tim Cullen (D) and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele (D) both announced that they will not run for governor in 2018.

Senate:

LA-Sen: The University of New Orleans’ Survey Research Center poll gives Republican John Kennedy a 62-33 lead over Democrat Foster Campbell ahead of Saturday’s runoff election. Our preview of the race can be found here.

IN-Sen: Rep. Luke Messer (R) is preparing for a run against first term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in 2018.  GOP sources close to Messer said that a formal Senate announcement probably would not come from him until 2017.

OH-Sen: A new WPA Research poll shows that recently announced senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) would beat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) by a 40%-39% margin. Mandel was winning Independents 38%-37% with 24% undecided. The poll also shows Mandel with only 63% support from Republican voters and still winning against Brown. This would indicate that Mandel’s margin has room to grow.

OH-Sen: State Treas­urer Josh Man­del may not have the Republican primary to himself.  Rep. Pat Tiberi,  state Sen. Matt Huff­man and Rep. Jim Ren­acci are also considering a run.

House:

CA-34: Former Assembly Speaker John Perez (D) is racking up the establishment endorsements for the special election for the seat of  state Attorney General Designate-Xavier Becerra. Perez has won endorsements from several California House Democrats, Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa and now Senator-elect Kamala Harris for this D+30 seat.

LA-3: Former St Landry Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Clay Higgins ex-wife Stormy Rothkamn-Hambrice has posted audio recordings of phone calls she had with him in regards to back child support she claims he owes her. Three days after the November election Rothkamn-Hambrice filed a lawsuit against Higgins claiming he owes more than $140,000 in neglected child support payments. Trafalgar Group poll had Higgins leading Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle 49% to 46% in this Republican vs Republican runoff election.

LA-4: A Trafalgar Group poll has Republican Mike Johnson leading Democrat Marshall Jones 67% to 30% in this R+13 district.

GA-6: Two Democrats have kicked off long shot bids for the soon to be vacant seat of Secretary of Health and Human Services designate Rep. Tom Price (R). Former state Sen. Ron Slotin (D) and attorney Joshua McLaurin (D) both announced they would run. The special will be jungle primary with a top two runoff if no candidate gets a majority. On the Republican side House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones announced she would not run. State Sen. Judson Hill announced a bid, and former Secretary of State Karen Handel, ex-state Sen. Dan Moody and state Rep. Chuck Martin are expected to run. The seat is R+14.

WA-5: With Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) looking like the likely pick for Secretary of the Interior a special election could take place in this R+7 district and a handful of House Republicans are quietly laying the groundwork to run for House GOP Conference chair.

State, Local & Other:

RIP: American hero, aviation icon and former U.S. senator John Glenn has died at the age of 95.

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December 10 Louisiana Runoff Preview

This Saturday, Louisiana has its runoff. Four big races are up for grabs: a Senate seat, two House seats, and a big mayor’s office. In Europe, there will also be international elections in Romania and Macedonia on Sunday, so as a bonus we are rolling them into this preview. Polls will close in Louisiana at 9p ET Saturday and we will have a liveblog.

Louisiana Runoff: (Louisiana Resources)

A big thanks to J. Miles Coleman at Decision Desk HQ (and posting as “Miles” here) for these awesome maps of the November Primary Results!

LA-Sen:

The big election this weekend is for the last Senate race of 2016. State Treasurer John N. Kennedy (R) is on his third try for the Senate, and it looks like the third time will be the charm for him. Kennedy is an old-school southern populist who ran as a Democrat for this seat in 2004 before switching parties to run against then-Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in 2008. Kennedy has never been on great terms with either the state’s chamber-of-commerce establishment or its grassroots conservative base, which contributed to his two lackluster prior showings. But he has his own powerful brand and dedicated base in a state with a long populist tradition, which was a big asset in the crowded primary field. Kennedy easily took first in the primary with 25%. Additionally, he has the good fortune that none of his Republican rivals were able to slip into second place. Instead, second place with 18% went to Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D). Campbell is something of a mirror image of Kennedy, echoing his populism from a more liberal side, a positioning has enabled him to easily hold his conservative PSC seat covering the northern part of the state. However, in spite of his long tenure in public office, Campbell’s political skills are regarded as mediocre and he has repeatedly fallen short in his efforts to run for Congress and statewide office. This year, Campbell’s task is quite daunting in the red state that only gave Democrats 36% of the vote in this race in November to Republicans’ 59%. Kennedy has coalesced support from both the GOP establishment and the conservative base in the runoff, and Campbell hasn’t really given Republicans a real reason to defect. As a result, Kennedy leads polls of this race by an average of around 20 points and looks like a prohibitive favorite on Saturday. RRH Elections currently rates this runoff as Safe R.

LA-3:

The only truly competitive federal election is for this R+15 (2012) seat stretching from the Acadiana region around Lafayette west to Lake Charles. One of the bigger congressional suprises of election day was the stunningly weak performance of a candidate regarded as this seat’s congressman-elect, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R). Angelle, a former LG and 2015 gubernatorial candidate, is a chamber-of-commerce conservative. He is considered a protege of ex-Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), and benefits from strong establishment ties and high name recognition from his gubernatorial bid. Thus, Angelle was considered a strong front-runner for this seat from the moment he entered, lapping the field in funds, and it seemed very possible he could clear 50% in November. But instead he fell way short and took just 29%. Joining him in the runoff was cop and viral video star Clay Higgins (R), who gained internet fame for his tough-talking videos calling out criminals on behalf of a local sheriff’s department. Despite raising almost nothing, Higgins, an antiestablishment populist, took second place in November with a surprisingly strong 27%. The much lower turnout in the runoff makes this election somewhat hard to predict, and the race could go either way. But given Angelle’s weaker-than-expected performance and Higgins’s tough-guy profile being a good fit for the conservative base, Higgins is probably a slight favorite in the runoff. As you can see from the map, Angelle’s margins largely came from the western part of the district around Lake Charles, where Higgins was unknown before the primary, a dynamic that may be tough to replicate in the runoff. RRH Elections currently rates this runoff as Safe R/Lean Higgins.

LA-4:

This R+21 (2012) seat around Shreveport and covering much of the state’s northwestern portion has a very unexciting election this week. State Rep. Mike Johnson (R) came in second place in this race in November with 25% on strong support from antiestablishment conservatives of both the Fiscal and Social persuasion. Johnson’s polarizing antiestablishment stance might have given him a tough fight in a runoff with another Republican, but he has drawn the good fortune of facing attorney Marshall Jones (D), who took first place with 28% as the race’s only Democrat. Jones is basically a Some Dude and stands no chance of beating Johnson in a low-turnout runoff for the deep-red seat. RRH Elections currently rates this runoff as Safe R.

Baton Rouge Mayor:

Baton Rouge has a consolidated government of the city and county, so even though there are still “city limits” around Baton Rouge’s urban area, East Baton Rouge Parish (county) is the government unit that will be electing a new Mayor this weekend. The Parish was D+4 this year and has a population just shy of 450K. It is roughly 50% White and 45% Black, with whites dominant on the wealthy south side of Baton Rouge proper and the lower-middle-class suburban eastern part of the Parish, and blacks clustered on Baton Rouge’s poor north side and some middle-class black suburbs to the north. Taking first place in November with 32% was ex-State Sen. Sharon Weston-Broome (D). Weston-Broome is a mainstream to slightly moderate establishment liberal with strong name recognition in the black community. Joining her in the runoff is another legislator, State Sen. Bodi White (R), who represents the exurban northeast part of the Parish. White, a mainstream conservative, took second place with 29% in November. Four other serious candidates, two Rs, one D, and one R-turned-I, were in the race in November, and three have endorsed: a moderate Republican has backed White, while the Indie and Dem have backed Weston-Broome. Democrats led the November vote 48-43 with the Indie taking 6% (mostly from wealthy moderates in the city center), so if turnout were to be the same as in November, Weston-Broome would likely have an edge. However, needless to say the runoff will not see Presidential-level turnout, which is probably going to be a significant impediment to Weston-Broome’s poorer black base. As a result, CW is there is no clear favorite and the race could go either way depending on who is more effective at turning out their supporters.

International Elections:

Romania: Romania is a southeast European nation of about 20M in an area roughly the size of Oregon. Romania is an EU member, though it is one of the poorest members of the union and has suffered from relatively lackluster economic growth in recent years. Additionally, corruption is rampant in the nation’s political system. Romanian politics have been shaken up dramatically in recent years by a series of corruption scandals, which led to the collapse of the prior main center-right party, PDL. 466 MPs will be elected by proportional representation on Sunday. The prior Social Democratic government also collapsed last year amid massive protests, and a technocratic interim administration was formed. Despite this chaos, this seems to be very much a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” election: power is likely to flow back to the Social Democrats (PSD), a mainstream center-left party, whose leader, Liviu Dragnea,  currently is serving a suspended sentence for vote-rigging in a prior referendum. In spite of this handicap, the PSD holds a wide lead in the polls with about 40% support and will likely form the next government in some sort of coalition. The main center-right party is the National Liberals (PNL), a business-oriented center-right party with its own corruption problems. The PNL, which absorbed most of the former PDL a few years ago, trails with about 20% support. A new force, the Save Romania Union (USR) has emerged to pull into third this election. The USR is an upscale centrist-technocratic (Bloombergish) party that emphasizes its outsiderish and good-government nature; it has close to 20% support as well. Three other minor parties will likely clear the 5% national barrier needed for representation, though not by much. First is RMDSZ, an ethnic party for the 6% or so of the population that is ethnic Hungarian. RMDSZ is highly transactional and willing to support most governments. There is also ALDE, which as you might guess from the name, is a centrist ALDE/European Liberal party. Finally, there is a minor center-right party, the People’s Movement (PMP), which is a splinter faction of supporters of the former PDL who did not join the PNL. It seems like a PSD-led coalition with support from RMDSZ and possibly ALDE is the most likely outcome, but the peculiarities of the highly corrupt and transactional political system may lead to unexpected results.

Macedonia: Macedonia is a nation of 2.1M north of Greece. If any nation could be called Europe’s forgotten stepchild, it’s probably Macedonia, a tiny and powerless nation mostly notable for having accomplished the remarkable feat of antagonizing all of its neighbors. Relations with Greece have been bad since independence from Yugoslavia in the early 90s, as Greece considers the name of the country an insulting misappropriation of the legacy of Alexander the Great. Indeed, because of Greek demands, Macedonia is called by the ridiculous acronym FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) in all international settings. Relations with Albania are poor because of the relative lack of influence of the country’s large ethnic-Albanian minority. Serbia still mourns the loss of its Yugoslavian empire, while Bulgaria is upset with the Macedonian government for what it sees as cultural appropriation of some Bulgarian figures. These difficulties have been exacerbated by a string of feckless governments, which have not done much to either grow the nation’s economy or put it on any better footing in world policy, and as a result the country’s EU and NATO membership dreams have been essentially on permanent hold. The economic and foreign policy malaise and a string of official corruption cases led to a string of protests against the government that triggered early elections this year. 123 seats in parliament are up, elected by proportional representation in 6 20-seat constituencies, along with 3 seats for citizens abroad. Macedonia has two major parties, along with two ethnic-Albanian parties that generally split the 25% or so of ethnic-Albanian votes; both Albanian parties are center-right but highly transactional in their politics. The incumbent government is led by VMRO-DPMNE, which is often described as center-right but really more of a hybrid between the mainstream center-right and the nationalist populist right, sort of along the lines of the Polish PiS or Hungarian Fidesz; it also has relatively good ties with Russia. The main opposition is the Social Democrats, or SDSM, a relatively standard-issue European center-left party. Despite the massive malaise and protests over the incumbent government’s ineffectiveness and corruption, the population seems ready to double down as VMRO-DPMNE leads by around 10 points. The prospects of this election changing much with regards to Macedonia’s stature on the international stage seem unlikely.

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Political Roundup for December 8, 2016

Good morning from recently frozen Polk County, Iowa.  Please check back this afternoon at 3PM Eastern for our Louisiana Runoff Preview. Here is the news for Thursday:

President

EPA:  President-Elect Donald Trump (R) plans on nominating  Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to be the EPA Administrator.  Pruitt is viewed as being big to Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Corn, which is pretty much a given considering he is from Oklahoma. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) will appoint his replacement as Oklahoma AG for the remainder of his term.

China:  President-Elect Trump plans on nominating Iowa Governor for Life Terry Branstad (R-Corn) to be the next Ambassador to China.  Branstad is the longest serving governor in US history.

Chaos:  President-Elect Trump’s might appear to be very inconsistent in his actions, but chaos seems to be the most constant thing in his political style.  Creating chaos while his opponents do not know what to do (and still seem to have no clue) is a cornerstone of his political success.

Michigan:  The courts have put an end to the Michigan recount chaos.  Green Party candidate Jill Stein (Crazytown) plans on appealing all the way up to Mother Nature if possible.

Philadelphia:  The courts have denied Stein’s demand for an audit of the voting machines in Philadelphia.  I cannot confirm nor deny the rumors that Philadelphia Democratic Party Chairman and Congressman Bob Brady (D) and Congressman Brendan Boyle (D) asked to borrow my tank.

Congress/States

OH-Sen: State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) became the first big-name Senate candidate to kick off his 2018 race yesterday. As Mandel has been campaigning continuously for this seat since he lost to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in 2012, the decision is no surprise. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) is also thought to be interested in this race.

KS-4: Ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) is considering running in the special election to get back the seat he gave up in 2010 now that his successor, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R), is leaving to head the CIA.

Iowa:  Over the last two years, Iowa has gone from never electing a woman to Congress to having a female Senator and now a female Governor.  With presumed Governor for Life Branstad being appointed Ambassador to China, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds (R) will become the first female Governor of Iowa and the presumptive favorite to with the Republican nomination for the 2018 gubenatorial election in this quickly redding state. Agriculture Commissioner Bill Northey (R), who had been considered a gubernatorial candidate possibility, said he would not challenge Reynolds.

Florida: Outgoing Rep. Fratrick Murphy (D) is considering using more of his daddy’s money on a run for Governor in 2018.

Reid:  Retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) predicts the end of the filibuster, but does not take responsibility for starting us down that road.

Ellison:  Representative Keith Ellison (Corbyn) plans on resigning from the House ofd Representatives if elected DNC Chairman.  I am not sure if our Minnesota delegation now supports his DNC candidacy or not to get him out of Minnesota!

International

Brexit:  The House of Commons has given Prime Minister Theresa May the go forward orders to proceed with a Brexit.  89 MPs objected to the will of the people.  The Daily Telegraph has a nice link of those who opposed the motion and how their constituency voted in the Brexit.

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IA-Gov: Gov. Terry Branstad (R) Picked as Ambassador to China

Trump has pulled another Governor to his administration. Five-and-a-half term Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) will be the new ambassador to China. The decision means that Branstad’s service will top out at 22 years (still making him by far the longest-serving Governor ever) and that his handpicked LG, Kim Reynolds (R), will serve out his term and be able to run for re-election in 2018 as an incumbent. This move obviously gives Reynolds a big leg up on the two other Republicans who were considering runs for an open seat in 2018, Ag Commissioner Bill Northey (R) and Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett (R).

326 Comments »

Political Roundup for December 7, 2016

President:

Biden 2020?: Vice President Joe Biden appeared yesterday to indicate he plans to run for president in 2020. But the context in which he made the statement indicates he was in a lighthearted mood during a Senate tribute to his long years of service and may have just been joking. When asked about his statement later, he responded with a double negative and said “I am not committing not to run”. Biden would be 78 in 2020.

Electoral College: A group of Democratic electors from Colorado and Washington, calling themselves the “Hamilton Electors” has been trying to convince Republican electors to not vote for Donald Trump and instead cast their votes for John Kasich. But Kasich wants nothing to do with the effort and is asking electors not to vote for him saying “our country had an election and Donald Trump won.”

Senate:

AL-Sen: Attorney General Luther Strange (R) has officially announced he will run in the special election for the US Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R). Rep. Mo Brooks (R) has also expressed interest in the seat, as well as several state senators and one state representative.

LA-Sen: A new poll shows just why Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D) has such an uphill battle to win Saturday’s US Senate runoff. The poll by Tulane University shows that 31% of Hillary Clinton voters plan to vote for State Treasurer John Kennedy (R). The topline numbers show Kennedy ahead 60-40 over Campbell.

House:

DCCC: Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) apparently is not getting blame as the chairman of the DCCC for a disappointing year that saw Democrats pick up fewer seats than projected. He ran uncontested for re-election to the post and was elected by unanimous consent.

LA-3: Saturday’s runoff for this House seat pits two candidates who identify as conservative Republicans but with starkly different backgrounds. Scott Angelle (R) has served in several different political offices including St. Martin Parish President, Lieutenant Governor, and is currently on the Public Service Commission and is also on the LSU Board of Supervisors. Clay Higgins (R) is a former St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Department officer who gained fame through a series of Crime Stoppers videos in which he addressed criminals directly and vowed to catch them. Angelle was thought to be the clear frontrunner for this seat based on his political experience, but he only received 29% in the primary, not far ahead of Higgins who received 26%. Higgins now seems to be a slight favorite going into Saturday’s election. An interesting facet of the race is that although former Rep. and current Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) has not officially endorsed either candidate, allies of Landry are involved in a PAC opposing Angelle, and Landry is said to be supporting Higgins behind the scenes.

MN-5: Potential candidates are already lining up for a possible special election in the event that Rep. Keith Ellison (D) becomes the next chairman of the DNC and resigns his seat as he has suggested that he might do. State Sens. Scott Dibble (DFL) and Patricia Torres Ray (DFL) have both indicated possible interest in running for a special election. A special election may attract a large number of candidates because nobody would have to give up their current positions to run.

SC-5: Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R) may be yet another current officeholder who is in the running for a spot in the Trump Administration. Mulvaney met with Trump on Monday and is said to be in serious consideration to head the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney would be the 3rd congressman to join the Administration, joining Reps. Tom Price (R), nominated to be Secretary of Health and Human Services and Mike Pompeo (R), nominated to head the CIA.

Governor:

FL-Gov: Attorney John Morgan (D) says he has split emotions about a possible gubernatorial run in 2018 and is in no hurry to make a decision. Part of his split emotions include that he admits he doesn’t have any clear platform to run on at this point and is also close with outgoing Rep. Gwen Graham (D), who is also thinking about running, as well as expresses admiration for potential Democratic candidates Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. But he isn’t convinced any of those candidates can win, which is a reason he is thinking about running.

IA-Gov: A blog has done a Great Mentioner piece on potential candidates for Iowa governor in 2018, assuming Gov. Terry Branstad (R), already the longest serving governor in US history, doesn’t run for a 7th term. There is also the possibility being floated of Branstad being chosen as Ambassador to China, in which case Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds (R), already considered a likely candidate would run as an incumbent. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey (R) is also considered a possible candidate, although he may not run if Reynolds is the incumbent. A possible challenger to Reynolds is Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett (R), a former Iowa House Speaker. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Liz Mathis and incoming Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg, who lost in the 2016 US Senate primary have been mentioned. A longshot possibility to run, but one who would likely be a strong candidate is outgoing US Secretary of Agriculture and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D).

NJ-Gov: Activist Bill Brennan (D), who filed the complaint accusing Gov. Chris Christie (R) with official misconduct in the Bridgegate scandal is planning to run for governor himself next year. Brennan plans to run “under the Bernie Sanders” mantle in the Democratic primary. He attacked Democratic gubernatorial frontunner Phil Murphy for attempting to “purchase the office of governor”. State Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) is also running for the Democrats, as well as several little known candidates who have never held elective office.

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What’s Coming Up in 2017?

Today we’re going to have a little mini-preview look at what’s coming up elections-wise in the next year. Since we will not publish our first full set of 2018 Senate and Governor Ratings until January (and House and Row Officer ratings will wait until later in the year when we have more information available), we are adjusting the following ratings for the elections coming up shortly:

LA-Sen Safe R from Likely R || NJ-Gov Likely D from Lean D

We are also adding one intraparty rating: LA-3 Safe R/Lean Higgins.

New ratings for the 2017 races are below. Here is the Senate/Governor map:

Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
CA-34 (OPEN) NJ-Gov (OPEN)
VA-AG (Herring)
WI-Supt* (Evers) VA-Gov (OPEN)
VA-LG (OPEN)
GA-6 (OPEN) AL-Sen (TBD)
LA-Sen (OPEN)
KS-4 (OPEN)
LA-3 (OPEN) Lean Higgins
LA-4 (OPEN)

Bold denotes a seat we project to flip partisan control. Italics denotes a D-held Tossup seat. (*) denotes a formally non-partisan race.

Governors: (June 6 (NJ) and 13 (VA) primaries/November 7 general)

New Jersey Likely D. After two terms of the now extremely-unpopular Gov. Chris Christie (R), New Jersey Republicans will face an uphill battle trying to hold Drumthwacket in 2017. On the Dem side, wealthy former ambassador Phil Murphy (D) is the prohibitive favorite for the nod. Murphy seems to be taking the Corzine route, eliminating primary opposition by buying off the state’s powerful Dem machines. Murphy is likely to prevail easily over his only primary challenger of significance, State Rep. John Wisniewski (D), who has far less cash and machine backing but is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with an antiestablishment populist-liberal campaign. On the GOP side, State Rep. Jack Ciatarelli (R) is the only candidate of significance in the race so far, but LG Kim Guandagno (R), State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), and State Rep. Jon Bramnick (R) are all thought to be interested in a bid. At this point there is still no clear favorite for the nomination and much will depend on which candidates actually enter, which is still up in the air. The race could also be shaken up dramatically if Guandagno ascends to the top job following a Christie departure to the Trump administration. But thanks to Murphy’s wealth and cleared primary coupled with Christie’s unpopularity and the lean of the state, any Republican will likely face an uphill battle in the general, and Murphy looks more likely than not to be the next Governor of the Garden State.

Virginia Tossup. Owing to Virginia’s unique one-term limit, this will be an open seat in 2017. Democrats’ nominee is LG Ralph Northam (D), who is something of a generic Democrat with some moderate tendencies. Northam’s campaign skills are regarded as mediocre, but he has cleared the primary field and has the lean of the light-blue state on his sight. Republicans have a crowded primary, with four candidates already officially in the race: ex-RNC chair and 2014 Senate nominee Ed Gillespie, Rep. Rob Wittman (R), antiestablishment populist Prince William CE Corey Stewart (R), and State Sen. Frank Wagner (R). All have significant bases of support and could win the primary. Any of the major Republican candidates (save maybe the polarizing Stewart, who has some implosion potential) look likely to be competitive against Northam in the purple to light-blue state, and at this point there is absolutely no clear favorite.

Senate:

Louisiana (December 10, 2016) Safe R. We will have a full preview of this race on Thursday, but suffice to say that populist Treasurer John Kennedy (R) looks likely to get the seat that eluded him as a Dem in 2004 and a Republican in 2008. Kennedy has a wide lead in polls over Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D).

Alabama (TBD but most likely Spring 2017) Safe R. The special election to replace Sen. and AG-designate Jeff Sessions will likely take place in early 2017, though there is a chance that it will be pushed back to 2018 in violation of the spirit (if not the letter) of state law. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) will appoint a replacement for Sessions; he could appoint a placeholder, but if he does not that appointee will get a leg up in the special. Six Republicans have indicated interest in the seat: AG Luther Strange (R), Reps. Mike Rogers (R), Robert Aderholt (R), and Mo Brooks (R), and State Sens. Del Marsh (R) and Tommy Orr (R). Other candidates, such as SoS John Merrill (R), Treasurer Young Boozer (R), Reps. Martha Roby (R) and Gary Palmer (R), and businessman Dean Young (R), could also be in the mix. The primary and runoff will likely be very crowded and contentious, but the general will likely be easy for the GOP nominee in this inelastic conservative state. Possible Dem candidates could include State Sen. Bill Beasley (D), ex-Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (D), and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox (D).

House:

LA-3 & LA-4 (December 10, 2016) Safe R (LA-3 Safe R/Lean Higgins). We will have full previews of these races on Thursday. LA-3, stretching from Lafayette to Lake Charles, is an R-on-R runoff between Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R) and police spokesman and viral video star Clay Higgins (R), while LA-4, based around Shreveport, is between State Rep. Mike Johnson (R) and a Democratic Some Dude.

CA-34 (TBD, but most likely March 7) Safe D. The special to replace California AG Xavier Becerra (D) will likely draw a crowded field for this Hispanic-Majority downtown LA Seat. Ex-State House Speaker John Perez (D) is already in and likely to be the clear front-runner, but multiple other legislators and local officials could be interested. The race will be conducted in Louisiana Rules Top Two format.

GA-6 (TBD Spring 2017) Likely R. The special election to replace HHS Secretary-Designate Tom Price (R) will take place in this formerly heavily Republican but anti-Trump wealthy suburban Atlanta seat. The race will be in Louisiana-Rules Top Two format. State Sen. Judson Hill (R) has already announced a bid. Possible contenders could include Tom’s wife, State Rep. Betty (R), ex-SoS Karen Handel (R), and multiple state legislators on the GOP side, while State Reps. Taylor Bennett (D) and Scott Holcomb (D) have been mentioned as possible Dem contenders.

KS-4 (TBD Spring 2017) Safe R. The special election to replace CIA Director-Designate Mike Pompeo (R) will take place in spring 2017 to fill this Wichita-area deep-red seat. The GOP nominee for the seat will be decided by a convention. Possible candidates include ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), Treasurer Ron Estes (R), Trump campaign official Alan Cobb (R), Wichita councilman Pete Meitzner (R), ex-State Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R), ex-State Rep. Mark Kahrs (R) and Mark Hutton (R), and State Sens. Susan Wagle (R) and Ty Masterson (R) have been mentioned.

Row Officers: Three row officers will have regular elections in 2017, while a fourth will almost certainly see a special election.

VA-LG (June 13 primary/November 7 general) Tossup. This open seat is likely to be a very competitive race. Democrats have a primary favorite in former prosecutor and 2013 AG candidate Justin Fairfax (D), though another former prosecutor, Gene Rossi (D), is also running. Republicans will have a crowded primary between State Sens. Bryce Reeves (R) and Jill Vogel (R) and State Rep. Glenn Davis (R); Reeves looks like a very slight favorite as he has most establishment support outside of NoVa (which is largely in Vogel’s camp), but any of the three could win. The fields could even grow from there as well.  Regardless of nominees, the general election will be highly competitive in the purple state.

VA-AG (June 13 primary/November 7 general) Likely D. Incumbent Mark Herring (D) is likely to win a second term; Virginia has not defeated a row officer for re-election since the current 3-officer system (in which Gov, LG, and AG are the only statewide elected officials) was implemented in the 1920s. Herring will likely face former prosecutor John Adams (R), who has fundraised well but has little name recognition. One other candidate, State Sen. Bill Stanley (R), is still considering the race and might be the favorite in the primary were he to enter. However, barring something unexpected this race seems ot be a lower priority fr the VA GOP relative to the Governor and LG contests.

WI-Supt (February 21 primary/April 4 general) Lean D. This race is technically non-partisan, but incumbent Tony Evers (D) is known to be a Dem and has broad support with left-of-center groups. Three serious right-of-center candidates are vying to take him on in the California-Rules Top Two race. Ex-Beloit superintendent Lowell Holtz (R), Germantown superintendent Jeff Holmes (R), and school administrator John Humphries (R). Holtz looks like a slight favorite over the other two Republicans. Evers has proven a tough opponent in his two terms and looks like a slight favorite for a third against any of his Republican opponents.

LA-Treas (possible special, likely March 25 or October 14) Should Treasurer John Kennedy (R) win the Senate election as expected, his seat will be filled by his top deputy for a year until a special election. If Kennedy resigns immediately, the special will be held on March, while if he waits until January to resign it will likely be held in the fall of 2017. In any case, one candidate, State Rep. John Schroder (R), has already said he will run. Ex-State House Speaker Chuck Kleckley (R) is also considered a possible candidate, as he was considered all but certain to seek the seat in 2015 if Kennedy had not run again. State Sens. Norby Chabert (R), Neil Riser (R), and Mike Walsworth (R), and State Reps. Paul Hollis (R) and Julie Stokes (R) have also got Great Mentioner treatment. Former Senate candidate Rob Maness (R) and ex-Jefferson CE John Young (R) could also be worth watching. No Dems have as yet expressed interest in this seat; outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) is probably the only one who would stand a good chance of making it competitive. With the election being a free ride for all comers the field is likely to be crowded.

Legislatures: There are 3 legislative chambers up in 2017, two more special elections that will determine chamber control, and the potential for multiple special elections in NC.

NJ State Senate: Democrats hold a 24-16 majority in the Senate, and thanks to an exceptionally strong gerrymander, that is unlikely to change by more than a seat or two. Dems look more likely than not to gain seats, particularly SD-7, a deep-blue seat where the popular GOP incumbent is likely to retire, and two swingy GOP-held seats in SD-11 and SD-16. Republicans have reasonable targets in South Jersey seats of SD-1, which is competitive but has a strong Dem incumbent, and SD-2, where the Dem incumbent is likely to retire and both House members (one of each party) are likely to run.

NJ State House: Democrats hold a 52-28 majority in the House, which uses the same gerrymandered maps as the Senate. Republicans have targets in LD-1 and LD-11, while the split-party districts of LD-2 and LD-16 are also likely to be competitive.

VA State House: Republicans hold a 66-34 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, which is unlikely to change very much as the maps are a strong GOP gerrymander. Each side has about 5 reasonable seats to target.

Chamber-Deciding Legislative Specials: There are two key special elections in 2017 that will determine the control of their respective chambers. WA-SD-45 is a special election for a medium-blue GOP held suburban seat around Kirkland. This area is historically-Republican but now D-leaning and trending even harder left with Trump, so the special will likely be hard-fought. It will be filled by a GOP appointee in November, giving Republicans a 25-24 advantage in the Senate for 2017. If Democrats win they will flip that margin. DE-SD-10, a medium-blue seat south of Newark, will see a special election next spring. The race for the previously D-held seat will determine who takes control by an 11-10 margin in the Delaware Senate.

NC Re-Redistricting: There is also a decent chance a number of NC districts will need to be redrawn ahead of special elections next year. I will post my proposed redraw shortly, but it generally looks like about half the legislature will get new districts, including almost all the Democrats in the legislature and around a quarter of each chamber’s Republicans. However, there is the possibility that the call for new elections will be rejected on appeal and the redraw will not take place until 2018.

Local Elections:

There are too many here to preview, but I will flag the major cities and counties that have elections next year along with their dates.

County Executives: Five big counties have County Executives up. Dane, WI – February 21 ||  King, WA – August 1 ||  Nassau, NY – September 12 || Westchester, NY – September 12 || Rockland, NY – September 12

Mayors: Over 40 major cities will have mayoral elections next year. The dates are for the first round of each election. We will have full previews of these elections as they get closer. The most immediate mayoral race is next week in Baton Rouge. (December 10, 2016.) We will have a full preview of this race on Thursday. The runoff is between ex-State Sen. Sharon Weston-Broome (D) and State Sen. Bodi White (R).

 (Spring Season) – Aurora, IL – February 28 || Los Angeles – March 7 || St. Louis – March 7 || Omaha – April 4 || Henderson, NV – April 4 || North Las Vegas – April 4 || San Antonio – May 6 || Fort Worth – May 6 || El Paso – May 6 || Plano – May 6 || Garland, TX – May 6 || Irving, TX – May 6 || Pittsburgh – May 16

(Fall Season) – Seattle – August 1 || Tacoma – August 1 || Detroit – August 8 || Birmingham – August 22 || Mobile – August 22 || St. Petersburg – August 29 || New York – September 12 || Charlotte – September 12 || Cleveland – May 2 || Cincinnati – May 2 || Toledo – May 2 || Buffalo – September 12 || Rochester, NY – September 12 || Boston – September 26 || Albuquerque – October 3 || Raleigh – October 10 || Greensboro – October 10 || Durham – October 10 || Fayetteville, NC – October 10 || New Orleans – October 14 || Atlanta – November 7 || Miami – November 7 || Minneapolis – November 7 || St. Paul – November 7 || Jersey City – November 7 || Hialeah – November 7 || San Bernardino – November 7

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Political Roundup for December 6, 2016

President/National:

HUD: Ben Carson has been nominated to serve as HUD secretary. The choice of the retired neurosurgeon and vanity presidential candidate is somewhat surprising; he would seem to be a more appropriate choice for Agriculture due to his extensive knowledge of grain storage techniques.

Governor:

AL-Gov: Jefferson County commissioner David Carrington (R) became the first Republican to openly declare interest in the Governor’s race. Carrington, who has improved the county’s formerly-troubled finances in his time in office, has a geographic base in the state’s largest county but will likely face a very crowded primary field. State Rep. Craig Ford (D) has also indicated interest in the race from the Dem side.

GA-Gov: Outgoing Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) has embarked on a statewide listening tour ahead of a likely run for Governor. Westmoreland will likely face LG Casey Cagle (R), SoS Brian Kemp (R), and potentially others in the primary.

IL-Gov: Billionaire JB Pritzker (D), part of the family that runs Hyatt Hotels, is considering a run for Governor and could self-fund. Pritzker previously lost a 1998 congressional primary for IL-9, but his self-funding would be music to the ears of Democrats struggling to take on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R) unlimited personal resources. Chicago councilman Ameya Pawar (D), a bold progressive, is to date the only other Dem who has shown serious interest in taking on Rauner.

NJ-Gov: A Q poll shows Gov. Chris Christie (R) getting even more unpopular, while Democrats lead on the generic ballot for next year’s Governor race.

NC-Gov: Gov. Pat McCrory (R) officially conceded his re-election race yesterday to AG Roy Cooper (D) after a recount failed to improve the several thousand vote margin between the two.

SC-Gov: Sen. Tim Scott (R) will not run for Governor; his path to what could have been an easy win was complicated substantially when Gov. Nikki Haley (R) accepted the UN Ambassadorship, allowing LG Henry McMaster (R) to ascend to the top job and presumably run in 2018 as an incumbent.

House:

CA-34: State Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D) will run for Rep. Xavier Becerra’s (D) seat, becoming the second credible contender into the race for this downtown LA district. However, Gomez is an underdog to ex-State House Speaker John Perez (D), who has stronger establishment support. Additionally, LA city councilman Jose Huizar (D) announced he would not run for this seat yesterday. Gomez and Huizar’s decisions leave State Rep. Miguel Santiago (D) and city councilman Gil Cedillo (D) as the only major candidates still undecided on this race.

State & Local:

SC-LG: The question of who will fill LG Henry McMaster’s (R) seat when he ascends to the Governor’s chair is getting even thornier. You may recall that South Carolina is phasing out its separate-election LG system in favor of a system where the Governor nominees choose their running mates. But it is unclear if the provision in the law that lets the Governor fill an LG vacancy will go into effect now, or if the old law (in which the powerful State Senate President “ascends” to the powerless LG job) remains in effect. It was thought that no Senator would want the LG post, but now it seems that State Sen. Kevin Bryant (R), a staunch conservative, is willing to give up his seat to take the job. McMaster was rumored to favor Haley admin official and gubernatorial rival Catherine Templeton (R) for the #2 post, but Bryant’s interest could put a thumb on the scale in favor of leaving the old rule intact.

VA-LG: Longtime Hillary aide Adam Parkhomenko (D) is considering a run for LG next year. Prosecutor and 2013 AG candidate Justin Fairfax (D) is widely considered the front-runner for the Dem nod in this open seat.

San Antonio Mayor: Councilman Ron Nirenberg (I), a liberal-leaning independent who represents a relatively conservative district, will run for mayor. This will likely create a relatively confusing race, as Nirenberg’s opponent will be incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor (D), an open DINO who is supported by many Republicans. Other candidates could still enter for this spring 2017 election.

WA-SD-45: Ex-State Sen. Dino Rossi (R) was chosen to fill this Dem-leaning GOP-held seat before a 2017 special election that will determine the chamber’s balance of power. Rossi says he will not seek the seat in the special election.

International:

The Gambia: Now here may be the most unexpected political good news story in a while: Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh has conceded he lost an election last week and will step down. A former military officer who seized power in a bloodless coup (all smotherings), Jammeh has ruled the tiny West African nation of 2M surrounded by Senegal for 22 years. His rule has featured the typical dictatorial style of crackdowns on opposition and rigged elections. The election last week was widely expected to be rigged in his favor, but it seems the fraud wasn’t enough and opposition candidate Adama Barrow was acknowledged the winner. Even more remarkably, Jammeh has peacefully conceded and Barrow is set to take office in two months.

Ghana: Tomorrow, there is a general election in Ghana. Ghana is an English-speaking West African nation in the densely-populated Gold Coast region west of Nigeria. It has a population of 26M in a land area comparable to that of Oregon. Despite being a quite poor nation, Ghana is arguably the best-developed democracy on the entire African mainland. Elections are generally free and fair and there have been multiple peaceful transfers of power between the two major parties. The political system has obvious genuflections toward America’s; the president is elected every four years and the parliament is elected simultaneously in 275 first-past-the-post constituencies. Ghana’s two parties are the center-left National Democratic Congress and the center-right New Patriotic Party (which uses an Elephant as its symbol); the two are about as evenly matched as America’s Democratic and Republican Parties. Incumbent John Dramini Mahama of the NDC won a narrow election two years ago, continuing an 8-year stretch in power. However, the economy has tanked in recent years and corruption has become a bigger problem, and thus Mahama looks likely to lose a rematch this year with NPP candidate and former AG Nana Akufu-Addo, who narrowly lost both the 2008 and 2012 presidential races but looks set to win this time. Odds are the NPP will also take control of the legislature.

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Political Roundup for December 5, 2016

Good morning from politically confused Gwinnett County, Georgia.  As the European Union is facing another existential crisis while also breathing a sigh of relief, it is time for the news starting abroad:

International

Italy:  The constitutional reform package referendum has been defeated as Italians are happy to remain with a government that would be even incompetent and corrupt by NY Prize Patrol standards.  Due to the defeat of the reforms, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his resignation upon learning of the defeat.

Austria:  While the champions of the Fourth Reich face an existential crisis over Renzi being ran out of town, they can breathe easy over Austria as the Austrians selected center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen over neofacist far-right candidate Norbert Hofer.  Van der Bellen won by a comfortable 53 to 46 percent margin in this iteration of the presidential election.

New Zealand:  Prime Minister and National Party leader John Key announced his resignation effective December 12.  Key already announced he would not seek a fourth term as Prime Minister in 2017.

Brexit:  The British Conservatives are busy figuring out how they will implement the Brexit while the UK Supreme Court is under the microscope for essentially acting like the good ole Star Chamber or US Supreme Court.

US

Party Unity: Even when your party is led by a guy most of your colleagues despised only weeks ago, you still can be unified as long as you are winning.  Republicans are unified more than they have been in a a while, but the Democrats are adrift mulling going Corbyn.

More Democrat Blame Game:  Another article on how the Democrats are blaming everything for their historic loss in November.  All I can say is that they better go Full Corbyn.

Pence: Vice-President Elect Mike Pence (R-Luckiest Guy of 2016) is pulling most of the shots when it comes to selecting the Trump cabinet.  Hopefully President-Elect Trump (Figurehead) continues to focus his energies on high level projects and twitter wars while letting Pence govern.

China:  Speaking of Twitter Wars, President-Elect Trump is bashing Communist China over currency manipulation and the South China Sea.  Anyone who thinks his call to the Taiwanese President was not an intentional diplomatic slight to the Communist Chinese can stop thinking that.  Beijing is not happy, but nobody is really sure how to handle diplomacy in the Twitter driven world of diplomacy being introduced by Trump.

PA-Sen: Representative Pat Meehan (DelCo R) is mulling a run for US Senate against Senator Bob Casey (D).  Meehan would be the strongest challenger Casey has faced since the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary when now former Governor Ed Rendell (D-Clinton) vaporized him.

Federalism:  In a move that screams pure hypocrisy, progressives are now discovering the virtues of federalism in light of a Republican trifecta being led by Trump.  This article pretty much shows the left is completely consumed by power and interest groups without a coherent ideology beyond identity politics.

CalExit: While the possibility of California leaving the union is extremely remote, here is a look at the points of friction between California and the rest of the country during the incoming Trump administration.