Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Latest on the Impending Massachusetts Senate Race

William "Mo" Cowan

William “Mo” Cowan

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has appointed his former chief of staff, 43-year-old William “Mo” Cowan, to replace former Sen. John Kerry (D). Kerry resigned his position yesterday upon confirmation as President Obama’s Secretary of State.

Mo Cowan becomes the second African American to join the current Senate, marking the first time that two blacks have served here together since Reconstruction. Ironically, neither is an elected member, as South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) also was recently appointed.

Cowan will serve until the winner of the state’s special election is sworn into office. Since the Massachusetts election certification process is long in duration, it is Continue reading >

Senate Politics Already Hot

Massachusetts

Considering yesterday’s confirmation of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) as Secretary of State, expect Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to name an interim replacement this week. He previously indicated that he intends to appoint a caretaker who will serve only until voters choose a new senator in the June 25 special general election and through the succeeding post-election certification period.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) is the only announced special election candidate from either political party, but Boston Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8) is expected to join the race before week’s end. Democratic Party leaders have worked hard to give Markey an unimpeded march to the nomination, but a Lynch candidacy means that there will be a significant Democratic primary to be decided in an April 30th election.

Little definitive action is yet occurring on the Republican side, but the party’s nominee likely will be either former Sen. Scott Brown, ex-Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, or former state senator and 6th District congressional candidate Richard Tisei. Ex-Gov. Bill Weld is unlikely to enter the contest. Should Brown decide to run he will almost assuredly have an unopposed primary, thus providing him an opportunity to build Continue reading >

Big Developments in the Massachusetts Senate Special Election

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown

News is occurring rapidly in the replacement special election for Secretary of State-designee John Kerry’s Massachusetts Senate seat.

First, despite Kerry not yet being confirmed, Gov. Deval Patrick and Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin have announced the special election schedule. The party primaries will be held April 30, with the special general vote occurring on June 25. A plurality of the vote wins the respective Democratic and Republican nominations.

Secondly, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8) is not denying a Boston Globe report that he will enter the special election soon to challenge Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) in the Democratic primary. The road will be a Continue reading >

Chambliss, Harkin to Retire; Senate Dominoes Falling

The past few days brought two Senate retirement announcements as both Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) made public their intentions not to seek another term. When the 113th Congress ends in January 2015, Harkin will conclude 40 years of congressional service: 30 in the Senate and 10 in the House. Sen. Chambliss will complete two senatorial terms after serving four as a Representative for a grand total of 20 years in elective federal office.

Georgia

The Georgia race likely will be decided from the Republican nomination process, and at least two current GOP House members, Reps. Tom Price (R-GA-6) and Paul Broun (R-GA-10), are likely Senate contenders. Reps. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3) are also potential candidates, as are former presidential aspirant Herman Cain and ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel. Democratic Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12), who successfully held a newly configured Republican-leaning seat in 2012, says he will not run statewide but is planning to seek re-election in 2014.

Iowa

The open Iowa campaign will be much different from the Georgia situation as competitive party primaries are expected as well as a tough general election race. It is not out of the realm of possibility that all four of Iowa’s sitting US Representatives Continue reading >

Halvorson Strategy Working Early

Debbie Halvorson

Debbie Halvorson

The first two election surveys have been released for the Feb. 26 special Democratic primary race in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, and the polling leader in both instances isn’t who one would expect. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), hoping to split the 60 percent-plus, majority African-American voter contingent among at least six well-known black candidates and win with a small plurality coalition of white voters, appears to be in early position to achieve her strategic objective.

The Normington-Petts Democratic survey research firm just completed an internal poll (Jan. 8-10; 400 likely Democratic primary voters) for candidate Toi Hutchinson, who Continue reading >

Lautenberg Attacks Booker

Just after a new Quinnipiac University survey (Jan. 15-21; 1,647 registered New Jersey voters; 616 Democratic primary voters) gave Newark Mayor Cory Booker a 51-30 percent lead over Sen. Frank Lautenberg in a hypothetical Democratic primary pairing, an awakening incumbent struck back. The senator, who most believe will retire rather than face what appears will be a very divisive party primary against Booker, responded to the mayor’s semi-offensive in a key interview.

Speaking with a National Journal reporter, Lautenberg said of Booker, “He’s got a lot of work to do — a lot of work that should have been done and hasn’t been done [with reference to solving the city of Newark’s problems]. The senator went onto say that Newark is a “city in desperate need of attention.” He further said that “maybe if the mayor can solidify the fact that he wants to improve Newark by being there, things would be different. But he’s free to do as he wants to do.”

Lautenberg will be 90 years old before the next election, which polling shows is a decided negative among all voter segments. Booker has said both that he does not want to challenge Lautenberg, but has the desire to run for the Senate, and in 2014.

The early sparring suggests that this would be a divisive primary if it were to occur, but the most likely course of action still points to Lautenberg, perhaps reluctantly, deciding to retire.

Age Matters in the NJ Senate Race: Booker Way Ahead

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D)

Quinnipiac University polled New Jersey voters including a subset of self-identified Democratic primary participants (Jan. 15-21; 1,647 registered New Jersey voters; 616 Democratic primary voters), questioning them about a proposed nomination battle between Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. So far, Booker has said he will defer to the elder senator, but has also made it clear that he wants to run for the Senate in 2014. Lautenberg is expected to retire, and numbers such as the ones Quinnipiac produced should hasten his departure.

According to the data, Booker would defeat Lautenberg 51-30 percent if the statewide Democratic primary were held in this current time period. Perhaps even more troubling for the senator is the fact that he trails Booker by more than 20 points even though his job approval is positive. Concerns about his age — Lautenberg will be 90 at the time of the next election – are clearly weighing upon the electorate.
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Netanyahu’s Hold Tenuous; New Franken Polling

Looking at an important election beyond our borders, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu Party seemed to be holding steady in first place with 31 seats, but fewer than the 32-35 range that was projected. In the 2009 election, Likud scored 27 seats, but after officially joining forces with Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman the combined total expanded to 42 of the 120 seats in Israel’s Knesset. Netanyahu was then able to add other center-right parties to form the current government.

This time the eventual coalition will look much different. Some even believe disgruntled Likud supporters may look for a leadership alternative to Netanyahu. The key to forming the next coalition will be surprise second-place finisher Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which earned 19 seats. The Labor Party, predicted to finish second, placed third, winning 17 seats. Netanyahu has already asked Lapid to join his government, and preliminary indications are that he will. With the center-left parties scoring either 58 or 59 seats, however, the Prime Minister has a very thin margin from which to form a government. As the leader whose party finished first in the balloting, Netanyahu has 42 days to form a governing coalition.

Voter turnout was high, estimated at 66.6 percent of the eligible electorate, meaning almost 3.77 million participants. This Continue reading >

Gun Control: Dueling Pollsters

Gun Control Polls

Gun Control Polls

Two national pollsters went into the field over the same period with virtually the same sample size, but derived very different conclusions about a consistent subject matter. Both Gallup (Jan. 17; 1,021 adults) and Rasmussen Reports (Jan. 16-17; 1,000 adults) asked questions about the current state of gun control, but did so from opposite perspectives. Not surprisingly, the resulting answers and underlying premise varied widely.

Gallup asked about Pres. Obama’s new gun control proposals, but did not provide the respondents with any specifics. Their question: “… as you may know, yesterday President Obama proposed a set of new laws designed to reduce gun violence in the United States. From what you know or have read about this, would you want your representative in Congress to vote for or against these new laws?” As a point of clarification, though Gallup refers to the Obama proposals as “laws,” the legislation has not yet been officially introduced nor passed.

The Gallup sampling universe responded 53-41 percent in favor of enacting the Obama proposals.
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Arkansas GOP Snapshot

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr (R), it is being reported, will soon announce his candidacy to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor next year. Darr was also thought of as a potential gubernatorial candidate, but with former Rep. Asa Hutchinson already in that race, it appears that Darr will opt for the Senate.

The move would give Arkansas Republicans two strong candidates for the two top statewide contests. The governor’s campaign will be an open-seat campaign, as incumbent Mike Beebe (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Sen. Pryor was first elected in 2002. He was re-elected in 2008 without any opposition. His father, David Pryor, served three terms in the Senate from 1979-1997, after six years in the US House and one term as governor of Arkansas.

Natural State voters trended heavily to the GOP in the 2012 election, with the party’s candidates taking all four of the state’s congressional districts. Still, considering Sen. Pryor’s personal popularity, unseating him in 2014 would qualify as a major upset.

SC-1

Almost all of the early SC-1 special election campaign action has been on the Republican side, especially with former Gov. Mark Sanford entering the field of candidates. But now, two Democrats, including the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, are joining the Continue reading >

New National Gun Control Data

AR-15

AR-15

Three key points are notable from a new nationwide gun control survey.

First, the number of people who believe that controlling gun ownership is more important than protecting the right of Americans to own guns has changed since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, driven by the event itself, the massive amount of media attention and the attention given to it by politicians — but not by a great degree.

Second, gender is the key driver in gun control politics.

Third, the political party breakdown reports some surprising numbers.
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West Out; Sanford In

FL-18

Former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), just after joining Internet-based PJ Media as a political pundit, says he will not seek a re-match with Rep. Patrick Murphy (R-FL-18) next year.

West originally was elected in Florida’s 22nd District, defeating two-term incumbent Ron Klein (D) in 2010. Redistricting made the 22nd CD heavily Democratic, as evidenced by Rep. Lois Frankel’s (D) win over Republican Adam Hasner (R), despite a strong campaign from the latter. Instead of staying in the Palm Beach seat, West bolted north to run in the open 18th District, a seat more hospitable to Republicans but containing only about one-third of his original voters. West failed to win a second term in a tight outcome.

Look for the GOP to make the 18th a heavy Republican target, but with a new candidate. The name being mentioned most often is that of former state Rep. Joe Negron, who ran an almost impossible race in 2006. When Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL-16) resigned his seat in disgrace, Negron was chosen as the GOP replacement nominee but, under a Florida election law quirk, voters still had to vote for Foley in order to support him since the change in nominees came after the ballots were printed. Needless to say, Negron failed to overcome this obstacle despite a valiant campaign Continue reading >

Hawaii Heating Up

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1)

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1)

When Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) appointed Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D) to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), he ignited a budding Democratic Party firestorm. Sen. Inouye, before his death, communicated to the governor that his favored choice for a successor was Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1). Hanabusa, reportedly miffed for being passed over despite the esteemed Senator’s endorsement, is already beginning to rattle her political saber.

In an interview with KHON-TV in Honolulu, the congresswoman confirmed that she is considering a race against both Schatz and Abercrombie as well as running for re-election. In response to a direct question about her future political plans, Hanabusa confirmed that “… they will all be on the Continue reading >

Hillary Flies High on a Low-Flying Poll

A new Public Policy Polling national survey (Jan. 3-6; 1,100 registered voters; 400 Democratic and 536 regular Republican primary participants) projects Hillary Clinton to be in the strongest position of all potential 2016 presidential candidates from either party, but the poll has methodological flaws.

According to the data, Clinton would easily capture the Democratic nomination, scoring a 57-16 percent margin over Vice President Joe Biden. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren notched 4 percent, followed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at 3 percent, while Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner tallied 2 percent apiece.

The poll then paired only Clinton against a myriad of Republican potential candidates such as former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Clinton beats them all in hypothetical individual ballot test match-ups, but early results such as these are inconsequential and particularly so in this poll. Of the aforementioned, Christie fares best coming within two points of Clinton, behind 42-44 percent. All of the others trail her in double-digits.
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Sen. Rockefeller To Retire

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

At the end of last week, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) became the first 2014 election cycle senator to announce that he will not seek re-election. The move is not a surprise, particularly in light of his age (77, at the time of the next election), the attacks he’s launched on his home state coal industry, previously Democratic West Virginia now swinging decidedly toward Republicans, and looking at a tough new opponent in the guise of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) who announced her own senatorial bid earlier this month.

Rockefeller will leave the Senate after he completes his fifth term. Prior to serving in Washington, the senator was a two-term governor, secretary of state, and member of the House of Delegates. In all, when his current term ends at the beginning of 2015, he will have served 48 of his last 52 years in public office.
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