Monthly Archives: February 2013

Iowa’s Latham a No-Go for Senate Race

Rep. Tom Latham

Rep. Tom Latham

Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) announced yesterday that he will not seek the open Iowa Senate seat next year. His decision is not particularly surprising. Iowa insiders had been indicating for more than a week that the 10-term congressman was leaning against launching a statewide bid.

In publicizing his decision, Latham indicated that he had just been re-elected to the House in a much different post-redistricting CD — in fact, 83 percent of the constituents are new to him — and a two-year statewide campaign would take him away from properly fulfilling his current responsibilities.

Politically, though he was commonly seen as the best general election candidate the Republicans could field, he faced a major obstacle in the GOP primary. Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4), fresh from his own convincing re-election victory over a strong and well-known Democratic opponent, commands the inside track to the Senate nomination. King is backed with vigorous Tea Party support and enjoys strong grassroots presence for his Republican nomination campaign, which are major factors.

Late January and early February polling provided us a quick glimpse into how the  Continue reading >

Robin Kelly Wins Democratic Primary in Illinois

As expected, ex-Cook County Chief Executive Officer Robin Kelly won the special Democratic congressional primary to replace resigned Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) in the Chicago-anchored 2nd Congressional District. Kelly is now a lock to win the heavily Democratic seat in the special general election scheduled for April 9.

Kelly easily outdistanced former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) 52-25 percent. The ex-congresswoman was making her second attempt at winning this district (losing to Jackson 29-71 percent in the CD-2 2012 regular Democratic primary) after suffering a re-election defeat in the 11th District two years ago. Prior to serving one term in the US House, Halvorson represented part of Will County in the state Senate for 12 years, rising to the position of Majority Leader.

In this special primary, the Chicago/Cook County vote coalesced around Kelly, thus giving her the inside track to victory. Halvorson’s only hope was to see the urban vote split among several candidates and thus allow her to solidify the more suburban and small rural constituency in the Will and Kankakee County areas of the district. Once the Chicago political establishment began to solidify behind Kelly, and other strong candidates began withdrawing and subsequently endorsing her, the race was effectively clinched.

Halvorson also had to endure a $2 million-plus pounding from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC, which ran a series of attack ads against her vis-a-vis the gun control issue and her previous support from the National Rifle Association.

Placing third was Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale who scored 11 percent. A total of 16 Democratic candidates received votes in last night’s primary, with just three  Continue reading >

Wild Italian Election Results

We don’t often stray into the international world of campaigns and elections, but because the result of the important Italian election was even more unusual than predicted, we are.

Choosing the membership of the country’s new Parliament will have a great effect upon whether the Italian economy — Europe’s third-largest economic entity — stabilizes, and therefore all of the Eurozone. Certainly this region’s economic status has great effect upon the United States.

The underlying electoral conclusion is uncertain. With former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party coalition apparently headed toward controlling a Senate plurality and the center-left coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party and current Prime Minister Mario Monti’s small Civic Choice Party claiming the majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the country will likely succumb to political stalemate. Both the CoD and Senate wield equal power.

Perhaps the biggest political story is the performance of comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement Party. If the final vote tallies meet expectations, Grillo’s party will be the largest single entity in both houses and of similar size to both coalitions. Because Grillo was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in 1980, he was ineligible to run for Parliament, but he is the face of this insurgent political entity and will wield significant power behind the scenes.

Turnout was below the last election’s (2008) participation rate of 80 percent of the eligible voters. More than 50 million Italians were eligible to vote this year, and it appears over 75 percent participated. The election being held in February instead of the normal spring time, and heavy snow and rain falling throughout the country were factors in pushing the turnout downward.

Much is yet to happen as all sides maneuver for political position. The final resolution is anything but clear.

IL-2 Primaries Tomorrow

The first and most important step to replacing resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) occurs tomorrow as Democrats and Republicans go to the polls in Illinois to choose their respective nominees. Former Cook County CEO Robin Kelly appears best positioned to win the Democratic primary. Because this Chicago-anchored seat is so heavily Democratic (Obama ’12: 81 percent), tomorrow’s party primary is tantamount to victory in the April 9 special general election.

Originally, it appeared that the majority African-American Chicago vote could split among as many as four candidates, thus potentially allowing former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) to construct a coalition of less liberal, suburban, and rural voters in order to cobble together a victorious plurality.

Kelly’s ability to coalesce Chicago political leaders, such as Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL-1), Mike Quigley (D-IL-5), Danny Davis (D-IL-7), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), around her candidacy, and then winning state Sen. Napoleon Harris and Sen. Toi Hutchinson’s endorsements after they both withdrew as candidates, has clearly made her tomorrow’s electoral favorite. Getting the lion’s share of the Chicago vote will guarantee victory in the Democratic primary.
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Yes, No, Maybe So

Some of the 2014 US Senate races are already beginning to take shape, while others have yet to develop.

In just the past few days, political insiders in central Georgia are reporting that Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA-2) is telling supporters that he is seriously considering entering the open Senate race. In Iowa, others are saying that while Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4) is moving toward running for his state’s open Senate seat, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) is more likely to seek re-election than run statewide.

Below is a quick snap-shot of the candidate situation in what are expected to be the more hotly contested Senate campaigns of the election cycle:

  • ALASKA: Sen. Mark Begich (D) – Seeking his second term
    • In: Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R)
    • Possible: Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (R)
    • Unlikely: Gov. Sean Parnell (R)
    • Out: Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R)
  • ARKANSAS: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) – Seeking his third term
    • In: Lt. Gov. Mike Darr (R)
    • Possible: Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4)
    • Out: Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2)
  • GEORGIA: Open Seat – Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) – Retiring
    • In: Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10)
    • Likely: Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11)
    • Possible: Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA-2), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6), Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12), Sec of State Brian Kemp (R)
    • Unlikely: Former Sen. Max Cleland (D), former Sec of State Karen Handel (R), Mayor Kasim Reed (D)
    • Out: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3)

     Continue reading >

Montana’s Baucus is Vulnerable

A new Public Policy Polling survey (Feb. 15-17; 1,011 registered Montana voters; 371 “usual” Democratic primary voters) shows clear vulnerability for Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT). The senator, first elected in 1978, is preparing a run for a seventh term next year. Prior to his service in the Senate, Baucus spent four years in the US House of Representatives.

While the senator’s numbers aren’t particularly strong, he fares much worse against individuals unlikely to challenge him. Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), who has repeatedly said he has no intention of running for the Senate, compares very well to Baucus if he were to oppose him in the Democratic primary. According to the survey results, the ex-two-term governor would bury the veteran federal incumbent 54-35 percent. Schweitzer’s personal favorability index registers a strong 56:37 percent positive to negative. In contrast, Sen. Baucus’ job approval ratio is an upside down 45:48 percent.

Three Republicans are highly competitive with the senator, but at least two of them won’t become candidates. Former Gov. Marc Racicot (R) leads Baucus 47-42 percent. Freshman Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT-AL) enjoys a 49-44 percent margin over the incumbent. Newly elected Attorney General Tim Fox (R) trails Baucus only 43-46 percent.

When paired individually against the two Republicans who have announced a campaign for the Senate — ex-state Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton and state Rep. Champ Edmunds — Sen. Baucus re-establishes healthy leads. He tops Stapleton 45-38 percent, while posting a full 10-point advantage over Edmunds, 47-37 percent.
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First Georgia Senate Polls

Max Cleland

Max Cleland

Two different pollsters tested the Georgia electorate about their new open Senate race (Sen. Saxby Chambliss retiring) and came away finding that one party’s strongest candidate is someone who shows no interest in running.

Both Harper Polling (Feb. 11-12; 939 registered Georgia voters; 375 Republican primary voters; 338 Democratic primary voters) and Public Policy Polling (Feb. 15-18; 602 registered Georgia voters; 366 Republican primary voters) found that Democratic former Sen. Max Cleland, who served one term from 1997 to 2003 (he lost his 2002 re-election to Sen. Chambliss 46-53 percent), would defeat all potential Republican nominees if he were to run in 2014. The former senator, now 70 years old, has given no indication that he is contemplating a political comeback, however.

Tested against the four Republican US representatives who have either entered the race or are considering such, Harper projects that Cleland would place ahead of  Continue reading >

Nebraska Sen. Johanns to Retire

In a surprising announcement, first-term Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (R), announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election next year. Johanns, a former US Agriculture Secretary, two-term Nebraska governor, mayor, and county commissioner was elected to the Senate in 2008, defeating rancher Scott Kleeb 58-40 percent.

Sen. Johanns appeared to be a lock for a second term, but says he and his wife’s desire to return to “a quieter life” after what will be 32 years in public office at the end of this Congress is what drives his decision.

The seat should easily remain in Republican hands because the Democrats have a weak political bench in the Cornhusker State. With their best possible candidate, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, losing badly to freshman Sen. Deb Fischer (42-58 percent) last November in what was a clear Democratic year nationally, the party leaders and candidates will have a difficult time reaching the realm of competitiveness in 2014.

On the Republican side, the early speculation surrounds popular term-limited Gov. Dave Heineman. Clearly, he would be the party’s strongest candidate should he make the run.

If the governor takes a pass on the race, then look for one or more of the state’s three congressmen to take the leap. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE-3) are more likely to run than 2nd District Rep. Lee Terry (R). Terry, just appointed chairman of the House Sub-Committee (of Energy & Commerce) on Commerce, Manufacturing, & Trade, may  Continue reading >

NPR Poll: Lynch Now Close in Mass.

Rep. Lynch | Rep. Markey

The MassINC Polling Group (Feb. 11-13; 498 registered Massachusetts voters) surveying for WBUR Public Radio in Boston, the New England region’s largest NPR affiliate, reveals a major tightening of the special US Senate Democratic primary contest between Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5).

Contrasting with a Public Policy Polling survey conducted Jan. 29-30 of 404 registered Massachusetts Democratic voters that showed Markey crushing Lynch 52-19 percent, the new MassINC study projects the Boston congressman pulling to within just seven points of the front-runner, trailing only 31-38 percent.

The MassINC poll has some structural flaws, i.e. the Democratic primary sampling universe’s size is not disclosed but must fall within a range of 270 to 304 respondents, most likely around the 284 figure. This is very low for a statewide primary survey, thus making their final conclusions less reliable.

Still, the MassINC findings do seem more plausible than the previous PPP study that staked Markey to a 33-point lead, a spread that seemed excessive so early in the process. Based upon the MassINC results it  Continue reading >

Sen. Lautenberg To Retire … Again

In a development that was generally expected, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election next year. The senator is 89 years old, meaning he will be 90 at the time of the 2014 general election and 96 if he were to fully serve his next term. Though Lautenberg’s job approval numbers are good, his age is viewed as an overwhelming negative within every voter group.

This is actually the second time Lautenberg will retire from the Senate. Originally elected in 1982 he served three consecutive terms, choosing not to seek re-election in 2000. Two years later, however, when then-Sen. Bob Torricelli (D) was forced from the Democratic ticket due to scandal, the party leaders chose Lautenberg to replace the departing incumbent just a month before the 2002 election. He went on to score a 54-44 percent victory over Republican businessman Doug Forrester.

Sen. Lautenberg was subsequently re-elected in 2008, a 56-42 percent win over former Rep. Dick Zimmer (R-NJ-12) after defeating Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ-1) 59-35 percent in the Democratic primary. In all, Lautenberg, upon completing what will now be his final term in the Senate, will have served five non-consecutive six-year terms.

Despite his age, the senator was adamant, until yesterday, that he had not made a decision about seeking re-election. Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s statements saying that he wanted to run for Senate in 2014 clearly irked the incumbent, but the polls were unmistakable in positioning Lautenberg as a double-digit underdog if the two men were to face each other in the Democratic primary.
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New Landrieu Polling

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D)

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D)

Public Policy Polling recently surveyed a Louisiana (Feb. 8-12; 603 registered Louisiana voters) sampling group for purposes of testing three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D) re-election viability. What they found is a senator who leads all of her potential Republican opponents, but only by close or relatively close margins. Ironically, it is the individual most likely to run, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6), who appears to be in the weakest position.

On the job approval front, Sen. Landrieu scores a very mediocre 47:45 percent positive to negative, but this is a big improvement over PPP’s last poll (August 2010) when she was upside down to the tune of 41:53 percent.

Perhaps the bigger news is how far Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has dropped in popularity. Though Jindal has already removed himself from consideration for the Senate race, PPP  Continue reading >

2014 House Challenges

Already, several individuals have announced, or will likely announce, challenges to certain incumbent House members for the 2014 election cycle. As in the early part of all election cycles, the political moves are very fluid, but the ones listed below appear concrete:

Challengers

  • CA-35: Ex-Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA-43), defeated in 2012 by then-state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D), will seek a re-match with the woman who ousted him from the House. Under California’s top-two election law, both Democrats qualified for the general election, and will likely do so again. It was a bit of a surprise that Baca decided to run in new District 35 back in 2012, when his home and political base (city of Rialto: population 100,662) was placed in new District 31, represented by Rep. Gary Miller (R). Though he could opt to challenge Miller in a district that contains 44 percent of his former constituency, the former congressman appears committed to running another race against freshman Rep. Negrete McLeod.
  • CO-6: Rep. Mike Coffman (R), winning a close 48-46 percent victory in a new Democratic district where President Obama recorded 52 percent, will face another difficult re-election contest. Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), a defeated 2010 Senatorial candidate, is formally in the  Continue reading >

Jumping the Gun in Massachusetts?

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5)

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5)

The special US Senate election to replace newly confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry has yet to occur, but already we have one candidate announcement pertaining to a secondary campaign and another conditional candidacy. Should Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) win the special statewide election on June 25, then an election to fill his vacant 5th District congressional position subsequently will be called.

State Rep. Carl Sciortino on Friday announced that he will run in the special election to replace Markey. Sciortino, who bills himself as a “leading progressive,” was elected to the state House in 2004 at the age of 25.
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Mr. Smith Looks to Go to Washington; Alaska Numbers

State Rep. Jason Smith, the Missouri House of Representatives’ Speaker Pro Tempore, was chosen Saturday as the Republican nominee for the June 4 special election called to replace resigned Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO-8). Earlier this month, the congresswoman left the House to become the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

Eighty-four of the 86 designated members from the 30 county Republican committees that comprise the 8th Congressional District, and 14 at-large voters, caucused in the small town of Van Buren to nominate a standard bearer. Smith won on the sixth ballot, defeating Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and former state Sen. Jason Crowell. Ex-Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith withdrew after the fifth ballot. Former one-term congressman Wendell Bailey was eliminated after three. Smith led the balloting in all six rounds and recorded 55 votes on the final vote, five more than he needed to claim the nomination. Neither Kinder nor Crowell ever topped the 20-vote mark.

Jason Smith, an attorney and farmer, is serving his fifth term in the state House, originally coming to the legislature via special election to fill a vacancy in 2005. He was unopposed in new District 120 last November. Born in St. Louis, the 32-year-old legislator moved to Dent County  Continue reading >

New Senate Developments in Georgia, Iowa

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10)

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10)

Georgia

As expected, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) did officially announce his senatorial campaign becoming the first official candidate vying to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R). Several more Republicans are predicted to follow, but one who was considered a virtual certainty to run may not be so inclined.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6) was originally telling potential supporters that he was “90 percent sure” he would enter the open Senate race. Now, according to key Georgia political operatives, the reported chances of Price actually getting into the race appear closer to 50/50.

On the other hand, the prospects of both Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) and Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) moving toward running statewide appear to be improving. It would not be surprising to see the three Republican   . . . Continue reading >