Monthly Archives: January 2014

California Loses 102 Years of Seniority

With yesterday’s retirement announcement from veteran Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA-33), added to the recent decisions of representatives George Miller (D-CA-11) and Buck McKeon (R-CA-25) not to seek re-election this year, California will lose a combined 102 years of congressional seniority in the next Congress. Both Waxman and Miller will have served for 40 years when their current terms expire, and Rep. McKeon’s tenure will have been 22 years. Though seniority is not as important in the more modern congressional era, particularly on the Republican side, a state simultaneously losing so much service time in its federal delegation is still significant.

Rep. Waxman was the unofficial senior partner of the famed Waxman-Berman political machine in Los Angeles County, which was a dominant force throughout California Democratic Party circles at its apex. His departure represents the end of an era in southern California politics. In 2012  Continue reading >

New Senate Numbers in Ga., Ky.

Georgia

It’s been several months since a public poll has been released for the important open seat Senate race in Georgia, and this new Public Policy Polling survey portends that at least the tested candidates remain closely bunched together.

The poll (Jan. 24-26; 640 registered Georgia voters), conducted for the Americans United for Change liberal organization, gives consensus Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn a slight lead over the selected Republican contenders.

The margin of difference between the individual candidates and Nunn is similar to what PPP found in their August 2013 survey, except in reverse. In the August poll, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) was the one candidate who polled outside the margin of error against Nunn, trailing her 36-41 percent. In this study, however, Broun actually does the best of the GOP group, trailing her by only one point, 41-42 percent.
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Kansas Updates: Primary Challengers and a Poll

Former Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), originally elected in 1994 and representing his Wichita-anchored seat until running unsuccessfully for the Republican senatorial nomination in 2010, is hinting that he may begin a comeback attempt for his former 4th District seat. Doing so would mean launching a Republican primary challenge to sophomore Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4).

The former congressman was quoted as saying “… how can we hold Republican incumbent elected officials accountable if they don’t have a primary?” When asked by reporters if he believed he was more conservative than Rep. Pompeo, he simply replied, “yes.”

Proving such may be a difficult task, however. According to the recently released National Journal report, the Kansas members together rank as the most conservative delegation in Congress. According to the DW-Nominate scale of ranking congressional votes, Pompeo ranks as the 63rd most conservative House  Continue reading >

Radel Out; Mack In? Assessing FL-19

Last evening, freshman Rep. Trey Radel (R) officially resigned from the House, succumbing to Republican Party leaders both in and out of government who were urging him to leave. Controversy arose around the congressman after he accepted a plea bargain arrangement for the misdemeanor cocaine possession charges brought against him in the District of Columbia.

Radel just finished 30 days in a rehab facility as part of the agreement with DC prosecutors. His action vacating the congressional seat now requires Gov. Rick Scott (R) to schedule a special election to fill the unexpired portion of the current term. As is the case with all 435 House seats, the new incumbent will stand for a full term in the 2014 regular election.

The resignation brings the House vacancy total to three. The other two incumbent-less seats are the late Rep. Bill Young’s (R-FL-13) district to the north of Radel’s, and former Rep. Mell Watt’s (D) 12th  Continue reading >

Candidate Filings Close in West Virginia, Kentucky

Still just over a month away from the first votes being cast in the regular 2014 primary election cycle, two more states are finalizing their candidate filings. West Virginia now has an official slate of candidates for the coming election, and Kentucky will close tomorrow.

West Virginia

While it has been common conjecture that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) are the unofficial nominees for their respective parties, both do face several nominal primary opponents and will have three Independents joining them on the general election ballot.

Rep. Capito has six Republican opponents for the open Senate nomination, including a former state Delegate and an-ex local police chief. None appears to be a serious  Continue reading >

Big Decision for GOP in FL-13

The special election to replace the late Florida Rep. Bill Young (R) in the 13th Congressional District is heating up, and the Republican Party chieftains must soon decide whether or not to match their opponents’ multi-million dollar campaign expenditure budget. Combined, the Democratic national party apparatus and their outside organization allies are making winning this open Tampa Bay congressional special election the highest of priorities.

The National Republican Congressional Committee did just purchase $230,000 in television air time in order to run a negative ad campaign against Democratic nominee Alex Sink. This, in addition to their previous $495,000 outlay, brings their total expenditure for the March 11 special election already to $725,000. This is a major sum for one House seat, but the Democrats are doing far more.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already spent or allocated $820,000 for the 13th District special election, in addition to the House Majority PAC organization dropping $650,000.  Continue reading >

Black Backs Out of Open VA-10 Race

Late last night, Virginia State Sen. Dick Black, who earlier this month announced his intention to run for the open 10th Congressional District, released a statement saying he has changed his mind about seeking federal office. The move by the Republican is a boon to state Delegate Barbara Comstock, who is gearing up for her own congressional run after winning a difficult re-election campaign to the Virginia House this past November. It was commonly viewed that Black would have an advantage in a district nominating convention, but that Comstock would be the stronger general election opponent to presumed Democratic nominee John Foust, a Fairfax County Supervisor.

Black’s statement reiterated his belief that “… the Virginia Senate (is) in a precarious 20-20 split, with the lieutenant governor as tie-breaker. Because of that, I (Sen. Black) am no longer able to leave the 13th District Senate Seat. Too much is at risk for Virginia, and I must not trigger another costly senate race by stepping down from my seat at this time.”
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An Evolving Landscape in the Oklahoma Senate Race

UPDATE – CORRECTION: This report initially stated that the House Conservatives Fund made negative statements about Rep. Lankford, which was incorrect; it was the Senate Conservatives Fund. The information below has been updated and corrected.

The race to replace Sen. Tom Coburn (R), who is resigning his seat two years before his term ends, thus necessitating a 2014 special election, is a fast-starting campaign.

Two days ago, sophomore Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) announced his statewide candidacy. Yesterday, the Senate Conservatives Fund made negative statements about the congressman regarding his votes on the budget, the debt ceiling, and pertaining to funding the Affordable Care Act.

The SCF’s statements might be a signal that freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-1), a Tea Party favorite, will enter the campaign. The Tulsa congressman confirms he is  Continue reading >

Jolly’s Advantage in Florida

It’s been the stated conventional wisdom that former Florida Chief Financial Officer and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink would sail to a comfortable win in the March 11 special general election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R-FL-13). Since the Jan. 14 primary, however, two polls have been released projecting that Republican David Jolly holds a discernible lead.

The first survey, from St. Pete Polls as we reported last week, staked Jolly to a 47-43 percent advantage, but we illustrated that the respondent universe contained an over-sampling of Republicans. In the latest poll, from McLaughlin & Associates (Jan. 16-19; 400 registered FL-13 voters) for the Jolly campaign, the same flaw exists. Largely as a result, the McLaughlin data yields a 43-38% Jolly lead.

The district voter registration is: 37 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 24 percent Independent. The McLaughlin sample pull was comprised of 42 percent Republican voters, 35 percent Democrats, and 16 percent Independents. Therefore, increasing the Republican share by five full  Continue reading >

Oklahoma Ins and Outs

Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R) resignation statement last week saying he will leave Washington at the end of 2014 has predictably begun a political chess game. Under Oklahoma election law, a vacant Senate seat is filled by special election and not through gubernatorial appointment. Furthermore, the law allows a sitting office holder to pledge to resign at a future date and hold a replacement special election even though the affected member remains in office. In this situation, Coburn’s timing allows the state to fill the upcoming vacancy in the 2014 regular election.

Yesterday, Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) released a two-minute video campaign announcement entering the special Senate election in hopes of filling the remaining two years of Coburn’s unexpired term. While the Oklahoma City congressman firmly jumped into the race, Gov. Mary Fallin (R), Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4) all stated in equally unequivocal fashion that they will keep their current positions.
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Will Senate Cliffhangers Yield a Republican Majority in 2014?

With the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee now distributing fundraising materials quoting MSNBC as saying that the Republicans “now have the advantage” in capturing the Senate majority this year, it’s a good time to examine the total national picture.

Recent polling does suggest that the Republicans have greatly improved their chances of converting the six Democratic seats they need to claim majority status. In fact, GOP candidates are now either leading or within the margin of error in nine states, while maintaining a slight advantage in their own two competitive seats (Kentucky and Georgia).

Isolating the various states, we begin with the three open Democratic seats from places that have generally yielded a Republican voting pattern since 2000. Currently, the Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia  Continue reading >

The Retirement Parade Continues

California Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA-25) becomes the eleventh House member since Dec. 15 to announce retirement, and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R) announced last night that he will resign from Congress at the end of 2014. Coburn’s move means that 36 Senate races will be contested this year.

At least Rep. Mckeon’s retirement is not a surprise. The House Armed Services Committee chairman yesterday confirmed and made formal the conventional wisdom that he would retire at the end of this current congressional term. The 75-year-old, 11-term congressman also indicated that his reaching the end of his term-limited period as the Armed Services Committee chair definitely played a role in his decision not to seek re-election.

McKeon’s move sets off what will be a very interesting June qualifying election. Already committing to run as Republicans are former state senator and 26th Congressional  Continue reading >

More Senate Democrat Weakness Showing

Two new Public Policy Polling surveys, one in New Hampshire and the other from North Carolina, reveal increased weakness for a pair of Senate Democratic incumbents. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) has been on the vulnerability list for the entire election cycle so her poor showing is not particularly surprising, but New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) has, heretofore, been viewed as a clear favorite.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire situation is becoming interesting because it involves former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). You will remember that Brown came to national prominence in early 2010 when he won the special Bay State senatorial election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Three years later he fell to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 regular election, and has since re-located to neighboring New Hampshire where he has clearly been testing the waters for a run against Sen. Shaheen.
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FL-13 Special Election Defined; Owens, Moran to Retire

The first phase of the special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R) was held last night in Pinellas County, Florida on the western Tampa Bay peninsula. Though the Democratic race was a non-event because former state Chief Financial Officer and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink was unopposed, the Republican side featured a three-way race.

Lobbyist David Jolly, a former staff member to Congressman Young, won the nomination securing 45 percent of the vote. Jolly raised the most money (more than $400,000) on the Republican side and enjoyed support from the Young political organization, including the late congressman’s wife, Beverly Young, who voiced her support through a television ad.

Placing second was state Rep. Kathleen Peters who never seemed to get her campaign untracked. She garnered votes from 31 percent of the Republican electorate.
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Gillespie for Senate

With optimism growing in national Republican circles that the party can capture the Senate majority this November, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie is on the verge of announcing a challenge to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D), and may do so as early as this week if not today.

Gillespie, also a former chairman of the Virginia Republican Party and a Capitol Hill staff member beginning his career with former Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX-26) who would later become Majority Leader, may be embarking upon what most believe is a daunting task. But, there are some budding trends that suggest a Warner upset is at least within the realm of possibility.

Though the senator is one of the most well-prepared politicians in the country, if not the best, Virginia is still a state that can swing both ways particularly in low turnout elections. Unquestionably the state is trending toward the Democrats, especially when looking at the elections since 2004 (with the exception of those in 2009 and 2010), but it is not so far beyond the “purple” range as to make a Republican  Continue reading >