Two more states now have official 2014 candidates as office seekers in Pennsylvania and Oregon made their political intentions official this week.
Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is facing one Republican primary challenger, while six Democrats will battle for their party’s nomination to be decided May 20. The eventual Democrat standard bearer will have a strong chance of unseating Corbett, who continues to post some of the worst job approval ratings in the country.
With businessman Tom Wolf out to an early lead after unleashing a major positive and clever media buy, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13), state Treasurer Rob McCord and three others who comprise the Democratic field are forced to play catch-up.
With no US Senate contest in the Keystone State this year, the 18 congressional races dominate the Pennsylvania federal election picture. Two incumbents, relpresentatives Charlie Dent (R-PA-15) and Tim Murphy (R-PA-18), both previous major national targets, will get a pass in 2014 as each runs unopposed for another term.
The state features two open seats. One Republican and two Democrats will battle in the Philadelphia suburbs for the right to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA-6) in a politically marginal congressional district. Rep. Schwartz’s open Montgomery County-anchored 13th District will be host to a lively Democratic primary that features a political comeback attempt from ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies, two state legislators and a physician.
For the general election, all of the challenger campaigns are slow to develop. The most prolific year-end fundraiser was publisher Shaughnessy Naughton, who is challenging Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) in the Bucks County CD, but not even she attracted $300,000 for her campaign in 2013. Therefore, at this early stage of the general election, all 16 PA incumbents seeking re-election are strong favorites to return.
Two members have primary challenges, Republican Bill Shuster (R-PA-9) and Democrat Mike Doyle (D-PA-14). Neither nominating contest appears to seriously threaten either member.
With their state’s Obamacare problems ranking among the worst in the nation, the Oregon governor’s race could draw a bit more national attention than one would normally expect. Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), in his second tour of duty as the state’s chief executive – winning a close 49-48 percent contest to re-claim the job he left in 2003 – stands for a non-consecutive fourth term in office. Should one of the six Republicans begin to mount a credible effort, this governor’s campaign could be well worth watching.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) stands for his first re-election, and five Republicans, two Democrats, and an Independent candidate have filed. The most credible GOP contender appears to be pediatric surgeon Monica Wehby. The senator is a clear early favorite for the November contest, but this race, too, could become interesting.
No strong challenges are emerging in the House contests. All five incumbents are opposed, two in their respective primaries, but each should successfully be re-elected in the fall without having to expend much effort.