Tag Archives: Sen. Mitch McConnell

Rand Paul’s Numbers – Kentucky

June 29, 2015 — There has been some skepticism expressed about whether Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) can successfully run for both the Republican presidential nomination and re-election to his current position. A new survey suggests that at least this particular Kentucky polling segment doesn’t seem to mind his simultaneous campaigns.

Public Policy Polling (June 18-21; 1,108 KY registered voters) finds that Sen. Paul should have little difficulty in securing a second six-year term. If the election were today, and his opponent is outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), the senator would enjoy a full 10-point, 49-39 percent, advantage over the retiring chief executive. It is conventional political wisdom that Beshear would be the strongest possible general election opponent to Sen. Paul and, if so, these polling results undoubtedly cast the Kentucky Democratic leadership into a state of despair.

Not only is Gov. Beshear trailing Sen. Paul, but the former has given no indication of even considering making such a challenge. Ineligible to seek a third term this year, it appears that the governor is heading toward political retirement rather than gearing up for a new campaign.
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No Clear Winner in Kentucky
GOP Gubernatorial Race

May 20, 2015 — Yesterday the highly contentious Blue Grass State Republican gubernatorial was decided … sort of. With no run-off system in Kentucky election law, the three major candidates who were in a virtual three-way tie in polls before the election wound up with about the same result after the election.

State Agriculture Secretary James Comer was viewed to be the early leader in the race, but accusations from former Louisville Metro Councilor Hal Heiner that Comer physically abused a girlfriend while in college effectively turned the race upside down. Charges and counter-charges flew between the two men for weeks, even including the appearance of the former girlfriend, and the after-effects weakened both candidates. And while the campaign turned nasty, businessman Matt Bevin, the wealthy investor who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Mitch McConnell in last year’s Republican primary, crafted a positive strategy designed to propel him above the fray created between the other two. You may remember that in the 2014 race, polling showed Bevin running close to the veteran senator but, in the end, the nomination contest evolved into a McConnell landslide.

But this time, the businessman’s plan clearly worked, and it may well have carried him to the nomination. From more than 214,000 Republican votes cast last night, Bevin clings to an 83-vote lead with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. Each man attracted approximately 33 percent of the vote. Heiner, who placed third with 27 percent, conceded. Former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott finished a distant fourth at seven percent.
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McConnell Opponent Floundering

We all remember Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), the Kentucky Secretary of State who ran a close race against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) … until the end.  In that campaign, Grimes continued to consistently poll within two to three points of the veteran senator, but fell by 15 points when the votes were actually counted.
 
Kentucky is one of five states to hold its statewide elections in odd-numbered years – Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia being the other four – so she must defend her current office later this year.  Yesterday, Grimes said she will be running for a statewide post but apparently has still not decided upon a specific race.  Candidate filing for the 2015 election closes Jan. 27, so she will quickly be forced to decide.
 
Grimes is apparently considering a campaign for governor and attorney general, in addition to a bid for re-election.  A further complicating factor came forth for her yesterday when Gravis Marketing released a statewide poll of Kentucky voters that indicates even a run for re-election as secretary of state may be fraught with peril.
 
Though talking about running for the other positions, the fact that she has yet to enter the race for governor or attorney general puts her at a major disadvantage should she actually decide to venture forth in either of those directions.  Current Attorney General Jack Conway (D), a 56-44 percent loser to Rand Paul (R) in the 2010 Senate race, is Continue reading >

Independent Outside Spending Grew at Significant Rate in 2014

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law just released a compilation of data relating to independent expenditures from the 2014 competitive senatorial campaigns. The compilation tells us some interesting facts about the scope of the outside group involvement, their impact upon the races (from an aggregate perspective), and whether Republicans or Democrats were the greater beneficiary from this campaign expenditure category.

The following are the Brennan Center’s tracked races – the ones the study conductors believed to be the 10 most competitive Senate races; Louisiana was excluded because a run-off appeared inevitable and no clear conclusion would be derived on Nov. 4 – providing totals for the independent money that was spent in each campaign.

The top indirect recipients of the independent outside spending (approximate figures) are as follows (winning candidates’ totals only):

• Thom Tillis (R-NC) – defeated Sen. Kay Hagan (D), 48-47% – $28 million
• Cory Gardner (R-CO) – defeated Sen. Mark Udall (D), 49-46% – $25 million
• Joni Ernst (R-IA) – defeated Rep. Bruce Braley (D), 52-44% – $23.5 million
• Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – def. Alison Grimes (D), 56-41% – $21.5 million
• Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) – def. Sen. Mark Pryor (D), 56-39% – $19 million Continue reading >

An Array of Surprises Lining up for Incumbents

On the heels of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning Republican primary loss last week in Virginia, a series of new polls and developments suggest further surprises could be on the political horizon …

LA-5

First, in Louisiana, scandal-tainted Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA-5), who announced that he would not seek a second term after being caught in an extra-marital affair, stated in a local radio interview this week that he is having second thoughts about retiring and is now leaning “55-45” in favor of running again. This development certainly merits further attention.

State Sen. Neil Riser (R), whom McAllister defeated in the 2013 special election after then-Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) resigned, has not yet committed to the race but is certainly leaning toward running based upon his public comments. The Louisiana filing deadline, because the jungle primary runs concurrently with the November general election, isn’t until Aug. 22, so much time remains for both men, and others, to finally decide upon their 2014 electoral  Continue reading >

Challengers Chances in Virginia’s Tuesday Primary; Quiet in South Carolina; First Iowa Numbers

Tomorrow’s Virginia primary is decision day for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Republican primary challenge. Conservative college professor David Brat has raised over $200,000 with minimal outside support for his effort to dislodge the sitting incumbent, but he is very likely to meet the same fate as the others who have challenged the national Republican leaders.

Earlier in the primary season, senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY; 60 percent of the vote) and John Cornyn (R-TX; 59 percent) were renominated against challengers from the right, as was House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8; 69 percent).

Rep. Cantor is outspending Brat by more than a 20:1 ratio, and has taken a surprisingly active and negative track in this campaign. His strategy is an interesting one in that he is attempting to deflect a hard right offensive by portraying Brat as being insufficiently conservative. Naturally, Brat makes the same argument against Cantor.  Continue reading >

Clarity in Georgia, North Carolina Senate Races?

Two of the more important Senate races in this 2014 election cycle are occurring in Georgia and North Carolina. Both states are in play for the general election; each party holds one of the two seats, both are major targets, and crowded Republican primaries in the pair of places will soon be clarified.

If several new polls are accurate, certain candidates may be breaking away from their respective packs as we approach the May 6 North Carolina primary and the May 20 vote in Georgia. If a candidate exceeds 40 percent of the NC vote, that person is nominated. In the Peach State, it takes the traditional 50 percent plus one vote to claim the nomination outright.

Georgia Primary: May 20 – Run-off, July 22

This is one of two Republican seats, Kentucky (Mitch McConnell) being the other, where Democrats are competitive. The Republican primary features five accomplished candidates, all of whom can construct a reasonable path to victory. A run-off is a virtual certainty here, but many scenarios exist about which two Republicans  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 >

Senate Conservatives Tackle McConnell

It didn’t take long for at least one conservative organization to begin launching an air attack against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) for his role in failing to stop the funding mechanism for the Affordable Care Act, now commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” The Senate Conservatives Fund, through its Senate Conservatives Action issue organization, originally founded by then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), has launched a $300,000 Kentucky television ad buy to claim that the five-term senator has “let us (Kentuckians) down” (above). The context directly relates to the healthcare issue.

The message is clearly intended to rile the Kentucky conservative base against Sen. McConnell to an even greater degree than previously noted. Already, investment executive Matt Bevin is actively pursuing a primary challenge against the Republican leader, a candidacy that the Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed. Early polls show McConnell to be holding an overwhelming lead over Bevin, but data posted for the general election tells a different story.

The Kentucky Senate campaign is shaping up to be one of the 2014 bellwether races, and one of two key Republican must-holds (Georgia is the other) if the party is to have any chance of gaining the majority for the next Congress.

In the general election, Democrats have  Continue reading >

Three States, Three Potentially Challenging Races for Incumbents

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham

South Carolina

The long-expected Republican primary challenge to Sen. Lindsey Graham is now coming to fruition. A candidate emerged yesterday who has an interesting background. It remains to be seen if she has the political wherewithal to compete with the veteran senator, however.

Nancy Mace is the first female graduate of The Citadel. Born into a military family, her father is a retired Army general. She announced her challenge to the senator late this week, joining Greenville area businessman and former 3rd District congressional candidate Richard Cash in the nomination race. State Sen. Lee Bright, coming from the Ron and Rand Paul wing of the Republican Party, says he will soon follow suit.

Can any of the three beat Lindsey Graham? While it’s clearly a long shot, the senator does have some obvious vulnerabilities. First and foremost, as any casual political observer understands, Graham is to the left of the South Carolina Republican electorate and has taken some unpopular stands in the state, such as his leadership efforts in the area of immigration reform.

Secondly, though a crowded field usually helps an embattled incumbent, South Carolina does have a run-off law, meaning it could become harder to capture a majority in a split vote primary situation. If someone is strong enough to deny the senator an outright primary victory, the scenario would then be drawn to upset him in the secondary election.

Third, while none of his opponents has significant name ID, they are all substantial individuals, and if one or more can prove they possess fundraising ability, outside conservative groups are ready to come to their aid if Graham begins to falter.
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McConnell Comes Out Swinging

Two days ago, hedge fund manager Matt Bevin announced his Kentucky Republican primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yesterday, the senator hit the television airwaves in record post-announcement time, already launching an attack ad against his new opponent:

Obviously, McConnell is taking no chances and attempting to define Bevin in negative terms before the new candidate has the opportunity to even introduce himself to the Kentucky Republican electorate.

But, Bevin apparently saw the McConnell strategy coming because he, too, is on the air with his own attack ad against the Senate leader:

Since Bevin reportedly is independently wealthy, he should have the resources needed to mount a serious campaign, and the events this week already show that both sides mean business. Bevin clearly wants to establish himself early as a credible contender in hopes of attracting important financial support from such groups on the ideological right as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.

As the senator prepares for a presumed general election battle against the Democratic Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, he wants to quickly extinguish his Republican challenger; but Bevin is sending early signals that he won’t go down quietly.

Bevin attacks McConnell from the right, questioning the quality of his leadership and claiming that the 30-year senatorial veteran  Continue reading >

The Dems Succeed in Kentucky

For weeks it appeared that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was rebuffing Democratic Party leaders as they tried to convince her to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). In a turnaround of fortune, they now have met success. Yesterday, she officially announced that she will run for the party’s 2014 Senate nomination and the right to oppose McConnell.

Early in the year, numerous public polls were showing the five-term incumbent to be in serious upside-down territory on his job approval question, thus suggesting a Democratic challenger could engage McConnell in a highly competitive race. But when paired in ballot tests with several potential opponents, McConnell’s numbers never sank as low as his job-approval score. Most of the data suggested he was running in even range against the strongest Democratic potential contenders.

Most of the early publicity surrounded actress Ashley Judd, as she publicly contemplated becoming a candidate. A major flap occurred when a liberal blogger infiltrated the McConnell campaign headquarters and taped a planning session without the participants’ knowledge or consent. Though the reports attempted to make the senator and his team look bad because they were discussing a negative attack strategy against Judd, it had already become a foregone conclusion that she would not run. Even the Democratic leadership soured on the idea, understanding that they could not sell her liberal ideology and lifestyle to a conservative Kentucky electorate.

With the Judd experiment looking unpromising, the Democrats began to heighten their pursuit of Grimes. Last week, a pro-McConnell Super PAC organization launched an anti-Grimes television ad buy, attacking her as a “cheerleader” for President Obama and attempting to identify her as a proponent of “massive” spending, the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the “War on Coal.” The purpose of the ad buy was to dissuade her from running, but the media blitz obviously failed to achieve its objective.

Mitch McConnell first came to the Senate in 1984, with an upset victory over then-Sen. Dee Huddleston (D) that shocked national political observers. Always one of the Republicans’ strongest campaigners,  Continue reading >

Four New Senate Polls

Four pollsters released new data in four different Senate states, each giving us some previously unknown information. Most of the results show an undefined electorate, but the one covering the upcoming Bay State special election shows a widening chasm between the two candidates.

Massachusetts

With the special senatorial election now four weeks away on June 25, New England College (June 1-2; 786 registered Massachusetts voters via automated interviews) released the findings of their latest poll. Their results show Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) increasing his lead over Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez. According to the automated results, Markey now enjoys a 53-40 percent advantage, up from the single-digit spreads that previous surveys had projected.

The two candidates are vying for the right to succeed veteran Sen. John Kerry (D), who was appointed US Secretary of State earlier in the year. The winner serves the remaining segment of the current term, which ends when the 113th Congress adjourns. The new senator can then stand for a full six-year term in November of 2014.

Michigan

Public Policy Polling (May 30-June 2; 697 registered Michigan voters; 334 Republican primary voters) tested the open Senate race and found good news and bad news for Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). The good news is that he leads all Republican potential candidates. The bad news is that he is unknown to two-thirds of the polling respondents.

Earlier this week, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) announced her senatorial candidacy and she fares best against the Detroit congressman. According to PPP, Peters sports a 41-36 percent advantage over Land. He leads representatives Dave Camp (R-MI-4) 43-31 percent; Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) 42-32 percent; and Justin Amash (R-MI-3) 42-30 percent. In the Republican primary, Land finishes behind the three Congressmen (Camp 21 percent; Rogers 18 percent; Amash 16 percent; Land 15 percent), but it  Continue reading >

The Bogus Tie

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Public Policy Polling just tested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R) political strength through a liberal Senate Majority PAC-sponsored push poll (May 23-24; 556 registered Kentucky voters). The data projects McConnell to be in a flat-footed tie (45-45 percent) with Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D); but in reality, the veteran senator is in much better position.

Though Grimes might be the Democrats’ strongest potential senatorial candidate, it is highly unlikely that she will run. Despite repeated overtures from Democratic leaders asking her to enter the race, Grimes has yet to make any move that suggests she is contemplating such a move.

The Senate Majority PAC polling questionnaire is far from being objective. Containing inflammatory statements against McConnell, the poll is designed to obtain negative responses about him. Examine their questions:

  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Mitch McConnell is part of the problem in Washington, DC, and has forgotten about the people of Kentucky.” Result: Agree, 50-40 percent
  • Mitch McConnell has voted to cut taxes for millionaires like himself, while supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare for hard-working Kentucky seniors. Does this make you more or less likely to vote for him, or does it not make a difference? Result: Less Likely, 50-23 percent
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Senate Questions

capitol

Within the last week, no fewer than four major potential senatorial candidates have decided not to run. Three sitting members of the House, representatives John Barrow (D-GA-12), Steve King (R-IA-4), and Tom Price (R-GA-6), and one former congresswoman, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin from South Dakota, each announced that they will be doing something other than running for the United States Senate in 2014. With so many potential candidates content to allow their current opportunity to evaporate, what now is the status of the various Senate races?

Both the Republicans and Democrats have, so far, experienced recruitment failures. Democrats see two seats that they currently hold, Jay Rockefeller’s post in West Virginia and Tim Johnson’s position in South Dakota, going by the wayside. Currently, they have no candidate willing to challenge GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) in the Mountaineer State, and their two strongest South Dakota potential contenders have taken a pass. While they do have a former aide to Sen. Tom Daschle (Rick Weiland) now in the race, it is apparent that he is no match for Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds.

Republicans have yet to field a candidate in Iowa where Sen. Tom Harkin (D) is retiring.  Continue reading >