March 25, 2018 — Only nearing the end of March in the off-year, already a great deal of early 2020 Senate action has occurred. Thus, it is a good time to begin reviewing all 34 statewide federal races that will adorn next year’s ballot in a three-part series. Today, we look at the first dozen in alphabetical order:
Alabama – Sen. Doug Jones (D) – From the Republican perspective, this could be the most important race in the country. The GOP must convert this seat in order to provide a better cushion to protect their Senate majority.
The 2017 special election became a debacle for the Republicans that allowed Sen. Jones to unexpectedly slip past politically wounded former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Already, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) have announced their 2020 Senate candidacies. Judge Moore claims to be seriously considering running again, which could again create the same adverse situation that previously plagued the Republicans. Toss-up
Alaska – Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) – At this point, there seems little in the way of opposition developing either in the Republican primary or general election against Sen. Sullivan. Safe Republican
Arizona – Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) – Another critically important Senate race that has already featured substantial action. Sen. McSally’s appointment came after her defeat in the 2018 Senate race and she faces a difficult campaign ahead to win the 2020 special election. Whoever wins next year serves the remaining two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term. The seat next comes in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2022.
Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson), has already announced his candidacy and will be a major candidate. In early April, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix), whose ex-wife, Kate Gallego, was just elected Mayor of Phoenix in a special election, is expected to enter the Democratic primary. Since Arizona holds a late August primary, a tough Democratic nomination fight would benefit McSally just as her difficult 2018 Republican primary played to Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s advantage. Toss-up
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. Continue reading >
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. Continue reading >
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 >
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 >