Monthly Archives: July 2011

New Mexico Senate Primary Numbers

Public Policy Polling just released new data (June 23-26; 400 “usual” Republican primary voters; 400 “usual” Democratic voters) regarding the New Mexico Senate race. The firm surveyed both the Democratic and Republican primary elections, each of which is likely to be competitive.

For the Ds, two-term Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) begins the Senatorial campaign with a 47-24 percent lead over state Auditor Hector Balderas (D) as the two battle for their party’s nomination. On the Republican side, former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) has a similar 52-24 percent advantage over Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R). Should these numbers hold up for the remainder of the primary cycle Heinrich and Wilson will square off in the general election in what could become a hotly contested campaign that attracts great national attention.

All of the major candidates in the Senatorial race have relatively strong favorability ratings as each contender has higher positive scores than negative. Five-term Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) is retiring, therefore creating the open seat.
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The Supreme Court Rules in Nevada’s 2nd CD

The Nevada state Supreme Court late yesterday clarified the state’s special election law. The court agreed, on a 6-1 vote, with the Republican objection to the Democratic Secretary of State’s scheduling of one federal special election to fill a vacancy and awarding all qualified candidates ballot placement regardless of party. The high court ruled that the political parties do have the right to nominate their own candidates.

This means that ex-Nevada Republican Party chairman Mark Amodei, also a former state legislator, will face Democratic state Treasurer Kate Marshall on Sept. 13. The winner will fill the unexpired term of former Rep. and current Sen. Dean Heller (R). Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) appointed Heller to replace Sen. John Ensign (R) when the latter resigned.

The special election will take place in the current NV-2, an expansive district that touches all 17 of the state’s counties. The winner will then run for a full term in the new 2nd district, whose boundaries will become known when the state completes its redistricting process. No map was passed during the regular legislative session, so a court will draw the lines from scratch. The addition of a new 4th district in Las Vegas means that the 2nd will become northern Nevada’s seat.

Much more on this race as the campaign develops.
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Could Elizabeth Holtzman Return in New York’s 9th CD?

New York City congressional districts.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has set the date for the special election to choose a successor for former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9). The vote is set for Sept. 13 and is New York’s second such special congressional election to be held this year, both necessitated to replace congressmen who resigned in disgrace after publicly revealing electronic messages and pictures. This is the same day as primaries for other Empire State offices as well the special election date to fill six vacant state assembly seats.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY-7), who represents a district adjacent to NY-9, also serves as the Democratic Party’s chairman for the Borough of Queens. Under New York law, it is the county political party chairmen who choose special election nominees. Because approximately 70 percent of the 9th District is within Queens, Crowley alone has the virtual power to choose the Democratic general election candidate. He is expected to reach a decision in the next day or two.

The congressman reportedly wants “an elder statesman without long-term ambitions” to fill the Weiner seat. He now has the opportunity of ensuring that the new Democratic nominee will allow the 9th CD to be eliminated in redistricting so that Crowley himself can assume much of the Queens territory that was once Weiner’s. New York loses two seats in reapportionment. Such a move will allow him to jettison the Bronx portion of his current district, an area that is becoming heavily Hispanic, and give him a seat wholly within the Borough of Queens. Collapsing the 9th will also mean that Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D) 5th district, a hybrid seat between Queens and Long Island, will likely survive the redistricting pen, as well.

The person currently being mentioned as having the inside track for the nomination is former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman (D). The ex-representative reportedly reached out to Crowley shortly after Weiner’s resignation and now appears to be the top Democratic prospect.

During her 1970’s tenure in the House (four terms; 1973-1981), Holtzman represented a portion of the current 9th District. She was succeeded by now-Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), whose own election to the Senate opened the door for Weiner to win the congressional seat. Holtzman ended her career in Congress by losing a 1980 U.S. Senate race to then-Nassau County Board of Supervisors Chairman Alfonse D’Amato. She made a political comeback of sorts at the municipal level, winning election in Kings County (Brooklyn) for district attorney and later as New York City comptroller. Her 1992 Democratic primary bid for the right to square off against D’Amato again ended in another Holtzman loss, this time a rather humiliating fourth place finish. An unsuccessful primary fight to retain her party’s nomination for the city comptroller position the next year effectively ended her career in elective politics. Now at age 70, Holtzman may fit the bill of an “elder statesman” who can win the race in September, and will then fade quietly away when the 9th district is eliminated as a casualty of reapportionment.

Should Holtzman be appointed the nominee, she will begin the special election campaign as the favorite but the seat has some chance of becoming competitive as Republicans plan to wage a significant campaign. More will be known when the GOP nominee is actually chosen.
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A Surprising New Presidential Candidate

The Republicans have a new presidential candidate, but not the late entry most are expecting. Though Texas Gov. Rick Perry certainly looks like he will join the field within several weeks, it is Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) who is taking the plunge right now. McCotter, in his fifth term representing parts of Oakland and Wayne counties, is a former state senator and Wayne County commissioner. He says he can bring something different to the race, hence his reason for launching his candidacy. McCotter made his announcement official at an Independence Day event in his home town of Livonia, Mich., where he and the congressional rock and roll band that he leads were performing. McCotter will participate in the Iowa Straw Poll in August, and will likely be awarded candidate space and ballot placement for the event. The band will also entertain the more than 12,000 expected attendees during the Aug. 13 pre-caucus affair at Iowa State University in Ames.

McCotter, the former House Policy Committee chairman, votes an independent line. He supported the auto bailout and opposed the various free trade agreements, but has been strongly conservative on foreign affairs and government spending. He opposed the financial industry bail outs at the end of the Bush administration, for example. McCotter is the third sitting House member to enter the presidential race. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) and Ron Paul (R-TX-14) are the other two. Though a long shot for the nomination, Rep. McCotter will undoubtedly bring some thought-provoking ideas to this so far quiet campaign.
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Is Heath Shuler Returning to Football?

With the North Carolina redistricting maps set to be released today, and passed during a legislative special session that begins July 13th, rumors are beginning to circulate around Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC-11). Apparently, Mr. Shuler is a potential candidate to become the athletic director back at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee.

The proposed redistricting map is likely to be unfriendly to Shuler. Early indications are that Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) is willing to take a large section of Buncombe County (Asheville), which is the Democratic heart of Shuler’s district. This territory is likely to be replaced by strong Republican precincts that will endanger the incumbent’s re-election prospects even further. Shuler, a former star quarterback at Tennessee who played briefly in the National Football League with the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints, could then forego running for a fourth term in the House in order to accept a premier job in the collegiate sports world. Obviously, this would be welcome news for Republicans as they would likely sweep to victory in a new open 11th district.

Speculation is rampant during this time in the political cycle, and the Shuler retirement rumors could prove to have little foundation. It is likely, however, that decision time is coming soon for most of the North Carolina Democratic Representatives as they prepare, for the first time, to face a Republican-drawn congressional map.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com