Monthly Archives: March 2013

Why Ashley Judd’s Announcement is Bad News for McConnell

Ashley Judd, Publicity Photo, "Missing"

Ashley Judd, Publicity Photo, “Missing”

Confirming a trend that appeared to be developing over the last two weeks, actress Ashley Judd announced through her Twitter account yesterday that she will not challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) next year.

It was fast becoming clear, including to those leaders of the national and Kentucky Democratic Party apparatus, that Judd would not match up favorably with McConnell, who has proven himself as one of the stronger veteran Republican campaigners in the current political era. Because his victory percentage dropped to 53.0 percent in the Obama presidential year of 2008 from a high of 64.7 percent in 2002, Democrats are feeling more optimistic about their 2014 Kentucky Senate chances.

The state is an interesting one from a political context. Though it now performs as solid Republican territory during presidential contests, Democrats are still more than competitive, if not routinely favored, in statewide and local elections.

While the GOP now dominates the state’s congressional elections, particularly when considering freshman Rep. Andy Barr’s (R-KY-6) upset of incumbent Ben Chandler (D) last November to increase the party’s delegation to a 5R-1D split, Democrats are  Continue reading >

The “Sweet” Sixteen House Races

Continuing our sector review of the 16 most competitive political campaigns reflective of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament’s spirit, we today turn to the US House campaigns:

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) won a similar version of this seat in 2008, lost it in 2010, and reacquired it last November when incumbent Paul Gosar (R) decided to seek re-election in District 4. With a 2012 victory percentage of only 49 percent in a district that Mitt Romney carried, Kirkpatrick can again expect stiff competition in 2014.

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) who replaced his former boss, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords upon her resignation, had a closer than expected regular election contest against Republican Martha McSally. With Barber only scoring an even 50 percent of the 2012 vote, expect a strong re-match effort from retired Gulf War veteran McSally.

CA-26: When the California Citizens Redistricting Commission crafted this Ventura County district, they did so with the idea of making a marginal 50-50 seat. The goal was achieved, so freshman incumbent Julia Brownley (D) will continue to face strong competition likely for the rest of the decade. Former state senator Tony Strickland lost to Brownley in November and is considering seeking a re-match in 2014. Rep. Buck McKeon (R) deciding to retire in adjacent District 25, however, could attract Strickland to what would be an open seat.

CA-31: Rep. Gary Miller represents the strongest Obama district in the country (57 percent) that elected a Republican congressman. He was fortunate to draw another Republican in the 2012 general election, but will likely face a Democrat in 2014. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D), who failed to qualify for the general election last year, is looking to run again. This will be a top Democratic conversion target.
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Sanford Leads in Run-off Poll

Public Policy Polling (March 22-24; 1,175 likely SC-1 special election voters; 648 self-described Republican run-off voters) released the results of their first post-special primary survey and found scandal-plagued former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) to be leading ex-Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic (R) by a 53-40 percent count. The poll suggests that Bostic has so far failed to coalesce the substantial anti-Sanford vote behind his candidacy. In the first election, featuring 16 Republican candidates, the former governor placed first with 37 percent of the vote, while Bostic just grabbed second place with 13 percent.

But the most surprising part of PPP’s poll is how the two Republicans fare against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the special general. Despite SC-1 being a heavily Republican district, the data shows that Busch has a small 47-45 percent lead over Sanford and ties Bostic at 43 percent.

The two results are surprising in different ways. First, many would believe that Busch’s lead over Sanford would be greater considering his heavy personal negatives in conjunction with his highly publicized international extra-marital affair. But Bostic, on the other hand, without carrying such heavy political baggage should actually be in a stronger position than a dead heat when being paired with the Democratic nominee.

The Republicans have had trouble winning special elections during the past few years, even in strong partisan seats such as the one in southeast South Carolina. The April 2 run-off is only a little more than a week away, which now stacks up well for Sanford. Based upon this now available polling data, expect the special general to be much more competitive than originally forecast.

With Sen. Johnson Set to Retire, What’s Next in South Dakota?

Sen. Tim Johnson

Sen. Tim Johnson

As expected, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) officially announced yesterday that he will not seek a fourth term in the upcoming 2014 election. The senator, accompanied by his wife, Barbara, addressed members of the media in a Sioux Falls news conference saying, “I will be 68 years old at the end of this term and it is time for me to say good-bye.”

He indicated after 36 consecutive years in elective office — including service in the state legislature, and combined time in the US House and Senate — that he and his wife are looking forward to returning to life in South Dakota and “doing other things.” When asked if had he decided to run again, would he have won, the senator quipped that he “has never been beaten.” He did concede that the brain hemorrhage he suffered in 2006 has made life more difficult, but emphasized that he never stopped working hard for the people who repeatedly elected him as their representative.

Without Sen. Johnson on the ballot, the Republicans have a strong opportunity to convert the South Dakota Senate seat to their column and must be considered the early favorites to do so. Former governor Mike Rounds (R) announced his candidacy just after the November election and began running full speed ahead and appeared unconcerned about Sen. Johnson’s political intentions.
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The “Sweet” Sixteen Governors

Continuing our sector review of the 16 most competitive political campaigns reflective of the spirit of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, we today turn to the gubernatorial campaigns:

Arizona: Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is ineligible to seek re-election, so we can expect a tight open seat contest in the Grand Canyon State. So far little action is occurred, however. Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) says he will run; so does former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, also a Republican. No Democrats have yet stepped forward. Richard Carmona, the Democratic senatorial nominee who held freshman Sen. Jeff Flake (R) to a three-point win last November, publicly announced that he will not run for governor.

Arkansas: This is another state where the incumbent, in this case Democrat Mike Beebe, has reached the limit of his allowed service. Thus, a tough open-seat battle is already commencing. Republicans appear to be headed for a consensus candidate in the person of former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR-3). Democrats could be headed to a primary between former lieutenant governor Bill Halter and ex-representative Mike Ross (D-AR-4).

Connecticut: Gov. Dan Malloy (D) won his seat with only a statewide margin of just 7,604 votes, and thus is expected to again face tough competition. The 2010 GOP nominee, former Ambassador Tom Foley, says he wants to run again. Chances are this race won’t be as close as last time. Gov. Malloy has to be rated the early favorite.

Florida: The Sunshine State gubernatorial campaign could become the most interesting in the nation. GOP Gov. Rick Scott is politically weak and former governor Charlie Crist, this time representing a new political party as he as switched from the Republicans to the Democrats, will be his likely opponent.

Hawaii: Incumbent Neil Abercrombie should cruise to re-election against any Republican, but his angering of Rep. Colleen  Continue reading >