Monthly Archives: September 2013

AL-1 Special is Tomorrow; Gov. Announcements in Mass. and Fla.

Alabama

Voters in southwest Alabama go to the polls tomorrow for the special primary election to fill resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) Mobile-anchored district. While the Democrats probably will choose realtor and state representative candidate Burton LeFlore as their nominee, the favored Republicans are almost certainly headed to a run-off election scheduled for Nov. 5. The GOP’s second election will likely determine the identity of Bonner’s successor.

Nine Republicans are on the ballot tomorrow, and former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne appears favored to secure one of the two run-off positions. If things go according to script, the other qualifier will be one of the following: businessman and former congressional candidate Dean Young, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer, former Republican National Committee deputy chief of staff Webb Griffith, or state Rep. Chad Fincher.

Through the Sept. 4 pre-primary Federal Election Commission disclosure period, the aforementioned candidates all find themselves within the same fundraising realm. Byrne tops the list with just over $317,000 raised. The three others, with the exception of Fincher, are between $162,000 and $176,000 in receipts. Fincher has obtained just over $102,000.

If one of the Republicans does secure an outright majority, the special general will then be held on Nov. 5. If the primary results in the expected run-off, the general occurs on Dec. 17.

Massachusetts

Eight-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-7) is expected to unveil a gubernatorial campaign bid this week. The congressman has run for statewide office before, losing to Attorney General Martha Coakley in the special Democratic senatorial primary election back in 2010. Coakley would then go on to lose to Republican Scott Brown in the special general. Capuano scored 28 percent of the primary vote compared to the Attorney General’s 47 percent.

The congressman flirted with the idea of running for the Senate in 2012, but backed  Continue reading >

U.S. House Outlook

With virtually all of the early election cycle attention being paid to the Senate races, it’s time to divert and take a preliminary look at the upcoming House projections. As we know, the Republicans have a 233-200 advantage with two vacant seats. Later this year, both the MA-5 seat of Sen. Ed Markey (D) and resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) seat will be filled in special elections. Each party is expected to hold the seat they previously maintained.

Assuming the parties do hold, the Democrats will need to convert 17 Republican districts to claim a one seat majority. Based upon the early numbers, the paucity of open seats, quantity and quality of challengers, 2011 redistricting plans that generally created safe seats for both parties, and what should be a more favorable (to the GOP) mid-term turnout model, the Republicans should be able to hold the House majority if not modestly expand their numbers.

In the 2012 cycle, due to redistricting and an abnormally large number of House members retiring or running for different offices, 62 seats were open. Therefore, the fact that only 17 seats are incumbent-less at this point in time, including both of the vacant seats and Rep. Rodney Alexander’s LA-5 district that he will leave before the end of the month to accept an appointment in Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) administration, means even fewer contested campaigns.

Of the 17 opens, 10 are Republican-held with the remaining seven under Democratic Party control. No open seat is in the toss-up category and only a pair could be conceivably considered a lean (R or D) CD depending upon the final candidate field developing in each situation. The two opens that could be headed in the lean direction are AR-4 (Rep. Tom Cotton – Lean R) and WV-2 (Rep. Shelley Moore Capito – Lean R).

Only seven seats are today considered toss-ups, and five of those are Democratic districts. Obviously, if the Dems are to make a serious run at the Republican majority, the number of GOP seats in this segment must drastically increase.

The seven toss-up contests are:

• AZ-2 – Rep. Ron Barber (D) – 2012 re-election %: 50
Barber again will likely face 2012 nominee  Continue reading >

Virginia Race Tightens

A brand new Quinnipiac University poll (Sept. 9-15; 1,005 registered Virginia voters) shows Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli closing the gap between he and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe in the state’s gubernatorial race. According to the Q-Poll results, McAuliffe tops Cuccinelli 44-41 percent, a spread now within the polling margin of error. Previous studies from Quinnipiac and a myriad of other pollsters were consistently projecting McAuliffe to be holding a five to seven-point lead during the past month.

Though the trend suggests the momentum may be shifting back to Cuccinelli after going McAuliffe’s way for a considerable period of time, there is a major point of concern for the Republican political forces. Despite Cuccinelli pulling to within three points on the ballot test, his ability to personally connect with voters is poor.

Cuccinelli’s favorability index is an alarming 34:51 percent favorable to unfavorable. McAuliffe’s rating is better, but not stellar. His score is an even 38:38 percent.

There is a two-fold explanation for the Republican’s severely upside down rating. Most acutely, the sampling universe does not believe that Cuccinelli understands their problems. By a margin of 35:56 percent, the respondents believe that the Republican nominee does not understand problems of “people like me.”

Additionally, almost an outright majority of the sample does not believe Cuccinelli is “honest and trustworthy.” In answer to this particular question, the ratio is 39:49 percent with the higher number representing those who do not agree that the attorney general is honest and trustworthy.

The answers to both of these questions highlight a very serious image problem that the Cuccinelli team will have to correct if their candidate is to remain competitive.

McAuliffe does not score particularly well on these questions either, but he is stronger than Cuccinelli. He, too, is upside-down in regard to whether people believe he understands their problems, but is closer to parity than Cuccinelli. By a margin of 40:44 percent, the respondents don’t believe McAuliffe understands their problems. The Democrat, too, sees a higher number of people viewing him as not being particularly honest and trustworthy, but again his rating is not as negative as his Republican opponent’s. McAuliffe’s tally on this question is 39:42 percent.
 Continue reading >

Daley Out in Illinois; Brown Improves in NH

Bill Daley

Bill Daley

Illinois

As quick and surprising as former US Commerce Secretary Bill Daley’s entry was into the Democratic gubernatorial campaign, so too is his exit. Daley, also a former White House chief of staff to President Obama, had been challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary. Quinn assumed office when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was sentenced to prison and then won a razor-thin one point victory in the regular election against Republican Bill Brady back in 2010.

With Quinn’s approval numbers lagging and the state facing serious financial difficulty, Daley launched his effort to deny the governor renomination in April when he formed an exploratory committee. But now the former cabinet secretary and son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley says he cannot “commit to what the voters may need,” meaning that he does not feel up to serving at least five and potentially nine years (counting the campaign time) in order to get the state “on the right track.”

The decision is good news for at least two people, Gov. Quinn and the eventual Republican nominee. Quinn will now likely avoid a serious primary contest that could heavily damage him for the general election. Early polling showed both he and Daley in the high 30s percentile. Obviously, an incumbent failing to break even 40 percent among members of his own party is a clear sign of inherent political weakness.

Despite abandoning his campaign, Daley reiterated that he believes he could win the race and that Quinn will lose his re-election, asking for “forgiveness” for being honest. Through the last financial disclosure report in June, Daley had raised over $800,000 for his gubernatorial campaign. He says he will conduct an audit of his committee and return contribution money that was not  Continue reading >

Lost and Found in Massachusetts and West Virginia

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) might be remembered as the candidate who “blew” the special election to then-state Sen. Scott Brown (R) in the early 2010 battle to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Her campaign became famous for its futility, and she was routinely disparaged throughout state and national Democratic circles.

But the 2010 election cycle was not a total wash out for Coakley. After losing the special election, she immediately announced a run for re-election to her current post, and won another term as Attorney General in a 61-36 percent landslide.

Now, with Gov. Deval Patrick (D) not seeking re-election, Coakley is again attempting to win a more prominent political position. Yesterday, she announced her campaign for governor.

Coakley has strong Democratic opposition, however. State Treasurer Steve Grossman is already in the race, as is Juliette Kayyem, a former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, pharmaceutical executive Joe Avellone, and former Medicare/Medicaid administrator Don Berwick. The winner will oppose 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker, who came within five points of unseating incumbent Patrick. Therefore, no candidate has an easy path to the Massachusetts state house.

West Virginia

The Democrats finally have a West Virginia senatorial candidate. Months after Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) announced that he would not seek re-election, the party has found its potential successor. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, long believed the Democrats’ best available candidate, yesterday announced her statewide challenge.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2), who made public her own candidacy even before Rockefeller proclaimed his decision to retire, is the consensus Republican candidate and the early race leader.

West Virginia has been trending Republican since the 2000 presidential campaign when Al Gore failed to carry the state for the  Continue reading >