Monthly Archives: April 2015

Capps Out in California;
The Cortez Masto Effect In Nevada

April 10, 2015 — Veteran California Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), aged 77, announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election to an eleventh term in office next year for her CA-24 seat. The congresswoman entered the House via a special election victory in 1998 after her husband, Rep. Walter Capps (D-CA), passed away suddenly; he was first elected in 1996 but suffered a fatal heart attack at the Washington Dulles Airport less than a year after winning his seat. Lois Capps finished her husband’s term and has been re-elected ever since.

The 24th District contains Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, along with part of Ventura. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made this district much more competitive as Capps’ 55 and 52 percent victory margins in the past two elections suggest. The 2001 congressional map created a coastal district for Capps (then numbered CA-23), slanting the seat to the ideological left in order to help the Democratic incumbent hold the seat. Thanks in large part to map construction, Capps had little in the way of challenges throughout the decade.

But it was becoming clearer that Republicans have a chance to convert the new 24th as a direct result of including all of the more conservative San Luis Obispo County in the district. Republican Chris Mitchum, son of deceased actor Robert Mitchum, pulled 48 percent against the congresswoman in the last election despite spending less than one-quarter the amount of money of his opponent. A stronger candidate could possibly have done better perhaps even scored an upset over Capps in what became a very favorable Republican year.
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Analysis of the Rand Announcement; Rahm Rolls in Chicago

April 9, 2015 — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), as expected, officially announced his 2016 presidential campaign in front of a raucous crowd of supporters in Louisville earlier this week. He also confirmed that he intends to seek re-election to the Senate.

The latter may be a difficult feat, since Kentucky law prohibits individuals from appearing for more than one office on the same ballot. If the state Republicans changed their nominating system from a primary to a caucus, Paul could get around that requirement, but the result would become problematic for the Kentucky GOP, ironically, if Sen. Paul were to win the party presidential nomination. Kentucky election law contains no provision for replacing a party nominee who prematurely withdraws from a race.

But Sen. Paul’s presidential prospects are what’s at top of mind during this period, and opinions vary as to whether he has a legitimate chance of winning the nomination and the presidency itself.
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Ups and Downs in Ohio,
Pennsylvania Senate Races

Ohio Senate

April 8, 2015 — Quinnipiac University conducted a new Ohio poll (March 17-28; 1,077 Ohio registered voters) and finds that the state’s electorate apparently has a short memory.

In 2010, the Ohio voters defeated former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) after a single term, yet this poll gives him a strong 49:29 percent favorable to unfavorable approval rating and posts him to a significant 48-39 percent lead over Sen. Rob Portman (R). This is a surprising result because all other early polls give the senator a slight advantage, at the very least.

In looking closely at the survey, there appears to be little reason why the presumed Democratic nominee would maintain such a discernible edge. The large polling sample is split virtually evenly between the two parties – 28 percent Democratic, 27 percent Republican, 35 percent Independent — which is reflective of Ohio’s swing nature. The sample has no detectable anti-Republican bias, as shown in Gov. John Kasich’s (R) positive personal ratings and those of others. Kasich’s job approval ratio is an outstanding 61:28 percent.
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The Sestak Factor in the
Pennsylvania Senate Race

April 7, 2015 — The Pennsylvania US Senate campaign, a race that could well decide which party controls the majority in the next Congress, is beginning in bizarre fashion. While many people think that first-term Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is highly vulnerable under a presidential year turnout model, the Democratic situation is suspect, at best.

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who served two terms from Delaware County in the Philadelphia suburbs after unseating veteran Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006, has been running his 2016 Senate campaign virtually since the time he suffered a 51-49 percent statewide loss to Toomey in 2010. Sestak officially announced his new effort well before the 2014 election.

Normally, having a nominee who lost by just two points return to challenge the opposite party’s incumbent in the next campaign is a positive occurrence, but relations between Sestak and the national and state Democratic Party leadership are so poor that such is not the case.
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Déjà vu All Over Again
In Three House Races

April 6, 2015 — Familiarity is already returning to at least three congressional races. Two will be in the form of 2016 re-matches from last November, while a new special election appears to be a walk in the park for a recognizable family member.

TX-23

Last week, former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) announced that he will seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes) next year in the Texas swing congressional district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.

After this seat was created in a special redistricting during the 1960s, the six TX-23 incumbents prior to Hurd winning in November were all eventually defeated for re-election. This is quite noteworthy when compared to a nationwide electorate that routinely re-elects almost all of its congressmen. Typically, well over 90 percent of House members who seek re-election win.
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