Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Kingston Joins the Fray

Savannah Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), as expected, yesterday announced that he is entering the crowded open seat Georgia Senate race in what will become a trying and hard-fought Republican primary and run-off campaign.

Republicans already running are representatives Paul Broun (R-GA-10) and Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11). In the exploratory phase is former Reebok and Dollar General CEO David Perdue, a cousin of former governor Sonny Perdue (R), while former secretary of state and ex-gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel is a possible candidate. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6), who was expected to announce a Senate run as soon as Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) announced his retirement, now appears less likely to do so.

For the Democrats, Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) must now be rated as a probable contender for his party’s nomination. The congressman is attempting to secure a clear primary field so he can raise general election money throughout this year and next in unencumbered fashion, something he believes is critical for him to compete with the Republicans in the general election. Should he run, Barrow, a Blue Dog Coalition member, is the type of Democratic candidate who could run well statewide in Georgia. Such a development would mean the eventual winner of the Republican nomination dogfight would have no cakewalk in the general election.

Kingston, now serving his 11th term in the House, has to be considered on the long shot side for the nomination. Coming from the less populous southern part of the state — the vast majority of the Republican primary electorate resides north of Interstate 20 — the Savannah congressman will have to invest heavily in the expensive Atlanta media market to make himself known to his new constituency. According to his latest Federal Election Commission filing, Kingston possesses over $1.75 million in his federal campaign account meaning he begins his statewide quest from a financial position of relative strength.
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In Michigan, Peters Is In

Rep. Gary Peters' (D-MI-14)

Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14)

Rep. Gary Peters’ (D-MI-14) anticipated run for the Senate became reality yesterday as the Detroit congressman officially unveiled his statewide campaign. It has been a foregone conclusion that Peters would run since early March when veteran Sen. Carl Levin (D) publicly indicated that he would not seek re-election in 2014.

Peters is serving his third term in the House, originally winning in 2008 when he defeated Joe Knollenberg in an Oakland County seat. Prior to that, he served as the Michigan lottery commissioner, and as a state senator. Now that Debbie Dingell, wife of Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-12), will not become a candidate Peters has a strong chance of quickly evolving into the consensus Democratic nominee long before voters go to the polls in the August 2014 Democratic primary.

The congressman is a strong behind-the-scenes politician. Drawing the short straw in 2011 redistricting, as his seat was collapsed into veteran Rep. Sander Levin’s (D-MI-9) because the reapportionment formula reduced the size of the Michigan congressional delegation, Peters decided to attempt a run at the majority minority African-American seat in Detroit rather than take on a member of the Levin family. Sander Levin is the senator’s older brother. It was long believed that the trio made a political deal: Peters would refrain from  Continue reading >

Markey Wins; Now Faces Investor Gomez

As projected, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) defeated his House Democratic colleague, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), in last night’s special US Senate party primary election. Markey racked up an expected 57-43 percent margin over Lynch, with a turnout of more than 530,000 Democratic voters. All of the candidates are vying for Secretary of State John Kerry’s Senate seat, now held by interim Sen. Mo Cowan (D).

Both men racked up strong percentages in the congressional districts they represent; Markey in the 5th District north and west of Boston, and Lynch in the 8th CD anchored in the area south of Massachusetts’ capital city including the towns of Quincy, Brockton, and Fall River. Lynch also carried the central region of the state nestled in between the cities of Worcester and Springfield, as well as the area around the city of Lowell and the New Hampshire border territory. Markey was strong in virtually other part of the state, thus accounting for his lopsided victory.

When all of the expenditures are totaled, Markey will have exceeded the $5 million mark in spending; Lynch a little over $2 million.

On the Republican side, private equity investor and former US Navy veteran Gabriel Gomez convincingly won his primary, defeating former US Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Dan Winslow. Gomez scored 51 percent to Sullivan’s 36 percent and Winslow’s 13 percent. Just over 182,000 Republicans participated in their primary election. Late polling also forecast Gomez to be leading the GOP field, but sample sizes from the public polls were so small as not to be considered reliable.

The Gomez expenditure level is not clear at this point in time, but the other two Republican candidates spent less than $300,000 on their campaigns.

The special general, which is scheduled for June 25, appears to be Markey’s to lose. As we all know, Massachusetts is one of the  Continue reading >

Massachusetts Primary Today

Massachusetts

Bay State voters go to the polls today to choose nominees for Secretary of State John Kerry’s vacant US Senate seat. Since the Democrats are in an overwhelming political position in Massachusetts, it is apparent that the winner of their party contest tonight will become the next senator. The special general election is scheduled for June 25.

The man favored to win is Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) who was first elected to the House in 1976. If victorious, he will be the longest-serving House member ever to enter the Senate. All polls show Markey leading his congressional colleague, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), posting double-digit margins in all surveys with the exception of some Lynch internal polls. It will be a major upset if Lynch manages to eke out a close win. In all likelihood, Markey wins tonight and again on June 25.

For the Republicans, three individuals are vying for a nomination that will immediately cast the standard bearer as the underdog position for the special general. Former US Attorney Michael Sullivan, state Rep. Dan Winslow, and businessman/Navy veteran Gabriel Gomez are the three candidates. Polling, though most of the available data features unacceptably low sample sizes, has shown both Sullivan and Gomez in the lead during the closing days.

Once nominees are secured tonight, the money battle will begin for the special general. Scott Brown’s upset victory in a 2010 Senate special election notwithstanding, proving that a Republican can win under certain circumstances, it is unlikely such a configuration will occur in this situation. In fact, it will even be a surprise if the national and state Republican Party leaders decide to wage a serious fight. Democrats will not allow their candidate to  Continue reading >

Rehberg’s Return? Two Say No

At the end of the 2012 election cycle, then-Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) said his Montana political career was at an end. Losing to Sen. Jon Tester (D) by three points, 45-48 percent, even though Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was racking up a 55-42 percent Montana margin over President Obama, the six-term congressman and former lieutenant governor said he would not again seek political office.

Now, with Sen. Max Baucus (D) announcing that he will not run in 2014, Rehberg may be changing his tune. “As to what the future holds, ever since Max (Sen. Baucus) announced his retirement two days ago my phone has been ringing off the hook,” Rehberg said. “The encouragement I’ve been getting from Montanans to take a serious look at this race has been overwhelming. I owe it to them, and to all the folks who I’ve served over the years, to keep listening and see how things develop. I’m not ruling anything out at this point.”

The top potential candidate is former Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer. If he decides to run, with his high favorability ratings that have continued into his retirement, it will be very difficult for Republicans to beat him. Conversely, should Schweitzer not enter the race and Rehberg run for the Republicans, he would likely become the decided favorite and the GOP would be in strong conversion position.

The Baucus retirement has clearly changed the outlook for the Montana Senate race. Until the candidates identify themselves, however, this race will remain in a state of flux.

Schock, Pingree Say No

Two US House members who have been mentioned as potential gubernatorial candidates in their respective states each publicly removed themselves from further talk about a 2014 statewide campaign. Republican Aaron Schock (R-IL-18) and Democrat Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) both confirmed that they will seek re-election to  Continue reading >

Markey Looking Strong; “Governor” Nelson?

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5)

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5)

As we turn into the home stretch for the special Democratic primary election to fill John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) continues to appear well positioned for claiming his party’s nomination over fellow Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8).

A new Public Policy Polling brushfire survey (April 23-25; 563 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) conducted for the League of Conservation Voters, an organization supporting Markey, continues to show the 36-year congressional veteran with a substantial lead. According to the PPP data, Markey posts a 50-36 percent margin over Lynch. The winner of the Democratic primary becomes the prohibitive favorite in the June 25 special general election.

Both candidates scored strong favorability ratings from the sampling universe. Markey registers 66:23 percent favorable to unfavorable; Lynch 50:32 percent.

Earlier in the week, the Western New England University Polling Institute released their survey (April 11-18; 480 registered Massachusetts voters; 270 Democratic primary voters) that showed  Continue reading >

Brown’s First NH Numbers

Public Policy Polling (April 19-21; 933 registered New Hampshire voters) went to New Hampshire to test former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown’s (R) electability in the Granite State. Two weeks ago, Brown, who was defeated for re-election in Massachusetts last November, indicated that he is considering challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in 2014. Since publicly confirming that the idea is at least a possibility, he has made several appearances in the state.

The early PPP numbers, however, don’t look particularly promising for Brown, but he does fare better than any other Republican against Shaheen. If the election were in the current time frame, the senator would lead him 52-41 percent. Though being 11 points down early in the cycle is not the worst of positions for a challenger, it was believed Brown might fare better because of being so well-known throughout the entire New England region.

But, it’s not the ballot test results that suggest the former senator begins in relatively weak political position in New Hampshire. When asked if the respondents think that Brown should run for Senate in the state next year, only 32 percent said they believe he should as compared to 54 percent who said no.

Turning to whether those in the sampling universe consider Brown a New Hampshirite, only 18 percent said that they did. A full 63 percent said they did not.

As previously stated, Brown does fare better than any other Republican against Sen. Shaheen. Former US congressman Jeb Bradley (R-NH-1), who now is the state Senate Majority Leader, trails the senator 39-54 percent. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas (R) is behind 34-53 percent; ex-congressman Frank Guinta (R-NH-1) comes up 18 points short at 37-55 percent. Finally, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R), the son of former governor and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu and brother of former senator John E. Sununu, would lose to Sen. Shaheen 39-53 percent.
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