Feb. 14, 2017 — Morning Consult and the Politico publication joined forces to conduct a major national tracking survey that begins to understand how Americans are viewing the current political state. The polling period occurred Feb. 2-4, through extensive interviews with a large 2,070 registered voters sampling universe.
The questionnaire covered how people view President Trump, the congressional leaders, the direction of the country, and their attitudes about key issues currently facing the nation including Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation status.
The right track-wrong track question — though a sizable majority still express negative opinions about where the country is headed — is improving according to this survey. By are margin of 40:60 percent, the respondents believe America is now on the right track. Previously, the ratio had been much worse: well into the 70-plus percentile range responding wrong track during the presidential campaign.
Feb. 13, 2017 — The 126-member 4th District Republican Congressional Committee met in Wichita last week to choose a nominee with the objective of keeping the vacant US House seat under GOP control. CIA Director Mike Pompeo (R) resigned from Congress to accept President Trump’s appointment. Therefore, the special election to replace him is set for April 11.
Late last week, state Treasurer Ron Estes officially became the party standard bearer by capturing 66 of the 126 votes on the second ballot. He defeated Trump Transition Team member and presidential campaign official Alan Cobb, ex-US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Wichita), former radio talk show host Joseph Ashby, and petroleum company CEO George Bruce. Wichita City Councilman Pete Meitzner had been campaigning for the seat, but decided not to enter the official local convention proceedings.
On the first ballot, Estes scored 58 votes, six short of claiming the nomination outright. Cobb was second with 28 secret ballot votes. Former eight-term US Rep. Tiahrt landed in the second tier of candidates, ahead of only Ashby and Bruce.
Feb. 10, 2017 — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) named state Attorney General Luther Strange (R) to replace former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R). Sessions resigned from the Senate after being confirmed as US Attorney General.
Strange will serve through the 2018 regular election. He has already announced that he will run in the concurrent special election. If successful, he will then serve the balance of the current term, meaning through 2020. He would be eligible to seek a full six-year term in the 2020 election.
Feb. 10, 2017 — In late January the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released their list of 59 current Republican House targets, and now the GOP committee leadership has countered in publicizing their own group of 36 politically marginal Democratic incumbents.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released the targets this week, and their primary offensive list is not particularly surprising. It naturally includes the 12 Democratic districts that President Trump carried, before adding two dozen of which some are certainly more vulnerable than others.
Feb. 9, 2017 — The special election cycle officially launches tomorrow evening.
Kansas’ 4th District Republican Committee will convene for purposes of choosing a nominee to compete in the April 11 special election. Democrats will follow suit with their own confab on Saturday afternoon.
The Wichita-anchored 4th CD is vacant because Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) was nominated and confirmed as President Trump’s CIA director. He resigned the congressional seat on Jan. 24 to accept his new position. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) then quickly scheduled the replacement election for early April.
The 4th District Republican Committee consists of 126 party-elected delegates. They will consider the candidates, and then cast secret ballots. The voting will continue until one person reaches majority support (64 votes). The lowest vote-getter will be eliminated after every round of voting.
According to the Salt Lake City Deseret News, former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is not yet ruling out a potential 2018 Utah Senate race.
Jump-starting the speculation is Romney’s comment saying that “all doors are open” in response to a question from a Deseret political news reporter about the upcoming federal election. Romney was attending an event yesterday commemorating the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games that he directed when being interviewed.
“I don’t have any predictions on what I might do. I’m not going to open a door and I’m not going to close a door. All doors are open,” Romney stated when answering the question. Such a quote is a long way from actually expressing interest in the Utah Senate race, but it is clear he is giving himself some latitude with respect to mounting a statewide political effort.
Feb. 7, 2017 — A new Christopher Newport University poll (Jan. 15-28, 1,002 registered Virginia voters; 464 self-identified Democrats and Lean Independents, 418 self-identified Republicans and Lean Independents) finds weakness in Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s candidacy, putting former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) within early striking distance for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
According to the survey, Northam has only a 26-15 percent Democratic primary lead over Perriello, far short of what would be expected considering that the former has locked down the party establishment.
Northam’s political Achilles heel is his lack of name identification. Even though he is the Commonwealth’s lieutenant governor, a huge 77 percent of the respondents either expressed no opinion of Northam (64 percent), or they “didn’t know/refused to answer (13 percent). Of those who could identify him, the lieutenant governor had a 16:7 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. Perriello, on the other hand, scored similarly: 11:8 percent positive to negative, 81 percent no opinion/didn’t know/refused to answer.