Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Reid Endorses Successors;
Duckworth to Run

March 31, 2015 — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) surprise retirement announcement on Friday quickly yielded another unexpected pair of political moves. After saying he wouldn’t run next year, Reid quickly expressed support for former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as his successor. This, even before Cortez Masto issued a statement of candidacy.

Just a day later, he and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) then both announced their support for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to succeed Reed as the party leader. It was believed that he and Durbin would battle each other for the leadership post, but their action suggests a smooth transition will presumably occur.

Reid’s decision to take a stand in the Democratic primary is within character because he often involves himself in pre-primary Senate races around the country. But, it’s unusual even for him to do so before the candidate is in the race.

This being said, presumably it has been worked out in Democratic circles well behind the scenes that Cortez Masto is the preferred candidate. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1), however, doesn’t appear part of this deal since she describes herself as “seriously considering” a bid for the Senate. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), who lost the race for attorney general last November to Republican Adam Laxalt, is yet another potential Democratic candidate.
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The Current State of the Indiana
and Pennsylvania Senate Races

Indiana Senate

With the Indiana Senate seat now officially open for just about a week, many elected officials from both parties report themselves to be in a “considering phase” about entering the statewide race.

Three members of the state delegation immediately indicated they will not run for Senate, however. Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN-6), Andre Carson (D-IN-7) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN-8) said publicly that they will not pursue a statewide bid, presumably to remain in the House.

On the other hand, representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3), Todd Rokita (R-IN-4), Susan Brooks (R-IN-5) and Todd Young (R-IN-9) all confirm they are at least thinking about running. Veteran Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN-1) has not made any public statement about the race, but is expected to remain in the House.

Of this group of congressional Republicans, Rep. Stutzman is most likely to run since he challenged Coats in the 2010 Republican primary before being elected to the House. It would not be surprising, however, to see several House members enter the race, even though they would be relinquishing congressional seats they virtually just won. All of the Hoosier State Republican representatives were elected in 2010 or later.
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NYT: Harry Reid to Retire

The New York Times is running a major story today saying that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made the decision not to seek re-election and will soon announce his course of action.

Reid had been vociferously denying the many retirement rumors that were circulating earlier in the year, and was actively raising funds and taking steps to hire a campaign team. Now, the Times says he is reversing course.

Reid’s departure will naturally change the Senate in a dramatic way, but the decision has major political ramifications, as well. Republicans will be much more competitive in an open seat situation in Nevada, and will now likely see stronger candidates come forward.

Previously, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and representatives Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and Mark Amodei (R-NV-2) have all either said or indicated that they would not challenge Reid in 2016. In an open seat situation, this could all change.

The Reid retirement will fundamentally change the 2016 political picture.

This is a developing story.

Florida Senate Numbers …
Without Rubio

Public Policy Polling released new survey numbers for what appears to be an upcoming open US Senate race, sans incumbent Marco Rubio (R). It appears likely that the senator will soon announce he is not seeking re-election in order to devote his full attention to a presidential run.

The PPP survey (March 19-22; 923 registered Florida voters; 425 self-identified Republicans; 371 self-identified Democrats) tested the Florida Senate race in various configurations late last week and found what most of us would expect to see in politically marginal Florida -– in an open seat situation, the campaign would become a toss-up.

First, Sen. Rubio was tested before the entire respondent universe, and he scored a 45:40 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval. From a firm that normally produces upside-down ratios almost across the board in response to this question, Rubio’s five-point positive is actually a lot stronger than it looks.

Against announced Democratic senatorial candidate Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) and probable contender Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9), Rubio fares well considering the state’s 50/50 political nature.
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Open Seat #3: Indiana Sen. Dan Coats

Several weeks ago, Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R) promised to announce his 2016 political plans before April 5, and on Tuesday kept his word. When Coats announced such an early time frame upon making a re-election decision, it encouraged political speculation that he would retire, thus opening the seat for next year’s election. Such prognostication proved accurate because Sen. Coats announced that he will retire for the second time.

Coats first came to office when he succeeded his former congressional boss, then-Rep. Dan Quayle (R-IN-4). When Quayle defeated Sen. Birch Bayh (D) in 1980, it was Dan Coats who won the Ft. Wayne-anchored congressional seat that Quayle vacated. Coats would serve four terms, and then once again succeed Quayle when he was appointed in 1989 to fill the unexpired Senate term when the latter was elected Vice President. Coats would then win a special Senate election in 1990, filling the final two years of the term to which he was originally appointed. He then claimed a full six-year term in the next regular election. Coats decided to retire from the Senate in 1998, rather than face then-Gov. Evan Bayh (D) in what was expected to be a very tough re-election fight.

Upon his retirement, Coats served as US Ambassador to Germany, and then returned to Washington DC to join a lobbying firm. He rather surprisingly was recruited to return to elective politics in 2010, and this time ironically succeeded Sen. Bayh who himself had decided to retire expressing his disdain for continuing service in the federal legislative body on his way out. Now, it is former Sen. Bayh who is not yet completely ruling out a return to elective politics.

The Coats’ move opens a third Senate seat for the 2016 election cycle. A fourth may soon be coming if Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) decides to forgo re-election in order to concentrate on a presidential campaign, as expected. Earlier in the year, Democratic senators Barbara Boxer (CA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD) announced their respective retirements.
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