FEB. 24 – Likely signaling a return to elective politics former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) late last week officially resigned his US State Department position, a necessary step for anyone planning to announce a political candidacy. It has long been surmised that Feingold would seek a rematch with the man who unseated him in 2010, first-term Sen. Ron Johnson (R).
Feingold was originally elected to the Senate in the Clinton presidential year of 1992, after spending 10 years in the Wisconsin state legislature. He defeated then two-term incumbent Sen. Bob Kasten (R) with a 53-46 percent victory margin. Six years later he faced then-Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI-1) in what proved to be a much closer race than originally predicted. Feingold scored a close win over Neumann, 51-48 percent. He won a much easier 55-44 percent victory in 2004 before losing 47-52 percent to Johnson in the Republican wave year of 2010. President Obama then appointed him as a special US envoy to the African Great Lakes region.
Sen. Johnson has been commonly viewed as one of the more vulnerable Republicans standing for re-election in 2016. Wisconsin is a volatile political state, but historically has voted Democratic. Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) three consecutive wins and Johnson’s victory five years ago, however, suggest that the state is becoming highly competitive. In fact, since 2010, inclusive, Republicans have actually won four of the six Wisconsin statewide federal races. So, Feingold cannot expect an easy road back to the Senate. Continue reading >
FEB. 16, 2015 — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), seeing his conflict of interest scandal involving his longtime fiancé cost him key political support, announced that he will resign his office this Wednesday. Because Oregon has no lieutenant governor, Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will replace the four-term chief executive. Dr. Kitzhaber, a physician, is the only person in Oregon state history to be elected to the top office four separate times.
Though not legally married to the governor, Cylvia Hayes serves as Oregon’s First Lady. Her failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from environmental organizations with business before the state, after Kitzhaber promised complete compliance with the Oregon disclosure laws for he and Ms. Hayes, began his downfall. Gov. Kitzhaber won re-election last November even after his conflict of interest with Hayes became common knowledge. But, the situation re-intensified during the past three weeks. Continue reading >
FEB. 13, 2015 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released its first group of Frontline program incumbents for the 2016 election cycle. These 14 representatives are viewed to be the most vulnerable of Democratic House incumbents, and a group that the DCCC is highlighting for increased outside support.
Some are more endangered than others, in addition to a group of four who is at least entertaining the idea of running statewide next year. Not having an incumbent in these marginal districts may be the Committee leadership’s greatest fear.
Clearly Competitive (in vulnerability order)
NE-2: Rep. Brad Ashford is likely the most endangered Democratic incumbent. The new congressman unseated eight-term Rep. Lee Terry (R-Omaha) in a vote that may have been more about the previous incumbent’s unpopularity than Ashford. The 2016 race, in a year when the district should vote Republican at the presidential level, could be more difficult for Ashford than his original election.
FL-2: Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham ran a strong campaign against a weak Republican incumbent. She will undoubtedly draw strong opposition, and the district will almost assuredly go Republican for president. The national trends at the time of the next election will play heavily upon how this congressional race unfolds. Continue reading >
Things continue to go badly for Democrats in the upcoming special election to replace resigned Staten Island/Brooklyn Rep. Michael Grimm (R).
Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) still has yet to schedule the election date, it is clear that Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan will be the eventual Republican nominee in this New York congressional district. The latest developments suggest he is now becoming a prohibitive favorite to win the seat, too.
Staten Island Assemblyman Michael Cusick was commonly viewed as the likely Democratic nominee. With polling showing him already 20 points behind Donovan, Cusick announced that he will not run for Congress after all. This leaves the Democrats with second-tier choices.
Coming into view is New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile, who is reportedly seriously looking at the race. But, Gentile is part of a continued losing Democratic formula in this district.
The 11th CD, formerly numbered 13, captures all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. The Staten Island portion represents two-thirds of the district’s population, and therefore candidates hailing from there have the upper hand. Previous Brooklyn Democratic candidates such as 2014 nominee Domenic Recchia, a former NYC councilman, fared poorly in general elections … Continue reading >
Why is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) releasing a poll that underscores their already weakened situation in the upcoming NY-11 special election? It’s unusual when a major party campaign committee allows a poll unfavorable to one of their candidates to reach the public domain, but that’s exactly what the DCCC has done.
Could it be to lower expectations in what, on paper, should be a competitive special election but doesn’t seem so at this particular time? Quite possibly.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to schedule the special election, but it will likely be at the end of March. This is consistent with the allowable time frame under New York election law, based upon the time of the office formally becoming vacant.
The Global Strategy Group (GSG), polling for the DCCC, (Jan. 16-18; 404 registered NY-11 voters) just completed an exhaustive survey in the Staten Island/Brooklyn congressional district and their findings play very well for all-but-official Republican nominee Dan Donovan, the Richmond County district attorney.
According to the results, Donovan is off to a commanding 48-28 percent (including “leaners” for both candidates) advantage over state Assemblyman Michael Cusick, the man who most believe will win the Democratic nomination. This result is even stronger when understanding that Republicans hold only a 43-42 percent edge in Continue reading >
It’s already been a busy political new year. Two days ago we witnessed several potential candidates for various offices around the country quickly quelling speculation about their specific individual political plans. Yesterday, we see the opposite as several potential candidates confirmed they will seek different positions.
The daily open Golden State Senate report includes an announcement from Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) that she will run for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D) office. The development was expected after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made public his intention to remain in his current job, and then attempt to succeed incumbent Jerry Brown (D) when the latter is ineligible to seek another term in 2018.
But, the Harris decision to enter the Senate race is apparently not dissuading other contenders. Both former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) immediately issued separate statements reaffirming that they are both individually “seriously considering” becoming Senatorial candidates. Twenty-two Democrats and twelve Republicans confirm publicly that they have not yet ruled out running for the California Senate seat, the first such open contest in 24 years. Continue reading >
Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D) retirement announcement, as we mentioned in previous columns, has set off a political firestorm in the Golden State. An open Senate seat for the first time in what will be 24 years has given aspiring statewide officeholders, particularly among Democrats, their first glimpse of attaining a major federal office. More than 30 people have been mentioned as potential candidates, but events of the last few days have begun to clarify the picture.
The state’s relatively new jungle primary law (2016 will mark the third election since its institution) makes this a much more interesting race. Before, particularly in a place that has trended so heavily toward one party in the last two decades, winning the June Democratic primary would have been tantamount to a general election victory. No more.
Now, with all candidates on the same primary ballot and the top two advancing to the general election irrespective of party affiliation with no ability to win outright on the first vote means a number of general election configurations could result. Typically, a Democrat and a Republican advance. But, if the GOP doesn’t have a capable candidate – a possibility in this overwhelmingly expensive state in what will be a long shot for them at best – two Democrats could qualify. On the other hand, if we see a large number of strong Democrats entering the race, which is a distinct possibility, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that two Republicans could actually advance if the Democratic vote is Continue reading >