Category Archives: House

Incumbents Match Up in NJ

Now that the New Jersey congressional map officially has been adopted, a new incumbent pairing has resulted. The state lost a seat in reapportionment, meaning that at least two of the state’s 13 congressmen would have to fight for just one seat.

Since the state’e bipartisan redistricting commission adopted the proposed Republican map, it appeared that Reps. Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9) and Scott Garrett (R-NJ-5) would square off in a new 5th District that contains about 79 percent of the territory from the latter’s current CD. Instead, Rothman announced that he will primary a fellow Democrat, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8), in the new 9th District.

The new NJ-9 is a solid Democratic district and actually contains approximately 54 percent of the territory from Rothman’s current district as compared to just 43 percent from Pascrell’s seat. Rothman’s home of Fair Lawn is in the 5th CD, however, but the town in which he administered as Mayor prior to being elected to Congress in 1996, Englewood, is in the new 9th. Mr. Pascrell’s home of Paterson is also in the latest version of the 9th District.

Thus, Rothman now forces a major intra-party pairing battle that will be settled in the June primary. Though at first glance it appears that Mr. Rothman is the odd man out in this map scenario, it is actually Rep. Pascrell who may find himself on the outside looking in once the 9th District Democratic congressional nomination finally is decided. According to the latest available Federal Election Commission disclosure reports (Sept. 30), Rothman has $1.745 million cash-on-hand as compared to Pascrell’s $1.434 million. So, both men begin what promises to be a difficult race in strong financial position but Rothman appears to have the better overall political posture as the campaign begins.

Updates From Texas, West Virginia

Texas Senate: Sanchez Drops Bid

While former NFL football player Craig James (R) appears to be headed into the Texas Senate race, another candidate is departing. Retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (D) who officially launched his Senatorial campaign back in May, now says he will not run.

Sanchez experienced a difficult time launching his campaign from a fundraising perspective and in attempting to kick his effort into high gear. After recently sustaining huge personal losses due to a fire that cost him his personal residence, the retired military officer said it was simply not the right time for him to enter elective politics, particularly for a long shot statewide attempt.

Republicans are strong favorites to hold the open seat. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) is retiring.

WV-1: Oliverio Out

Former state Sen. Mike Oliverio (D), who lost one of the closest elections (49.6-50.4 percent) of the 2010 election cycle to freshman Rep. David McKinley (R), has withdrawn from the 2012 contest. In May of 2010, Oliverio upset 14-term Rep. Alan Mollohan in the Democratic primary largely because of the incumbent’s vote in favor of the Cap & Trade legislation, an issue that is wholly unpopular in northern West Virginia coal country. In September, Mr. Oliverio announced that he would seek a re-match with Rep. McKinley.

Oliverio gave no reason for changing his mind, only saying that he would be an “active citizen” instead of a candidate for public office. In the three months of his latest campaign effort, he had only raised $11,000 and still carries a debt of $27,000 from the 2010 race.

Remaining in the race is Democratic activist Susan Thorn. WV-1 changed little in redistricting. The McKinley-Oliverio re-match was considered a toss-up, but the congressman will certainly be favored if Thorn becomes the eventual Democratic nominee.

Two Polls; Two Drop-Outs

NM-1 Poll

Public Policy Polling surveyed the upcoming open New Mexico Senate race (Dec. 10-12; 500 New Mexico registered voters; 309 New Mexico Democratic primary voters). Their latest data gives Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) a 47-40 percent edge over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1). If Lt. Gov. John Sanchez were to become the Republican nominee, Heinrich would beat him 48-37 percent.

In the Democratic primary between Heinrich and state Auditor Hector Balderas, the congressman leads that battle 47-30 percent. The Republican primary featuring Wilson and Sanchez was not tested.

The results are about what one would expect at this time. New Mexico is a relatively competitive state, much more so at the presidential level than in the state contests, and it leans to the Democrats. Normally, the Democrat holds the lead early and the Republican gains strength as the election draws near. The fact that Rep. Heinrich only leads Ms. Wilson by seven points in a small-sample poll and still falls below the 50 percent mark suggests that this could become a highly competitive general election campaign. The New Mexico seat is open because Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) is retiring after five terms.

OR-1 Poll

Public Policy Polling was also in the field in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District for the upcoming special election to be decided on Jan. 31. Their poll (Dec. 13-14; 979 OR-1 likely special election voters) gives former state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D) an expected 52-41 percent lead over 2010 Republican nominee Rob Cornilles, a local sporting goods executive.

The data breaks down exactly as one would predict: Democrats overwhelmingly support Bonamici (89-6 percent), while Republicans are just as strong for Cornilles (88-5 percent). Liberals and conservatives each strongly break toward the Democratic and Republican candidate, respectively. The two points that prove interesting and potentially determinative – and there is one plus for each candidate – are that women are going heavily for Bonamici (57-36 percent) while men break evenly (47-47 percent), and Independents are trending toward Cornilles (46-40 percent).

The fact that the district is overwhelmingly Democratic and the party apparatus and liberal special interest groups are spending heavily for Bonamici while the Republican/conservative side has yet to step up for Cornilles, suggests that the former will handily win this seat if the current trends continue.

The position is open because Rep. David Wu (D-OR-1) resigned earlier in the year.

Kentucky Rep. Davis Retires; Utah Rep. Matheson Jumps Districts

Kentucky GOP Rep. Geoff Davis surprisingly announced that he won’t seek a fifth term in his 4th Congressional District next year, opening what will likely be a safe Republican seat and a position on the Ways & Means Committee in the next Congress.

Davis, a former US Army Ranger and prosperous independent businessman, is retiring due to family considerations. In 2004, after running a close but unsuccessful campaign against Rep. Ken Lucas (D-KY-4) two years earlier, Davis defeated Nick Clooney, father of actor George Clooney, by more than 30,000 votes to win the seat. He then repelled Lucas’ comeback bid by eight points in the Democratic year of 2006, and cruised to big re-elections in 2008 and 2010. Mr. Davis becomes the 25th member and seventh Republican to make public his plans not to run for the House in 2012. He is the 11th to retire. The others are seeking a different office.

The KY-4 District is strongly Republican and expected to remain in GOP hands even after the new congressional map is drawn. John McCain received 60 percent of the vote here in 2008. Former President George W. Bush scored 63 and 61 percent in 2004 and 2000, respectively.

After exploring for several months whether to challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch or Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah 2nd District Rep. Jim Matheson (D) announced that he will seek re-election in 2012, but from new District 4. The Utah Republican plan is to attempt to win all four of the state’s congressional seats – the Beehive State gained one district in reapportionment – and Matheson feels his best chance of winning re-election lies in the new 4th, rather than his current 2nd District.

Republican state Reps. Stephen Sandstrom and Carl Wimmer had already announced for the 4th. It will be interesting to see if they stay in this seat now that Matheson has declared, or if they will hop over to the vacant 2nd. In any event, Mr. Matheson has a difficult road to re-election.

Rep. Joe Walsh Raising Eyebrows

Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL-8), whose suburban Chicago district was obliterated in the Democrats’ redistricting plan, has changed his re-election plans. His decision to switch campaign venues has surprised many political observers since his chances of winning in the new territory next November don’t appear too favorable.

Originally, Mr. Walsh decided to mount a campaign against fellow freshman Republican Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14) in the new 14th District, a seat where the GOP primary winner becomes the strong favorite for the general election, but now he is opting for an uphill general election battle in a new and heavily Democratic 8th District.

Though party leaders are pledging to raise big money for him to take on the eventual Democratic nominee, either former Assistant Veterans Affairs Secretary Tammy Duckworth or former Deputy Illinois Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi, it remains to be seen if they come through when polling will likely show Walsh considerably behind, and many other districts around the country will be in closer position.

The big winner in this scenario is Mr. Hultgren who avoids a difficult primary election and now becomes the prohibitive favorite for re-election. The Republican apparatus wins by avoiding an intra-party pairing of incumbents, but the same result is not as apparent for Mr. Walsh.

Candidate filing deadline of Dec. 27 is fast approaching. The Illinois primary is March 20th.