Category Archives: Senate

And Now, Florida …

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is now promising a final decision about his presidential aspirations in only a matter of weeks. Currently, his political moves suggest that he is moving toward a national run.

With Rubio repeatedly saying he will not run for two offices simultaneously, an open Florida Senate seat would build even more intrigue into the 2016 election cycle. Sensing this, budding Senate candidates are beginning to float their names as his possible statewide successor.

As in California and Illinois, where a large number of federal, state, and local politicians are testing the waters for individual Senate runs, yesterday’s Sunshine State musings from several political figures are indicative that Florida may soon see a similar parade of office holders positioning themselves for an open US Senate campaign.

Sen. Rubio, himself, began the debate by saying in an interview, when asked who might be lining up to succeed him if he were to run for president, that Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and former House Speaker Will Weatherford would be two potential Republican candidates.

Yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) indicated that he would seriously consider seeking the Democratic senatorial nomination. Most often mentioned as potential senatorial candidates are Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz Continue reading >

Is Illinois Another California?

Much of the early Senate political coverage has been devoted to the open California Senate race, but now the Illinois contest is about to make an equivalent amount of news.

For several weeks, speculation, not denied by her staff, that Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) is seriously considering challenging Sen. Mark Kirk (R) came true last week when the congresswoman herself confirmed the sentiment. She had recently given birth towards the end of 2014 and had previously not been granting interviews.

Sen. Kirk, representing a highly Democratic state after his tight 48-46 percent win over then-state treasurer Alexi Giannoulius (D) in the Republican landslide year of 2010, later suffered a serious stroke that put him on a long road to recovery. The presidential year turnout model in a reliably Democratic state against a weakened Republican incumbent sets this race as the party’s best 2016 conversion opportunity in the nation.

Duckworth is the first female double-amputee of the Iraq War. She sustained severe injuries to both legs when an enemy rocket struck the helicopter she was co-piloting. After a long recuperation, she decided to embark on a career in public service. She challenged Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL-6) in a marginal district in the heavily Democratic year of 2006. Backed as one of the strongest Democratic challengers in the nation that year, she still fell short, losing 51-48 percent.
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Louisiana Polling

Louisiana Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, a former Democrat and US Senate candidate, hired the North Star Opinion Research firm to help guide his political ambitions. Kennedy is reportedly considering running for governor or attorney general in 2015. His name is also mentioned in conjunction with the 2016 US Senate contest.

The North Star survey research (Jan. 10-13; 600 registered Louisiana voters) tested Kennedy within a field of candidates first for governor, and then for attorney general as well as for US Senate.

Currently, with Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ineligible to seek a third term later this year, Sen. David Vitter (R) has jumped into the off-year gubernatorial race. Also considering running are Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, State Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Kennedy. State Rep. John Bel Edwards is the lone Democrat to express interest in running. Should Kennedy decide on the attorney general’s race, that impending field so far consists of incumbent Buddy Caldwell (R), who is politically weak, and former Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3). Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy is the one Democrat tested.

The 2016 US Senate picture will largely be dictated by what happens in the governor’s race. Should Sen. Vitter win, and he’s the early favorite, an individual will be appointed to fill the unexpired Continue reading >

New Senate Polling Begins

Pennsylvania Senate

Last year, a record number of publicly released polls led us to tracking what proved to be an extraordinary set of US Senate races. For the 2016 election cycle, we can expect more of the same.

Public Policy Polling commences the off-year campaign with a survey from what promises to be one of the more competitive of the in-cycle US Senate states, Pennsylvania. Here, first-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey begins a drive for re-election before a presidential year electorate that normally backs a Democratic candidate in the national vote. Sure to be a top presidential campaign target state, Pennsylvania voters can expect to witness an onslaught of political communication about both the presidential campaign and their important US Senate contest.

Though viewed as a swing entity, the Keystone State has voted Democratic in the presidential race consecutively since 1992, inclusive. But, during that same period, Pennsylvanians have elected and/or re-elected three Republican US senators and two GOP governors.

According to this new PPP survey (Jan. 15-18; 1,042 registered Pennsylvania voters) Sen. Toomey registers tepid numbers, relatively commonplace at this point in time for a senator who belongs to the state’s minority party. And, as typical for a Public Policy Polling survey, almost every political figure tests with a negative favorability image.

While President Obama’s job approval is a poor 42:51 percent in a state where he received 52 and 54 percent in 2012 and 2008, respectively, Sen. Toomey registers a 28:35 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D), who doesn’t again face the voters until 2018, does much better at 41:33 percent. The only other political figure to score a positive rating is former Gov. Ed Rendell (D), and he can only muster a 43:42 percent score.

Also typical of a PPP poll, is the testing of many well known politicians who will not be candidates in this particular Senate race. Among the six scenarios polled, only former Gov. Rendell, surely a non-candidate, out-polls Sen. Toomey. According to the results, Rendell would lead the incumbent, 44-41 percent. Against all others, the senator leads by margins of four to eight percentage points, but never breaks the 43 percent support level.

The one pairing that matters most, however, is with the only announced 2016 senatorial candidate, and the man who Toomey beat 51-49 percent in 2010, former US Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7). Here, Toomey has a 40-36 percent advantage.

Sestak, a former Navy Admiral who was a member of President Clinton’s National Security Council, served two terms in the House from a Philadelphia suburban district after unseating 20-year veteran Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006. Sestak was re-elected in 2008, and then ran for Senate two years later. Already announcing his statewide candidacy last year, Sestak has raised $1.6 million for the race through last September, with $1.28 million on hand. By contrast, Sen. Toomey had more than $5 million in the bank during the same time frame.

The Pennsylvania race promises to be one of the most polled during the 2016 election cycle. The fact that an incumbent senator registers numbers only in the low 40s under all scenarios is not necessarily a harbinger of a poor re-election performance, but it clearly indicates Sen. Toomey’s support must grow. In the last cycle, Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) each found themselves mired in the low 40s for more than a year, and all lost. It remains to be seen if a similar pattern ensnares Sen. Toomey, or whether he expands his appeal.

An Odd Poll Leaves Some Clues

California Senate
 
The open California Senate race has dominated recent political news coverage, and yesterday a rather strange event unfolded.  It has now come to light that Public Policy Polling surveyed the California electorate at the end of the year (Dec. 29-30, 869 registered California voters) testing what appeared to be a potentially open Senate race, but is just now releasing the data as reported in The Hill newspaper.  
 
Though it is interesting to see how the candidates stack up in the early going, the tested field isn’t particularly representative of the individuals who now appear ready to jump into the race.  Hence, eyebrows are raised as to why PPP would come forth with data now when several key components are obsolete.
 
Already, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) has announced her Senate candidacy and she is included in the survey, but former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who appeared to be moving toward a run, is not.  The latter exclusion is not particularly surprising because, at the time this poll was conducted, Villaraigosa was talking about running for governor in 2018 and not for the Senate in two years.  

Additionally, the current Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti (D), is tested but he formally pulled himself away from further consideration for the statewide office.  In the second questionnaire, Garcetti is then Continue reading >

The Candidates Start Lining Up

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.

California Senate

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.
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Candidates Who Choose Not to Run …

Several prospective candidates for various offices made official yesterday their plans not to seek another position.  
 
President
 
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, confirmed that he will not run for president in 2016.  Always mentioned as a potential candidate, Ryan was not making the preliminary campaign moves one who is serious about running for president would typically execute.  He showed no overt signs of building a national political and financial operation necessary to becoming a major political party’s presidential nominee.
 
Now ensconced as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, Rep. Ryan says he will devote his attention and political acumen toward that particular job.
 
In another report, speculation is changing around Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) presidential plans.  Now a train of thought suggests that Sen. Rubio will run for re-election instead of the presidency, and then possibly take a shot at the open governor’s office in 2018.  Then, as a sitting public chief executive from arguably the most important state on the Republican map, Rubio would have the option of running for President in 2020 or 2024, depending upon whether a Democrat or Republican wins in 2016.
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