Category Archives: Senate

Two Signatures From Calamity

Feb. 18, 2016 — A brewing controversy is underway in the open Indiana Senate race, and it’s over whether literally two petition signatures are valid. Under Indiana election law, candidates for statewide office must file 500 registered voter petition signatures in each of the state’s nine congressional districts to qualify for the primary and general election ballots.

In the northwestern Indiana 1st District (Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Merrillville; Hammond; Gary), Republican Senate candidate Todd Young, the 9th District congressman, may be lacking two valid signatures on his submitted petitions, which may be enough to disqualify his candidacy. Young’s petitions are approved in the eight other districts, so his race status is coming down to whether two people on this one list are, or are not, legally registered voters.

Earlier, the county clerks who comprise the 1st District territory jointly and publicly reported that Young filed 501 valid signatures, or one more than the bare minimum. The Indiana Democratic Party, rejecting the Clerks’ report, instead responded by filing a complaint with the four-member Indiana Election Commission -– a body comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans -– claiming that Young only has 498 valid 1st District signatures. To give the challenge more legs, the congressman’s chief GOP statewide opponent, 3rd District US Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Howe; Ft. Wayne), joined the Democrats’ objection.

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Sen. Paul Draws Opponent

Jan. 28, 2016 — With the clock running down to just hours for Democrats to find a credible opponent for Sen. Rand Paul (R), Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D) submitted his candidate declaration papers Tuesday and will be placed on the May 17 Democratic primary ballot.

Mayor Gray, who runs the second largest city-county consolidated government region in the state, had been a national recruitment target ever since former Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer (D) declined to run. Though six other Democrats had already become senatorial candidates, none can be considered major contenders, thus Gray begins the race with the inside track for the party nomination. Though starting from scratch, Gray could be in position to give Paul serious competition should the latter’s presidential campaign become a debacle.

Originally expected to be one of the major contenders in at least the Iowa Caucuses, Sen. Paul will likely finish in the lower tier in Monday’s first presidential vote, with not much better prospects for New Hampshire. The Kentucky presidential caucus, changed from a primary to allow Paul to simultaneously run for president and Senate, will be held March 5. The senator needs a good showing in his home state to remain alive in the presidential contest, and to shore up his internal base for a re-election campaign.

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The Open Seats

Jan. 20, 2016 — Considering six new House retirements were announced just before Christmas and early into the New Year, it’s a good time to review exactly which states and districts are open for the 2016 election:

Senate – 6 Total (3R; 3D)
California: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) – retiring – Safe Democrat
Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio (R) – running for President – Toss-Up
Indiana: Sen. Dan Coats (R) – retiring – Likely Republican
Louisiana: Sen. David Vitter (R) – retiring – Likely Republican
Maryland: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) – retiring – Safe Democrat
Nevada: Sen. Harry Reid (D) – retiring – Toss-Up
• Likely R: (2)
• Safe D: (2)
• Toss-Up: (2)

House – 37 Total (22R; 15D)

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) – running for Senate – Toss-Up
CA-20: Rep. Sam Farr (D) – retiring – Safe D
CA-24: Rep. Lois Capps (D) – retiring – Lean D
CA-44: Rep. Janice Hahn (D) – running for local office – Safe D
CA-46: Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
DE-AL: Rep. John Carney (D) – running for Governor – Likely D
FL-6: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
FL-9: Rep. Alan Grayson (D) – running for Senate – Likely D
FL-11: Rep. Rich Nugent (R) – retiring – Safe R
FL-13: Rep. David Jolly (R) – running for Senate – Lean D
FL-18: Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) – running for Senate – Toss-Up
GA-3: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) – retiring/Gov (’18) – Safe R
IL-8: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
IN-3: Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
IN-9: Rep. Todd Young (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
KY-1: Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) – retiring – Safe R
LA-3: Rep. Charles Boustany (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
LA-4: Rep. John Fleming (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
MD-4: Rep. Donna Edwards (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
MD-8: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
MI-1: Rep. Dan Benishek (R) – retiring – Lean R
MI-10: Rep. Candice Miller (R) – retiring – Safe R
MN-2: Rep. John Kline (R) – retiring – Toss-Up
NV-3: Rep. Joe Heck (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
NY-3: Rep. Steve Israel (D) – retiring – Lean D
NY-13: Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) – retiring – Safe D
NY-19: Rep. Chris Gibson (R) – retiring/Gov (’18) – Lean R
NY-22: Rep. Richard Hanna (R) – retiring – Lean R
OH-8: Rep. John Boehner (R) – resigned – Safe R –
           Special Election – March 15; June 7
PA-8: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) – retiring – Lean R
PA-16: Rep. Joe Pitts (R) – retiring – Likely R
TX-15: Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D) – retiring – Safe D
TX-19: Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) – retiring – Safe R
VA-2: Rep. Scott Rigell (R) – retiring – Toss-Up
VA-5: Rep. Bob Hurt (R) – retiring – Likely R
WA-7: Rep. Jim McDermott (D) – retiring – Safe D
WY-AL: Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) – retiring – Safe R
• Safe R: (10); Likely R: (5); Lean R: (4); Total R: (19)
• Safe D: (9); Likely D: (2); Lean D: (3); Total D: (14)
• Toss-Up: (4)

Re-setting the Republicans

Jan. 5, 2015 — We’re now within one month of the first votes being cast in the 2016 presidential campaign, and though there is disagreement about just how important the “February Four” states will be in determining the ultimate Republican winner, the early entities, at a minimum, are of clear significance. Today, we cover the Republicans; tomorrow, we reset the Democrats.

The voting calendar begins with the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9. Eleven days later, South Carolina Republicans vote in their party run primary. On Tuesday, Feb. 23, both parties will conduct the Nevada Caucuses.

The four states, for the hotly contested Republicans, are assigned an aggregate of just 133 delegates. The February results will serve as a prelude to Super Tuesday voting, which will occur this year on March 1. Fourteen entities will host either primaries or caucuses on that day.

The latest 10 published polls from Iowa, taken from Nov. 16 through Dec. 21, either find businessman Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) holding the lead. Five surveys, from Monmouth University, the Des Moines Register, Loras College, Fox News, and CBS/YouGov post Cruz to an advantage. Four give Trump a slight edge: Quinnipiac University (twice), CNN, and Public Policy Polling. One pollster, Gravis Marketing, has the two tied at 31 percent in the latest released poll (Dec. 18-21/15). Cruz’s average lead is 8.6 percent. Trump’s average advantage is a much smaller 4.7 percent.

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North Carolina Filing

Jan. 4, 2015 — Candidate filing closed in North Carolina before Christmas, and nine of the 14 federal incumbents standing for re-election will face 2016 primary opponents. Two of the challenges appear serious.

Sen. Richard Burr (R) draws a Tea Party challenge from physician Greg Brannon, who placed second (27.5 percent) against now-Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2014 Republican primary. He returns in a four-way contest against the two-term GOP incumbent. Former District Judge Paul Wright and retired advertising executive Larry Holmquist are the other GOP contenders.

North Carolina has 40 percent run-off law. If no candidate exceeds 40 percent, then a secondary election occurs. Sen. Burr is a cinch for the party nomination, and figures to have a strong general election performance against what will be a second-tier Democratic opponent. In 2010, Burr became the first incumbent since 1968 to be re-elected in this particular Senate seat. With Democratic recruitment failing, he is in very strong shape to win a third term.

Representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2), Walter Jones (R-NC-3), Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5), Mark Walker (R-NC-6), David Rouzer (R-NC-7), Robert Pittenger (R-NC-9), Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10), and Alma Adams (D-NC-12) all drew primary challengers. Only the campaigns against Representatives Ellmers and Jones appear serious at the outset. The North Carolina primary will be held concurrently with the presidential nomination event, on March 15.

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Illinois Files

Dec. 7, 2015 — Candidate filing for the 2016 Illinois election calendar has now closed, meaning we have a slate of Democratic and Republican candidates for all federal offices.

In the US Senate contest, both parties have three candidates. Sen. Mark Kirk is seeking a second term on the Republican side. He faces two minor primary challengers in management consultant James Marter and former congressional candidate Liz Pahlke. The Democrats, as expected, are Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), state Sen. Napoleon Harris, and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp. The general election will feature Sen. Kirk and Rep. Duckworth.

House Primaries

Turning to the House races, eight incumbents drew primary challenges, three of which appear formidable.

In Chicago’s 1st District, veteran Rep. Bobby Rush has drawn a trio of Democratic primary opponents. The most serious is Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. In the last election, Brookins circulated nominating petitions in anticipation of a Rush retirement announcement, but then chose not to file when the congressman decided to seek re-election.

This year, it was thought he might be following that same path but he did not. Brookins is in the contest and will make the challenge. It is doubtful that he can deny Rep. Rush re-nomination. Even President Obama failed to do so back in 2000. Obama, then a state senator, drew only 30 percent against the strong incumbent. The other 1st District Democratic challengers are frequent candidate Harold Bailey and former congressional candidate Patrick Brutus.

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Illinois Sen. Kirk Attacks Duckworth;
Comstock’s Interesting Challenger

Dec. 3, 2015 — Sen. Mark Kirk (R) just launched a major media attack against Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), this one regarding the Syrian refugee issue. The ad (above) is telling because it provides us a glimpse into the Kirk campaign research and strategy.

Targeting the congresswoman now conveys the assumption that Rep. Duckworth will win the Democratic nomination on March 15. This is a rather obvious conclusion due to her perceived political strength and because her two primary opponents, though potentially formidable under different circumstances, both occupy the same demographic and geographic segments. State Sen. Napoleon Harris and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp are each African American and hail from the state’s largest city.

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