Category Archives: Senate

The Two Latest Senate Candidates

California Senate

May 18, 2015 — The on-again-off-again Loretta Sanchez for Senate campaign finally became official. Earlier in the cycle, Rep. Sanchez (D-CA-46) told supporters she would announce for the Senate, only to put her statewide plans on hold.

Earlier last week a statement came from her political headquarters saying that a special announcement would be made Thursday. Immediately, that comment was withdrawn, with Sanchez saying she was only considering the race. She then reversed direction yet again, and this time did formally declare for the Senate.

With the campaign beginning in bungling fashion, Sanchez finds herself in the role of major underdog to a fellow Democrat, Attorney General Kamala Harris. But, coming from far behind in a race few thought she could win is exactly how she began her political career back in 1996. That is when she upset then-Rep. Bob Dornan (R) by a mere 984 votes, and has not been seriously challenged since. Now at 55, Rep. Sanchez will risk what will be a 20-year House career to venture toward a statewide contest.
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Continuing Senate Action

May 15, 2015 — One place where the early campaign has gone poorly for Senate Democrats is Pennsylvania. With state and national party leaders in an open feud with former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), the 2010 Senate nominee who held Republican Pat Toomey to a 51-49 percent victory, the race has the potential to spin out of control.

Pennsylvania Democratic Party leaders and those from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in Washington are attempting to recruit Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro to oppose Sestak. In addition, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D) has announced his candidacy. Pawlowski entered the 2014 gubernatorial race but didn’t fare well, and dropped his bid even before the candidate filing deadline expired.

A new Harper Polling survey (May 6-7; 503 registered Pennsylvania voters) adds to the Democrats’ problems, as Sen. Toomey appears to be in strong shape at the beginning of the race. Harper finds his personal favorability index to be a strong 54:32 percent positive to negative.
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Nevada Senate Outlook

May 14, 2015 — Because they are defending so many states in the 2016 Senate elections (24 of the 34 in-cycle seats are Republican-held), the open Nevada seat could be one of the few available national offensive opportunities for the majority party. Therefore, Republican leaders have been working hard to field a strong candidate to fight to succeed retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D), and they may have found him.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is the party leaders’ first choice and, based upon his 71 percent re-election performance last November, the Silver State chief executive is clearly the individual best positioned to convert the seat. But Sandoval is committed to serving his second term and consistently says he has no interest in a 2016 Senate race. That being the case, Republicans are turning to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), and late reports suggest their courting efforts are working.

After originally saying he would not challenge Reid when it looked like the senator would seek re-election, Rep. Heck now appears to be moving toward entering the open-seat race. With most other Republicans appearing ready to yield to him, Heck having a clear path to the GOP nomination is highly realistic.
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McCain Warning Signs

May 5, 2015 — Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), who is seeking re-election to a sixth term next year, is showing political weakness according to a new Public Policy Polling survey (May 1-3; 600 registered Arizona voters; 300 self-identified Arizona Republican voters).

According to the results, McCain’s job approval is in upside-down territory not only from the Grand Canyon State electorate at-large but from an isolated Republican cell sample, as well. PPP projects that the senator records only a 36:51 percent approval ratio before the general electorate. More troubling, he scores 41:50 percent favorable to unfavorable among Republicans.

Sen. McCain has long been a controversial figure with Republican Party base voters, and there is an active effort attempting to deny him re-nomination. So far, candidate recruitment has failed because only state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), who is not viewed as a substantial challenger, is willingly stepping forward to register a campaign committee.
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One Republican Win, and
One Republican In

May 6, 2015 — The season’s first special election concluded last night in New York’s 11th Congressional District with little fanfare as Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan (R) easily rode to a landslide victory in former Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R) vacated seat. Grimm resigned at the beginning of the term after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion.

The election drew only 39,867 voters for an abysmally low turnout percentage of 9.8 percent. Donovan, who was viewed as the prohibitive favorite here since the special election cycle began, captured 59 percent of the vote compared to New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile’s (D-Brooklyn) 40 percent. Green Party nominee James Lane picked up the final 1.3 percent, or 521 raw votes. Donovan carried the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party ballot lines, while Gentile held the Democratic and Working Families Party designations.

The Democrats barely contested this special election, vowing to wage a real campaign in this Staten Island-Brooklyn domain during the regular 2016 election cycle under what will likely be a full turnout model in the presidential year. Now that representative-elect Donovan will be the incumbent, doing so becomes more unlikely, however, as the national Democrats will move toward more logical targets elsewhere.
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Is McCollum Poised to Make a
Comeback in the Florida Senate?

April 23, 2015 — A new but familiar name has surfaced in the open Florida Senate candidate conversation. Beginning the process of deciding whether to enter another campaign is former congressman and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R).

Out of office since losing the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary to current Gov. Rick Scott, McCollum was assumed to be retired from elective politics after spending 20 years in the House, four more as attorney general, and losing two US Senate campaigns and a governor’s race.

A new poll, however, is clearly one of the elements making him think about embarking upon yet another political campaign. The new Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey (April 14-16; 400 Florida Republican primary voters; 400 Florida Democratic primary voters) finds McCollum holding a significant lead over the rest of the prospective Republican primary field.
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New Marquette Poll Shows
Johnson Down Big in Wisconsin

April 21, 2015 — Polling has been unkind to several senators during the past few days. Last week we reported on research studies showing both Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) trailing hypothetical opponents by very small margins. While a new Marquette University Law School survey finds yet another incumbent falling behind a challenger, this time the margin is anything but slight.

The Marquette data (April 7-10; 803 registered Wisconsin voters) finds former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) leading incumbent Ron Johnson (R-WI) by a whopping 54-38 percent margin. Johnson unseated Feingold six years ago by a five percentage point spread and the former senator appears well positioned to re-enter elective politics.

Though Feingold has said little about the impending 2016 Senate race and has certainly not announced any intention to run, leaders from both parties expect him to again become a candidate. In February, Feingold resigned his appointed position as a State Department US Envoy to the African Great Lakes region, and many observers are surprised he has not yet announced or at least signaled his intention to run for the Senate. Polls such as the Marquette survey may hasten his decision.
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