Category Archives: Senate

A Tar Heel Sleeper?

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2016 — With the presidential campaign dominating the political media, it is easy to lose sight of the highly important 34 Senate races running simultaneously. At least one campaign appears to be in transition, and is rapidly shifting from relatively safe to potentially competitive.

Throughout 2015, it was commonly believed that North Carolina represented the Democrats’ most glaring candidate recruitment failure. Try as they might to attract a top name office holder or former statewide official like ex-US Sen. Kay Hagen, the party leaders could not convince a person of significant political stature to run. They settled for ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross and small town mayor Chris Rey. But the recent primary results and a new poll suggest that this race may be ascending the targeting charts.

In the March 15 statewide Democratic primary, Ross easily captured the Senate nomination and posted a much stronger-than-anticipated 62 percent against Rey (16 percent) and two other opponents. North Carolina carries a 40 percent run-off requirement; meaning, if no candidate exceeds this particular vote threshold the top two finishers move to a secondary election. Questions about Ross cracking the 40 percent mark consumed the pre-race predictions.

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Golden State Filings

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2016 — The California candidate filing deadline occurred at the end of last week, and several races in both the June primary and general election look interesting.

To review, California uses the top-two, jungle primary system, where all candidates appear together on the June 7 ballot, and then the first two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. It is likely that this system contributes to the large number of congressional candidates coming forth this year.

In the Senate race, while Democrats hope to qualify two of their own for the general election, namely Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46), voters will have to find the pair through a mass of 32 other candidates in order for them to secure advancement. Six Democrats, 17 Republicans, and 11 Independents will be in the June Senate race. Attorney General Harris is favored to win the seat in November.

In the congressional races, only two of the 49 incumbents seeking re-election failed to draw an opponent. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40) are the only unopposed members for both the primary and general elections.

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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)