Category Archives: Senate

Pennsylvania Democrats in a Quandary Over 2016 Senate Race

May 29, 2015 — The Senate majority will again be up for grabs next year, and the important Pennsylvania race is putting Democratic Party leaders in a precarious position. With the Keystone State voting history of favoring Democrats in presidential election years -– the last Republican presidential nominee to win the state was George H.W. Bush back in 1988 –- failing to convert the Pennsylvania Senate seat could well dampen any hopes the party has of recapturing the majority they lost in 2014.

Despite holding winning 2010 Republican candidate Pat Toomey to a 51-49 percent margin, Democratic leaders are open in their desire for a different 2016 nominee than former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7). But, two new occurrences only deepen the hole they seem to be digging for themselves.

Wednesday, their top recruiting prospect, Montgomery County Commission chairman Josh Shapiro announced he would not be running for the Senate, saying that he “didn’t want to come Washington or be a legislator.” On top of that, a new Public Policy Polling survey (May 21-24; 799 registered Pennsylvania voters) finds Sestak doing best against Toomey among six Democrats tested, trailing him only 42-38 percent.
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The Hidden Reason Why McCain is
Being Challenged in Arizona

May 28, 2015 — A surprising story broke in Arizona Tuesday. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) announced that she will forego her re-election bid and instead challenge Sen. John McCain (R) next year. The congresswoman was included on most “possible candidate” lists, but was not viewed as someone overtly planning to make the jump into the statewide contest. Her move, however, may be a precursor to another decision that will soon enter the public domain.

With McCain’s approval numbers dropping into the dangerously low category (36:51 percent favorable to unfavorable according to Public Policy Polling), Kirkpatrick’s move is not without political reason. The latest PPP survey (May 1-3; 600 registered Arizona voters) finds her trailing the senator only 36-42 percent, certainly suggesting that such a general election pairing would yield a competitive contest.

But, the driving force behind Kirkpatrick may not be McCain’s perceived vulnerability. Rather, since the US Supreme Court is poised to soon render a decision on the Arizona redistricting challenge, it may be this issue that is actually motivating Kirkpatrick to move forward.

The Arizona Republicans are challenging the state’s congressional map on the grounds that the US Constitution only gives federal redistricting power to state legislatures. Before the 2000 reapportionment, voters adopted a ballot proposition that created a redistricting commission empowered to draw congressional and state legislative lines. The crux of the suit argues that a citizens’ commission has no authority to draw congressional lines.
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Early Senate Rankings

May 26, 2015 — It’s not too early to begin handicapping the 2016 in-cycle Senate races, and projecting whether the Republicans’ can hold their hard-fought majority. Having to defend 24 of the 34 states hosting a Senate race, the Democrats have ample opportunity to convert the four GOP seats they need to re-claim control; or, five if presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton fails to keep the White House.

Beginning in easy fashion, the following Republicans and Democrats appear, at this time, safe for re-election:
Safe Republicans:
• Richard Shelby – Alabama
• John Boozman – Arkansas
• Johnny Isakson – Georgia
• Mike Crapo – Idaho
• Chuck Grassley – Iowa
• John Hoeven – North Dakota
• James Lankford – Oklahoma
• Tim Scott – South Carolina
• John Thune – South Dakota

Safe Democrats:
• Richard Blumenthal – Connecticut
• Brian Schatz – Hawaii
• Chuck Schumer – New York
• Ron Wyden – Oregon
• Patrick Leahy – Vermont
• Patty Murray – Washington
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Pence Opts In — and Out — of Race;
Florida Makes a GOP Primary Move

May 21, 2015 — On Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) announced both that he will compete in a political contest, yet he won’t. After speculating about running for president, Pence formally declared that he will seek re-election as governor. Therefore, he is out of the presidential contest but he certainly remains in the political arena.

So far, the preponderance of prospective Republican candidates have either officially jumped into the race or appear headed in that direction. Two, Pence and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, have decided not to enter the national campaign.

This means the Republican field could still reach as many as 18 candidates. Eleven have either become candidates or, in the case of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, will enter the race soon. Two major potential contenders, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also have yet to formally declare, but will reportedly do so sometime in June.

This will be a record large presidential field and, with no one performing as a clear front-runner, the race may not be finally decided until the very end of the nominating cycle.
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How the Senate is Stacking Up

May 19, 2015 — The 2016 cycle hosts 34 Senate races and, at this point, it appears 16 of them will feature significant competition. From these in-cycle seats, the current majority Republican party must defend 24 positions. To re-capture the majority, Democrats will need to convert four Republican states if the party wins the presidency, and five if it does not.

Below is a major candidate listing within the currently contested 16 states:

ALASKA
• Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)
Possible
• Mike Dunleavy (R) – State Senator
• Joe Miller (R) – Attorney; 2010 US Senate nominee
Unlikely
• Mark Begich (D) – former US Senator

ARIZONA
• Sen. John McCain (R)
Likely
• Kelli Ward (R) – State Senator
Possible
• Fred DuVal (D) – Former Statewide Candidate
Unlikely
• Richard Carmona (D) – Former US Surgeon General
• Ann Kirkpatrick (D) – US Representative, District 1
• Matt Salmon (R) – US Representative, District 5
• David Schweikert (R) – US Representative, District 6
• Kyrsten Sinema (D) – US Representative, District 9
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