Category Archives: Senate

Michelle Nunn to Announce for Senate

Michelle Nunn

Michelle Nunn

According to well-placed Georgia political sources, Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D) and the individual viewed as the presumed Democratic nominee for retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ (R) open Senate seat, will officially announce her candidacy later today.

When Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) decided to seek re-election instead of entering the Senate fray, the nomination became Nunn’s for the taking.

Republicans are fielding five candidates, all of whom have a victory scenario. The Georgia Senate race promises to be both interesting and competitive.

Hagan Expands Lead; Three Others Out

Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling recently conducted their monthly survey of North Carolina voters (July 12-14; 600 registered North Carolina voters) and found that Sen. Kay Hagan (D), widely regarded as being among the most vulnerable senators facing re-election, is gaining strength. But, the poll may contain certain slight methodological flaws.

According to the data, Sen. Hagan leads all potential Republican candidates between 10 and 15 points and, as we see on almost all PPP polls, the incumbent and her potential opponents have received consistently poor job approval and/or personal favorability ratings.

Though the voting patterns are weighted to correctly reflect how the state voted in the 2012 presidential and gubernatorial races, flaws seem to be present in gender, geographic distribution, and perhaps ideology.

According to the latest census numbers, females in North Carolina comprise 51.3% of the general population. The survey sample tops 53%. The Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point area appears to be over-sampled, while the Charlotte metropolitan area seems to have a smaller number of respondents than accurately reflects its size. Additionally, a southern state topping 30 percent in those claiming to be very and somewhat liberal as compared to only a 43 percent factor self-identifying as very and somewhat conservative tilts abnormally to the left.

All of the slight skews help Sen. Hagan. The over-sampling of female voters, trending more liberal than their male counterparts, would certainly help the liberal incumbent. Since the senator hails from Greensboro, the over-sample from that region at the expense of the Charlotte area should also help her. And, of course, a slight liberal skew would also aid her.

The conclusion that Sen. Hagan leads her largely unknown potential Republican challengers is not surprising, and undoubtedly accurate. But, because of the slight methodological tilts in her favor, the lead might be in the mid-to-high single digits as opposed to the low to mid-double  Continue reading >

Liz Cheney’s Announcement Sets Up GOP Battle

It’s rare when two candidates make a public pronouncement about their political plans on the same day, but that’s what happened yesterday in the Equality State of Wyoming. Shortly after three-term Sen. Mike Enzi (R) confirmed that he will run for re-election next year, but said he will make a formal announcement at a later date, Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president and ex-Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney, released a video officially launching a primary campaign against the senator.

Immediately the Republican establishment in Washington and the state began rallying around Enzi. His senatorial colleague, John Barrasso an appointed senator who was overwhelmingly elected to a full term in his own right last November, immediately endorsed his re-election. The state’s lone US House member, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), quickly followed with her own public support. National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) also went public with an Enzi endorsement and pledged to put the resources of his organization behind the senator.

Even noted Tea Party leader and national conservative, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), confirmed that, though they don’t agree on all issues, he considers Enzi to be a “good conservative.”

Sen. Enzi also called out Cheney, in a round-about way describing her a liar. As quoted in “Politico,” Enzi offered that Cheney previously said she wouldn’t run if he (Enzi) sought re-election. “That wasn’t correct,” he said.
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Montana Senate Seat Has Become a GOP “Must Win”

Gov. Brian Schweitzer

Brian Schweitzer

Republicans may have just dodged a major bullet as former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) announced via telephone interview with local media on Saturday that he is not running for retiring Sen. Max Baucus’ (D) seat.

Polling was showing that the two-term ex-governor, after leaving office early this year, was the strongest candidate from either party who was reasonably considered a potential candidate. The latest Public Policy Polling survey (June 21-23; 807 registered Montana voters) did show Schweitzer trailing former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot by one percentage point, but the chances of the former statewide GOP office holder running to succeed Sen. Baucus are highly remote, so this pairing was discounted. Against all other potential or likely candidates, Schweitzer held a clear advantage.

In the interview explaining his decision not to enter the Senate campaign, the former Montana chief executive said he isn’t a good fit in a legislative body. “I’m a doer,” Schweitzer stated, “I’m used to being in charge of things, getting things done. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is a place where things die.”

Without Schweitzer running, the Republicans now become early favorites to convert the seat. If that became a reality, considering their favorable position for the Democratic open seats in South Dakota and West Virginia, it would bring them halfway to their goal of converting the six seats they need to capture the Senate majority.

All eyes will now turn to at-large freshman  Continue reading >

A 2014 Senate Re-Set?

As we’re just coming through the off-election year July 4 break, it’s a good time to examine the progression of the current Senate and House political picture. Today, we look at the Senate landscape.

As we know, the current Senate’s party division stands at 54 Democrats and 46 Republicans, with the GOP “renting” the New Jersey seat until voters in the Oct. 16 special election choose a permanent replacement for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). Though Gov. Chris Christie (R) appointed Republican Jeff Chiesa to serve in an interim capacity, the fact that the new senator didn’t choose to run for the seat leaves the GOP prospects to also-ran candidates who don’t have a realistic chance of defeating the eventual Democratic nominee. This being the case, in order for the Republicans to overtake the Democratic majority, a conversion swing of six seats still is necessary.

Of the 35 Senate seats that comprise the 2014 election cycle, we can segment the competition into three groups of three and two groups of two, for a grand total of 13 political situations that will determine the new majority’s complexion. Right now, the remaining 22 campaigns appear to be safe for the incumbent senator, or his party in the case of open New Jersey and Nebraska (Republican Sen. Mike Johanns retiring).

The three groups of three contain the nine Democratic seats that are fielding varying degrees of competition. All should be strong conversion opportunities, but only six realistically appear that way today.

First Group of Three: D to R

The first group contains the seats most likely to move from Democrat to Republican. The open contests in West Virginia (Sen. Jay Rockefeller retiring) and South Dakota (Sen. Tim Johnson retiring) look to be locks to move Republican in the persons of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) and former Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD). Democrats have yet to recruit a West Virginia candidate and they are already into the second tier in South Dakota. The third state in this category is the open Montana seat (Sen. Max Baucus retiring) where Republican prospects are growing. Though he could quickly up and enter the race without any pre-announcement fanfare, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) is  Continue reading >

The Dems Succeed in Kentucky

For weeks it appeared that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was rebuffing Democratic Party leaders as they tried to convince her to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). In a turnaround of fortune, they now have met success. Yesterday, she officially announced that she will run for the party’s 2014 Senate nomination and the right to oppose McConnell.

Early in the year, numerous public polls were showing the five-term incumbent to be in serious upside-down territory on his job approval question, thus suggesting a Democratic challenger could engage McConnell in a highly competitive race. But when paired in ballot tests with several potential opponents, McConnell’s numbers never sank as low as his job-approval score. Most of the data suggested he was running in even range against the strongest Democratic potential contenders.

Most of the early publicity surrounded actress Ashley Judd, as she publicly contemplated becoming a candidate. A major flap occurred when a liberal blogger infiltrated the McConnell campaign headquarters and taped a planning session without the participants’ knowledge or consent. Though the reports attempted to make the senator and his team look bad because they were discussing a negative attack strategy against Judd, it had already become a foregone conclusion that she would not run. Even the Democratic leadership soured on the idea, understanding that they could not sell her liberal ideology and lifestyle to a conservative Kentucky electorate.

With the Judd experiment looking unpromising, the Democrats began to heighten their pursuit of Grimes. Last week, a pro-McConnell Super PAC organization launched an anti-Grimes television ad buy, attacking her as a “cheerleader” for President Obama and attempting to identify her as a proponent of “massive” spending, the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the “War on Coal.” The purpose of the ad buy was to dissuade her from running, but the media blitz obviously failed to achieve its objective.

Mitch McConnell first came to the Senate in 1984, with an upset victory over then-Sen. Dee Huddleston (D) that shocked national political observers. Always one of the Republicans’ strongest campaigners,  Continue reading >

Montana In Play

Montana

Montana

A new Public Policy Polling survey previews a tight race evolving in the Montana open-seat race. Those eventually becoming candidates will vie for the right to succeed Sen. Max Baucus (D), who is retiring after what will be 40 years in Congress.

The new data seems to poke holes in the prognostication that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) would run away with the open-seat race should he decide to run. Other potential candidates have been hanging back awaiting his decision, but the former governor humorously quipped last week that it might be some time before he ultimately decides his 2014 plans.

Referring to his occupation as a soil scientist, Schweitzer said to a local news reporter, “…the most important thing a soil scientist has an understanding of is time-glacial time … I look at a mountain and I’m able to visualize how that mountain was created over 6 million years. You’re a journalist. You read time as next week, tomorrow. I think of time geologically. When you see me say ‘soon’ you may be thinking days — but I think of time in millions of years sometimes.” Thus, it appears his answer won’t be coming any time soon.

According to the PPP poll, Schweitzer would actually trail former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot (46-47 percent) even though the Democrat’s favorability index is much higher. Schweitzer scores 54:40 percent favorable to unfavorable, while Racicot only posts 43:37 percent, yet Racicot clings to a small lead.

Considering that Racicot is not likely to run, how does Schweitzer do against a more probable candidate? Paired with at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R), a freshman who ran strong in his first statewide campaign,  Continue reading >