Category Archives: Senate

Sandoval’s Decision in Nevada;
Portman Race Tightens in Ohio

June 11, 2015 — The Republicans’ first choice to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, will take a pass. In an announcement made Tuesday, Gov. Sandoval, who never showed any real interest in running for the Senate, formally stated that he will not seek the seat.

Sandoval, who wants to complete his second term as Nevada’s chief executive said, “My undivided attention must be devoted to being the best governor, husband and father I can be. For these reasons, I will not seek the United States Senate seat that will be available in 2016.”

All attention now turns to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3). While it was no secret that Sandoval was a long shot to run for the Senate at best, GOP leaders simultaneously courted Heck, and it is apparent that a Senate campaign announcement from him will soon be forthcoming. At that point, in what will likely be a marathon general election campaign, the battle between Heck and presumed-Democratic nominee Catherine Cortez Masto (former attorney general) will begin.
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Why Cillizza’s Senate Dems’ “Stellar”
Recruitment Analysis is Wrong

June 9, 2015 — The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a story at the end of last week that rated 2016 Senate Democratic candidate recruitment as “stellar”, but he omits some rather major analytical points in drawing that conclusion. Mainly, he fails to mention the large number of cumulative losses these individuals have recently absorbed.

He first starts with the Nevada race and says the Democrats recruited the top potential candidate, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto who outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) prompted to run and supports. He gives the party further points by citing that Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1) will not challenge Masto. This is all true, and avoiding a primary does make things better for them during the general election, but Masto should not be considered to be a prohibitive favorite against what should be a strong Republican. She won her first AG race in 2006, a Democratic landslide year, with a solid 59.0 percent vote count. Four years later she significantly regressed, scoring 52.8 percent, though 2010 was clearly a better Republican year.

In Florida, he cites Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) as a strong recruitment, and we agree. As Cillizza correctly mentions, Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL-9) potential candidacy certainly clouds the Democratic picture. The Florida seat is open because Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running for president.
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Colorado Senate Candidate Field Narrows Significantly By One

June 4, 2015 — Sen. Michael Bennet (D) has cleared his first major re-election obstacle. Sitting in realistically what could be one of two offensive Republican targets – the Nevada open seat being the other – Bennet will not have to face the man largely viewed as his most difficult potential opponent.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was heavily recruiting four-term Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6). He rose to the top of their prospective candidate list after winning two costly and difficult re-election campaigns in a Denver suburban court-drawn district basically designed to elect a Democrat. On Tuesday, Coffman confirmed that he will not challenge Sen. Bennet next year, choosing to seek re-election.

In a way, the Coffman decision is somewhat curious because it is arguable that his re-election campaign under a presidential turnout model could be just as difficult as running statewide. In his last two campaigns, Coffman spent a combined $8.5 million to win 48 and 52 percent victories.
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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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