Category Archives: Senate

Money Talks

The first quarter financial disclosure statements have been filed for House incumbents and challengers and, as always, the fundraising amounts tell many tales. Naturally, the most prolific fundraisers are elected partisan leaders or committee chairmen, but this report is more indicative about those in marginal districts or who are committed to, or considering, a bid for statewide office. The axiom of the most committed candidates being the best early fundraisers again rings true during the current period.

Looking at the rank-and-file House incumbents and candidates, particularly those newly-elected congressmen, it appears that $300,000 raised for the quarter beginning Jan. 1, 2013 is the benchmark. Grading on a curve, anyone attaining or exceeding this level has earned first tier political status.

Best Fundraisers

The top fundraising House district can be found in the Denver suburbs, where 6th District Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff (D), the former state House Speaker and defeated Senatorial candidate (2010; losing the Democratic nomination to then-appointed Sen. Michael Bennet), both exceeded $500,000 in recorded campaign receipts for the first quarter.

Coffman raised $510,000, just behind Romanoff’s $514,000. The challenger has about a $100,000 edge in cash-on-hand. The court-drawn redistricting map presented Coffman with a much more Democratic district than the one to which he was originally elected in 2008. He was victorious in 2012, obviously, but did not reach the 50 percent plateau, winning re-election with 48 percent of the vote. The mid-term turnout pattern should help Coffman, but Romanoff is likely a stronger opponent than former state Rep. Miklosi, the congressman’s opponent last November.

The runner-up district is New York’s 11th CD, where Rep. Michael Grimm (R)  Continue reading >

New McConnell Polling

Public Policy Polling (April 5-7; 1,052 registered Kentucky voters) tested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) as he prepares for re-election. The poll was taken after actress Ashley Judd (D) stated that she would not challenge the senator in 2014.

As has been detected in other polls, McConnell’s job approval is poor. According to this study, only 36 percent of the sampling universe approves of his performance as the state’s senior senator, versus 54 percent, who do not. By contrast, fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s approval index is 46:39 percent. When asked whether the respondents hold a higher opinion of Sen. Paul or McConnell, by a 42-24 percent split the group responded Paul.

Right now, the Democrats do not have a viable candidate to challenge the Republican leader. If first-term Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes were to run — an alternative that she has not ruled but is not likely to pursue — McConnell would lead her 45-41 percent. If defeated representative Ben Chandler (D-KY-6), for example, were to become the Democratic nominee, the senator would lead him by a similar 46-41 percent margin. Chandler also gives no indication that he will enter the race.

Though McConnell is unpopular, he still fares reasonably well in ballot tests against the most viable potential Democratic opponents. Unless a top-tier challenger comes forward, McConnell must still be rated as a clear favorite for re-election.

Schwartz is in; Is King Committed?

Pennsylvania

As expected, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) yesterday announced that she will challenge Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R), but the opposite situation may be happening in Iowa. Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4), who is also expected to run statewide, made some surprising statements suggesting that he is not committed to a run for his state’s open US Senate seat.

Rep. Schwartz has been viewed as a probable statewide candidate since before last November’s election. It was originally believed that she would match up with Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in 2016, but when rumors surfaced pairing her with Gov. Corbett she did not dissuade the talk. With her formal announcement yesterday, Schwartz is now an official gubernatorial candidate and her safe Democratic congressional seat will yield a highly competitive party primary early next year.

Gov. Corbett’s favorability ratings have been poor during the past several months, and that provides a clear indication of vulnerability for next year. But, Schwartz is unlikely to have a clear path to the Democratic nomination. Already in the race is state Department of Revenue director Tom Wolf. Poised to enter is state Treasurer Rob McCord. Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who held Sen. Toomey to a 51-49 percent victory margin in 2010, is said to be a potential gubernatorial candidate.

Iowa

Like Schwartz, King has been viewed as the presumptive Republican nominee to vie for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) seat ever since fellow GOP Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) announced that he would not run statewide. Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) is already an announced senatorial candidate. Statements King made this weekend, however, suggest he may be leaning against such a run.
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Brown Considering NH Senate Bid

Scott Brown (R-MA)

Scott Brown (R-MA)

A surprising news story broke late last week that indicated former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R) is contemplating a political comeback strategy before a different electorate — this time in neighboring New Hampshire.

Despite brandishing some of the stronger approval ratings of any senator standing for re-election in 2012, Brown lost his seat to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) by a substantial seven percentage point margin. When Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) was appointed Secretary of State earlier this year, political observers and activists from both parties were closing watching whether Brown would run in the upcoming April/June 2013 replacement special Senate election. Since he won the seat in 2010 via special election after veteran Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) passed away, it was natural to question whether or not Brown would try again, particularly after he made post-defeat comments that refused to close the door about seeking public office in the future.

The fact that Brown ultimately decided not to run led to common speculation that he would seek what will be an open governor’s office in 2014. Though Republicans have a poor record of winning federal office in Massachusetts, the party has won four of the last six gubernatorial campaigns. But, apparently such a race is not in Brown’s present political calculations.
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Daschle Drafting Johnson

It’s within a different generation, but the Daschle family is again supporting a member of the Johnson clan for statewide South Dakota political office. Nathan “Nate” Daschle, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle’s (D) son, is leading an organized effort to draft Brendan Johnson for the US Senate. The prospective candidate’s father, Tim Johnson, is the incumbent senator who announced last week that he would not seek re-election in 2014. Brendan Johnson is South Dakota’s US Attorney, and has been mentioned as a possible Democratic Senatorial candidate.

In a published open letter to Brendan Johnson, Daschle writes, “it’s time for a new generation of leadership in South Dakota, and Brendan Johnson has the smarts, vision, and compassion to move this state forward. You won’t find anyone more committed to South Dakota’s future than Brendan. His candidacy would re-ignite our state’s great potential, and I think we would be lucky to have him serve in the U.S. Senate.”

The fact that a member of the Daschle family would publicly come forth so quickly to promote Johnson likely tells us something about the Democrats’ other top potential candidate, former representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. It is unlikely that Daschle would commit this early to Brendan Johnson if he, and the Democratic establishment, actually believed the ex-congresswoman was planning to run. Furthermore, of the two, Herseth Sandlin is obviously the stronger campaigner, making Daschle’s action even more indicative.

The Republican nominee is likely to be former Gov. Mike Rounds, who has been running since the 2012 election concluded and figures to be the favorite for the general election.

IA-3: The First Drop-out

Several weeks ago, wealthy investor Michael Sherzan (D) announced a challenge to Iowa Rep. Tom Latham (R) in the Des Moines-  Continue reading >