Category Archives: Senate

The Speaker Race and its Effect on Elections; Pennsylvania
and Ohio Senate Data

Oct. 12, 2015 — Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA-23) surprise announcement that he has dropped out of the Speaker’s race was, of course, big news at the end of last week, but how will the change in House leadership affect the 2016 general election?

To a large extent, it’s too early to tell, especially with the new Speaker election not yet being scheduled and without knowing the identities of all the eventual candidates. Will the McCarthy withdrawal have much of an effect concerning how Republicans fare at the polls at the end of next year? No. But certainly the eventual John Boehner replacement will have a great deal of influence over how the House Republican campaigns unfold.

At this writing, there does seem to be a push, led by outgoing Speaker Boehner, to convince Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, to enter the internal Speaker’s campaign. At this point, Ryan continues to reject all such suggestions, but he does appear to be one of the few members who has a chance of uniting the Republicans in order to capture the 218 votes needed for victory.

With Ryan’s drive to enact economic policy, a much better chance would exist for him to develop an agenda for Republican candidates nationally to promote and rally around. Having such a platform would help crystallize the campaign and ensure the maximum number of House GOP electoral victories. No agenda has been present in the past two campaigns, which precludes more positive, issue-oriented campaigning.

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Breaking Down the Senate Races

Oct. 8, 2015 — Gov. Maggie Hassan’s (D-NH) announcement Monday that she will challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) changes the national Senate picture. Adding New Hampshire to the most highly competitive category is certainly an advantage for the Democrats but, even so, they are still short of obtaining what they need to recapture the Senate majority they lost in 2014.

As we know, 34 Senate seats are in-cycle for 2016, 24 of which majority Republicans hold. In order to gain control, Democrats must protect all 10 of their seats and convert four Republican states.

Looking ahead as to where the campaigns might find themselves in political prime time, those key eight weeks before the election, we’ve put together the following categories to show how the races break down state to state: Continue reading

New Hampshire Senate Race is
Suddenly a “Toss Up”

Oct. 7, 2015 — New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) announced Monday that she will challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) next year. Rumors abounded since the time Hassan was re-elected to a second two-year term that she would in fact make the move to the Senate race. Recently, however, it appeared that the chances of her giving up the governorship in order to challenge the Republican incumbent were becoming lesser. So, the announcement came as a mild surprise.

The move increases the Democrats’ chances of re-taking the Senate because they put another state in play. This is clearly now a toss-up race, featuring two veteran statewide candidates in the most unpredictable of political states. No place has defeated more federal incumbents since 2006 than New Hampshire. Beginning with Jeanne Shaheen’s (D) victory over then-Sen. John E. Sununu (R) nine years ago, the electorate has subsequently unseated six congressional incumbents while only re-electing three during this five-election period.

The New Hampshire political tides have also been strong. Except for the governor’s office, which has remained primarily in Democratic hands, the state has swept out the entire slate of both party office holders almost routinely in the past 10 years.

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Surprising Colorado Announcement

Oct. 2, 2015 — An unexpected announcement was made in Colorado yesterday, as Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, the current top Republican recruit to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet (D), decided to forego a statewide run and will instead seek re-election.

This is quite an about-face from all preliminary signals detected last week. It seemed all but certain that Brauchler would enter the campaign giving Republicans a man they describe as a top-notch challenger to battle Sen. Bennet. But, would that actually have been the case?

Brauchler was the prosecuting attorney in the James Holmes case, the young man who gunned down 12 people and wounded 70 others in an Aurora, CO movie theater rampage during the summer of 2012. After many delays, the Holmes trial finally began on April 27 this year, and lasted until July 16. Braucher summoned 9,000 juror candidates from which to draw a dozen who would serve on the jury and several more as alternates.

He would later reject Holmes’ offer to plead guilty in exchange for not being given a death sentence. Brauchler spurned the plea offer, and then ultimately failed to secure the death penalty sentence because jurors were not unanimous in their opinion that Holmes should die. The perpetrator was eventually sentenced to 12 life sentences without the possibility of parole, and then an additional 3,318 years for the 140 attempted murder counts.

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Walker Leaves the Stage;
New Pennsylvania Senate Data

Sept. 23, 2015 — The rise and fall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ultimately proved meteoric in both directions. After rising to the top of the Republican presidential heap earlier in the year, the nominal former front-runner yesterday departed the presidential race.

His decline, largely at the hands of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, was as far and fast as his original ascension. All recent polls positioned him dropping to three percent or below, about 1/6th the size of his original support base, but the latest CNN/ORC survey (Sept. 17-19; 924 national registered voters; 444 likely Republican primary voters) portended rock bottom. The CNN study revealed that Walker failed to even record a percentage point.

How does Walker leaving the race affect the remaining candidates? If he has his way, others would follow his lead exiting the contest in order to allow those with the true ability to overtake Trump and unify the conservative movement the opportunity to do so.

Walker’s mistakes did not occur on the actual campaign trail. Rather, they were strategic and administrative in nature. Waiting too long to officially enter the race, failing to stand out at the debates, and spending too much money on staff overhead proved to be his downfall even though he uttered only minor public gaffes.

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Perry Done; Maryland Senate
Candidate News

Sept. 15, 2015 — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry wound up leading the Republican presidential candidates, but not in the way he planned. Last Friday, Perry became the first contender to suspend his campaign, thus effectively ending his presidential aspirations.

Money was the chief reason for the early exit, as his direct campaign had virtually no resources to keep operating. Ironically, his outside PAC did have the finances, but the non-coordinated effort could not legally keep the Perry mother ship alive.

The former governor may have actually ended his 2016 presidential campaign in July from two years past when he decided not to seek a fifth term as Texas’ chief executive.

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Breaking Senate Action

Sept. 11, 2015 The post Labor Day period is already bringing clarity to various Senate races, including several within the last day or two.

North Dakota

Speculation surrounding Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) jumping into the open North Dakota governor’s race was put to bed earlier this week. Sen. Heitkamp announced that she will not enter the state campaign and instead will complete her first senate term. Heitkamp was elected in 2012 and comes in-cycle three years from now.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership was concerned that Heitkamp would run for governor. Though she would not have risked her Senate seat to run, had she been victorious, a new succession law the legislature and Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) adopted this term takes the appointment power away from the governor pertaining to Senate vacancies. Instead, their action now requires calling an immediate special election. The chances of Republicans being able to convert an open North Dakota seat in a special 2017 vote would be very high, hence the importance of the national party leaders prevailing upon Sen. Heitkamp to forego a gubernatorial bid.

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