Landrieu, McSally Still Seek Final Results; Sights Already Set on Reid for 2016; Leadership Elections Underway

Landrieu: Kicking into high gear for the Louisiana Senate run-off election, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is already badly trailing in a new Magellan Strategies poll (Nov. 12; 1,197 registered Louisiana voters via automated response). The survey, conducted for Rep. Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA-6) statewide campaign, finds the congressman leading the endangered senator by a huge 57-41 percent clip.

The Landrieu campaign scoffs at the automated nature of the poll, claiming the methodology is not as accurate as live phoning. While such a premise is certainly the prevailing train of thought among political professionals, the actual reliability numbers suggest something far different: that the automated approach is improving by the day and can be just as accurate as the live “phoner” approach. If that’s so in this case, then Sen. Landrieu is likely headed toward defeat on Dec. 6.

If Cassidy wins, the Senate party division will be 54R-46D, a total gain of nine seats for the Republicans in the 2014 election.

McSally: As predicted yesterday, the final count in the 2nd District of Arizona did yield at least a preliminary victory for challenger Martha McSally (R) over Rep. Ron Barber (D). The spread between the two candidates is just 161 votes with all ballots finally counted. The remaining 200-plus provisional votes actually increased McSally’s margin slightly, putting her 28 votes ahead of the previous tally.

Before the former Air Force pilot is certified the winner, an automatic recount must be performed, because the final margin of victory is less than 200 votes, as proscribed in Arizona election law. The secretary of state will petition a judge with the final unofficial result, who will then order an electronic recount complete with full precinct sampling of randomly selected voting entities. The highest vote-getter after that process is complete will be certified as the official winner. The final step in the process will be conducted in Washington, as it is for all members, when each duly elected representative is officially seated as a member of the body.

Reid: Talk is already rampant about who will challenge new Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) in Nevada in 2016. All Republican eyes are on Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), who just won a huge re-election. Yesterday, however, he said he is committed to serving his entire second term.

If he decides not to run for Senate, then the Republicans will likely look to either Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV-2) or Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3). It is a certainty that the senator will face a much stronger candidate in 2016 than he did in 2010 when former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle opposed him. Though that campaign was highly expensive, Reid was one of the few Democrats to survive the 2010 Republican wave.

Campaign Committees

The party leadership elections are well underway, and the two Senate campaign committees have new chairmen. Replacing outgoing National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman Jerry Moran, the GOP conference turned to Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. For the Democrats, succeeding Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is Sen. John Tester of Montana. Both outgoing chairmen Moran and Bennet are no longer eligible to serve because they both must seek re-election to their own seats in the 2016 campaign cycle.

In the House, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2) wins in unopposed fashion for another term as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Already planning for the next cycle, Walden stated in an interview with CQ Roll Call that the first priority is to protect new incumbents from heavily Democratic seats, such as representatives-elect Cresent Hardy (R-NV-4) and Rod Blum (R-IA-1). He’s also looking to cement the victories of former representatives Frank Guinta (R-NH-1) and Bob Dold (R-IL-10), who returned to the House after being defeated as incumbents in 2012. Additionally, his sites are set on re-claiming fallen Republican seats in Nebraska – against Rep-Elect Brad Ashford (D-NE-2) who unseated Rep. Lee Terry) and northern Florida, where Democrat Gwen Graham (D-FL-2) nipped two-term Rep. Steve Southerland (R).

House Democrats have yet to choose leaders, but no fewer than five members are vying for the opportunity to succeed Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY-3), who is retiring from his role as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman. Representatives Jim Himes (D-CT-4), Jared Polis (D-CO-2), Donna Edwards (D-MD-4), Lois Frankel (D-FL-22), and Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) are all actively seeking the position.

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