Markey Looking Strong; “Governor” Nelson?

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5)

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5)

As we turn into the home stretch for the special Democratic primary election to fill John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) continues to appear well positioned for claiming his party’s nomination over fellow Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8).

A new Public Policy Polling brushfire survey (April 23-25; 563 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) conducted for the League of Conservation Voters, an organization supporting Markey, continues to show the 36-year congressional veteran with a substantial lead. According to the PPP data, Markey posts a 50-36 percent margin over Lynch. The winner of the Democratic primary becomes the prohibitive favorite in the June 25 special general election.

Both candidates scored strong favorability ratings from the sampling universe. Markey registers 66:23 percent favorable to unfavorable; Lynch 50:32 percent.

Earlier in the week, the Western New England University Polling Institute released their survey (April 11-18; 480 registered Massachusetts voters; 270 Democratic primary voters) that showed only a 10-point spread between the two Democrats, with Markey on top of Lynch 44-34 percent. This poll, however, is flawed in at least two ways. First, the eight-day sampling period is more than twice the optimum length, and the Democratic primary sample size of only 270 is much too small for a statewide campaign. Therefore, this poll is not considered particularly reliable.

A rather strange story is emanating from Florida. Rumors are surfacing that three-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D), who turned 70 last September, is apparently considering a race for governor. Sen. Nelson just won a third term last November and has served in elective office consecutively since 1973, with the exception of a four-year stint after he lost the 1990 gubernatorial primary to then-Sen. Lawton Chiles.

Through a spokesman yesterday, Nelson made a contradictory statement. While saying the senator is “considering” a race for governor, he “presently doesn’t have any intention of running.”

The rumor is a surprise and the senator’s response even more unexpected. It has been clear in the early going that Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist was fast becoming the Democrats’ consensus candidate. Therefore, should Nelson enter the race a major primary battle would occur with Crist. The former governor having to fight for the nomination, whether it be against Nelson or another strong candidate, should not be considered outside the realm of possibility because a party switcher’s first election as a member of the new political entity almost always leads to unpredictability. Realistically, it is still highly unlikely that Sen. Nelson will actually run for governor.

The eventual Democratic winner would then face vulnerable Republican Gov. Rick Scott, whose approval numbers have been upside-down for most of his term.

There is no question that the Florida governor’s race will be competitive in 2014, regardless of who challenges Scott. Considering the nature of the campaign, this is almost assuredly not the only time we will hear of new and unusual scenarios associated with the race.

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