As expected, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) did officially announce his senatorial campaign becoming the first official candidate vying to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R). Several more Republicans are predicted to follow, but one who was considered a virtual certainty to run may not be so inclined.
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6) was originally telling potential supporters that he was “90 percent sure” he would enter the open Senate race. Now, according to key Georgia political operatives, the reported chances of Price actually getting into the race appear closer to 50/50.
On the other hand, the prospects of both Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) and Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) moving toward running statewide appear to be improving. It would not be surprising to see the three Republican congressmen eventually squaring off against one other.
It is also probable that a statewide official may jump into the race. In addition to Gov. Nathan Deal, who will not be a Senate candidate, seven Republicans currently hold statewide office. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel have all been mentioned as potential GOP Senate candidates.
There is information coming from the Democratic side, as well. Despite making earlier statements that he is not interested in running for the Senate, Georgia insiders report that Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) is actively considering the race. Apparently, he wants assurances from Democratic Party leaders that he will be unopposed for the nomination to give him months of fundraising advantage over his eventual Republican opponent. The party primaries are likely to be held on July 29, 2014, with the run-off election(s) probably scheduled for Aug. 19.
In terms of the potentially open US House seats, the Broun, Price, and Gingrey seats are all safe Republican. The Kingston Savannah-anchored district was made more Democratic in redistricting and could become competitive in an open seat situation. The Barrow district would also be competitive, particularly in a lower turnout mid-term election like 2014.
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) became the first individual to officially declare for Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) open seat. Braley begins the race is good position, particularly for the Democratic nomination, assuming US Agriculture Secretary and former governor Tom Vilsack does not enter the race. Vilsack has given no indication that he will do so, but he has virtually universal name identification and very positive favorability numbers.
Braley’s entry into the Senate race opens his northeastern Iowa congressional district, a seat that includes the cities of Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque, Cedar Falls, and Marshalltown. The 1st District is the most Democratic of Iowa’s four CD’s, giving both Braley and Pres. Barack Obama between 56 and 57 percent of the vote in 2012.
Last November’s Republican nominee, businessman Ben Lange who scored a 41.6 percent vote total against Braley and spent more than $1.07 million on his campaign, took some time to establish himself as a credible candidate, but ran a competitive race in the cycle’s latter stage. In an open-seat situation, Lange would have a much better chance at earning the early credibility necessary in running a strong race for a seat where the opponent’s party has partisan registration in his or her favor.
Now that Rep. Braley is officially in the Senate race, expect some state and local Democrats to quickly come forward to declare for the open House seat. The Democrats have the advantage in this seat, but the district yielding a competitive open race here in a lower turnout mid-term election is a distinct possibility.