Tag Archives: Connecticut

After Hutchison, Who’s Next?

At the end of last week, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) became the first 2012 re-election cycle senator to announce her retirement. Who else may follow her lead?

At first glance, considering the senators who are either elderly, already trailing in pre-election polling, or about whom retirement speculation has publicly abounded, several have not yet committed to seeking re-election.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R), originally elected in 1994, always runs hard-charging political campaigns. At the end of September, he uncharacteristically had $620,000 in his campaign account, a low number for someone who spent over $15.5 million during his 2006 campaign. We will have a strong sense about whether Sen. Kyl is running when the 2010 year-end financial reports are entered into the public domain, something we can count on seeing in early February.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will be 79 at the time of the 2012 election. The fact that she did not enter the 2010 California Governor’s race when her road to Sacramento would have been a relatively easy one, suggests that she is winding down her career. Her campaign account is rather flush, holding $3.7 million at the end of September. In 2006, she only had to spend $8 million, so if 2012 is anything like her competitive state six years ago, and it appears to be, the decision of whether to run again will likely be a personal and not a political one.

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) is telling supporters that he will seek a fourth term in 2012, despite being 88 at the time of the next election. He had $76,000 in his September bank account, which isn’t a telling factor since action happens late in Hawaii politics.

Speculation continues to center around Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), and the fact that he has not announced a 2012 campaign. His circumspect statements about re-election lead people to question whether he will retire from elective politics after just one term. Sen. Webb will turn 65 in February. He is promising a definitive announcement in the next few weeks. Webb’s September financial filing revealed $471,000 cash-on-hand. He spent $8.6 million in 2006.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), another incumbent who will be closing in on 80 at the time of the next election (he turns 76 in February), also has not committed to seeking a fifth term in 2012. This is of particular importance because just-defeated Sen. Russ Feingold (D) waits in the wings and will clearly run if Sen. Kohl decides to retire. With the late Wisconsin primary, the senator has the luxury of waiting for most of this year to make a final decision. Mr. Kohl had only $26,000 in his account in September but, being a multi-millionaire, his campaign financial situation is not particularly indicative of what may be his ultimate political plan.

There is another group of three senators who are actively seeking re-election, but whose political fortunes appear challenging. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and John Ensign (R-NV) all trail substantially either in primary (Ensign) or general election (Lieberman, Nelson) polling. Should their political outlook fail to improve, it is not out of the realm of possibility that some or all from this group could decide to drop out of the race prior to the candidate filing deadline.

Right now, it is difficult to project just which states beyond Texas will feature open senate races, but you can believe that several will evolve in that manner.
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Our 2012 Senate Outlook

Though we are just at the beginning stage of the 2012 election cycle, action already is beginning to occur in certain Senate races. Below is a quick look at the situation in some of the first half of the in-cycle states. More will be covered in the near future.

Arizona – Sen. Jon Kyl (R) – Retirement rumors are swirling. Should Mr. Kyl decide not to seek a fourth term, look for a free-for-all in both parties. If he does run, the state becoming more politically marginal suggests a competitive campaign battle.

California – Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) – The senator is safe if she runs again, but turning 79 before the next election, retirement considerations are a factor. The seat should remain in Democratic hands regardless of the situation, however.

Connecticut – Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) – The senator is already discussing re-election plans, but his favorability ratings are among the lowest of any 2012-cycle incumbent. He will have strong Democratic opposition, possibly in the person of Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT-5). It’s unclear what the Republicans will do. Defeated GOP nominee Linda McMahon is talking about running again. Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT-2) is also a potential GOP alternative.

Delaware – Sen. Tom Carper (D) – Right now, the senator is in strong shape for re-election. Defeated GOP nominee Christine O’Donnell is not yet out of the public eye, so another Senatorial run for her is not out of the question. Carper becomes the prohibitive favorite if O’Donnell enters the race.

Florida – Sen. Bill Nelson (D) – Mr. Nelson begins the cycle in relatively strong shape, leading all potential opponents in early polling but only scoring mediocre approval ratings. State Senate President Mike Haridopolos has announced his intentions to run. Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14) is a potential candidate. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has already dismissed a Senate candidacy.

Indiana – Sen. Richard Lugar (R) – Another octogenarian at the time of the next election, Sen. Lugar says he will seek re-election. A Tea Party challenge could be on the horizon, however. Democrats will take a wait and see approach here.

Massachusetts – Sen. Scott Brown (R) – With Republican Sen. Brown facing the voters for a full term in 2012, it appeared earlier that he might be the most vulnerable of GOP incumbents. The early numbers suggest a different story, however. He leads all potential Democratic opponents by comfortable margins and enjoys high job approval ratings.

Michigan – Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) – Considering the strong Republican sweep here in 2010, Sen. Stabenow has to be rated in the vulnerable category. Former Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI-2) is mentioned as a possible challenger. This is a race to watch.

Mississippi – Sen. Roger Wicker (R) – After winning the special election in 2008, Sen. Wicker will try for a full term in 2012. He should have no trouble in a state that is proving to be a national Republican stronghold.

Missouri – Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) – This is shaping up to be another close statewide contest in the Show Me State. Former Sen. Jim Talent is a potential Republican candidate. Ex-state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Sarah Steelman has already announced her intention to run. A toss-up all the way.

Montana – Sen. Jon Tester (D) – Sen. Tester must defend the seat he won in a close contest over an incumbent back in 2006. At-large Rep. Denny Rehberg is a top Republican potential candidate. Former lieutenant governor candidate Steve Daines (R) has already announced his candidacy.

Nebraska – Sen. Ben Nelson (D) – With the senator’s favorability ratings among the lowest of those standing for re-election and trailing two statewide Republican office holders, Nebraska is the most endangered Democratic seat. Should Nelson not seek re-election, this becomes an easy Republican conversion.
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Several Races are Done; New Close Ones Emerge

Since Friday the electoral picture has become both clearer and cloudier. It is still unclear whether Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) has won her write-in campaign after being defeated in the Republican primary, but it is obvious that either she or GOP nominee Joe Miller will win the race because Democrat Scott McAdams is too far behind to be a factor. This means the new Senate will feature 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans. The GOP won 24 of the 2010 Senate campaigns and lost 13, a strong win percentage of .650, but not enough to take the majority. The Republicans converted six Democratic states and lost none of their own.

The Governors are virtually done, too. With the Connecticut race now being officially called for Democrat Dan Malloy, it appears the GOP will end the election cycle controlling 29 Governorships versus 20 for the Democrats. Former Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Lincoln Chafee won the Rhode Island governor’s race as an Independent.

The House still has nine races where questions abound. Two were called over the weekend: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-8) was declared the winner in a close contest over former Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly, and local official and 2000 congressional nominee John Koster (R) conceded to Rep. Rick Larsen (D) in the hard-fought WA-2 campaign. A sizable number of ballots still remain in Washington, but with Larsen actually gaining as the new votes are being counted, the obvious conclusion is that he would win the final tally.

Conversely, two new campaigns joined the question-mark category. An accounting error in New York has apparently allowed NY-1 challenger Randy Altschuler to grab a several hundred vote lead over Rep. Tim Bishop (D), after the latter was projected to be the victor. In North Carolina, Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC-2) is claiming that enough ballots still remain to change the outcome of that campaign, despite mathematical projections awarding the race to challenger Renee Ellmers (R).

Four races are close to being over but will undoubtedly go through a recount process. It appears that Democratic incumbents Ben Chandler (D-KY-6) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) will survive by the barest of margins, but certification still has not been sanctioned in either case. The same appears true for Republican challengers Joe Walsh (IL-8; versus Rep. Melissa Bean) and Blake Farenthold (TX-27; against Rep. Solomon Ortiz). Both of these campaigns could conceivably turn around (each is in the 6-800 margin range), but the candidate leading at this juncture usually wins the race.

Three of the battles feature large numbers of absentee and provisional ballots to count, possibly as high as 100,000 in the CA-20 race between Rep. Jim Costa (D) and challenger Andy Vidak (R). Costa leads 51-49%, but only about 65,000 votes have been counted. Up toward the Bay Area, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA-11) is barely clinging to a 400+ vote lead against attorney David Harmer (R). Finally, some 8-10,000 absentee ballots remain uncounted in the Syracuse-based NY-25, where freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D) now trails former city Councilwoman Ann Marie Buerkle (R) by a little over 650 votes, so this outcome is clearly still in doubt.

Right now the current trends suggest that Democrats hold with Chandler and Connolly, and probably carry McNerney. Republicans have the edge with Walsh, Farenthold, and possibly Vidak, though it’s hard to get a good reading on the trends with so many ballots outstanding. The Maffei-Buerkle race is legitimately too close to call, but Buerkle has rebounded strongly to take the lead after it looked like she would go down to a close defeat. The NY-1 situation is a mystery, but it is clear that neither candidate has a lock on victory at this writing.

The Senate is Finally Final … Almost

Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) was declared the winner of the 2010 Senate contest with still more than 17% of the vote remaining to be counted. The 46,000+ vote margin made it impossible for challenger Dino Rossi (R) to close the gap. Rossi released a statement conceding the election. Campaign Manager Pat Shortridge indicated that the turnout in the Democratic stronghold of King County (Seattle) was greater than 70%, a huge number for a mid-term election and an obstacle that Rossi could not overcome.

The Murray victory ends all of the Senate races from a partisan perspective. It is still unclear if Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will retain her seat via the write-in process, but it is a foregone conclusion that the eventual winner will either be she or the Republican nominee Joe Miller. You will remember that Miller defeated Murkowski in the GOP primary. Though it will be two weeks or more before this election is finally determined, it does appear that Murkowski is well positioned to eventually declare victory.

The final count will show 53 Democrats in the new Senate versus 47 Republicans; a net gain of six seats for the GOP. Republicans won 24 of the 37 Senate elections, but needed 28 to claim the majority. They converted six Democratic states, but only defeated two incumbents – Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Democrats won zero Republican states, as the GOP was successful in holding all of the seats they previously controlled.

On the gubernatorial side, several more races were called yesterday. Former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) was declared the winner in Oregon, defeating ex-NBA basketball player Chris Dudley (R). Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) eked out a very close win over state Sen. Bill Brady (R) in a race that polling suggested was headed for a different conclusion. In Vermont, Democrats successfully converted the open Republican seat back to their column as state Senate President Peter Shumlin won a razor-thin victory over GOP Lt. Governor Brian Dubie.

Two states are still outstanding: Connecticut and Minnesota. Confusion reins in Connecticut as election officials and media outlets attempt to determine the actual vote count. Democrat Dan Malloy claims to be ahead in the race as most of the uncounted ballots come from the city of Bridgeport, which is a Democratic fortress area. Former Sen. Mark Dayton’s (D-MN) 8,000+ vote margin will likely stand, but the Minnesota election appears headed for a recount.

Should the Democrats win the final two races, the count will end with 29 Republican governors, 20 Democrats and 1 Independent (former Sen. Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island); a gain of five seats for the Republicans. Like in the Senate, only two incumbents were defeated, Govs. Ted Strickland (D-OH) and Chet Culver (D-IA). Republicans won a total of 23 gubernatorial elections this past Tuesday night as compared to the Democrats’ 13, assuming the last two campaigns finally break their way.

Looking at some House stats from Tuesday, 51 incumbents were defeated (49 Democrats; 2 Republicans), not counting any of the remaining outstanding campaigns; 35 of the ousted incumbents are either in their freshman or sophomore term, and 16 are veteran members. The House Blue Dog Coalition was decimated on Tuesday, as 28 of its 52 members will not return to the 112th Congress. Twenty-two BD’s were defeated on Election Day and six more either retired or ran for a different office.

It’s Over: A Stunning GOP Election Turnaround

For the most part, the 2010 election is in the books. With just a few races outstanding in the Senate, House, and Governors races, it appears the Republicans will command the next House of Representatives with anywhere from 239 to 242 seats, a stunning turnaround from the previous Congress. Such a composition of the body would mean a net gain of between 61 and 64 Republican seats. The new House will represent the largest GOP majority in the modern-day political era. The largest number of elected Republicans during the 12-year majority run (2005-2007) was 232.

The Senate races were kinder to Democrats. The Ds will hold the Senate with 52 or 53 seats depending upon the outcome in Washington. The winner of the Alaska seat is still in doubt, though the top two contenders, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (W/I) and Joe Miller (R) are both Republicans. Colorado was called earlier in the day for appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) by a very small margin over Weld County DA Ken Buck.

Several races remain outstanding for Governor: Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, and Vermont. Republicans lead in Connecticut and Oregon; Democrats in the remaining three. If things stay as they are, the GOP will control 30 Governorships, the Democrats 19, with one Independent (former Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Lincoln Chafee). Earlier this morning, Florida and Maine were decided, both in favor of the Republican candidates.

The big story on the state front is the number of legislative chambers that flipped from Democrat to Republican. At this writing it appears that 20 chambers went from Democratic control to the GOP. Some of the surprises are both houses in the Alabama, Maine and Minnesota legislatures changing, the Texas House now breaks in favor of the GOP 101-43, and the party obtained the requisite number of new legislators to take full control in the critical redistricting states of Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Florida remains under total Republican control, but a ballot initiative passed last night that will create a redistricting commission. A similar measure passed in California. Thus, the majority party in both of those states stand to fare worse through the commission process than if they were drawing the new maps themselves.

The interesting point about this landslide is that, in contrast with most others, the wave came from the bottom up. Only two incumbent Senators (Lincoln, Feingold) and a pair of incumbent Governors (Strickland, Culver) were defeated at the statewide level versus possibly more than 50 US House members and hundreds of state senators and representatives. This appears to be the biggest Republican legislative year since the Great Depression.

The bottom-up nature of this landslide makes it historically unique. In most such elections it is the statewide candidates who fare worse than those who represent districts. It is also the first time in history that the US House changed party control without the Senate following suit. In other years the Senate has flipped without the House, but never the inverse.

Much more in the coming days.

A Quick Look at Election Day Trends

On Election morn, the Senate now appears to be the body with the most question marks. With the House trending toward a Republican majority, the Senate GOP races are now apparently closing in upon majority status, too. Throughout electoral history there has never been an election where the House flipped to a different party without the Senate. Thus, if the Republicans do gain control of the House and not the Senate, 2010 will make history because this will be the first time such a configuration has occurred.

The latest trends suggest that Nevada (Majority Leader Harry Reid), Illinois (Burris open), Pennsylvania (Specter open), and Colorado (appointed Sen. Michael Bennet), are all tilting the GOP’s way. Add those to the Democratic states of Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, all of which that secure in the Republican column, and that would mean the party is realistically approaching 49 seats. Thus, one of the following states would have to vote Republican to force a 50-50 tie: California, Connecticut, Washington, or West Virginia. Two wins in these four states would mean a companion Senate Republican majority.

In the final day, California looks to be tightening but incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer still has a slight lead. In Connecticut, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal looks to have a lead beyond the margin of error. The race in Washington is approaching dead heat status; and in West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin has a slight lead, but is by no means secure. The Republicans need to throw a perfect political game tonight, and though attaining the majority in the Senate is still unlikely, one can at least see the goal from the current Republican perch.

The Last Re-Cap

As you know, tomorrow is Election Day and the 2010 cycle will soon be at a close, more than likely entering the history books as a defining vote to alter direction in public policy. While Democrats will likely hold onto the Senate by a vote or two, Republicans do appear positioned to regain control of the House of Representatives – but the size of the assumed new majority remains a question. The GOP also looks to hit or break the number 30 in gubernatorial offices held. The party may also control a record number of state legislative chambers when the sun rises on November 3rd.

In the Senate, the late trends favor Democrats in Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal) and West Virginia (Joe Manchin). Illinois remains too close to call between Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL-10) and state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D). Incumbent Democrats appear to be headed for close victories in California (Sen. Boxer) and Washington (Sen. Murray), but neither can be rated as secure just one day before the final voting.

Republicans look strong in all of their open seats, especially with Rand Paul pulling away from Attorney General Jack Conway in Kentucky. Alaska has turned into a debacle, with GOP nominee Joe Miller’s campaign deteriorating daily. The question remains as to whether Sen. Lisa Murkowski can win re-election as a write-in candidate. It is unlikely that Democrat Scott McAdams will benefit from enough of a GOP split and pull through with a win. Late trends appear to favor the Republican candidates in Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey), Colorado (Ken Buck), and Nevada (Sharron Angle). Four Democratic states are headed the Republicans’ way: Arkansas (Rep. John Boozman defeating Sen. Blanche Lincoln), Indiana (former Sen. Dan Coats returning), North Dakota (Gov. John Hoeven succeeding Sen. Byron Dorgan), and Wisconsin (Ron Johnson unseating Sen. Russ Feingold).

In the House, Republicans look to have a net gain of 35 seats nailed down with another 22 trending their way or simply being too close to call. Upsets are definitely possible in CA-47 (Loretta Sanchez), CT-5 (Chris Murphy), FL-22 (Ron Klein), IL-17 (Phil Hare), MS-4 (Gene Taylor), NY-20 (Scott Murphy), OH-6 (Charlie Wilson), OH-18 (Zack Space), PA-8 (Patrick Murphy), PA-10 (Chris Carney), PA-12 (Mark Critz), TX-23 (Ciro Rodriguez), TX-27 (Solomon Ortiz), and VA-11 (Gerry Connolly).

Eight races in the Democratic column still appear too close to call: AZ-5 (Harry Mitchell), AZ-7 (Raul Grijalva), AR-1 (Open-Marion Berry), GA-8 (Jim Marshall), NJ-3 (John Adler), NM-1 (Martin Heinrich), SD-AL (Stephanie Herseth Sandlin), and WV-1 (Open-Alan Mollohan). Two GOP seats, IL-10 (Open-Mark Kirk) and HI-1 (Charles Djou) also remain as Toss-ups with one day remaining.

New entries to the Republican conversion list based upon late breaking data include CO-3 (John Salazar), FL-2 (Allen Boyd), MI-7 (Mark Schauer), and SC-5 (John Spratt). Spratt, Paul Kanjorski (PA-11) and Chet Edwards (TX-17) appear to be the most senior members heading for apparent defeat. Most of the others are freshmen and sophomores.
Though the 22 seats in our Upset and Toss-up categories are not over, the GOP will likely win the preponderance of these campaigns. Thus, a GOP gain number in the low 50s is quite possible tomorrow night.

In the Governors races, the Republicans are poised to end the night with approximately 30 state houses in their column; a gain of six or more. Of the campaigns still rated as too close to call, only Florida has major national redistricting implications. If Democrat Alex Sink can score a victory in the Sunshine State, the map will likely be drawn by a federal three-judge panel, the normal course of action when the political parties divide a state’s executive and legislative branches of government. The other toss-ups, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont have little or no affect upon congressional redistricting. The big conversion prizes apparently headed the GOP’s way are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. All are key in the next redistricting fight.