Tag Archives: Iowa

Muscial Chairs Again

In 2008, states began climbing over each other in order to obtain a better schedule for their own presidential nominating event, whether it be by caucus or primary. Places like Florida moved into a more prominent position, defying party rules, and were penalized half of their delegate slots, among other perks, at the respective national conventions. Saturday, the deadline for states to inform the Republican National Committee about their primary or caucus schedule will finally give us the opportunity of seeing how the primary/caucus calendar will unfold. Under RNC rules, only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are allowed to conduct delegate selection events prior to Super Tuesday, which, in 2012, is March 6.

The Florida commission charged with selecting the Republican primary date is already indicating they may choose Jan. 31 for their primary vote at their meeting tomorrow afternoon, in direct violation of RNC rules. Such a move will cost them half of their 99 Republican National Convention delegates. Should they move in this direction, watch Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina all move to an early or mid-January date. This will again drastically change each candidate’s campaign strategy, and the short calendar will make each early victory all the more important in terms of political momentum.

Interestingly, should the early states split their votes and different candidates win the first caucuses and primaries, then the late states will ultimately find themselves holding all the political cards, and with their full complement of delegates. If no clear leader emerges from the early states, then the bigger late states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and California will have a much greater say in determining who becomes the Republican nominee. With the nominating schedule finally being set on Saturday, the official calendar could tell us a great deal about who may become the eventual winner.

Key House Matchups

Now that the Ohio redistricting plan has passed the legislature and is headed to Gov. John Kasich (R) for his signature, it is a good time to review the 20 House campaigns around the U.S. that will likely feature two incumbents battling for one new congressional district. Here they are:

CA-16: Reps. Dennis Cardoza (D) and Jim Costa (D) – The new Fresno-area seat actually featured three incumbents, but Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA-19) decided to seek re-election in the new 10th district. Rumors abound that Rep. Cardoza may retire, thus leaving the seat to Costa. Republicans could be competitive here.

CA-25: Reps. Elton Gallegly (R) and Buck McKeon (R) – Rep. Gallegly could easily run in the marginal 26th district, but is apparently leaning toward the intra-party challenge. The new 25th is largely McKeon’s current territory. Mr. Gallegly is also a retirement possibility. Expect Mr. McKeon to return in the next Congress.

CA-30: Reps. Brad Sherman (D) and Howard Berman (D) – This might be the most exciting, and certainly the most expensive, pairing in the country. California’s new election law that allows two members of one party to qualify for the general election means that this could be a year-long campaign. Most of the new 30th’s territory already belongs to Rep. Sherman, but Mr. Berman is much better politically connected and is the superior campaigner.

CA-32: Reps. David Dreier (R) and Grace Napolitano (D) – This pairing won’t likely happen. The new 32nd is heavily Democratic and Mr. Dreier will likely seek re-election elsewhere.

CA-39: Reps. Ed Royce (R) and Gary Miller (R) – A Republican on Republican battle that likely will occur. More of the new 39th comes from Rep. Miller’s current 42nd, but Mr. Royce is the better campaigner and fundraiser.

CA-44: Reps. Janice Hahn (D) and Laura Richardson (D) – Ms. Richardson could seek re-election here, in this heavily minority district, or run in the new marginal 47th district where her home was placed. Either way, she’s in for a battle. Rep. Hahn will have a difficult time defeating an African-American or Hispanic state legislator in the general election, too. It is possible that neither member returns to the next Congress.

IL-14: Reps. Joe Walsh (R) and Randy Hultgren (R) – The Democratic redistricting plan pairs these two freshmen in a district that should elect a Republican in the fall. A child support issue for Walsh could damage him in a battle with fellow freshman Hultgren before the GOP electorate.

IL-16: Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R) and Don Manzullo (R) – Originally, when Rep. Kinzinger’s 11th district was torn to shreds in the new redistricting bill, he said he would challenge veteran GOP Rep. Manzullo. A day later he backed away from his statement. For a while, it looked as if Rep. Manzullo might retire. Now, still maintaining that he won’t run against Manzullo, Mr. Kinzinger says he will seek re-election in the district housing Grundy County – meaning, this new 16th CD. For his part, Manzullo is actively circulating petitions to qualify for the 2012 ballot. Thus, it looks like the two will square off, after all. The plurality of the territory comes from Mr. Manzullo’s current 16th CD. The winner holds the seat in the general election.

IA-3: Reps. Leonard Boswell (D) and Tom Latham (R) – This inter-party pairing will be very interesting in what is a 50/50 partisan district. Mr. Boswell represents more of the current district, but the new seat trends more Republican. A tight race is forecast.

LA-3: Reps. Jeff Landry (R) and Charles Boustany (R) – Louisiana lost a seat in reapportionment, so it became obvious that two Republicans would be thrown together into one district. Freshman Jeff Landry and veteran Charles Boustany will face each other in a seat that is predominantly Boustany’s and includes his Lafayette political base. Landry is a decided underdog in this contest.

Massachusetts – Though the redistricting plan is not yet completed, the state loses a seat and no current member appears voluntarily willing to retire. Therefore, two Democrats will face each other for one seat. The most likely pairing is Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-9) against freshman Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA-10).

MI-14: Reps. Gary Peters (D) and Hansen Clarke (D) – Rep. Peters surprised everyone last week by announcing that he will challenge freshman Rep. Clarke in the new Detroit 14th district rather than face a pairing with Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI-12) in the new 9th district, despite the latter having much more familiar territory. Peters currently represents none of the new 14th district, which is majority African-American. Since another black elected official, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, is already in the race, Peters is hoping a unified white vote may prevail over the majority African-American constituency that could split between the other two candidates. A risky strategy for Peters that is only a long shot to pay-off.

New Jersey – As in Massachusetts, the redistricting process here is not complete, but the state loses one seat in reapportionment. Expect a pairing to occur in the northern or central portion of the Garden State.

New York – The Empire State loses two seats, so a minimum of four incumbents will be paired in two seats. The election of Republican Bob Turner to a Democratic Brooklyn/Queens seat throws the redistricting process into a mess. Virtually anything can happen here. Democrats control the governor’s office and the state assembly. Republicans hold a small state Senate majority. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), interestingly, says he will only sign a map that is approved by a bi-partisan commission. The legislature will not create such an entity, so this map could be headed to court to break an eventual stalemate. New York will be one of the last states to complete the process.

NC-4: Reps. David Price (D) and Brad Miller (D) – The Republican redistricting plan threw together the two veteran Democrats in a seat that now travels from Raleigh all the way to Fayetteville. Rep. Miller originally said he would not oppose Mr. Price, but he has since changed his mind. This will be a tough campaign. The winner will hold the seat for the Democrats.

OH-9: Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D) and Dennis Kucinich (D) – The GOP redistricting plan pairs Reps. Kaptur and Kucinich in a new seat that begins in Cleveland and travels to Toledo along the Lake Erie coastline. Fifty-seven percent of the people live in Kucinich’s current district, but Kaptur’s Toledo base remains in tact. Kucinich’s past primary performances suggests that Kaptur will be the favorite. The winner holds the seat for the Ds.

OH-10: Reps. Mike Turner (R) and Steve Austria (R) – Ohio losing two seats means that two Republicans also get paired despite the GOP being in full control of the map-drawing process. Mr. Turner’s Dayton/Montgomery County political base is in tact, but the city vote is minuscule in a Republican primary. This race will have to develop further before an accurate prediction can be made.

OH-16: Reps. Betty Sutton (D) and Jim Renacci (R) – Like Messrs. Dreier in California and Kinzinger in Illinois, Ms. Sutton’s current 13th district has been broken into many parts. The congresswoman is most likely to seek re-election in the new 16th district where she will be the underdog to freshman Rep. Jim Renacci, but the just-created configuration is slightly more Democratic than the current 16th. Former Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH-16), the man Renacci unseated in 2010, is also a possible candidate.

Pennsylvania – The Keystone State representatives have not completed redistricting either, but a reduction of the congressional delegation’s size by one seat will occur. Watch for two of the group of three western state Democrats: Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA-4), Mark Critz (D-PA-12), and Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) to be paired into one seat. Since Rep. Doyle represents the city of Pittsburgh, he will be in the best position to control a new district because the city will certainly anchor a seat in any plan.

Incumbents Facing Challenges in 2012 – Part II

In concluding our two-part series about House members who will face serious 2012 re-election challenges, below we list 22 more competitive incumbents from states where redistricting has been completed or which is pending but clear.

IN-8 – Larry Bucshon (R) – In attempting to gain a 7R-2D advantage for the delegation, the 8th district of freshman Rep. Bucshon was weakened, from the Republican perspective. Expect competition here, but the new incumbent remains the favorite.

IA-3 – Leonard Boswell (D) / Tom Latham (R) – In the only intra-party pairing of the new election cycle so far, veteran Reps. Boswell and Latham square-off in a marginal district. Mr. Boswell represents more of the new district, but the voting patterns tilt a touch toward Mr. Latham. This race begins as a pure toss-up.

IA-4 – Steve King (R) – The new western-based 4th district is mostly comprised of Rep. King’s current 5th district and part of Mr. Latham’s old 4th. Christie Vilsack (D), wife of former Gov. Tom Vilsack who serves as President Obama’s Agriculture Secretary, already has announced her intention to challenge Rep. King. This will be a competitive race because of Vilsack’s fundraising capability. However, King begins with the decided advantage.

LA-3 – Jeff Landry (R) / Charles Boustany (R) – Louisiana’s loss of a congressional seat pits freshman Rep. Jeff Landry against veteran Charles Boustany in a Republican primary battle. The winner retains the seat. Boustany is the early favorite.

MI-9 – Sander Levin (D) / Gary Peters (D) – Michigan’s loss of a district pairs 15-term Rep. Levin against two-term Rep. Peters. Levin, who will be 80 at the time of the next election, is a retirement possibility. Peters has also tested the waters to run for Oakland County Executive. The winner of this primary battle, should it occur, holds the seat.

MO-2 – Russ Carnahan (D) – The loss of a seat in Missouri has forced Rep. Carnahan either to challenge Rep. Lacy Clay in the 1st district Democratic primary or try to survive in the neighboring Republican 2nd district seat, in open status because Rep. Todd Akin is running for the Senate. Carnahan is competitive here, but will be the underdog.

NH-2 – Charlie Bass (R) – The 2nd district is now more like Vermont than New Hampshire in terms of voting patterns. This means the seat is decidedly Democratic. Rep. Bass regained the position he lost in 2006, but by just one percentage point over Democratic lobbyist Anne McLane Kuster. Redistricting must move only 254 people between the two districts, so Bass’s hopes for a more Republican seat are gone. This is a prime Democratic conversion opportunity.

NY-25 – Ann Marie Buerkle (R) – Though redistricting won’t be completed well into next year, we can count on a competitive race in this Syracuse-based district. Chances are the city will remain intact, meaning it will anchor a seat in the Upstate region. Former Rep. Dan Maffei (D), the man Ms. Buerkle unseated in 2010, has already announced his intention to run again next year.

NC-3 – Rep. Walter Jones (R) – Though Rep. Jones has a safe Republican seat in which to run for re-election, the district has vast new territory for him. Already, retired New Bern Police Chief Frank Palumbo (R) has announced a GOP primary challenge to Mr. Jones. Others could follow suit.

NC-4 – David Price (D) / Brad Miller (D) – The Republican redistricting plan placed two Democratic incumbents in a seat that now stretches from Raleigh to Fayetteville. This will be a difficult primary as each man represents about one-third of this new district. The winner retains the seat for the Democrats.

NC-7 – Mike McIntyre (D) – Redistricting also threw Rep. McIntyre into a difficult district. This will be a top Republican conversion target. Both 2010 GOP nominee Ilario Pantano and state Sen. David Rouzer (R) have announced their intentions to run.

NC-8 – Larry Kissell (D) – Rep. Kissell loses a great number of Democratic votes in this new redistricting plan, making him a tempting GOP target. Three local officials, including one who isn’t from the district, have announced for the seat. Expect more candidates to soon enter the fray.

NC-11 – Heath Shuler (D) – Rep. Shuler may have received the most difficult draw of all, as he now represents the most Republican congressional district in North Carolina. Local District Attorney Jeff Hunt and several local officials already are officially running.

OR-4 – Peter DeFazio (D) – The seat became a touch more Republican in redistricting and Rep. DeFazio raised eyebrows with his comment earlier this week that he is thinking about retirement. Could be competitive in an open situation. Republican Art Robinson, who received 44% of the vote against DeFazio in 2010, is running again.

RI-1 – David Cicilline (D) – Negative stories about Rep. Cicilline’s financial management of Providence when he was mayor has made the freshman congressman potentially vulnerable. Two strong Republican candidates, including 2010 nominee John Loughlin and former state police chief Brendan Doherty, are running. Chances appear high that Cicilline could draw Democratic primary opposition, too.

TN-3 – Charles Fleischmann (R) – Though redistricting is not yet finalized in Tennessee, freshman Rep. Fleischmann in the Chattanooga-based seat will likely face primary opposition. Robin Smith, the local county Republican Party chair who lost to Fleischmann by less than 1,500 votes in 2010, is considering a re-match.

TN-4 – Scott DesJarlais (R) – Mr. DesJarlais, who unseated then-Rep. Lincoln Davis (D) by more than 30,000 votes last November, could see a GOP primary challenge from state Sen. Bill Ketron (R). Sen. Ketron is on the legislative committee in charge of redistricting, which presumably allows him to draw the 4th district to his liking.

TN-8 – Stephen Fincher (R) – Though redistricting is not completed, the 8th district, by virtue of its geographic location in the northwest corner of the state, will likely be competitive in 2012. Mr. Fincher is the first modern-day Republican congressman from this region.

TX-35 – Lloyd Doggett (D) – If the Texas map survives its legal challenges, Rep. Doggett will face a stiff Democratic primary battle in the new 35th District that includes parts of Austin and San Antonio. Already, state Rep. Juan Castro (D), twin brother to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D), has announced he will challenge Doggett.

UT-2 – Jim Matheson (D) – Redistricting will likely put Rep. Matheson in another strongly Republican seat. He already represents the most Republican district held by a Democratic member. Matheson is also a potential statewide candidate. The Republicans will win the seat if he vacates.

WV-1 – David McKinley (R) – Redistricting kept the 1st district largely intact, which is a seat Mr. McKinley can hold, despite it being in Democratic hands for generations before 2010. Ex-Rep. Alan Mollohan, who was defeated in the Democratic primary after 14 terms in office, is a possible candidate in 2012. The Democrats will field a strong challenger here, and this race will be competitive.

WI-7 – Sean Duffy (R) – Mr. Duffy won a seat that was in former Rep. David Obey’s (D) hands for more than 40 years. The district gained Republicans in the re-draw, but Rep. Duffy can expect a stiff re-election challenge from a strong Democrat.

In these two reports (go to our Part I report) we already have isolated 44 incumbents who will face a competitive re-election challenge in either the primary or the general election. Keep in mind that no less than 13 major states still have not completed their redistricting, including Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Add in at least 26 more open seats and it is conceivable that as many as 90-100 House seats could be contested as the 2012 election hits its stride.
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Saturday: The Turning Point

Clearly the most important day of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination campaign occurred Saturday. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN-6) victory at the Iowa Straw Poll sent former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty packing, while 1,200 miles away at the Red State Gathering event in Charleston, SC, Texas Gov. Rick Perry formally joined the race.

Rep. Bachmann’s preliminary Hawkeye State victory was no surprise. It had been clear for weeks that she and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) had the strongest vote-gathering potential within the regular universe of Straw Poll attendees. Ironically, it was Pawlenty who had the best campaign organization and spent more than any other candidate – far above $1 million. The fact that he finished a distant third (2,293 votes to Bachmann’s 4,823 and Paul’s 4,671) caused him to officially end his campaign on Sunday.

The high Straw Poll turnout proved to be the event’s biggest revelation. Many political pundits and outside observers were predicting a lower than average rate of participation in the days approaching the carnival-style political affair held at Iowa State University in Ames, saying that none of the candidates were exciting the rank and file GOP voters.

In 2008, when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Straw Poll, more than 14,000 people voted, with as many as 20,000 on the grounds. At its historical high point in 1996, more than 30,000 individuals cast ballots but that was when candidates were allowed to bus and fly people in from all over the country. Beginning in 2000, participation was limited to Iowa registered voters. Some predicted that overall turnout for the current event could be as low as 10,000. But on Saturday, 16,829 people cast ballots.

Aside from Pawlenty, the event’s biggest loser could well be Mr. Romney. Making the decision to bypass the Straw Poll and participate only in the pre-event debate held last Thursday evening, Romney scored just 567 votes. Though he and two other candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman, refused to participate in the Straw Poll, the Iowa Republican Party officials still added their names to the official ballot. Gov. Perry and former V-P nominee Sarah Palin, neither of whom were candidates at the time of the state party ballot deadline vote, were not placed on the ballot.

Though Perry’s name was not on the Straw Poll ballot, an independent expenditure group supporting his running for President, called Americans for Rick Perry (AFRP), did organize for purposes of convincing Perry supporters to attend the event and write-in the governor’s name. Because AFRP is not officially tied to the candidate, obtaining tent space on the event grounds was not allowed. With no ability to work inside the gates and not even having a candidate, AFRP still was able to deliver 718 write-in votes. This total was better than what was recorded by three campaigns whose candidate actually participated in the Thursday debate and were on the official ballot: Romney, Gingrich (385 votes), and Huntsman (69).

Certainly Saturday’s biggest winner was Michele Bachmann. The biggest loser was Tim Pawlenty. But the underlying story is Perry and Romney. Gov. Perry, via a write-in campaign organized solely from the outside by an unconnected group in just three weeks, scored a respectable number of votes by all accounts. Romney, by finishing under Perry, creates a greater image of vulnerability and poses questions about his strategic decision to skip the Iowa Straw Poll. He has made past comments that he would also bypass the significant straw poll events in Florida and Michigan. It will be interesting to see if the Iowa results prompt a change of plans from the Romney camp.
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The Iowa Debate and Vote

Last night, the eight announced Republican presidential candidates faced each other in the third nationally televised debate – a largely mundane affair interspersed with a clever line or two – this time on the campus of Iowa State University. The forum is part of the Iowa Straw Poll (ISP) event scheduled to culminate with actual citizen voting on Saturday.

The ISP has become a major media event on the presidential campaign trail because it is the first time that thousands of people actually participate in a voting event. Though straw polls are commonly held at organizational and state political party meetings, the Iowa function is unique because actual GOP voters have the opportunity of attending and casting a ballot for the candidate of their choice. In the past, as many as 30,000 people have come to the state fair-like event, where candidates have large outdoor promotion areas and provide food and entertainment to the masses, to register their vote.

At its high point, when previous campaigns were running on all cylinders in the early phase of the race – unlike this time where as many as three potential top-tier candidates haven’t even yet formally declared – candidates would actually fly voters in from all around the country to participate. Now the party rules prohibit such acts, limiting voting eligibility to Iowa registered voters.

The Straw Poll event is the first real test of the candidates’ organizational ability. Charging the candidates thousands of dollars to participate by buying Iowa Republican Party lists of previous Caucus and Straw Poll attendees and entry fees for every person coming to the event (in virtually all cases, paid for by the campaigns) the fundamental purpose of the Iowa Straw Poll is that of a major fundraiser for the state GOP. The money is then used for general election party building activities that the eventual Republican presidential nominee will need to capture the state in the general election. Iowa, as one of four true swing states for the general election – New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada are the others – could be a deciding state in November 2012 even though it only carries six Electoral Votes.

The result of this particular Iowa Straw Poll event is likely to be inconclusive. With attendance projected to be closer to 10,000 than 30,000, the event is missing the participation of the early front-runner and 2007 Straw Poll winner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Though Mr. Romney participated in last night’s debate, his campaign decided to bypass actively participating in the actual ISP voting. As mentioned, he won the event in ’07 but fell in the actual Iowa Caucuses to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in what proved to be an upset. The Romney campaign never recovered from his Iowa Caucus loss because expectations, largely drawn from his Straw Poll performance, were set too high.

Some question the Romney strategy for the 2011 ISP. Not participating means a sure loss at the event, and possibly a poor performance, though his campaign apparatus is still quietly organizing supporters to attend and vote since the Iowa Republican Party leaders included his name on the ballot anyway; but he will be able to brush off any such result by simply saying he didn’t participate. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, making his first public indication that he will become a candidate at the Red State Gathering event earlier Saturday in Charleston, SC, will also steal some of the luster from whichever candidate wins the Straw Poll later that afternoon.

The emergence of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) as a top-tier candidate and favorite to win the straw poll may damage Romney and prove his strategic decision to skip the event was a mistake. Bachmann is becoming a national presence and a victory at the ISP will codify her standing as a top-tier presidential candidate. The other favorite and potential straw poll winner, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14), is a second-tier candidate who is not positioned to go very far in the national campaign. Minnesota former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was once viewed as the early favorite for the ISP and the actual Iowa Caucus vote, is probably a distant third-place finisher at best.

The Iowa Straw Poll event does signify the official beginning of the presidential campaign. With Saturday crowning a straw poll winner and another major candidate making it clear that he is in the race, the 2012 presidential campaign is beginning to take shape. Tomorrow, the official starting gun sounds.
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