Dec. 5, 2016 — Donald Trump may be looking to find cabinet members who bring him immediate tangible policy and political benefits. A new prospective appointee, if chosen, would even increase the president-elect’s strength in the United States Senate.
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) made her way to New York yesterday to speak with Trump. If the president-elect tabbed her for an administration position, it would allow him to reach out to Democrats while simultaneously paving the way for incoming Gov. Doug Burgum (R) to appoint a Republican to replace her. Assuming John Kennedy (R) wins the Louisiana Senate run-off on Dec. 10, as expected, replacing Heitkamp would boost the Senate Republican Conference to 53 members.
The senator won a close upset victory in 2012, defeating one-term at-large Rep. Rick Berg (R) by a one-point margin. She is now preparing for what is likely to be a highly competitive 2018 re-election bid, but accepting a position in the Trump Administration would obviously require her to resign the Senate seat. With North Dakota voting patterns now going solidly Republican – Trump received 63 percent in the Nov. 8 election compared to 58 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012, and John McCain’s 53 percent eight years ago – Republican conversion prospects in a post-appointment election would be bright should Heitkamp depart.
Sept. 11, 2015 — The post Labor Day period is already bringing clarity to various Senate races, including several within the last day or two.
Speculation surrounding Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) jumping into the open North Dakota governor’s race was put to bed earlier this week. Sen. Heitkamp announced that she will not enter the state campaign and instead will complete her first senate term. Heitkamp was elected in 2012 and comes in-cycle three years from now.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership was concerned that Heitkamp would run for governor. Though she would not have risked her Senate seat to run, had she been victorious, a new succession law the legislature and Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) adopted this term takes the appointment power away from the governor pertaining to Senate vacancies. Instead, their action now requires calling an immediate special election. The chances of Republicans being able to convert an open North Dakota seat in a special 2017 vote would be very high, hence the importance of the national party leaders prevailing upon Sen. Heitkamp to forego a gubernatorial bid.
Aug. 3, 2015 — Three House members who had been very public about considering US Senate bids in their respective states, yesterday announced their decisions not to pursue a statewide campaign.
In what is becoming the most unpredictable of all Senate races, another surprise occurred in Florida. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Pensacola), who had been hiring staff, beginning to raise money, and even assembling an initial campaign schedule suddenly reversed course and will not join the growing field of Republican candidates.
Gainesville Rep. Ted Yoho (R), potentially a victim of the mid-decade, court-ordered congressional redistricting process, also reached the same conclusion about his own prospective Senate campaign. So did California Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles).
May 18, 2015 — The on-again-off-again Loretta Sanchez for Senate campaign finally became official. Earlier in the cycle, Rep. Sanchez (D-CA-46) told supporters she would announce for the Senate, only to put her statewide plans on hold.
Earlier last week a statement came from her political headquarters saying that a special announcement would be made Thursday. Immediately, that comment was withdrawn, with Sanchez saying she was only considering the race. She then reversed direction yet again, and this time did formally declare for the Senate.
With the campaign beginning in bungling fashion, Sanchez finds herself in the role of major underdog to a fellow Democrat, Attorney General Kamala Harris. But, coming from far behind in a race few thought she could win is exactly how she began her political career back in 1996. That is when she upset then-Rep. Bob Dornan (R) by a mere 984 votes, and has not been seriously challenged since. Now at 55, Rep. Sanchez will risk what will be a 20-year House career to venture toward a statewide contest. Continue reading >
May 15, 2015 — One place where the early campaign has gone poorly for Senate Democrats is Pennsylvania. With state and national party leaders in an open feud with former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), the 2010 Senate nominee who held Republican Pat Toomey to a 51-49 percent victory, the race has the potential to spin out of control.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party leaders and those from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in Washington are attempting to recruit Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro to oppose Sestak. In addition, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D) has announced his candidacy. Pawlowski entered the 2014 gubernatorial race but didn’t fare well, and dropped his bid even before the candidate filing deadline expired.
A new Harper Polling survey (May 6-7; 503 registered Pennsylvania voters) adds to the Democrats’ problems, as Sen. Toomey appears to be in strong shape at the beginning of the race. Harper finds his personal favorability index to be a strong 54:32 percent positive to negative. Continue reading >