Tag Archives: Kentucky

Re-Capping the Senate

Current Senate makeup

Current Senate makeup

With last week’s announcement that Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) would challenge Sen. Mark Pryor (D), thus setting the Arkansas field for 2014, it is a good time to check the national US Senate picture.

In 2014, 35 Senate races are on tap, including campaigns in Hawaii and South Carolina to affirm political appointments. Of the 35, the following 18 senators currently have little or no pending opposition for 2014:

Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Mark Udall (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jim Risch (R-ID), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tim Scott (R-SC), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Alaska:
Despite the potential of former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) running here, the likely 2014 pairing is first-term incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R). This will be a tight race, but Alaskans don’t often unseat incumbents.

Arkansas: The match is already set – Sen. Mark Pryor (D) vs. Rep. Tom Cotton (R). Arkansas is now trending Republican, but unseating an incumbent – especially one who ran unopposed in the previous election – is never easy.

Georgia: Michelle Nunn (D), the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D), will be her party’s nominee. The Republican side is a free-for-all among five candidates, all of whom could conceivably win the nomination. The Republican general election candidate should have the advantage, but this primary battle could turn nasty.

Hawaii: Appointed Sen. Brian Schatz is drawing serious Democratic primary opposition from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The Dem primary, which must be rated a toss-up, will determine who wins the  Continue reading >

Three States, Three Potentially Challenging Races for Incumbents

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham

South Carolina

The long-expected Republican primary challenge to Sen. Lindsey Graham is now coming to fruition. A candidate emerged yesterday who has an interesting background. It remains to be seen if she has the political wherewithal to compete with the veteran senator, however.

Nancy Mace is the first female graduate of The Citadel. Born into a military family, her father is a retired Army general. She announced her challenge to the senator late this week, joining Greenville area businessman and former 3rd District congressional candidate Richard Cash in the nomination race. State Sen. Lee Bright, coming from the Ron and Rand Paul wing of the Republican Party, says he will soon follow suit.

Can any of the three beat Lindsey Graham? While it’s clearly a long shot, the senator does have some obvious vulnerabilities. First and foremost, as any casual political observer understands, Graham is to the left of the South Carolina Republican electorate and has taken some unpopular stands in the state, such as his leadership efforts in the area of immigration reform.

Secondly, though a crowded field usually helps an embattled incumbent, South Carolina does have a run-off law, meaning it could become harder to capture a majority in a split vote primary situation. If someone is strong enough to deny the senator an outright primary victory, the scenario would then be drawn to upset him in the secondary election.

Third, while none of his opponents has significant name ID, they are all substantial individuals, and if one or more can prove they possess fundraising ability, outside conservative groups are ready to come to their aid if Graham begins to falter.
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McConnell Comes Out Swinging

Two days ago, hedge fund manager Matt Bevin announced his Kentucky Republican primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yesterday, the senator hit the television airwaves in record post-announcement time, already launching an attack ad against his new opponent:

http://youtu.be/rtwE0_yfHW4

Obviously, McConnell is taking no chances and attempting to define Bevin in negative terms before the new candidate has the opportunity to even introduce himself to the Kentucky Republican electorate.

But, Bevin apparently saw the McConnell strategy coming because he, too, is on the air with his own attack ad against the Senate leader:

http://youtu.be/GjgbdVOZqyw

Since Bevin reportedly is independently wealthy, he should have the resources needed to mount a serious campaign, and the events this week already show that both sides mean business. Bevin clearly wants to establish himself early as a credible contender in hopes of attracting important financial support from such groups on the ideological right as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.

As the senator prepares for a presumed general election battle against the Democratic Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, he wants to quickly extinguish his Republican challenger; but Bevin is sending early signals that he won’t go down quietly.

Bevin attacks McConnell from the right, questioning the quality of his leadership and claiming that the 30-year senatorial veteran  Continue reading >

A 2014 Senate Re-Set?

As we’re just coming through the off-election year July 4 break, it’s a good time to examine the progression of the current Senate and House political picture. Today, we look at the Senate landscape.

As we know, the current Senate’s party division stands at 54 Democrats and 46 Republicans, with the GOP “renting” the New Jersey seat until voters in the Oct. 16 special election choose a permanent replacement for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). Though Gov. Chris Christie (R) appointed Republican Jeff Chiesa to serve in an interim capacity, the fact that the new senator didn’t choose to run for the seat leaves the GOP prospects to also-ran candidates who don’t have a realistic chance of defeating the eventual Democratic nominee. This being the case, in order for the Republicans to overtake the Democratic majority, a conversion swing of six seats still is necessary.

Of the 35 Senate seats that comprise the 2014 election cycle, we can segment the competition into three groups of three and two groups of two, for a grand total of 13 political situations that will determine the new majority’s complexion. Right now, the remaining 22 campaigns appear to be safe for the incumbent senator, or his party in the case of open New Jersey and Nebraska (Republican Sen. Mike Johanns retiring).

The three groups of three contain the nine Democratic seats that are fielding varying degrees of competition. All should be strong conversion opportunities, but only six realistically appear that way today.

First Group of Three: D to R

The first group contains the seats most likely to move from Democrat to Republican. The open contests in West Virginia (Sen. Jay Rockefeller retiring) and South Dakota (Sen. Tim Johnson retiring) look to be locks to move Republican in the persons of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) and former Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD). Democrats have yet to recruit a West Virginia candidate and they are already into the second tier in South Dakota. The third state in this category is the open Montana seat (Sen. Max Baucus retiring) where Republican prospects are growing. Though he could quickly up and enter the race without any pre-announcement fanfare, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) is  Continue reading >

The Dems Succeed in Kentucky

For weeks it appeared that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was rebuffing Democratic Party leaders as they tried to convince her to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). In a turnaround of fortune, they now have met success. Yesterday, she officially announced that she will run for the party’s 2014 Senate nomination and the right to oppose McConnell.

Early in the year, numerous public polls were showing the five-term incumbent to be in serious upside-down territory on his job approval question, thus suggesting a Democratic challenger could engage McConnell in a highly competitive race. But when paired in ballot tests with several potential opponents, McConnell’s numbers never sank as low as his job-approval score. Most of the data suggested he was running in even range against the strongest Democratic potential contenders.

Most of the early publicity surrounded actress Ashley Judd, as she publicly contemplated becoming a candidate. A major flap occurred when a liberal blogger infiltrated the McConnell campaign headquarters and taped a planning session without the participants’ knowledge or consent. Though the reports attempted to make the senator and his team look bad because they were discussing a negative attack strategy against Judd, it had already become a foregone conclusion that she would not run. Even the Democratic leadership soured on the idea, understanding that they could not sell her liberal ideology and lifestyle to a conservative Kentucky electorate.

With the Judd experiment looking unpromising, the Democrats began to heighten their pursuit of Grimes. Last week, a pro-McConnell Super PAC organization launched an anti-Grimes television ad buy, attacking her as a “cheerleader” for President Obama and attempting to identify her as a proponent of “massive” spending, the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the “War on Coal.” The purpose of the ad buy was to dissuade her from running, but the media blitz obviously failed to achieve its objective.

Mitch McConnell first came to the Senate in 1984, with an upset victory over then-Sen. Dee Huddleston (D) that shocked national political observers. Always one of the Republicans’ strongest campaigners,  Continue reading >