Tag Archives: Nebraska

Dems Eye House Takeover

Considering the events of the past few weeks, Democrats are now buoyed over their improved chances of wresting the House majority away from the Republicans next year. Most of the early election cycle analysis has been about the Republicans’ chances in the Senate, but the Democrat’s offensive in district elections certainly deserves further attention.

First, a series of MoveOn.org government shutdown polls in Republican-held congressional districts, 61 to be exact, showed most of those particular GOP incumbents to be already trailing a generic Democrat candidate.

Second, the death of Rep. Bill Young (R-FL-13) opens one of 16 seats that in 2012 voted both for President Obama and a Republican congressman. The special election format could further aid the Democrats in their quest to win this seat.

Third, the surprise retirement announcement from sophomore Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2) puts a “Lean Republican” seat into play that had previously elected a Democrat in every term since 1982, consecutively, until the current incumbent won in 2010.

Fourth, the Democratic Party leaders report that their House candidate recruitment has substantially improved.

Though the cumulative effect of these recent events has, at least for the short term, improved the Democrat’s prospects, substantial hurdles remain to be overcome if they are to gain the net 17 seats needed to claim a one-seat majority.

The Dems’ top impediment is the small number of open seats (20), which feature only four currently competitive Republican incumbent-less seats. Therefore, the number of realistic conversion opportunities is modest. In the last cycle, by comparison, the number of open seats was a huge 62.

Second, the Democrats must defend at least 18 of their own seats where Republicans themselves have strong, or relatively strong, conversion opportunities. Realistically, the Dems will have to sweep this category to have any real chance of regaining chamber control.
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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 >

Four New Senate Polls

Four pollsters released new data in four different Senate states, each giving us some previously unknown information. Most of the results show an undefined electorate, but the one covering the upcoming Bay State special election shows a widening chasm between the two candidates.

Massachusetts

With the special senatorial election now four weeks away on June 25, New England College (June 1-2; 786 registered Massachusetts voters via automated interviews) released the findings of their latest poll. Their results show Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) increasing his lead over Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez. According to the automated results, Markey now enjoys a 53-40 percent advantage, up from the single-digit spreads that previous surveys had projected.

The two candidates are vying for the right to succeed veteran Sen. John Kerry (D), who was appointed US Secretary of State earlier in the year. The winner serves the remaining segment of the current term, which ends when the 113th Congress adjourns. The new senator can then stand for a full six-year term in November of 2014.

Michigan

Public Policy Polling (May 30-June 2; 697 registered Michigan voters; 334 Republican primary voters) tested the open Senate race and found good news and bad news for Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). The good news is that he leads all Republican potential candidates. The bad news is that he is unknown to two-thirds of the polling respondents.

Earlier this week, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) announced her senatorial candidacy and she fares best against the Detroit congressman. According to PPP, Peters sports a 41-36 percent advantage over Land. He leads representatives Dave Camp (R-MI-4) 43-31 percent; Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) 42-32 percent; and Justin Amash (R-MI-3) 42-30 percent. In the Republican primary, Land finishes behind the three Congressmen (Camp 21 percent; Rogers 18 percent; Amash 16 percent; Land 15 percent), but it  Continue reading >

Chafee Changes in RI; Fortenberry Stays in Nebraska

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has come full circle. The son of former governor and senator John Chafee (R), Lincoln, then the Republican mayor of Warwick, RI, was appointed to the US Senate succeeding his late father in 1999. He then won election to a full term in 2000, but began straying further and further to the left through the first six years of the George W. Bush administration.

In the anti-Republican year of 2006, Sen. Chafee was turned out of office in this most Democratic of states at the hands of former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D). Embittered by his defeat and some Bush Administration policy directives such as the Iraq War, Chafee left the Republican Party and became an Independent. Returning to run in a three-way race for the open governor’s seat in 2010, Chafee made his comeback successful, becoming the only Independent elected to a gubernatorial post in that particular election year.

Yesterday, Gov. Chafee completed his conversion to the Democratic Party by officially registering as a member. He did this for purely political reasons, thinking the action would bolster his desperate re-election chances. Chafee’s approval ratings are arguably the worst in the nation. Nate Sliver’s 538 website (May 28 data table) recently gathered job approval scores for 41 governors who are measured in 2013 public polling data. Of the 41, Gov. Chafee placed dead last, scoring a miserable 26:69 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.

Chafee has never been known as one who executes brilliant political moves, and this action may actually make his re-election even more difficult. The first primary election before the new electorate is always the most tenuous for a party-switcher and already two major Democratic office holders appear poised to enter the gubernatorial campaign. It is unlikely that Chafee now joining the Democratic Party will dissuade either state Treasurer Gina Raimondo or Providence Mayor Angel Taveras from running against him.
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Nebraska’s Heineman Won’t Run

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) announced over the holiday weekend that he will not run for his state’s open US Senate seat next year, ending more than 13 weeks of political speculation concerning his decision. Heineman said he believed a campaign would take away from serving his final 18 months as governor but, at least at one point, claimed he was very close to becoming a federal candidate.

Heineman’s decision now opens up what should be a fierce campaign to replace one-term Sen. Mike Johanns (R), a former governor and US Agriculture Secretary, who decided not to seek re-election. All potential candidates had been awaiting Heineman’s decision, because his popularity is such that no person in either party is likely to defeat him.

The Democrats are in the more precarious position because they are now staring at two open statewide races with a depleted political bench. Former two-term senator and governor Bob Kerrey returned to the state last year and went down to an ignominious 58-42 percent defeat at the hands of then state senator Deb Fischer (R). The result left the Democrats in a politically moribund state as Kerrey was always viewed as the party’s best possible standard bearer. For him to lose as badly as he did to a state legislator in what should have been a strong Democratic year, casts major doubt over the party’s 2014 prospects.

That being said, the Democrats will likely concentrate on the open gubernatorial campaign, a position more important to party leaders. Heineman, who will be the longest-serving governor in the state’s history (10 years at the end of his term), is ineligible to seek re-election. At this point, the Democrats’ strongest candidate may be Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler. He will likely run statewide, but probably as a gubernatorial candidate, thus by-passing the Senate contest. Beyond Beutler, their options are few.
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