Tag Archives: North Dakota

Conrad and Lieberman to Retire

North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad (D) ended speculation about his political future yesterday with his announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2012. Actually, this is the second time in his career that Conrad said he was retiring from the Senate. In his original 1986 campaign, Mr. Conrad said he would not seek a second term should the federal deficit not be eradicated during his first six years in office. He went on to upset then-Sen. Mark Andrews (R) later that year.

But he kept his word, announcing in April 1992 that he would not seek a second term because the federal deficit was still in existence. As the year progressed, however, veteran Sen. Quentin Burdick (D) passed away and Conrad then entered the special election campaign to replace him for North Dakota’s other seat. He won the special just one month after Byron Dorgan succeeded him in the 1992 general election. Thus, Sen. Conrad retired, but had no break in his Senate service. Ironically, in that special election of 19 years ago, he easily defeated Republican state legislator Jack Dalrymple, the man who just assumed the Governorship upon John Hoeven’s election to the Senate.

As with the retirement of Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) during the last election cycle, the Republicans are presented with a conversion opportunity. Though the 2010 race virtually ended upon Gov. Hoeven’s campaign announcement, the Republicans are not quite in the same position this year. Since they currently hold all of the statewide elected offices with the exception of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the GOP certainly starts the open seat campaign as the favorites — but not as prohibitive favorites like they were when Hoeven was the candidate. The musical chairs will begin in earnest now that Conrad’s semi-expected announcement has been officially made.

This race now moves to ‘Lean Republican.’

In Connecticut, Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who went from being the Democratic nominee for Vice-President in 2000, to Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, to losing his own renomination battle in 2006 only to win the seat in the general election without a party, and then coming full circle to be featured as a speaker at the 2008 Republican National Convention, officially will announce his retirement today after four six-year terms.

Sen. Lieberman was at the bottom of the job approval list for 2012 incumbents, as Democrats in particular were registering highly unfavorable opinions of his performance in office during this current term. It was clear he could not return to the Democratic Party and again win their nomination, and would go no where in the general election as a Republican. Thus, his only chance to remain a senator was to again try the Independent route, but the road to victory this time appeared more fraught with peril than it did in 2006. With Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT-5) beginning to gear up a senatorial effort, Lieberman was unlikely to attract the more moderate Democratic voter as he did last time when ultra-liberal Ned Lamont was the party nominee. Furthermore, with Republican Linda McMahon looking like she would also enter the race, thus making the contest a legitimate three-way affair, Lieberman’s chances of winning were viewed to be slim. Most believed a campaign highlighting the differences among all three of the candidates would close the senator’s opportunity window even tighter.

Without Lieberman in the race, the Democrats will assume an even stronger electoral position and will likely return the seat to their party’s column. As an open seat, rate Connecticut as ‘Likely Democratic.’

Sens. Conrad and Lieberman join Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) on the retirement list, already bringing the total of 2012 open seats to three; a very large number at this point in an election cycle.
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The Won’t Runs

Several people being considered as potential candidates for a 2012 campaign made definitive statements quashing such talk over the weekend. Boston Mayor Tom Menino (D), recovering from knee surgery, said he will not run for US Senate in Massachusetts against incumbent Scott Brown (R) or for any other office besides the one he currently holds. He also publicly stated his belief that no Democrat can beat Brown next year.

Minnesota Rep. John Kline (R-MN-2) said he has no plans to challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D). Kline’s name never was mentioned prominently as a possible senatorial candidate, so his decision to stay in the House is not surprising.

Defeated Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden (R) says she will not launch a 2012 campaign unless both Sen. John Ensign (R) and Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV-2) choose to step aside. Ensign appears to be preparing for re-election; Heller has not made his plans clear. In another Nevada-related story, Sharron Angle, the 2010 Republican Senatorial nominee, says she will not run for a newly open state Senate seat despite the vacancy occurring in her home district.

Defeated Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND-AL) and Harry Teague (D-NM-2) both say they have no plans to ever again seek political office, thus taking re-match possibilities with Reps. Rick Berg (R-ND-AL) and Steve Pearce (R-NM-2) off the table.

Our 2012 Senate Outlook – Part II

Continuing our early analysis of the 2012 election cycle, we now look at some more select states featuring a senate race next year. Be sure to read through our post on Jan. 5 for our analysis of the initial group of states that we looked at.

Nevada – Sen. John Ensign (R) – The fallout from a highly publicized sex scandal still leaves Sen. Ensign in a vulnerable position both in the Republican primary and the general election. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1) says she will announce by mid-February whether she will run for the Senate. This is the GOP’s most tenuous situation in the country.

New Jersey – Sen. Bob Menendez (D) – New Jersey political insiders suggest that bio-tech entrepreneur John Crowley (R) will challenge Sen. Menendez next year. Crowley, currently president and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics headquartered in Cranbury, NJ, is the inspiration for the 2010 movie “Extraordinary Measures” starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. The film depicts Mr. Crowley’s efforts directing his previous company to find a cure for Pompe Disease, a serious and life-threatening muscular disorder that infected two of his three children. Although he has significant personal resources, Crowley’s business connections and “star power” put him in position to raise the necessary funds to be competitive. If Crowley runs, the NJ Senate campaign becomes a race to watch.

New Mexico – Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) – Recently, former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) made some public statements suggesting that she is considering challenging Sen. Bingaman, a five-term incumbent. Her entry into the race would certainly give the Republicans a credible candidate, but Mr. Bingaman appears to be in strong political shape. He will have the edge against all comers.

North Dakota – Sen. Kent Conrad (D) – With strong Republican victories at the Senatorial and congressional level in 2010, the GOP will mount a strong challenge to Sen. Conrad, particularly noting the fate of his Budget Committee counterpart, defeated Rep. John Spratt (D-SC-5). Conrad chairs the Senate Budget Committee; Spratt held the same position when the Democrats controlled the House. Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem are the names most often mentioned as potential Conrad opponents.

Ohio – Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) – The stage appears set for newly elected Lt. Governor Mary Taylor to take a shot at Sen. Brown next year. For her part, Taylor is uncommitted to such a race, but the other potential candidates, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH-4), appear to be either dropping out or taking no action to run. This will be a highly competitive race.

Rhode Island – Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) – Despite the Republicans’ current poor position in the Ocean State, they are not without some credible potential candidates to oppose Sen. Whitehouse. Outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri (R) is not closing the door on a future political run and has not ruled out challenging Whitehouse next year. John Robitaille, who did surprisingly well in the 2010 Governor’s race – placing second to Independent Lincoln Chafee but ahead of Democrat Frank Caprio – is also a possibility. Though the Democratic nature of Rhode Island, particularly in a presidential election year, lends considerable strength to the Whitehouse campaign, either Carcieri or Robitaille could give him a run for the money. Whitehouse is the favorite in 2012 against all potential opponents, but this race could get interesting.

Texas – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) – Despite saying she would resign her seat before her run for governor that ended in a stinging defeat, it is still not clear whether she will seek another term in the Senate. Most believed Texas would feature an open seat election in 2012, but such may not be the case. If she does retire, then look for a mega-Republican primary that will contain several statewide elected officials and maybe a congressman or two. The Democrats seem pretty set with former state Comptroller John Sharpe as their candidate. He has lost two races for lieutenant governor since leaving his post. Whatever happens on the Republican side, the GOP will be heavy favorites to win in November 2012. As in most every year, the Democrats will claim to have a chance, brandish polls showing them in good position, but then lose by 12 points.

Virginia – Sen. Jim Webb (D) – This promises to be one of the top races in the country. Sen. Webb has curiously not yet committed to seeking re-election and murmuring even among Democrats suggests that it’s possible he will retire after just one term. If he does, watch for Democratic National Committee chairman and former Gov. Tim Kaine to enter the race. Ex-Gov. and Sen. George Allen (R), the man Webb beat in 2006, is gearing up for a re-match. He appears to have the inside track to the Republican nomination. Polling shows a tight Webb-Allen race. The Democrats will likely be stronger with Kaine as their nominee.

West Virginia – Sen. Joe Manchin (D) – Like Sen. Gillibrand, newly elected Sen. Manchin must also stand for election again in 2012, as he won only the right to serve the final two years of the existing term in the last general election. With all of the focus on the state’s basically open gubernatorial race, the position Manchin vacated to run for Senate, he begins the current election cycle as a prohibitive favorite.

Wisconsin – Sen. Herb Kohl (D) – There has been intense speculation that Sen. Kohl, who will be nearing his 78th birthday at the time of the next election, will retire. If he does, defeated Sen. Russ Feingold (D) waits in the wings. Should Kohl seek re-election to a fifth term, he will be a heavy favorite and likely escapes a strong challenge. Most Republicans are looking to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) to run if the seat opens, but he may decide the stakes are too high to risk defeat in a state that normally trends Democratic, 2010 notwithstanding. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is another potential Republican candidate.
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Republicans Win Hidden Election, Too

Now that the numbers in all gubernatorial races and most of the legislative contests are known, it appears that the Republicans are in their best-ever shape for congressional redistricting.

Looking at the configuration of multi-district states, the GOP will draw the 2011 maps – meaning they have total control of the process – in 17 states, representing 195 US House seats. Democrats now maintain only six such states, meaning they will draw just 44 districts. Fourteen states, containing 101 CDs, have divided government, suggesting that each party commands at least one leg of the redistricting stool. The three “legs” are the governorship, a state Senate, or state House. Six states, now led by California (53 districts) – Hawaii, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, and New Jersey are the others – are controlled by various redistricting commissions, members of which will draw a total of 88 districts. Finally, seven states: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, are at-large and each elects only one member of the House. Thus, redistricting is not a factor in these places.

Some people refer to the zero-numbered election years as “hidden elections” because in many cases the people winning gubernatorial and legislative offices will draw maps that elect congressmen for the next decade. Hence, winning last week’s hidden election may allow the GOP to sustain the House majority for not just this current term, but for the next 10 years.

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.

Senate Republicans Need to Pitch a Perfect Game

With speculation about the outcome of next month’s national election now rising to a fever pitch, it is important to take a step back and analyze what must happen for Republicans to wrest the Senate away from majority Democrats. While prospects of a House GOP takeover appear plausible, can the party also realistically paint the picture of a Senate Republican majority?

The defeat of At-Large Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican primary may have been a killer blow to GOP majority prospects. In every formula leading to a national Republican win, Delaware figured prominently. Now, factoring a Democratic hold of the First State, can Republicans still achieve majority status? Mathematically, such an outcome is possible, but …

To obtain 51 seats in the chamber, the Republicans will now have to win 17 of the 18 most competitive states — a situation that allows for only the slightest margin of error. To begin, the Republicans must first hold all of their six competitive open seats, beginning with the new three-way contest in Alaska. Florida’s Marco Rubio appears to have the inside track in Florida, and Rand Paul clings to a single-digit lead over state Attorney General Jack Conway in Kentucky. GOP candidates in Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio all must win, and each appears poised for victory at this time.

If the Republicans secure those six contests, then they must convert all three Democratic states that decidedly appear headed their way. The North Dakota open seat seems to be the strongest of all conversion opportunities; Gov. John Hoeven is a lock to be the next Senator. Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln may become the first incumbent to lose re-election on November 2nd, trailing Rep. John Boozman by double digits for months. The comeback bid of Indiana former Sen. Dan Coats is also strong, as he consistently leads his Democratic opponent by large margins.

It is important to remember that Republicans must win all nine of these races, merely to put the tougher contests into play. If you presume nine victories in the aforementioned races, the party will have only gained three net seats against the Democratic number, taking them from 41 to 44. Two more Dem states seem to be leaning Republican — Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The next tier of campaigns is even more intense. The current toss-up races feature Colorado, Illinois and Nevada. All of these campaigns are tight and have been for months.

Reviewing the potential Republican majority track, the GOP, at this point, must win every race previously listed. But, even if they are victorious in all 14 of the aforementioned, they are still not finished. Four more competitive campaigns remain, and the GOP would have to win two more in order to reach 51 seats. Tight races remain in California, Connecticut, Washington and West Virginia; half of these must go Republican for them to claim majority status.

The Republicans will literally have to throw a perfect game on November 2nd in order to win the Senate; but such an outcome, while still unlikely, is not impossible.

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