It’s rare when two candidates make a public pronouncement about their political plans on the same day, but that’s what happened yesterday in the Equality State of Wyoming. Shortly after three-term Sen. Mike Enzi (R) confirmed that he will run for re-election next year, but said he will make a formal announcement at a later date, Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president and ex-Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney, released a video officially launching a primary campaign against the senator.
Immediately the Republican establishment in Washington and the state began rallying around Enzi. His senatorial colleague, John Barrasso an appointed senator who was overwhelmingly elected to a full term in his own right last November, immediately endorsed his re-election. The state’s lone US House member, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), quickly followed with her own public support. National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) also went public with an Enzi endorsement and pledged to put the resources of his organization behind the senator.
Even noted Tea Party leader and national conservative, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), confirmed that, though they don’t agree on all issues, he considers Enzi to be a “good conservative.”
Sen. Enzi also called out Cheney, in a round-about way describing her a liar. As quoted in “Politico,” Enzi offered that Cheney previously said she wouldn’t run if he (Enzi) sought re-election. “That wasn’t correct,” he said. Continue reading >
Seemingly against all odds, former governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) successfully re-claimed his former congressional seat with a stunning 54-45 percent victory over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch last night in southeastern South Carolina. The race drew major national attention because of Sanford’s highly publicized extra-marital affair and alleged violation of his divorce agreement, along with the Democratic nominee’s status of being the sister of Comedy Central television personality Stephen Colbert. Colbert Busch’s inability to dodge the liberal label, however, proved to be her undoing in this conservative Charleston-anchored 1st Congressional District.
It’s rare when a nominee winning a seat that overwhelmingly favors his party is considered an upset, but that’s exactly what happened last night. Sanford, running as a Tea Party endorsed fiscal hard-liner, successfully made his budget discipline message the focal point of the campaign and not his continuing personal scandals.
The Democrats poured a steady stream of money into the race, sensing that they could steal a solidly Republican seat and use the victory as a building block to support their 2014 House majority plan. Last night’s defeat is clearly a setback for them. When the final accounting is completed, the tally will likely show that Colbert Busch and the outside organizations supporting her or opposing Sanford spent between $1.7 and $2 million. Sanford, accompanied by very little outside spending, will come closer to, but will likely fall under, $1 million in total expenditures.
Earlier we projected that the former governor and congressman needed a high turnout to win because Colbert Busch would likely benefit from a lower voter participation rate. The former occurred. The final unofficial tally shows a total of 143,774 votes cast, from which Sanford garnered 54.0 percent. The total represents 31.6 percent of the 455,702 SC-1 registered voters.
Special elections commonly record total turnout numbers in the 100-120,000 range. Continue reading >
As expected, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) officially announced yesterday that he will not seek a fourth term in the upcoming 2014 election. The senator, accompanied by his wife, Barbara, addressed members of the media in a Sioux Falls news conference saying, “I will be 68 years old at the end of this term and it is time for me to say good-bye.”
He indicated after 36 consecutive years in elective office — including service in the state legislature, and combined time in the US House and Senate — that he and his wife are looking forward to returning to life in South Dakota and “doing other things.” When asked if had he decided to run again, would he have won, the senator quipped that he “has never been beaten.” He did concede that the brain hemorrhage he suffered in 2006 has made life more difficult, but emphasized that he never stopped working hard for the people who repeatedly elected him as their representative.
Without Sen. Johnson on the ballot, the Republicans have a strong opportunity to convert the South Dakota Senate seat to their column and must be considered the early favorites to do so. Former governor Mike Rounds (R) announced his candidacy just after the November election and began running full speed ahead and appeared unconcerned about Sen. Johnson’s political intentions. Continue reading >
Yesterday, we covered the races being decided in today’s run-off (Texas) and primary elections (Georgia) and mentioned that former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz has a legitimate chance of upsetting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Lone Star State’s US Senate Republican run-off. The release of the new Public Policy Polling data for Texas underscores that the trends are supporting an upset result. According to their survey (July 28-29; 665 Texas GOP likely run-off voters) Cruz has a 52-42 percent lead over the lieutenant governor. The Dewhurst campaign countered with their internal Baselice & Associates poll showing their candidate with a 48-44 percent lead, but these results appear out of line with the other publicly presented trends.
Perhaps most disconcerting for the Dewhurst camp, the PPP numbers report Cruz to be leading 63-33 percent among those who are most excited about voting in the run-off election. Additionally, the ex-solicitor general leads the veteran statewide office holder among those considering themselves as Tea Party voters by a huge 75-22 percent split. In a low turnout election where 70 percent identify themselves to be somewhat or very conservative, this type of spread could well be the defining factor.
Typically, Texas primary and run-off elections record very low turnouts. More than 1.4 million people voted in the May 29 primary election, but a considerable smaller number will vote in the secondary election. The likely turnout projection suggests a participation rate of less than one million voters.
The Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research firm, polling for Texas Senate GOP candidate Ted Cruz, released the results of their first post-primary survey. The poll, conducted over June 24-26 of 750 previous Republican primary voters, shows an upset in the making.
According to WPA, Cruz has a substantial 49-40 percent lead over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP run-off election scheduled for July 31. Among those identifying themselves as being sympathetic with the Tea Party, some 50 percent of the sample, Cruz leads by a whopping 72-22 percent. Within the “very conservative” category, he is up 58-33 percent.
Dewhurst campaign sources, according to a Roll Call newspaper story, counter that their own polling shows the lieutenant governor holding a “comfortable” advantage in the run-off campaign. The Dewhurst operation is not releasing any numbers, however, and it is unlikely their sampling universe is as narrowly defined as the WPA cell group.
Run-offs in Texas are interesting. Turnout is always substantially lower than in the primary, usually averaging about a 50 percent drop-off, and normally the most conservative candidate wins. Both of these factors stack up well for Cruz. Additionally, the fact that the run-off is in the middle of the long, hot Texas summer, a schedule not previously seen, also likely benefits Cruz because most believe he has the more committed supporters who will vote no matter what conditions, elements, or obstacles lie before them.
Under Texas law, all party primary voters and anyone not voting in the previous primary election are eligible to vote in a run-off. The only voters not allowed to cast a ballot in a particular run-off election are those who participated in the other party’s primary. For example, any voter casting a Republican ballot in the May 29 election is ineligible to vote in the succeeding Democratic run-off, and vice-verse.
Texas has an extremely low primary turnout history and run-off participation factors are even worse. In the 2012 primary election, 1.349 million people voted in the Republican primary and 590,164 for the Democrats, meaning a total voter turnout rate of just 16.7 percent. The best available Republican run-off projection suggests that approximately 750,000 people, or 5 percent of all registered voters, will participate. Such a small voting universe in a large state means targeting and individual persuasion, rather than large electronic media buys, will be the key to winning on the last day of July.
Clearly the GOP nomination, which is tantamount to election in November, is up for grabs. Much will happen over the next three weeks to determine the final outcome but it has now become obvious that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, despite winning four statewide elections in his career, is no longer the prohibitive favorite to clinch this Senatorial race.