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Period Ending January 17, 2014

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This weekly roundup of election news and notes is compiled for Thompson Coburn by the The Ellis Insight.

Senate

Georgia: Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Americans United for Change liberal organization, tested the Georgia electorate for their open US Senate campaign. According to the study (1/24-26; 640 GA registered voters), consensus Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn leads all of the GOP contenders. She has a 45-41% lead over Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11); 44-40% edge against former Secretary of State Karen Handel; 44-42% when paired with Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1); and only a one point spread over Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10), 42-41%. In the August PPP survey Nunn’s largest lead, 41-36%, was opposite Rep. Broun.

Kansas: A new Tarrance Group survey for Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R) campaign (1/13-15; 501 KS Republican primary voters) projects the three-term incumbent to a huge 69-15% advantage over GOP primary opponent Milton Wolf. Surprisingly, among self-identified Tea Party supporters, the Senator does even better than within the entire Republican electorate. Among the Tea Partiers, Mr. Roberts tops the 74% plateau. Segmenting those who are familiar with both candidates, the Senator leads 58-32%.

Kentucky: Public Policy Polling and Americans United for Change also surveyed the Kentucky Senate race (1/24-26; 882 KY registered voters), and found that the contest between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) remains locked in a dead heat. As was the case from their December poll, Sen. McConnell leads by one percentage point, 45-44%.

Louisiana: The strongest challenger public poll against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) for the entire election cycle has just been released. Rasmussen Reports (1/28-29; 500 LA registered voters) posts Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) to a 44-40% lead over Sen. Landrieu, the first such survey giving the Congressman an outright advantage over the three-term incumbent.

New Hampshire: Continued good news for Granite State Republicans is coming to the forefront as a new PurplePoll, conducted by the Purple Strategies consulting organization (1/21-23; 1,052 NH likely voters), projects first-term Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) to be tied at 44%. Mr. Brown, who has moved to New Hampshire since his 2012 defeat to now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), confirms he is considering challenging Ms. Shaheen.

North Carolina: Rasmussen Reports polled the North Carolina electorate (1/22-23; 500 NC registered voters) and confirms that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) is trailing her Republican opponents, just as other surveys have projected. According to RR, state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) leads the first-term Senator 47-40%, the largest lead so far recorded over Ms. Hagan of any poll. Physician Greg Brannon (R) scores a 43-39% advantage against the Democratic incumbent.

Oklahoma: After briefing publicly toying with the idea of running in the special election to replace outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn (R), former Gov. Frank Keating (R) said he will not run for the Senate. The top candidate is Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5), with state House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) also announcing his Senate campaign. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-1) has now declined to run statewide. Lt. Gov. Tom Lamb and former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK-4) have not yet ruled out joining the campaign.

House

CA-33: Veteran Rep. Henry Waxman (D), who was first elected to the House in 1974 after spending six years in the California Assembly, announced that he will not seek re-election to a 21st term in November. The Democrats will hold his Los Angeles County coastal seat, and likely feature several party heavyweights facing each other in a highly competitive campaign. Mr. Waxman’s departure means that 34 House seats are open for the 2014 election, in addition to the five electorates that chose new incumbents in special elections held since the end of 2012.

FL-18: Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner (R), who ran unsuccessfully in District 22 during the last election and was considering a challenge to freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), says he will not run for Congress later this year. Mr. Murphy upset freshman Rep. Allen West (R-FL-22) 50.3-49.7% in one of the nation’s closest 2012 results. Already six Republican candidates have entered the race, but none have Mr. Hasner’s stature.

FL-19: After agreeing to a plea bargain for misdemeanor cocaine possession, Rep. Trey Radel (R) resigned his seat in Congress, meaning another special election will soon be scheduled. Former state Representative and congressional candidate Paige Kreegel (R) had already been running in anticipation of a primary re-match with Radel. State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto (R) and businessman Chauncey Goss, son of former US Rep. and CIA Director Porter Goss (R-FL-14), are likely candidates. Former Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14), who toyed with the idea of again becoming a congressional candidate, announced that he would not join the special election field of contenders. The Ft. Myers/Cape Coral seat will remain in Republican hands.

KS-2: Freshman state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R) announced public opposition to the House Republican leadership by launching a primary challenge to three-term Rep. Lynn Jenkins. According to Fitzgerald, a vote for the Congresswoman is a vote for the current national Republican leaders, while voting for him would send a message that the GOP congressional leaders should be replaced.

KS-4: Not yet committing to challenging two-term Rep. Mike Pompeo (R), former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) who served in the House from 1995 to 2010 before losing a Senate GOP primary to now Sen. Jerry Moran, is considering launching a primary challenge to the man who succeeded him. Should Tiahrt enter the August 5th primary, the campaign will become one of the top intra-party challenges in the country.

NJ-7: Democratic Mayor Janice Kovach (Clinton) made her bid to unseat Rep. Leonard Lance (R) official. Also in the race is former congressional candidate David Larsen (R), who is challenging Rep. Lance in the primary. The three-term incumbent is a heavy favorite in both campaigns.

NY-4: Armed with the endorsement of retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D), Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that she will seek the Democratic Party nomination for the open congressional seat. At this point it appears Ms. Rice will be a clear favorite for both the party nomination and the general election.

PA-6: It looks like the Democratic establishment is lining up behind businessman Michael Parrish in the battle to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach (R). State Sen. Mark Rozzi (D) originally indicated he would run, but bowed out and endorsed Parrish. Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone also expressed interest in running, but she too is deferring to Parrish, and supporting him. On the Republican side, Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello is the only announced candidate.

PA-16: Former one-term state Rep. Tom Houghton (D) announced that he will challenge nine-term Rep. Joe Pitts (R) later this year. Houghton was originally elected to the legislature in 2008, but defeated for re-election in the subsequent election. Rep. Pitts has been in elective office consecutively since 1973, serving twelve terms in the state House before winning his congressional seat in 1996. The seat is marginally Republican. Mitt Romney carried the 16th by a 52-46% margin over President Obama in 2012. Rep. Pitts is a heavy favorite for re-election.

UT-4: Democrats in search of a candidate to replace retiring Rep. Jim Matheson have at least found one credible alternative. Doug Owens, son of the late former Rep. Wayne Owens (D-UT-2), announced that he will run in the open seat. The prohibitive favorite appears to be 2012 nominee Mia Love (R), who lost to Matheson by fewer than 800 votes. Mr. Owens served in the House from 1973-75, and then again from 1987-93. He passed away in 2002. Mitt Romney carried this district against President Obama by a 67-30% margin.

Governor

Florida: After seeing several pollsters report a closing of the Governor’s race to the point of becoming a virtual dead heat between incumbent Rick Scott (R) and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D), Quinnipiac University reports the results of their latest survey (1/22-27; 1,536 FL registered voters), and finds Mr. Crist leading the Governor 46-38%. This race is expected to be one of the premier 2014 gubernatorial contests in the nation.

Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Corbett (R) continues to languish in his bid for re-election according to a new Gravis Marketing poll (released 1/28; 717 PA registered voters through automated call). The Governor’s job approval stands at a perilous 31:60% favorable to unfavorable. A full 60% of the respondents does not believe the Governor deserves re-election. Furthermore, Mr. Corbett trails all three leading Democratic candidates: 36-48% against state Treasurer Rob McCord; 35-44% when paired with Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13); and 34-41% if businessman Tom Wolf were the Democratic nominee. The numbers continue to show that Gov. Corbett is the weakest Republican Governor in the country.

Rhode Island: Clay Pell, grandson of former Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and husband to world champion and Olympic medal-winning figure skater Michelle Kwan, announced that he will enter the open Democratic race for Governor. Already campaigning are state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D) is not seeking re-election. The eventual Democratic nominee will begin the general election in the favorite’s position, likely against Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R).

Wisconsin: The first Marquette University Law School poll (1/20-23; 802 WI registered voters) of 2014 was released, testing the state’s upcoming gubernatorial contest. The results give incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) a 47-41% lead over Madison School Board member and businesswoman Mary Burke (D). Mr Walker’s job approval stood at an improving 51:42% favorable to unfavorable.