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Period Ending January 9, 2015

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

President

Jeb Bush: Former Florida Governor and presidential brother and son Jeb Bush (R) officially formed a political action committee to begin preparing the way for a 2016 White House run. The organization, called Right to Rise, will clearly be a fundraising mechanism and organizing tool for a third Bush family member’s quest for the Presidency.

Mike Huckabee: Ex-Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee resigned from his position as a Fox News TV host during the week, an obvious move to pave the way for his presidential run. Mr. Huckabee ran in 2008, but not in 2012. As a winner of several caucuses and primaries, Iowa and South Carolina being two of his most notable victories, Mr. Huckabee figures to be a formidable candidate.

Gov. Mike Pence: Indiana legislative leaders turned thumbs down on legislation that would have allowed Gov. Mike Pence (R) to run for President and simultaneously seek re-election. Now, Pence will have to choose between running a long shot Presidential campaign, or a race for re-election where he will be a heavy favorite.

Mitt Romney: 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continues to make overt moves signaling that he is considering yet another run. He is holding a well-publicized meeting of some key former advisors, including Washington, DC-based legal counsel Ben Ginsburg, to weigh the pros and cons of making another presidential attempt.

Gov. Scott Walker: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) hired veteran politico Rick Wiley, formerly with the Republican National Committee who has experience on several presidential campaigns. Mr. Wiley will launch a PAC for the Governor to begin laying groundwork for his national campaign. Interestingly, Mr. Wiley works for the same consulting firm as Mike DuHaime, the chief strategist for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential effort.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: While continuing to say publicly that she is not running for President, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) again made a high profile speech before a Democratic-base group. This week, her address not only included attacks upon former President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies but also included unnamed Democrats as basically being complicit. Clearly, this was an unveiled slap at former President Bill Clinton and is one more indicator that Sen. Warren may well become a candidate long before this campaign ends.

Senate

California: As expected, four-term Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) announced that she will not seek re-election in 2016. Her decision means that California will host an open seat Senate race for the first time since 1992. In consideration of the state’s jungle top-two primary format, it is conceivable that two Democrats could advance to the general election, noting the state’s voting history over the past two decades. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA-3), Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34), Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36), Karen Bass (D-CA-37), and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) have all been mentioned as possible candidates. The same is true for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, but he is indicating that he will not launch such a campaign. On the other hand, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (D), a former professional basketball star player, is someone being bantered about as a potential statewide Senatorial candidate, as is Los Angeles County Supervisor, former US Labor Secretary, and ex-US Rep. Hilda Solis.

Others said to be seriously considering the race are former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ex-state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and billionaire investment manager Tom Steyer. Several long shot Republicans, such as former Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA-45), are also being mentioned because an inevitably crowded Democratic field featuring high profile politicians could allow a GOP candidate with a unified base to slip into the general election. Three Republicans who will definitely not be candidates are former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, ex-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49). Regardless of who runs, Democrats will be heavy favorites to hold this seat.

Colorado: Speculation continues to swirl around the Coffman family as potential opponents for Sen. Michael Bennet (D). Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6), victorious in two difficult post-redistricting re-election campaigns, is prominently mentioned as a potential challenger. The Congressman’s wife, Cynthia, was just elected state Attorney General and is also drawing some interest as a potential Senate candidate. Just assuming her first statewide office, however, makes it unlikely that she will run in 2016. Rep. Coffman, on the other hand, may believe a statewide race against Sen. Bennet, on the heels of Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R) victory, could be in his best interest. The Colorado Senate race promises to be highly competitive.

House

KS-1: After weeks of speculation, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R) says he will not challenge Sen. Jerry Moran in the Kansas Republican primary next year. Speculation had been centering around Huelskamp

NY-11: Reports suggest that Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan is close to locking up the Republican Party nod for the upcoming special election to replace resigned Rep. Michael Grimm (R). Democrats have been quieter in the early going. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) must soon schedule the special election that will fall in the late March time frame.

NY-19: Rep. Chris Gibson (R) announced he will not seek re-election in 2016, but will serve the current term. Mr. Gibson is looking to mount a serious challenge for Governor in 2018, and wants to devote his complete attention to the marathon campaign. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), just sworn in for his second term, is eligible to run for a third term. The 19th CD, a marginal district particularly in an open seat configuration, will be a top Democratic conversion target in 2016.

NY-24: Former Rep. Dan Maffei (D), who was first elected in 2008, defeated in 2010, re-elected in 2012, and then defeated in landslide proportion this past November, has already closed the door on yet another comeback bid. Mr. Maffei said during the week that he has no plans to ever run for public office again. Freshman Rep. John Katko (R) won the 2014 race 60-40%, but will face substantial opposition in a Syracuse-anchored district that will very likely vote heavily in favor of the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.

PA-8: Candidates are beginning to line up to run for retiring Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick’s (D-PA-8) competitive open seat. State Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D) became the first person to officially announce his congressional candidacy. Republicans are looking to outgoing Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, but so far there is no indication that the former statewide official is seriously considering a congressional bid.

Governor

Kentucky: Will Scott, who just recently resigned as the Kentucky Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, announced his entry into the 2015 open seat gubernatorial race. He faces two Republican opponents in the May 19th primary, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Louisville Metro Councilor Hal Heiner. Attorney General Jack Conway is the leading Democratic contender. Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Vermont: Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin officially defeated his Republican challenger Scott Milne in a vote of the new state legislature. Shumlin placed first in the general election, but failed to garner a majority of the vote. This forced the race into the legislature where the overwhelming Democratic advantage in the state House and Senate made this outcome a virtual foregone conclusion. The Shumlin victory now means the national partisan division in Governor’s chairs is 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats, and one Independent.