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Period Ending November 15, 2013

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


Kentucky: Lake Research, polling for (10/24-29; 603 KY registered voters), finds Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) deadlocked at 37% apiece. The number of respondents not voicing support for either candidate, 26%, is unusually high when considering both individuals are well known. This is especially true for Sen. McConnell whose name ID is virtually universal in his home state. Therefore, this poll should be viewed skeptically.

North Carolina: A new Public Policy Polling survey (11/8-11; 701 NC registered voters) provides further evidence of a tightening US Senate contest. Projected for the first time in any poll, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has fallen behind a prospective Republican challenger. According to this data, physician Greg Brannon, strongly supported by the state Tea Party organizations, leads the Senator 44-43%. Republican establishment favorite Thom Tillis, the state House Speaker, trails Hagan 40-42% and senior Baptist minister Greg Harris is only down 41-43%. Despite what is regarded as a weak Republican challenger field, the North Carolina contest appears soon destined for Toss-up status.

South Carolina: Former Lt. Governor candidate Bill Connor joined the Republican field of individuals challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in the Republican primary. Mr. Connor is the fourth primary challenger to the two-term incumbent. South Carolina has a run-off system, so the large field could make it more difficult for the Senator to win his nomination outright. In the Senator’s advantage, the SC run-off period is only two weeks in duration so an eventual one-on-one opponent will have a difficult time coalescing all of the anti-Graham Republican voters in a cohesive unit to deny him renomination.

In the other South Carolina Senate race, appointed Sen. Tim Scott (R) has drawn his first opponent for the 2014 special election. Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson (D) announced that she will challenge Sen. Scott in next year’s November election. Mr. Scott was appointed after then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R) resigned his seat to become president of the Heritage Foundation. The winner of the 2014 election will serve until the seat normally comes in-cycle, which will be 2016. Sen. Scott is the prohibitive favorite in this race.

South Dakota: Former Senator Larry Pressler (R), who served three terms until his defeat in 1996, has formed an exploratory committee to run for his previous office as an Independent. Already in the open seat race is former Gov. Mike Rounds (R), the favorite, and Democrat Rick Weiland, a former aide to then-Sen. Tom Daschle (D). Two Republican state legislators and a GOP physician are also announced candidates.

Wyoming: A just-released Wickers Group poll (10/22-25; 400 WY Republican primary voters) for three-term incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R) shows his lead over GOP nomination opponent Liz Cheney expanding to a whopping 69-17 percent. No available data shows Ms. Cheney even in the same polling realm as Sen. Enzi. The Wyoming Republican primary is scheduled for August 19, 2014.


CA-24: Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco (R) announced that he will challenge nine-term Rep. Lois Capps (D) in what is now a marginal political district. Capps was first elected when her husband, then-Rep. Walter Capps (D), suddenly passed away. She then won the succeeding 1998 special election and has held the seat ever since. The 2011 citizens’ redistricting commission drew the new 24th CD as a much more competitive district, so this race could develop. In 2012, Capps defeated former Lt. Governor and state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R) by a substantial 55-45%, illuminating the Republican’s weakness within his own party. Also in the 2014 race is Chris Mitchum (R), son of the late actor Robert Mitchum, and former congressional staff member Justin Fareed. Democratic banker Paul Coyne Jr. is also a candidate. The top two finishers in the June primary, regardless of political party affiliation and percentage, will advance to the general election.

FL-13: As the November 19th candidate filing deadline continues to approach, it is looking more and more likely that former state Chief Financial Officer and gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink (D) will face former Rep. Bill Young staff member and current lobbyist David Jolly (R), though several potential Republican candidates could still come forward. The 13th CD, headed for a special election in March, with party primaries scheduled for January 14th, is open because veteran Congressman Young, the Republicans’ longest-serving member, passed away in October. Ms. Sink, also the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee who lost to Republican Rick Scott by only one percentage point, is becoming the clear favorite to convert the seat to her party’s column.

LA-5: The special election between state Sen. Neil Riser (R) businessman Vance McAllister (R) will be held Saturday, with the winner filling resigned Rep. Rodney Alexander’s (R) final term in office. The former Congressman left the House to accept an Administration appointment from Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).


Florida: After denying interest in running for Governor for the better part of the year, Sen. Bill Nelson (D), through various political staff operatives calling Florida Democratic leaders, is apparently ready to test the waters for a gubernatorial run. Should Mr. Nelson run, he would oppose former Governor Charlie Crist, who was elected state chief executive as a Republican in 2006, ran unsuccessfully for Senate as an Independent in 2010, and now is attempting to come back as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Obviously, a Nelson candidacy would cast a new light upon this campaign.

Maine: Public Policy Polling (11/8-11; 964 ME registered voters) conducted a new poll of Maine voters and continues to show a very tight three-way gubernatorial campaign building. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) continues to maintain the slightest of leads over Gov. Paul LePage (R), 38-36%, but it was exactly this type of configuration that elected the state chief executive in 2010. Attorney Eliot Cutler, whose Independent bid in the last campaign netted him a close second place finish, captures 15% of the vote in this lastest public opinion poll.

Ohio: Previously, Gov. John Kasich (R) was on an improving path to re-election and had established a clear lead over consensus Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive. According to the new Public Policy Polling data (11/5-6; 595 OH registered voters), the Governor and Mr. FitzGerald are now tied at 41% apiece. Ohio’s voting nature virtually ensures another close race for 2014. Kasich records only a 37:42% job approval rating according to this poll.

Pennsylvania: Harper Polling (11/9-10; 649 PA Democratic primary voters) tested the enlarging Democratic primary and found Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) still leading the pack, but in a lesser margin than detected in previous polling. According to this latest data, Schwartz scores 22% of the respondents’ preference, former state Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty is second with 15%, state Treasurer Rob McCord is next at 12%, another ex-Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger tallies 7%, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has 6%, and former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf posts 5 percent. The winner challenges vulnerable Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Texas: Attorney General Greg Abbott, the consensus gubernatorial nominee, may have caught an early campaign break. Debra Medina, the Tea Party 2010 gubernatorial candidate who scored almost 19% of the vote against both Gov. Rick Perry and then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary and had publicly speculated about running for Governor in 2014 as an Independent candidate, said she would stick with her original political plans. Previously, she had announced intentions to run as a Republican in the open state Comptroller’s race, and this week reiterated that she will continue pursuing that campaign. Medina could have syphoned away enough votes from Abbott to make Democrat Wendy Davis an even more formidable challenger to the sitting AG.