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Period Ending November 20, 2015

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

President

Gov. Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana Governor, who never found a foothold in the 2016 presidential race, decided this week to end his campaign well before the Iowa vote. Looking to make the Hawkeye State his political firewall, Jindal had driven his support level to as high as 6% in at least one poll, but that was clearly not enough to catapult him into the first tier of candidates. Thus, Jindal realized his effort was doomed. The Governor becomes the third Republican to exit the race. He follows ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to the political sidelines. Jim Webb, the former Virginia Senator, and ex-Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee are the withdrawn Democrats.

Polling: Several surveys were released this week: Public Policy Polling’s national poll (11/16-19; 607 likely Republican primary voters) finding Trump topping Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 26-19-14-13%; WBUR-MassInc Polling (11/14-15; 405 likely NH Republican primary voters), 23-13-13-8% for Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz; the Morning Consult national poll (11/13-16; 2,001 registered voters on a weekly track; 774 self-identified Republicans), 38-19-7-7% for Trump, Carson, Cruz, Rubio; Fox NH (11/15-17; 353 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters) 27-13-11-9-9% for Trump, Rubio, Cruz, ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Carson; while Florida Atlantic University (11/15-16; 355 likely FL Republican primary voters) finds Trump leading 36-18-15-10-9% over Sen. Rubio, Dr. Carson, Sen. Cruz, and ex-Gov. Bush, respectively. The prevailing conclusion is that four candidates are consistently forming a top tier within the mammoth presidential field: Messrs. Trump, Carson, Rubio, and Cruz, usually in said order.

Senate

Colorado: Former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier (R) announced his US Senate candidacy this week and enters the GOP primary with the goal of challenging Sen. Michael Bennet (D). Frazier has lost both a 7th District congressional campaign and a race for Mayor of Aurora during the past few years. Sen. Bennet projects as a strong favorite for re-election despite being in a highly competitive state.

House

Virginia Redistricting: The court-appointed special master submitted his proposed map remedies to the three judge federal panel that declared Rep. Bobby Scott’s (D) 3rd Congressional District seat to be unconstitutional on grounds of racial gerrymandering. Since the US Supreme Court has now noted jurisdiction for the Virginia re-draw, it may be quite some time before a final map is enacted. Therefore, the Old Dominion map is in a holding pattern until the high court acts. There is a possibility that these issues will not be resolved until the 2018 election.

CA-7: Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (R) announced that he will challenge two-term Rep. Ami Bera (D) next year. With Bera winning two close elections in this Sacramento suburban district, the 2016 campaign will likely become highly competitive. Sheriff Jones was first elected in 2010 and was unopposed for a second four-year term last year. The Sheriff has high name identification locally and does not have to risk his current position for his congressional challenge.

CA-20: The first candidate announcing his quest to succeed retiring 12-term Rep. Sam Farr (D) is Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta (D). The new congressional candidate is the son of former Representative, Director of Office of Management & Budget, White House Chief of Staff, CIA Director, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Democrats will likely send two candidates to the general election, as a multitude of party members are expected to compete in the state’s jungle primary. Also expected to enter the race are state Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning (D), a former congressional candidate, and Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett (D).

FL-18: Democrats have now successfully recruited wealthy businessman Randy Perkins into the race for purposes of holding the seat Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) is risking to run for the Senate. Perkins joins two Palm Beach Democratic County Commissioners in the congressional campaign, Melissa McKinlay and Priscilla Taylor. At least nine Republicans have announced for the seat. The 18th is a 52% Mitt Romney district, and the top Florida GOP conversion target.

IL-1: In the last election, Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins (D) circulated petition signatures in order to run for Congress had Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) decided to retire. When the incumbent announced his intention to run, Brookins dropped his plan. With the candidate filing deadline fast approaching on November 30, Mr. Brookins is again circulating petitions in preparation for a congressional campaign should Mr. Rush opt not to run. Late this week, however, the 12-term Representative confirmed that he will indeed seek re-election next year. Therefore, Mr. Brookins is again expected to cease his petition-gathering effort.

NY-22: State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, who scored 46% of the vote against Rep. Richard Hanna in the 2014 Republican primary, is back to seek a re-match in 2016. Raising and spending only $190,000 last year, Ms. Tenney will likely be able to wage a much more formidable campaign this coming year. The June 28 primary will very likely become a race to watch.

OH-8: With the replacement election for former Speaker John Boehner’s (R) open seat scheduled for a March 8th primary and June 7 general election, West Chester Township Trustee Lee Wong (R), who was beginning to actively campaign, has decided not to proceed further and withdrew from the race. Wong’s departure leaves nine Republicans and no Democrats vying for the seat.

TX-8: Former one-term state Rep. Steve Toth announced a Republican primary challenge to newly elected House Ways & Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands). Brady’s strong electoral history since he first won the office in 1996 makes him an overwhelming favorite to win the March 1 primary election.

Governor

Louisiana: Election Day is Saturday, and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) appears in prime position to score an upset victory over Sen. David Vitter (R) who is attempting to change offices. The last run-off poll was released on Thursday, and Market Research Insight (11/16-18; 900 LA likely voters) finds Edwards topping Vitter, 52-40%. Should he lose, Vitter will continue in his position as a US Senator, but it may be unlikely, and unwise, that he seek re-election in 2016.

North Dakota: After forming a gubernatorial exploratory committee, state Sen. Tom Campbell (R) has decided not to pursue the open seat race. This continues to leave Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem as the party’s leading prospective candidate to replace outgoing Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R). The eventual Republican nominee will be viewed as the general election favorite.

Vermont: Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith, at least for the short-term, ended his open seat gubernatorial campaign. Not completely closing the door on his effort, Mr. Smith says it is unlikely that he will return to the campaign. He is leaving the race to care for his ailing wife who is stricken with breast cancer. Sans Smith, the leading Democratic candidates are former Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter and ex-state Sen. Matt Dunne. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is retiring.