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Period Ending November 8, 2013

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


Illinois: State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R), who has lost two races for the US Senate, one for Governor, and two for the House, said he will try again in 2014. Oberweis will challenge three-term Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D) next year in what will assuredly end in another defeat for the perennial Republican candidate.

Montana: Now 16 weeks since former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) announced that he would not run for the state’s open Senate seat in next year’s regular election, at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R) has officially thrown his figurative hat into the ring. The Congressman has been considered the early favorite for the Senate contest, but delayed in formally declaring his intentions. All other potential candidates had been waiting for Daines to make a move. Now, with an open at-large House seat available, expect candidates to quickly come forward to announce for that particular race. Incumbent Sen. Max Baucus (D) is retiring after what will be 40 years of congressional service at the end of the current term. Mr. Baucus was originally elected to the Senate in 1978, after spending two terms in the House. Daines will likely face Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) in the general election.

Nebraska: The first poll in the open Senate race was released, an internal campaign Public Opinion Strategies survey (10/27-28; 400 NE registered Republican voters) that gives former state Treasurer Shane Osborn a 39-7-7% advantage over banker Sid Dinsdale and Midland University president Ben Sasse. The poll was commissioned by the Osborn campaign. Sen. Mike Johanns (R) is retiring after one term.

New Hampshire: After admitting earlier in the year that he was considering launching a challenge to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), former Rep. Charlie Bass (R) announced that he will not run for Senate next year. Mr. Bass was originally elected to the state’s 2nd Congressional District post in 1994, and held it until his defeat in 2006. He won the seat again in 2010, but lost to current Rep. Annie Kuster (D) last November.

New Jersey: In an announcement carrying no surprise, former Sen. Jeff Chiesa (R), the man who Gov. Chris Christie (R) tabbed to serve as interim Senator until the special election was held to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), says he will not challenge new Sen. Cory Booker (D) next year. Mr. Booker won the October special election, but will stand for a full six-year term in the regular 2014 election cycle.

In an announcement carrying no surprise, former Sen. Jeff Chiesa (R), the man who Gov. Chris Christie (R) tabbed to serve as interim Senator until the special election was held to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), says he will not challenge new Sen. Cory Booker (D) next year. Mr. Booker won the October special election, but will stand for a full six-year term in the regular 2014 election cycle.: Tea Party conservatives hope to recruit a Republican primary candidate against Sen. John Cornyn (R), but it won’t be historian and former Republican Party of Texas Vice-chairman David Barton. Mr. Barton announced that he won’t be a Senatorial candidate in 2014.


AL-1: Former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne won the Republican special run-off election, defeating businessman Dean Young 52-48% in a race that featured a turnout of over 72,000 Republican voters. With the run-off contest being the key vote in the special election process, Mr. Byrne now becomes the prohibitive favorite in the December 17th special general when he faces Democratic nominee Burton LeFlore. Former Rep. Jo Bonner (R) resigned his seat in August, thus requiring the special election replacement process.

AR-4: James Lee Witt, 69, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director under President Clinton and ex-Yell County Judge, announced that he will enter the Democratic primary for freshman Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R) open Fourth Congressional District. The general election campaign will likely be competitive. Rep. Cotton is vacating after one term to challenge Sen. Mark Pryor (D). State House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman is viewed to be the leading Republican contender.

FL-13: Bill Young II, son of the late Congressman Bill Young (R), stated publicly that he will not become a candidate in the special election to replace his father. Gov. Rick Scott (R) scheduled the special primary for January 24th, with the general election to follow on March 11th. Also out are former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel on the Republican side. David Jolly, a former staff member to Rep. Young, announced that he will run and quickly secured Beverly Young’s endorsement, the late Congressman’s widow. Jessica Ehrlich, the 2012 nominee against Rep. Young who was actively building a race for the special election and 2014 has now ended her campaign, yielding to former Florida Chief Financial Officer and gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink who was swamping her in early polling. Candidate filing closes in November 19th, so all of the candidates will soon be coming forward. These developments clearly make Ms. Sink the favorite to convert the seat for the Democrats.

IN-2: David Bock, a University of Notre Dame administrator and the global health training director at the Eck Institute for Global Health, announced that he will challenge freshman Rep. Jackie Walorski (R). Mr. Bock has served in elected office before, as a state legislator in Missouri. Ms. Walorski won a close 48-47% victory against 2012 Democratic nominee Brendan Mullen. After earlier announcing a re-match effort, Mr. Mullen decided to abandon his plans and will not be a candidate in 2014. The 2nd District is politically marginal, though the mid-term turnout model should help Rep. Walorski.

NJ-3: Rep. Jon Runyan (R), elected in 2010, has surprisingly announced that he will not seek a third term next year. The marginal district will likely evolve into a toss-up 2014 campaign. Mr. Runyan formerly played in the National Football League for fourteen years, the most notable with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2000 to 2009. Rep. Runyan’s exit means that twenty-three seats will be open for next year, still a far cry from the sixty-two incumbent-less districts in 2012.

NC-6: Continuing the retirement theme, veteran Rep. Howard Coble (R) who was first elected with an 84 vote win margin in 1984, announced he will not seek a sixteenth term in the House next year. Mr. Coble, 82, has been experiencing some health problems so his retirement decision is no surprise. The 6th District, covering all or parts of ten counties including Guilford, Alamance, and Rockingham, is safely Republican. Expect a major GOP primary battle to occur in this region, open for the first time at the congressional level in 30 years.

WV-1: Veteran state Auditor Glen Gainer (D) formally announced his congressional challenge to sophomore Rep. David McKinley (R) late this week. McKinley, a former WV Republican Party chairman and state Delegate, defeated state Sen. Mike Oliverio in a 2010 open seat race scoring a tight 1,440-vote victory. Mr. McKinley then recorded a 62.5% re-election margin in 2012. Earlier in the year it was thought that he might challenge Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) for the Senate, but he declined to do so and publicly endorsed the Congresswoman. Mr. Gainer was first elected state Auditor in 1992. He does not have to relinquish his current position because his statewide office isn’t up for election until 2016.


California: Southern California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) became the first Republican to officially enter the gubernatorial campaign. He hopes to launch a long shot effort against incumbent Jerry Brown (D). Former Lt. Governor, state Senator, and defeated 2012 congressional candidate Abel Maldonado is also expected to enter the Republican primary race.

Florida: Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who was elected as a Republican in 2006 and ran unsuccessfully for Senate as an Independent in 2010, announced that he will attempt to regain his former position but this time as a Democrat. Crist will challenge Gov. Rick Scott (R), who immediately launched a television ad blitz attacking the former Governor and his new opponent. Early polling shows Crist with an advantage.

Georgia: State Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), grandson of former President and Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter (D), publicly declared that he will challenge Republican incumbent Nathan Deal next year. Gov. Deal was elected in 2010 with a 53-43% margin over former Gov. Roy Barnes (D). The younger Carter won his state Senate seat in a 2010 special election. An early October poll (Public Policy Polling; 10/7-8; 602 GA registered voters) gives Gov. Deal only a 44-40% lead over Sen. Carter. The Governor has taken a popularity hit recently partially over reports of a FBI ethics investigation surrounding certain campaign finance transactions.

New Jersey: Meeting pre-election polling expectations, Gov. Chris Christie (R) trounced Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono 60-38% to win a second term. Speculation is commonplace that Mr. Christie will now begin to assemble a 2016 presidential campaign apparatus.

Texas: Public Policy Polling (11/1-4; 500 TX registered voters) conducted a small-sample survey of the Lone Star State electorate against the probable general election gubernatorial race between Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and state Senator Wendy Davis (D). The results show Abbott expanding an earlier 48-40% lead to 50-35%. If Tea Party activist Debra Medina is added as an Independent, however, Abbott’s margin drops to 47-37-9%.

Virginia: Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe was elected Governor as expected earlier this week, but his 48-45% victory margin was much closer than predicted. State Sen. Ralph Northam (D) won the Lt. Governor’s election 55-45%, but a long re-count in the Attorney General’s race is inevitable because the two candidates, state Sens. Mark Obenshain (R) and Mark Herring (D), are within 700 votes of each other from over two million ballots cast.

Wisconsin: State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout will make a second run for Governor. She is joining the Democratic Party primary and will face businesswoman and Madison School Board member Mary Burke in that election. Burke is gaining steam as the party establishment favorite. Sen. Vinehout ran in the 2012 gubernatorial recall election, but received only 4% of the vote in the Democratic primary of that year.


Major Cities: Mayoral races all went as predicted: in New York City, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D) trounced Republican Joe Lhota 73-24%. Massachusetts state Rep. Marty Walsh defeated Boston City Councilor John Connolly 52-48% in the Bay State capital city, overcoming the latter’s early polling lead in a battle of Democrats. Businessman Mike Duggan won a 55-45% run-off victory against Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in Detroit, after qualifying in the primary via a write-in campaign. In Seattle, as expected, former state Sen. Ed Murray ousted incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn 56-44%, in another race between a pair of Democrats.