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Period Ending December 12, 2014

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

President

Jim Gilmore: Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) confirms that he is moving closer to announcing a campaign for President. It will be his second such move for the office, should he continues upon his current preparatory path. Gilmore would be considered a deep long shot to win the nomination at the very best. It is unlikely he will be able to raise sufficient money or attract enough supporters and volunteers to break into the first tier of candidates.

Rick Perry: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) continues to act and sound like a presidential candidate. In an interview this week, however, he indicated that he will make a final decision whether to run in “May or June of 2015.”

Mitt Romney: The Romney family made a series of moves this week that suggest 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney may be changing his mind about running for President again. First, in a television interview the former nominee’s wife, Ann Romney, backtracked substantially on her previous public statement that her husband would not again become a presidential candidate. Second, Mr. Romney held private meetings with key major donors from his last campaign. Third, his staff team made a statement that their boss would not be influenced about his own candidacy in response to a potential Jeb Bush candidacy, and still feels that he (Mr. Romney) is the leader of the Republican Party’s establishment wing.

Elizabeth Warren: The Moveon.org organization leadership announced it will be committing more than $1 million in ground efforts for Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two tests on the presidential nomination calendar, in an attempt to convince Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to become a presidential candidate.

Senate

Arkansas: Democrats appear to be striking out in attempting to recruit their top prospect to challenge Sen. John Boozman (R) in the 2016 election cycle. Outgoing Gov. Mike Beebe (D) stated this week that he is not planning a run against the first-term Republican Senator. He further said that it is unlikely he will ever seek public office again, preferring to concentrate on teaching, serving on corporate boards, and consulting.

California: It appears probable that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) will announce in early January that she will not seek a fifth term. The Senator says she will take time over the holidays to make a final decision, but she has stopped her fundraising operation and has made no moves to begin hiring a campaign staff. Should she opt for retirement, the 2016 election will yield the first open California Senate seat in 24 years.

Louisiana: As expected, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) easily defeated three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), 56-44%, to convert the Louisiana Senate seat to the Republicans. With the victory, Mr. Cassidy becomes the 54th Republican who will serve in the new 114th Congress as compared to 46 Democrats, when counting the two Independents, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Angus King (I-ME), who caucus with them. In response to a reporter’s question whether she will seek her state’s open gubernatorial position in 2015 or run for Louisiana’s other Senate seat in 2016, Ms. Landrieu responded, “Oh, Lord, no.”

North Carolina: A new Public Policy Polling survey (12/4-7; 823 NC registered voters) already tested Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) political strength since his seat will be in-cycle for 2016. According to the responses, Burr would lead defeated Sen. Kay Hagan (D) 46-43%, and hold an expanded 44-38% advantage over both state Treasurer Janet Cowell and US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor. None of these individuals has yet indicated any interest in challenging Sen. Burr. The polling respondents gave Burr a 31:36% job approval rating. While the tally is upside down, he fares better than President Obama who registered a 40:53% positive to negative score, and Sen. Hagan who posted a 39:52% ratio.

Ohio: Answering speculation that he will challenge Sen. Rob Portman (R), former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) says he will decide whether to run for the Senate “in the next two or three months.” Strickland, 73, was elected Governor in 2006, but defeated by current incumbent John Kasich (R) after one term in office. He also served six terms in the US House, originally winning in 1992, but defeated in the Republican landslide of 1994. He then recaptured the southeastern Ohio seat in 1996. Sen. Portman has already announced that he will seek re-election in 2016.

House

AZ-2: The legally mandated recount of challenger Martha McSally’s (R) 161-vote victory over Rep. Ron Barber (D) finally commenced this week. Results should be known toward the end of next week, with possible certification of a winner by December 20th. This is the last undecided House or Senate contest.

CO-2: With states now reporting final election results, it appears that Rep. Jared Polis’ (D) north central Colorado congressional district boasted the highest turnout figure of the 2014 election cycle, with 345,945 voters. Though the Montana-at large district actually had more voters participate, the fact that the one-congressional district state has over 1 million people skews the actual percentage turnout to make it severely out of proportion with all other CDs.

LA-5: As expected, physician Ralph Abraham (R) easily defeated Democratic Mayor Jamie Mayo (city of Monroe), 64-36% to keep the northeastern 5th District in Republican hands. This is Dr. Abraham’s first run for political office. Scandal-tainted incumbent Vance McAllister (R) was defeated in the primary, as he failed to qualify for the run-off with just 11% of the vote. Louisiana’s unique electoral system that mandates December run-off elections if no candidate secures 50% of the jungle primary vote on Election Day.

LA-6: Likewise as predicted, former Jindal Administration official Garret Graves (R) scored a 62-38% knockout of former four-term Governor and Congressman Edwin Edwards (D) in last Saturday’s run-off election. Completing his career in public office, the 87-year old Edwards, who served eight years in federal prison for racketeering and political corruption, says this was his last run for elective office. The Baton Rouge-anchored congressional district was left open because of Sen-Elect Bill Cassidy’s (R) statewide run.

TX-29: Just as CO-2 featured the nation’s highest voter turnout of any congressional district in the 2014 election cycle, Houston’s 29th Congressional District yielded the lowest turnout in the country. Only a total of 46,136 voters participated in the mid-term election.

Governor

Kentucky: Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), fresh from a stinging defeat at the hands of incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), is now considering entering the state’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign. She has not indicated what her future plans might be since giving her concession speech on Election Night. Ms. Grimes will have only until the state filing deadline to decide, however, and that January 29th date is fast approaching. Currently, Attorney General Jack Conway is the leading Democratic candidate. Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Montana: Attorney General Tim Fox (R) already ended speculation that he would challenge Gov. Steve Bullock (D) in 2016. Mr. Fox this week officially filed papers to seek a second term in his current position.

North Carolina: The aforementioned Public Policy Polling survey (see NC Senate above) also tested Gov. Pat McCrory (R) as he prepares to seek a second term. Paired against four-term Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), who appears to be assembling a campaign team and organization, McCrory would lead 46-39%. The Governor’s job approval is 41:46% positive to negative. Despite Cooper being on the statewide political scene for fourteen years, literally half of those sampled couldn’t identify him. That being said, Cooper has a 26:26% favorable to unfavorable image.