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Period Ending December 19, 2014

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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 Gov. Jeb Bush announced the formation of a political committee to begin laying the ground work for a potential run for President. While others such as Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with 2012 nominee Mitt Romney all welcomed him into the field of candidates, each made it clear that an eventual Bush entry will have no effect upon their own personal political plans.

Hillary Clinton: Spokespeople within the Clinton camp are indicating that the January announcement of the formation of a presidential exploratory committee as previously indicated, will now be moved to the Spring of 2015. Candidates and potential candidates are moving on a slower track in the early stages of this election, mindful of the fact that in the past few presidential elections the early leader was not a major factor at the end of the process. All indications, however, still suggest that she will eventually enter the race.

Rand Paul: If Sen. Rand Paul wants to maneuver around Kentucky election law that forbids candidates from simultaneously seeking more than one public office, he will most likely have to do so by court order. Unsurprisingly, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic Senatorial nominee who lost to incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), announced that she will fight any move by Paul to either defy or challenge the Kentucky election statute. The state Republican Party potentially changing its nominating procedure to a caucus from a primary could possibly comply with law since no presidential candidate will actually appear on a ballot, but even this avenue may not be legally approved. Mr. Paul has already announced that he plans to seek re-election to the Senate in 2016, and says he will soon make a final decision about a presidential campaign.

Senate

Illinois: Another member of the US House delegation being mentioned as a possible US Senate candidate is Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL-11). The Congressman was originally elected to the 14th District in 2007 when then-Rep. Dennis Hastert (R), a former House Speaker, resigned. Foster was re-elected to a full term in 2008, but fell to current Rep. Randy Hultgren (R) in 2010. Foster returned to the House by defeating then-Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) in the newly-drawn 11th District in 2012. He was re-elected with just over 53% of the vote in November. Foster is not commenting on the Senate race, stating that he needs to get through the final days of the current Congress before he addresses his political future. Previously mentioned as a possible Democratic challenger to Sen. Mark Kirk (R) is Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8).

Pennsylvania: In what appears to be a development that opens the door wider for 2010 Senatorial nominee Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) announced that she will not seek the Democratic Senatorial nomination for purposes of challenging first-term Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Ms. Kane is fighting allegations that she leaked grand jury information to place a political opponent in a more difficult situation. Kane denies all wrong doing, but will now concentrate on winning re-election to a second term instead of jumping to another office. Toomey and Sestak battled to a 51-49% result during the Republican landslide in the 2010 Senate race. Even so, state party leaders are reportedly attempting to find a an alternative to Sestak who is routinely characterized as someone who has little or no relationship with the state's Democratic leaders. Expect the PA Senate battle to be one of the most competitive in the nation.

New Hampshire: The game of political musical chairs will begin shortly in the Granite State. The Democrats' top prospective recruits are former Gov. John Lynch and sitting state chief executive Maggie Hassan. But, neither seems inclined to challenge first-term Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) at this time. This suggests either Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH-2) or outgoing Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) are coming more clearly into focus as possible Senate candidates. If Hassan chooses to run for the Senate, then we can expect to see Ms. Kuster jettison her House seat in a move for the open Governor's chair. In any event, there is probably a good chance that the Kuster congressional seat will be open in 2016 since the chances of her seeking statewide office appear to be growing.

House

AZ-2: The final campaign in the country drew to a close this week, as former Air Force officer Martha McSally (R) officially defeated Rep. Ron Barber (D). The mandatory recount process is completed, and McSally actually added six votes to her tally, winning the final count by just 167 votes of more than 220,000 ballots cast. This will be the official total as Barber conceded the race upon hearing the result. McSally's victory means the Republicans will hold 247 seats going into the new 114th Congress as compared to 188 for the Democrats.

TX-27: A former staff member filed sexual harassment charges against Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) and his chief of staff. Should the situation deteriorate over the next term, Farenthold will likely be looking at least a competitive primary situation in March of 2016. Texas holds the earliest congressional primary in the nation. A crowded Republican field could develop and may likely include former statewide candidate Debra Medina, a favorite of the libertarian Ron Paul sector of the party. As constructed, the 27th District contains much of the territory Dr. Paul formerly represented, including the southeast coastal area to the city of Victoria and the rural regions that stretch almost to the Austin suburbs.

Governor

Louisiana: Indications suggest that state Treasurer John Kennedy (R), who was previously the GOP nominee for US Senate after he left the Democratic Party will not run for Governor in 2015. Instead, Kennedy is likely to seek what could be an open Attorney General's post. Likely to be in that contest is former one-term Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3), who served one term in the US House before being paired with veteran Rep. Charles Boustany (R) in a post-redistricting congressional campaign. Louisiana lost a congressional seat in the 2010 national reapportionment. Incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (R) is eligible to seek re-election but may retire.