The House is not in session. Senate is not in session.

Period Ending December 4, 2015

Back to News

Share this story

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


Polls: We continue to see a separation within the Republican presidential field while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secures the dominant position on the Democratic side. Several surveys were reported this week. The national Quinnipiac University poll (11/23-30; 1,453 registered voters; 573 Democratic primary and caucus voters; 672 Republican primary and caucus voters) continues to find Donald Trump, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Dr. Ben Carson pulling away from the rest of the field. The pattern featuring these four as clear leaders has become evident for the past few weeks. This current data finds Trump first with 27%, Rubio in second at 17%, and Cruz and Carson tied for third scoring 16% apiece. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush trails badly at 5%. For the Democrats, Ms. Clinton has a 2:1 lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), 60-30% with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley remaining in single digits.

The Reuters rolling poll (continuing surveying of 2,000 national respondents) finds Trump with a larger lead at 34%, Dr. Carson in second at 16%, Sen. Cruz following with 14%, Sen. Rubio scoring 11%, and Mr. Bush with just 7 percent. They too find the “Front Four” pulling away from the remaining 10 candidates.

Public Policy Polling released New Hampshire data (11/30-12/4; 458 Democratic primary voters; 454 Republican primary voters) in anticipation of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary scheduled for February 9. Here, the Republican results find Mr. Trump again in first position, this time pulling 27%, followed by Sen. Cruz with 13%, Sen. Rubio at 11%, and an appearance from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in double digits notching 10%. Dr. Ben Carson dropped to 9% in this poll. For Democrats, Sen. Sanders continues to show that New Hampshire is his most competitive state. According to the PPP results, Ms. Clinton has a 44-42-8% edge over Sanders and O’Malley.


Arizona: State Sen. Kelli Ward, already challenging Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary, announced that she will soon resign her elected position in order to campaign statewide full time. Ms. Ward is not viewed to be a top-tier political threat to the veteran incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee, but her campaign certainly could do Sen. McCain some damage as he prepares to face Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) in the general election.

Florida: Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) finds some of his top campaign aides leading an exodus of campaign staff. The campaign manager, deputy manager, and communications director all left the Grayson effort early in the week, possibly signaling a campaign in turmoil. It is unclear if this will increase the odds that Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2), a likely mid-decade redistricting victim, enters the Senate race. The party favorite at this point is Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18). Republicans have a crowded field of candidates. Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is not seeking re-election in order to run for President.

Louisiana: Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA-3) and John Fleming (R-LA-4) have made it clear that they will seek Sen. David Vitter’s (R) open seat next year. One person who took himself out of the race is outgoing Lt. Governor and defeated gubernatorial candidate Jay Dardenne (R). Mr. Dardenne, who endorsed Democrat John Bel Edwards in the run-off election against Vitter, publicly stated this week that he will not enter the Senate campaign. It is expected that he will join the Edwards Administration in a major capacity. For Democrats, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, brother to former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), announced that he will not enter the Senate campaign. Former Democratic state Senator Troy Hebert confirms he is considering joining the Senate race in January as an Independent.

Maryland: Though Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD-4) is woefully behind fellow Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) in fundraising (Van Hollen has an almost 5:1 advantage in campaign receipts), she received some welcome news this week. The liberal EMILY’S List social issues organization announced plans to spend more than $1 million on her behalf in the Democratic primary campaign.


Florida Redistricting: The state Supreme Court closed the final loop on the mid-decade redistricting issue that they began in early July, approving the lower court judge’s new plan that changes 22 of the state’s 27 districts. The new map will be in effect for the 2016 election, which should result in Democratic gains. Currently, Republicans enjoy a 17-10 split in the congressional delegation.

Illinois Filings: Candidates completed the pre-election primary period in anticipation of the state’s March 15th primary. Eight House members drew primary opposition, three of which could become noteworthy. The most potentially competitive campaigns are in the 1st District where Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) faces a challenge from Chicago City Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. and two others. In the 4th CD, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) will defend his seat against former television and radio program host and ex-gubernatorial aide Javier Salas. Downstate, in District 15, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Southern Illinois) has a Republican nomination battle against state Sen. Kyle McCarter. All of the incumbents are expected to prevail. Five other delegation members drew minor primary opposition.

The most interesting general elections appear to be in open District 8 (Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) vacating to run for Senate) where the eventual Democratic nominee will become the prohibitive favorite to win in the fall, and the 10th District that has fluctuated between Rep. Bob Dold (R) and ex-Rep. Brad Schneider (D). The third contest between the two will likely be another one point affair. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro/Carbondale) appear to be in strong re-election position even though their districts are marginal. The newest Illinois member, Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria), winner of a September special election, is unopposed in both the primary and general elections.

CA-20: State Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning (D) announced that he will not run for the open 20th Congressional District, opting instead to seek re-election to another term in his current position. This clearly helps Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta (D), son of former Congressman and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Other Democrats, such as Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett and members of the state Assembly may yet join the campaign. Twelve-term Rep. Sam Farr (D) is retiring. The seat will remain in Democratic hands.

FL-21, 22: Two Florida delegation members, in response to the newly approved state Supreme Court map, are switching districts. Because of changes made to Palm Beach and Broward Counties, Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL-21) and Lois Frankel (D-FL-22) will trade districts. Mr. Deutch announced that he will seek re-election in the new 22nd District, while Ms. Frankel will run for the 21st District seat. Both are heavily Democratic and each incumbent should be safe in their new districts.

NY-22: Former Oneida County legislator David Gordon (D), attempting to take advantage of what looks to be a serious Republican primary fight between Rep. Richard Hanna and state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, announced his congressional candidacy for the central Upstate New York congressional district. Should Tenney either defeat Hanna or advance to the general election on the Conservative Party ballot line, the general election could become interesting. A Democratic candidate would certainly be credible in such a three-way contest.

VA-10: LuAnn Bennett, ex-wife of former 8th District Congressman Jim Moran (D-Alexandria), announced that she will challenge freshman Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean). Ms. Bennett has never run for office in her own right, and begins the uphill race against an incumbent who has already raised more than $1.3 million for her re-election bid. Though the 10th District could be politically marginal in a presidential election year, Ms. Comstock begins this campaign as a solid favorite to win re-election.

WA-7: Fourteen-term Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), now 78 years of age, will face what could be a serious primary challenge for his safely Democratic downtown district next year. State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D), apparently tiring of waiting for the seat to open, announced that he will launch a primary challenge. Prior to his service in Congress, Mr. McDermott served fourteen years in the Washington state legislature. Mr. Walkinshaw has served in the legislature since being appointed to a seat in 2013.