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Period Ending December 6, 2013

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

Senate

Illinois: Though Sen. Mark Kirk (R) is not up for re-election until 2016, Public Policy Polling decided to test his popularity in the Land of Lincoln. Their poll (11/22-25; 557 IL registered voters) paired the Senator with Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D), often viewed as the state’s most popular public official. According to the results, Kirk and Madigan are tied at 41% apiece. The Senator was stricken with a stroke earlier in the year, but is making a strong recovery.

New Jersey: 2012 US Senate nominee Joe Kyrillos, who was re-elected to the state Senate last month, says he will not challenge newly-elected US Senator Cory Booker (D) next year. Mr. Booker won the October special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). He is serving the balance of Mr. Lautenberg’s final term in office, and will seek a full six-year term next November.

House

CA-25: Former state Senator and congressional nominee Tony Strickland (R), who had pulled out of a re-match battle with 26th District Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D) just weeks ago, announced his candidacy for Rep. Buck McKeon’ (R) 25th District. Since it is unlikely that Strickland would challenge the veteran incumbent and Armed Services Committee chairman, the move may signal inside information that McKeon has decided not to seek re-election. The Congressman issued no public reaction of Strickland’s statement of candidacy.

Illinois: All 18 incumbents filed their re-election documents, as Illinois became the first state to close its 2014 candidate filing period. Six members are receiving primary challenges. The one having the most potential is in the 13th District as former Miss America Erika Harold challenges freshman Rep. Rodney Davis on the Republican side. The state’s voters will witness active general election campaigns in at least five districts. Two former members, ex-Reps. Bob Dold (R-IL-10) and Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17) are attempting to regain the seats they lost to Democratic Reps. Brad Schneider and Cheri Bustos, respectively. The southwestern 12th District will feature a battle between freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D) and state Rep. Mike Bost (R). The aforementioned 13th District will likely feature freshman Davis (R) against former District Judge Ann Callis (D). Though Rep. Bill Foster’s (D) 11th District is decidedly Democratic, five Republicans, including a state Rep., county commissioner, and prominent businessman are vying for the GOP nomination.

IL-13: Rep. Rodney Davis (R) released the results of his internal Public Opinion Strategies poll (11/19-21; 400 IL-13 Republican primary voters) that gives him a 63-15% lead over GOP primary opponent Erika Harold. As mentioned above, Ms. Harold is a former Miss America.

ME-2: In the seat being vacated by Rep. Mike Michaud’s (D) run for Governor, competitive primaries are developing in both parties. This week, state Sen. Richard Rosen (R) reversed course and made the decision to withdraw from the congressional race. This leaves former state Treasurer Bruce Polliquin, former state Senate President and two-time congressional nominee Kevin Raye, and Navy veteran Blaine Richardson in the Republican field. On the Democratic side, state Sens. Emily Cain and Troy Jackson will battle for the party nomination. The eventual Democratic nominee will be favored, but this seat could become competitive in the general election if a Republican wave begins to develop.

MI-11: Democrats failed to convince their top prospective candidate, law school dean and former Secretary of State nominee Jocelyn Benson, to run for the seat. Ms. Benson announced that she will not become a congressional candidate next year. This leaves the Democrats with former State Department official Bobby McKenzie, who moved into the district for purposes of running in 2014. Freshman incumbent Kerry Bentivolio faces a strong Republican challenge from attorney and party activist David Trott, who has already raised more than $500,000 for the campaign. This may be the most serious nomination challenge to any incumbent in the country. The eventual Republican nominee will be favored next November.

MI-14: State Sen. Bert Johnson joined a crowded open seat Democratic primary for Rep. Gary Peters’ Detroit congressional seat. Already in the race are state Rep. Rudy Hobbs, and state Sen. Vincent Gregory. The Democratic winner will easily carry the district in November, as this is one of the party’s safest seats in the nation. Mr. Peters is vacating to run for the Senate.

MN-7: Blind state Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) announced that he will challenge 12-term Rep. Collin Peterson (D) next year. Being the fourth most Republican seat in the nation to elect a Democratic Congressman, this race could become competitive. Mr. Peterson, 69, is listed as a retirement possibility.

NY-13: Harlem Pastor Michael Walrond will challenge 22-term Rep. Charlie Rangel in the Democratic primary next year. Mr. Rangel survived a strong challenge in 2012. Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV has also announced, but most believe he will only run if Mr. Rangel decides to retire. Indications are that Rangel will seek re-election, but no official statement of candidacy has been made. In the last primary, the incumbent survived with only a 1,086-vote win over state Sen. Adriano Espaillat.

Texas: Like in Illinois, the Texas candidate filing period is taking shape. Though the period officially closes on December 9th, all 36 incumbents have already filed for re-election. So, here too, no open seat congressional races will occur in 2014. The only competitive general election campaign appears to be formulating in the 23rd District that stretches all the way from San Antonio to El Paso. There, freshman Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego defends his seat against possibly the man he unseated in 2012 - should he win the Republican primary - former Rep. Quico Canseco (R).

Governor

California: The Field Poll reported the findings of its most recent survey (11/15-12/3; 836 CA registered voters) and finds Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in very strong shape as he begins to prepare for re-election. According to the results, Mr. Brown would lead the jungle primary in a walk, posting 52%, compared to former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (R) registering 11%, and Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) following with 9%. The Governor is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

Idaho: Boise School Board chairman A.J. Balukoff (D) announced that he will challenge Gov. Butch Otter (R). The Governor has yet to publicly say that he will seek a third term in office, but all indications are that he will run again. Though Mr. Otter’s popularity has taken a dip in recent months, he is still rated as a huge favorite for re-election. It is unlikely that Balukoff will be able to construct a viable campaign.

Other Races

Virginia Attorney General: The recount for the exceedingly close Attorney General’s campaign has been scheduled. More than 712,000 of the 2.2 million ballots will be recounted beginning December 16th, with a goal of completing the process by December 20th. A three judge panel in Richmond has been selected to control the process and rule on any challenged ballot. Democrat Mark Herring was certified the winner over Republican Mark Obenshain by just 165 votes statewide.