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Period Ending February 7, 2014

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

Senate

Alaska: Bucking the national trend showing Republican challengers forging into the lead against Democratic incumbents, Public Policy Polling (1/30-2/1; 850 AK registered voters; 442 Republican primary voters) finds Sen. Mark Begich (D) clinging to a small lead in all configurations against Republican candidates or political figures. Isolating Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R), Begich’s lead is 43-37%. If former Attorney General Dan Sullivan were the Republican nominee, the Begich advantage becomes 41-37%. Joe Miller, the former magistrate judge who actually won the 2010 Republican Senatorial nomination, finds himself well behind the Senator, at 24-45%. Finally, if former Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin were to enter the Senate race, she would trail Mr. Begich 40-44%. In the Republican primary segmentation, it is ex-AG Sullivan forging into the lead, 30-25-20% over Lt. Gov. Treadwell and Mr. Miller, respectively.

Arkansas: Rasmussen Reports (2/4-5; 500 AR registered voters) took their turn at surveying the Sen. Mark Pryor (D) – Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) budding campaign, and confirmed a lead for the challenger. According to the RR results, Mr. Cotton enjoys a 45-40% edge over the two-term incumbent.

Colorado: Quinnipiac University conducted one of their frequent polls (1/29-2/2; 1,139 CO registered voters) of the Colorado US Senate race and also found first-term incumbent Mark Udall (D) locked in a more difficult race than once expected. In December, Public Policy Polling found Sen. Udall leading 2010 Senatorial nominee and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (R) 46-42%. The new Q-Poll confirms the PPP data. They post the Senator to an almost identical 45-42% edge over Mr. Buck. But virtually unknown state Sen. Randy Baumgardner and state Rep. Amy Stephens perform even better. They both trail the Senator 41-43%.

Kentucky: Rasmussen Reports took its turn in surveying the Kentucky Senate race (1/29-30; 500 KY registered voters), and found that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) are tied at 42% apiece. Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin, on the other hand, leads Ms. Grimes 40-36%.

Nebraska: Harper Polling (2/3-4; 565 NE Republican primary voters) surveyed the Republican electorate in the Cornhusker State regarding the open Senate contest. According to HP, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn leads University president Ben Sasse and banker Sid Dinsdale by a 30-29-13% cut. The nomination is tantamount to general election victory. The primary is May 13th, and there is no run-off. This will be one of the top primary campaigns in the country.

New Hampshire: The University of New Hampshire, polling for WMUR television in Manchester (1/21-26; 584 NH registered voters), finds a different perspective on the hypothetical contest between Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). According to this data, the Senator enjoys a ten-point 47-37% spread over Mr. Brown. When paired with former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), Shaheen’s margin is an almost identical 47-36%. The Senator’s favorability rating is 50:34% positive to negative. Former Sen. Brown’s is an upside down 27:38%. UNH, however, does not enjoy a strong polling track record, and other pollsters show the proposed contest to be in a dead heat range.

New Jersey: Former Republican Senatorial nominee Jeff Bell (R), who denied re-nomination to then-Sen. Clifford Case (R) in 1978, and then ran again in 1982, has returned to New Jersey to launch another bid against freshman Sen. Cory Booker (D). Bell, now 70 years of age, has been living in Virginia for most of the time in between his campaigns. This effort is a long shot at best.

Oklahoma: The first Republican primary poll is in the public domain, and it is from GOP pollster Harper Polling (1/30-2/1; 627 OK Republican primary voters via Interactive Voice Response system). According to the data, Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) easily outdistances state House Speaker T. W. Shannon 54-18%, when the two announced candidates are paired. Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK-4) still has staying power. If he were to enter the race, and he has not yet ruled out such a run, he would enjoy a slight 40-37% lead over Rep. Lankford. In terms of favorability index, the former Congressman scores a whopping 72:11% favorable to unfavorable rating among the tested GOP primary voters. Rep. Lankford scores a similar 56:8%.

House

CA-33: The field of candidates lining up to replace Rep. Henry Waxman (D) is beginning to form. Two Democratic heavyweights have already announced for the open seat, former Los Angeles City Controller and defeated mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel and state Sen. Ted Lieu, will both make the race. It is likely that a pair of Democrats will advance to the general election in California’s top-two jungle primary, which will be held June 3rd. Others are expected to soon join them, but feminist Sandra Fluke (D) will not. Instead, she announced her candidacy for Mr. Lieu’s open state Senate seat.

FL-19: Gov. Rick Scott (R) has scheduled the special election to replace former Rep. Trey Radel (R) who resigned his seat in Congress last week. The party primary elections will be April 22nd, with a special general to follow on June 24th for the right to fill the unexpired portion of the current term. The winner will then immediately turnaround and participate in Florida’s regular primary election for the regular two-year term on August 26th, and then face a regular general election campaign in November. Former state Representative and congressional candidate Paige Kreegel (R) and state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto (R) are the two announced major candidates. Others are likely to follow.

GA-12: State Rep. Delvis Dutton this week joined the field of Republican candidates vying for the opportunity to challenge five-term Rep. John Barrow (D). Already in the race is 2008 congressional nominee John Stone, 2012 candidate Rick Allen, and Army veteran Diane Vann. Rep. Barrow is favored, but the midterm turnout model makes his hold on the district much more tenuous than in the presidential election year.

NH-1: The aforementioned University of New Hampshire poll (see NH Senate) also tested the candidates in the 1st CD. Even though Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) has a positive 39:32% favorability rating, she trails former Rep. Frank Guinta (R) 39-45%. The Congresswoman leads former UNH business professor Dan Innis (R) 43-33%, however. The 1st District has been volatile since 2006, so another incumbent defeat here is certainly within the realm of possibility.

NH-2: Likewise for the 2nd District. Here, UNH finds freshman Rep. Annie Kuster (D) upside down on her favorability ratio (30:32%), but leading her two Republican opponents. Against former state Sen. Gary Lambert, she leads 38-34%. Over state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, the spread is 36-30%. Though this seat is more Democratic than NH District 1, it remains a volatile political entity and is in play for 2014.

NJ-1: Rep. Rob Andrews (D), first elected to the House in 1990, will resign his seat effective Feb. 18th to accept a position with the Dilworth Paxon law firm in Philadelphia. It is likely that the Camden-anchored seat will remain open until the general election. The first individual to officially announce his candidacy is state Sen. Donald Norcross (D), who has a strong chance of becoming the consensus Democratic candidate. Mr. Andrews’ retirement now means 35 seats are open for the election cycle. Democrats will easily retain this district since the historical voting patterns will favor their eventual party nominee.

NY-21: In their search to recruit a strong replacement for retiring Rep. Bill Owens (D), the national Democrats have come up empty with regard to their first choice. Former Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY-20), who won a similar seat when Kirsten Gillibrand (D) was appointed to the Senate in early 2009, but then lost the 2010 regular election to Republican Chris Gibson, announced that he will not make a congressional comeback in 2014. The 21st District is one of the more vulnerable Democratic seats in the nation, so candidate recruitment becomes even more important in such a situation. State Assemblywoman Addie Russell (D) confirms that she is “considering” entering the race.

Governor

Colorado: Quinnipiac University likewise (see Colorado Senate above for polling details) tested the Colorado Governor’s race and found incumbent John Hickenlooper (D) to be leading Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) 46-40%. Against former Representative and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R-CO-6), the Governor’s margin expands to 48-39%. If state Sen. Greg Brophy were the Republican nominee, the Hickenlooper advangage is 47-37%, and is 47-38% against former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp.

Illinois: We Ask America, in a poll released on February 3rd, finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) to be in deep re-election trouble. According to the survey of 1,354 registered Illinois voters, the Governor trails all four leading Republican candidates. Against 2010 nominee Bill Brady (R), Gov. Quinn trails 39-48%. He records a similar deficit against state Sen. Kirk Dillard, also a 2010 gubernatorial candidate (37-46%). If state Treasurer Dan Rutherford were the GOP nominee, the lead over Quinn would be 46-37%, and businessman Bruce Rauner (R) scores a similar 47-39% advantage. Mr. Quinn is the most vulnerable Democratic Governor on the 2014 ballot.

Kansas: Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has been lagging in approval ratings, but a new Wilson Perkins Allen poll (1/29; 387 KS registered voters) shows some improvement for the first-term incumbent as he stands for re-election. According to the data, the Governor leads state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) by a tepid 42-31%, with a mediocre job approval index of 45:41% favorable to unfavorable.

Massachusetts: A new Suffolk University poll for the Boston Herald newspaper (1/29-2/3; 600 RV; 507 Democratic or Independent voters) shows that Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) remains in strong position for the open Governor’s contest. According to this data, Ms. Coakley would lead 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker, 41-33%. If state Treasurer Steve Grossman were the Democratic nominee, the tables turn and Baker scores a 33-28% advantage. Among primary eligible Democrats and Independents, Coakley commands a 56-11% margin opposite Grossman. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has chosen not to seek a third term.

Nebraska: The aforementioned Harper Polling survey (see Nebraska Senate above) also tested the open gubernatorial Republican primary campaign. There, Attorney General Jon Bruning, who is not yet an official candidate, is, nonetheless, staked to a lead over the rest of the field. Mr. Bruning scores 35% support from the respondent pool, followed by businessman and former US Senate nominee Pete Ricketts with 16%, and state Auditor Mark Foley posting 15%. Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Ohio: After announcing his gubernatorial candidacy several weeks ago, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune (D) is already ending his campaign for the Democratic nomination. This clears the way for party favorite Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive, to become the party standard-bearer. He will face Gov. John Kasich (R) in the fall.

Other Races

New Orleans Mayor: In a weekend Crescent City mayoral election, incumbent Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), brother of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), easily outdistanced former judge Michael Bagneris by a 64-33% count. Mayor Landrieu will now begin his second four-year term in the Mayor’s office, a position his father, Moon Landrieu, held for eight years from 1970-78.