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Period Ending March 20, 2015

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

President

Hillary Clinton: Ipsos/Reuters conducted a poll of Democratic voters (3/10-17; 2,128 adults, nationally) and shows support for the former Secretary of State and First Lady to be waning. In the contest for the Democratic nomination, Ms. Clinton drops to the 45% mark, about 18 points below her previous showings in across-the-board polling. And, 46% of self-identified Democratic respondents said they believed an independent review of her email system should be conducted, with 41% (of Democrats) expressing the belief that she should testify before the House special committee investigating the Benghazi consulate situation. But, the poll is highly flawed. First, it is of adults, not even screening for registered voters. Second, it is an online poll, therefore lacking the important randomness that yields to a representative sample.

John Kasich: Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) is now beginning to test the waters for his own potential presidential campaign. He is scheduling upcoming visits to New Hampshire and New York, the latter to meet with key Republican donors. He is also beginning to schedule speaking events around the country. Mr. Kasich won his second term as Governor last November with 64% of the vote. He served in the House of Representatives for 18 years, six of which as chairman of the House Budget Committee. He ran for President in 2000, faring poorly. After leaving Congress in 2001, Mr. Kasich hosted a television news program for Fox News.

Martin O’Malley: Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) is beginning his presidential campaign in earnest with a swing through the first caucus state of Iowa. His leadership political action committee has invested heavily with money and staff in previous Hawkeye State elections, and now he hopes to reap a return on his investment in attempting to become former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief opponent. He could become a factor in the race if Ms. Clinton falters and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) remains on the sidelines. O’Malley is heavily targeting Iowa because it is obviously the first state to vote, and Ms. Clinton did poorly here in 2008, finishing third after creating the image that she was the inevitable nominee. Then-Senator Barack Obama, of course, went on to claim the party nomination and later the general election.

Senate

Arizona: State Sen. Kelli Ward continues to move forward with her Republican primary challenge to Sen. John McCain (R). Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5), who is also looking at launching a potential challenge to the veteran Senator, and would be a strong opponent, is reportedly cooling on the idea. He understands that a multiple-candidate challenge will allow McCain to win re-nomination with only a plurality of the vote. The only viable chance of unseating the incumbent is to do so in a two-way race.

Florida: The Florida Senate situation is beginning to crystallize, all with the anticipation that Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will not seek re-election in lieu of running for President. As we reported previously, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) is likely to announce his Senate bid next week. Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) both say they will not run statewide. Wasserman Schultz confirms she will seek re-election to the House. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL-17) says he will not run for Senate in 2016, but may be interested in contesting for a statewide office in 2018. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is also indicating that a 2018 Senate race would be an attractive option for him, since he will be ineligible to seek a third term as the state’s chief executive. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6) is making some behind the scenes moves to enter the Senate race should Mr. Rubio not run. Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16) and Curt Clawson (R-FL-19) have also been mentioned as potential candidates.

Illinois: Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL-11) confirms that he is “seriously considering” entering the race to challenge Sen. Mark Kirk (R). He stopped short, however, of saying he will run. Kirk responded by “welcoming” Foster into the race, saying he would “beat him soundly.” Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL-2), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), and Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) are also potential candidates, in addition to Foster. Illinois ranks at the top of the Democratic Senate conversion potential list.

Maryland: No new Senate announcements came forth this week, but reports from Baltimore suggest that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) is trending away from entering the statewide race. Apparently, she is not getting the type of financial backing she feels is needed to make the jump into what will be a very tough Democratic statewide primary. Additionally, her current position is on the ballot in 2016, meaning she would have to risk her career to run for the Senate. It is more likely that she will seek re-election. This may open the door for Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7) to enter the Senate campaign, since still no one from Baltimore is officially in the race.

House

IL-10: It appears that Rep. Bob Dold (R) has two early Democratic opponents. Former Rep. Brad Schneider (D), who Dold ousted in 2014 after losing to him (Schneider) two years earlier, says he will seek a re-match in ‘16. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering also announced that she will enter the Democratic primary in an attempt to challenge Dold. The 10th District is highly marginal and will be a major 2016 Democratic target.

IL-18: Rep. Aaron Schock (R) succumbed to inquiries and press reports about his lavish spending at the public’s expense, and announced his resignation effective March 31st. One Republican has officially entered the race, state Sen. Darin LaHood, son of former Rep. and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. State Sen. and former gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady said he will not run, as did state Sen. Jason Brickman. Brady’s brother, businessman Ed Brady, is a potential candidate. Also “considering” the race are state Reps. Mike Unes and Dan Brady (no relation to the aforementioned Bradys). Democratic state Sen. John Sullivan is the only viable office holder in the area and hasn’t ruled out running, but with the seat in Republican hands consecutively since 1939, the eventual Republican nominee will become a prohibitive favorite in the special general election. Under Illinois law, the entire election process will occur within 120 after the seat becomes officially vacant, meaning the end of July, in this case.

MS-1: With the March 27th candidate filing deadline fast approaching for the congressional special election, 13 Republicans and one Libertarian have now become candidates. Still, no Democrats have filed leaving them only one more week to find a candidate. Former Rep. Travis Childers (D) has still not made a move to enter this year’s special election. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R) passed away in February, necessitating the special election. Republicans are obviously heavily favored to retain the seat. The jungle primary election is scheduled for May 12th. Should no candidate receive a majority of the vote, which is highly likely, the top two finishers regardless of political party affiliation will advance to a June 2nd run-off election. The winner will serve the balance of the current term and become eligible to seek a full term in 2016.

NV-4: Former Rep. Steven Horsford (D), who freshman Republican Cresent Hardy (R) surprising upset last November, announced this week that he will not seek a re-match next year. Hardy will be considered one of the most vulnerable of Republican incumbents seeking re-election because of the Democratic nature of the central Nevada/Las Vegas district. Democrats have a deep political bench here, but the former one-term Congressman will not join them in the 2016 federal race. The seat is still a major Democratic target, but the party leadership most likely lost their top candidate with his announcement.

NC-3: For the third election cycle in a row, Rep. Walter Jones (R), no favorite of the Republican leadership, has drawn Republican primary opposition. Businessman and Iraq War veteran Phil Law announced his candidacy this week. It remains to be seen if this campaign will develop. Rep. Jones scored only a 51-45% win against fellow Republican Taylor Griffin in the 2014 GOP primary.

TX-19: Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson, who earlier in the year made public his potential desire to challenge Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) in the 2016 Republican primary, has backed away from doing so. Mr. Robertson announced this week that he will not run for Congress next year.

Governor

Oregon: Bud Pierce (R), former president of the Oregon Medical Association, is clearly moving toward challenging Gov. Kate Brown (D) in the 2016 special election. Mr. Pierce launched his “Bud Pierce for Governor” website as a prelude to a formal announcement. Ms. Brown, elected as Secretary of State, ascended to the office of Governor when incumbent John Kitzhaber (D) resigned over a conflict of interest involving his fiancé’s lobbying business. The 2016 election will allow the winner to serve the balance of Kitzhaber’s term, and then seek a full four-year term in 2018.

West Virginia: State Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler (D), a former gubernatorial candidate, formed an exploratory committee for the 2016 statewide campaign during this past week. Kessler fared poorly in the gubernatorial special election that elected interim Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) in 2011. Mr. Tomblin is ineligible to seek a third term next year. US Sen. Joe Manchin (D), who left the Governorship to become a Senator in 2010 after then-Sen. Robert Byrd (D) died, is also thinking of returning to run again for Governor. On the Republican side, US Rep. David McKinley (R-WV-1) is expressing interest in the race.