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Period Ending March 21, 2014

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

Senate

Colorado: The second Colorado Senate poll was just released since Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO-4) announced his challenge to Sen. Mark Udall (D), and Rasmussen Reports (3/17-18; 750 CO registered voters) confirmed a toss-up status race. The RR results give Sen. Udall only a 45-44% edge over the eastern Colorado Congressman.

Illinois: Sen. Dick Durbin (D) ran unopposed in last Tuesday’s Illinois primary and will face the new GOP nominee, state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R). The Senate race is Mr. Oberweis’ sixth attempt at winning public office, of which he has been successful only once. Sen. Durbin will cruise to re-election in the fall.

Michigan: Denno Research released a survey (3/8-9; 600 MI registered voters) that gives Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) a 40-37% edge over former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R). This poll reverses the trend of the last several weeks that posted Ms. Land to a slight lead. The study is within the polling margin of error, so once again we see data suggesting the race is a statistical tie.

Montana: Rasmussen Reports (3/17-18; 750 MT registered voters) tested appointed Sen. John Walsh (D) against favored candidate Steve Daines, the state’s at-large Republican Congressman. According to RR, Mr. Walsh’s short-term incumbency has yet to translate into a positive gain. The data gives Rep. Daines a 51-37% lead over the newly appointed US Senator. The two are vying to succeed veteran Sen. Max Baucus (D), who resigned in February to accept the position of US Ambassador to China.

New Hampshire: Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has formed an exploratory committee to test his political viability against New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). Rasmussen Reports went into the field in mid-March to survey the race (3/12-13; 750 NH registered voters). Confirming other recent data, RR finds Sen. Shaheen with a 50-41% advantage over ex-Sen. Brown.

House

CO-3: Less than a month after announcing her intention to challenge Rep. Scott Tipton (R), Pueblo County Commissioner Buffie McFadyen (D) has withdrawn from the contest. Her move leaves the Democrats temporarily without a candidate in what is historically a swing western slope congressional district. Candidate filing in Colorado closes on March 31st.

ID-2: Former Rep. Richard Stallings (D), who served four terms from the 2nd District during the 1985-1993 period, announced that he will run again in 2014. Mr. Stallings vacated the congressional seat to run for the Senate in 1992, losing to then-Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne (R). He ran for the House again in 1998, the last time the seat was open, losing 52-45% to current incumbent Mike Simpson (R). With Mr. Simpson now facing a serious Tea Party Republican primary challenge, the Democratic nomination may more valuable than usual. The GOP nomination fight has the potential of turning nasty, which could leave the winner in a weakened political condition.

Illinois Primary Results: Three challenger congressional races were contested in the party primary process, and all three incumbents were re-nominated. Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) won a relatively close 55-41% victory over former Miss America (2003) Erika Harold (R). Democratic former judge Ann Callis will represent her party in the general election. This race, too, will be competitive. Elsewhere, Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) easily won their respective primary battles.

LA-6: Former Congressman and four-term Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was released from federal prison in 2011 after serving eight years for seventeen different corruption charges, announced he will run for the open 6th Congressional District anchored in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) is vacating the seat to run for the Senate. This district tallied 66% of the vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, so Edwards, running as a Democrat, is a long shot at best. The jungle primary will be held concurrent with the general election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two regardless of political party affiliation, will run-off on December 6th. With twelve candidates on the ballot, including the 86-year old Edwards, the final result will almost assuredly be decided in the December run-off.

MN-7: Veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D), who had been publicly coy about whether or not he would seek a 13th term in Congress, announced this week that he will run again. It is likely that Mr. Peterson will square off with state Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) in the general election. Though the 7th District leans Republican, Rep. Peterson continues to run well here and is again favored to secure another term in November.

ND-AL: State Sen. George B. Sinner (D), son of former Gov. George A. Sinner (D; 1985-1992), announced his candidacy against at-large freshman Rep. Kevin Cramer (R). Sinner, through his father, has statewide name identification, which makes him a stronger than average challenger. North Dakota, however, continues to move right and defeating a GOP incumbent is becoming a tall order particularly in a lower turnout midterm election. Mr. Sinner is likely one of the stronger candidates the Democrats could recruit, but Rep. Cramer remains a solid favorite for re-election.

PA-6: With the open seat of retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) drawing only three candidates, the field even became smaller this week. In spite of attracting strong support among Democratic Party insiders, businessman Mike Parrish, who recently joined the Democrats after previously voting as a Republican, ended his congressional campaign and endorsed 2010 and ’12 party nominee Manan Trivedi. The Republicans have coalesced around Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello. The 6th District’s marginal nature makes this a competitive general election.

Governor

Colorado: Public Policy Polling (3/13-16; 568 CO registered voters) tested the Centennial State Governor’s race and finds incumbent John Hickenlooper’s (D) political fortunes have greatly improved. According to the latest results the Governor leads all GOP contenders, including former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO-7) the 2006 GOP gubernatorial nominee, by margins of at least ten percentage points. Beauprez, trailing 38-48%, is the strongest Republican contender. Gov. Hickenlooper enjoys his most formidable lead, 49-32%, over former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp. Paired with ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO-6), the Governor’s margin is 50-36%.

Illinois: As expected, businessman Bruce Rauner won the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but in a much closer result than anticipated. Rauner topped state Sen. Kirk Dillard with only a 40-37% margin. 2010 gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady finished a distant third with 15% of the vote. Scandal-tainted state Treasurer Dan Rutherford was a distant fourth with seven percent. Mr. Rauner will face vulnerable Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in a general election campaign that promises to be highly competitive despite the state’s Democratic nature.

Massachusetts: The MassInc polling organization, in conjunction with WBUR-TV in Boston (PBS), conducted a new survey (3/14-16; 500 MA likely voters; 237 Democratic primary voters) of the state’s open Governor’s race. The results post Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) to be in relatively strong political position. She easy bests state Treasurer Steve Grossman in the Democratic primary (45-14%), and leads presumptive Republican nominee Charlie Baker, 41-26%.

Michigan: Competing sureys were taken in early March but just publicly released this week. Public Opinion Strategies (3/2-4; 500 MI likely voters) finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7) by a 45-36% count. The Benenson Strategy Group, in a survey for the Schauer campaign (3/4-7; 600 MI registered voters), detects a much closer split between the two candidates but detects the same level of support for the Governor. According to Benenson, Mr. Snyder holds a 45-42% edge.