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Period Ending April 18, 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 delegates comprising the Colorado Republican Assembly officially chose Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO-4) as the GOP US Senate nominee. The Congressman attracted 73% of the delegate vote, thus keeping his Republican opponents below 30% of the vote. To win a place on the June 24th primary ballot, a candidate must secure 30% of the convention vote. Candidates may also petition onto the ballot by obtaining the signatures of 1,500 legally registered voters in each of the state’s seven congressional districts. Since no one submitted petition signatures and because he exceeded the requisite number of convention delegate votes, Rep. Gardner becomes the party standard bearer without going through a primary election. Mr. Gardner will now challenge first-term Sen. Mark Udall (D) in November.

Iowa: A new poll from Dubuque’s Loras College testing the Senate Republican primary (4/7-8; 600 IA registered Republican voters) was just released. Consistent with other pollsters, the Loras numbers show former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs leading state Sen. Joni Ernst by the slimmest of margins, 19-18%. Trailing much farther behind are radio talk show host Sam Clovis (7%) and ex-US Attorney Matt Whitaker (4%). The Iowa primary is June 3rd. If no candidate exceeds 35%, a statewide Republican convention will be convened to determine the official nominee. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) is the consensus Democratic candidate.

Kansas: Outgoing Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius (D) is not quelling speculation that she is considering challenging veteran Sen. Pat Roberts (R) this year. The proposed campaign will not likely happen, however, because Sebelius’ early approval and ballot test numbers are poor and Kansas is one of the strongest Republican states in the country.

Michigan: Two conflicting polls were released during the week pertaining to the Michigan Senate race. The first, from Public Policy Polling for MoveOn.org (4/3-6; 825 MI registered voters) gives Democratic Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) a 41-36% edge over former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R). The second survey, from Mitchell Research & Communications for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (4/9; 1,460 MI registered voters) derives the exact opposite conclusion. According to Mitchell, it is Ms. Land who holds a 44-38% advantage.

New Hampshire: Two polls were also released for the budding Granite State race between incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and ex-Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). Public Policy Polling, for the League of Conservation Voters (4/7-8; 1,034 NH registered voters), detects incumbent Shaheen to be leading 49-41%. The University of New Hampshire, known only for their semi-reliable prognostications, finds a closer contest. According to their survey (4/1-9; 387 NH registered voters), Ms. Shaheen’s advantage is a lesser 45-39%.

House

Colorado House Pairings: With the party state assemblies now complete and the candidate petition signature qualifying deadline having passed, all seven congressional districts have official candidates. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO-1) and Jared Polis (D-CO-2) again became official nominees in their respective districts and face only token general election opposition. Both will glide to another re-election. Republican Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO-3) will face a surprising primary challenge from farmer David Cox. The latter surprisingly attracted 34% of the convention vote, thus earning him a position on the primary ballot. Former state Lottery Director Abel Tapia is the new Democratic nominee. Rep. Douglas Lamborn (R-CO-5) again faces a primary challenge from retired Air Force Major General Bentley Rayburn. The General has twice before run for the House seat. He received 37% of the convention delegate vote.

The premier general election contest will be in the Denver suburban 6th District where former state House Speaker and Senatorial candidate Andrew Romanoff (D) is challenging three-term Rep. Mike Coffman (R). Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7) draws former state Republican Party Vice-Chairman Don Ytterberg in what should be an easy race for the incumbent. The major open seat race will be in eastern Colorado’s 4th District, the seat Rep. Cory Gardner is vacating to run for the Senate. Two Republicans, Weld County District Attorney and former US Senate candidate Ken Buck and state Sen. Scott Renfroe, qualified for the ballot at the state Assembly. Two others, Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer and former Cranston, RI mayor Steve Laffey qualified through the petition process. The winner, who becomes the prohibitive favorite in November from this strongly Republican seat, faces correctional officer Vic Meyers (D).

FL-13: Alex Sink (D), the former Florida Chief Financial Officer and 2010 gubernatorial nominee who surprisingly lost a March 11th congressional special vote to lobbyist David Jolly (R), announced that she will not seek a re-match in this year’s regular election. Candidate filing closes on May 2nd, so prospective Democratic candidates will now make their moves to enter the race in light of Ms. Sink stepping aside.

LA-5: Former Grant Parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley (R) became the first individual to announce an official challenge to scandal-tainted Congressman Vance McAllister (R). Mr. Tarpley will join the jungle primary that runs concurrently with the general election. If no one scores an outright majority in the November 4th vote, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to a December 6th run-off election.

MI-8: While Democrats were unsuccessful in recruiting Ingham County Clerk Barbara Byrum into the open seat race, they did convince Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing (D) to announce his candidacy. The Lansing-anchored seat leans Republican. Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett are the Republican candidates. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R) is retiring.

MN-6: Republican Tom Emmer, the party’s 2010 gubernatorial nominee who lost a close election to Democrat Mark Dayton, was endorsed for the open 6th Congressional District seat at the Republican state convention. He strives to replace retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann (R). After the state delegates acted, the outgoing Congresswoman followed suit and made public her endorsement of Mr. Emmer.

NY-22: Candidate filing closed in New York during the past week, and Democrats surprisingly failed to field a candidate against two-term upstate Congressman Richard Hanna (R). The incumbent does not have a free ride, however. He faces a significant June 24th Republican primary challenge from state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney.

WI-6: Veteran Rep. Tom Petri (R), who ranks ninth in overall House seniority by virtue of his original special election victory in 1979, announced that he will not seek re-election in November. The decision means 44 House seats will be open, nationwide. Already in the race prior to Mr. Petri’s announcement was state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R). Once Mr. Petri stepped aside, state Assemblyman Duey Stroebel (R) became a candidate, as did former gubernatorial aide John Hiller (R). No Democrat has yet come forth. The seat is strongly Republican. Candidate filing for the August 12th primary closes on June 2nd.

Governor

Florida: Survey USA joined the research groups polling the Florida Governor’s race. In their first Sunshine State study for this election cycle (4/10-14; 502 FL registered voters), the firm finds ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D) leading incumbent Rick Scott (R) by a 46-41% clip. The results are commensurate with those of other pollsters.

Illinois: Rasmussen Reports (4/9-10; 750 IL registered voters) detects that businessman Bruce Rauner (R) has now assumed a small three-point advantage, 43-40%, over Gov. Pat Quinn (D). Rauner won the Republican primary in March. Mr. Quinn continues to poll as the most vulnerable Democratic Governor in the country.

Maine: Most surveys have given Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) a small but discernible lead over Gov. Paul LePage (R) in a three-way contest. A just-released Pan Atlantic SMS survey (3/31-4/6; 500 ME registered voters) reached a different conclusion. The group finds the Governor leading Michaud 39-37%, with Independent attorney Eliot Cutler garnering a respectable 20 percent. In 2010, LePage won a three-way race against Cutler and then-Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell. Another strong Independent performance in 2014 could yield yet another election victory for LePage, though Rep. Michaud is a considerably more formidable Democratic nominee than was Ms. Mitchell.

Michigan: The Mitchell Research & Communications group (see Michigan Senate above) also tested the state’s Governor’s race. Here they find incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder (R) taking a 49-37% lead over ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7). Most other pollsters have shown the campaign to be closer, but all agree the Governor holds the advantage.

Ohio: Polls have not been released in Ohio for weeks, but a new Public Policy Polling survey for the Ohio Democratic Party (4/14-15; 1,050 OH registered voters) finds Gov. John Kasich (R) and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) tied at 44%. The polls skews in favor of the Democratic nominee, but not to a great degree. In reality, Kasich may have a slight lead, but the marginal nature of the state alone suggests that this race will become highly competitive. Considering Kasich’s potential White House designs, this campaign will have national implications.

South Carolina: Recent polls have shown a tightening of the Governor’s campaign, but a new Rasmussen Reports survey (4/14-15; 750 SC registered voters) tells a different story. According to RR, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) enjoys a strong 52-37% advantage over state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D). The two met in 2010, with Ms. Haley winning a tight 51-47% victory.

Texas: Public Policy Polling (4/10-13; 559 TX registered voters) surveyed the open Governor’s campaign between Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth). Not surprisingly in this strongly Republican state, Abbott posts a 51-37% lead. Gov. Rick Perry (R), the state’s longest-serving chief executive with 14 years in office, is retiring.