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Period Ending April 24, 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 (D): CNN/ORC, International (4/16-19; 1,018 adults) staked the former Secretary of State and First Lady to major leads over Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR). Her largest lead among the four is over Huckabee (58-37%), while the closest spread is against Rubio (55-41%). But, sampling “adults” rather than limiting the respondent pool to registered voters, and seeing that the party preference factor skews hard toward the Independents, casts dispersions upon the poll’s reliability. These results should be considered intangible.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R): Responding to a comment from former California Senate candidate and Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina saying she is “90% certain” that she will run for President, Sen. Graham stated on a Fox News program that he is now “91% certain” he will run. Neither Graham nor Fiorina are expected to be major factors in the race, but the Senator could be a force in his home state of South Carolina, which hosts the fourth nominating event and has been a defining state in several nomination campaigns.

Mike Huckabee (R): Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced that he will formally declare for President early next month. Mr. Huckabee stated on television that he will enter the presidential campaign in a May 5th event in Hope, AR. Coincidentally, Hope is also the birthplace of former President Bill Clinton.

Gov. John Kasich (R): Recently, Ohio Gov. Kasich has been clearly moving toward running for President, and this week launched an exploratory committee entitled, “A New Day for America.” Gov. Kasich won a huge 64% re-election in 2014, and had previously served nine terms in the US House. He ran unsuccessfully for President in 2000. Now a two-term Governor from one of the most important swing states on the Republican map, Gov. Kasich has to be considered a major national candidate.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R): A new Quinnipiac University poll (4/16-21; 1,323 registered voters; 567 Republican primary voters; 569 Democratic primary voters) places Sen. Rubio in first place among fourteen Republican prospective presidential contenders, but with only 15% support. Clearly, reveling in the positive reviews from his announcement event, the Senator must now demonstrate staying power as a top tier contender. Closely following Rubio was Jeb Bush at 13%, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) with 11%, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) posting nine percent. The remaining ten potential candidates were all in lower single-digits.

Senate

Florida: The list of Republican potential hopefuls in the coming contest to replace Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is now smaller by at least one individual. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL-17) will not take the statewide plunge in 2016, saying he will seek re-election to his House seat. He may well become a Senate candidate in 2018, however, when Sen. Bill Nelson (D) stands for re-election. Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted a Florida Senate survey (4/14-16; 400 FL Democratic primary voters; 400 FL Republican primary voters) and finds Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) leading Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) by a 23-14% count. This, despite the fact that Grayson’s name ID is nine points higher.

On the Republican side, former Attorney General and Congressman Bill McCollum’s name was added to the list of candidates, and he soared to the top. According to the M-D results, McCollum leads the field with 20% followed by Pinellas County Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) at 8% and Sarasota Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16) attracting 7% support. Rep. Rooney is next with 5%, before announcing he is not running, and Daytona Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6) follows at 4% preference, tied with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Former interim Sen. George LeMieux and state Sen. Don Gaetz trail with 3 and 1%, respectively.

Indiana: One more potential Republican Senate contender, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN-5), officially removed her name from further consideration for the open statewide position. Rep. Brooks will seek a third term in the House. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3) is the most likely member of the congressional delegation to run, and observers are expecting him to announce in early May.

Pennsylvania: Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D) officially entered the Senate Democratic primary, and will do battle with former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7). State and national Democratic leaders have been clear in expressing their desire for an alternative to Sestak, a situation where both the party honchos and candidate admit relations are poor. Whether Pawlowski is their man may be another story. Most want Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro to enter the race. For a time Pawlowski was a 2014 gubernatorial candidate, but fared so poorly in the early stages that he withdrew before the candidate filing deadline. Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is seeking a second term.

West Virginia: Surprising many because he was making clear overtures that he would enter the gubernatorial campaign, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) declined to do so. Instead he not only announced that he will by-pass the Governor’s race and remain in the Senate, but will seek re-election in 2018. The move helps Democratic prospects of regaining the Senate majority. Should Manchin have run for, and been elected Governor, it is likely a new law would have forced a special election to fill his Senate vacancy. Republicans would have been heavily favored to convert the seat, meaning re-taking the majority would have required one additional seat.

House

IL-12: Freshman Rep. Mike Bost (R) has an official challenger. Democratic attorney C.J. Baricevic (D) announced that he will run next year in the southwestern Illinois congressional district. Baricevic has not run for public office, but his father was a prominent local official, and the name is known in parts of the district. Mr. Bost unseated first-term Rep. Bill Enyart (D) in 2014.

IL-18: Candidate filing closed in the special election to replace resigned Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria). It appears state Sen. Darin LaHood (R), son of former Congressman and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (R), is the prohibitive favorite against a weak field of candidates. In the Republican primary, LaHood faces a political consultant and a former Corrections Department employee. Since the seat is heavily Republican, once winning the nomination, LaHood should have little trouble dispensing of either Springfield School Board member Adam Lopez or teacher Rob Mellon. The primary is scheduled for July 7th, with the special general slated for September 10th.

KS-1: Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R), who continues a public feud with his own House leadership, has drawn another primary challenge. Physician Roger Marshall will enter the 2016 Republican congressional primary. It remains to be seen if Marshall can mount a serious challenge. There will probably be others who also join the race. The greater the number of candidates, the easier it will be for incumbent Huelskamp to win re-nomination.

NV-4: Former state Assemblywoman and Lt. Governor nominee Lucy Flores (D) announced that she will enter the Democratic primary in hope of challenging freshman Rep. Cresent Hardy (R). Flores, in the 2014 Lt. Governor’s contest, lost badly, 34-59% to state Sen. Mark Hutchison (R). As a youth, Ms. Flores admits to being a gang member who spent time in Juvenile Hall. She talks about her teen years as an example to others of turning one’s life to the positive. The 4th District should be a Democratic seat, but Mr. Hardy upset then-Rep. Steven Horsford last November. Already in the Democratic primary is state Sen. Ruben Kihuen. This race will be a top national Democratic target.

NC-2: Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) has already drawn two 2016 Republican primary challengers. Frank Roche, the radio talk show host who held Ellmers to a 59% win despite spending only $55,000 on his campaign, will return for a re-match. Chatham County Republican Party chairman Jim Duncan, viewed as a much stronger opponent, also announced his candidacy.

North Carolina Redistricting: The US Supreme Court, in a ruling similar to their recent directive on the Alabama state legislative plan that said African Americans were packed into too few districts, struck down the North Carolina congressional plan and remanded the map to a lower court for further consideration. It is unclear how the map will change, if at all, for the 2016 election.

Governor

West Virginia: Without Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D), the open seat contest becomes a free-for-all. Both sides have several potentially strong candidates waiting in the wings. For the Democrats, state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and US Attorney Booth Goodwin are all possible contenders. Kessler has already announced his intention to run. On the Republican side, look to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, US Rep. David McKinley (R-WV-1), and state Senate President Bill Cole as possible entrants into the statewide contest.