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Period Ending April 4, 2014

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

Senate

Georgia: The open Senate race hit full stride this week in preparation for the May 20th primary. Landmark Consulting/Rosetta Stone (released 3/26; 600 GA registered voters), publicized the Senate result portion of their recent statewide poll. Featuring match-ups with the five major Republican candidates each paired with consensus Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn, it is businessman David Perdue who possesses the most favorable split. The data gives him a 38-33% lead over Ms. Nunn. The other contests are much tighter: the Democrat trails Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA-10) 38-40%; 38-39% when Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) is isolated against her; 37-38% opposite Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1); but leads former Secretary of State Karen Handel, 38-37%.

Hawaii: The Democratic primary contest between appointed Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) is already becoming contentious, and President Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just intensified the battle. Both men announced their public support of Sen. Schatz this week, suggesting the party leadership will actively promote the interim Senator’s election effort.

Mississippi: A new Rasmussen Reports poll (3/26-29; 750 MS registered voters) tests the Mississippi Senate general election for the first time since ex-Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS-1) filed as a Democratic candidate. It is widely believed that state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R) challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran (R) is the most serious of Republican intra-party contests; so paying serious attention to this race becomes prudent. According to the RR results, Sen. Cochran would lead Mr. Childers 48-31%. If Mr. McDaniel upends Cochran in the GOP primary, the general election would certainly be affected. This poll posts McDaniel to a smaller 47-35% advantage. Rasmussen did not test the Republican primary. Expect the Mississippi polling numbers to soon shown a wide variance.

New Jersey: Candidate filing ended in New Jersey, and newly-elected Sen. Cory Booker (D) appears to be a lock to win a full term in November. Four Republicans filed to compete for the nomination, including former GOP nominee (1978 and ’82) Jeff Bell, who unseated then-Sen. Clifford Case in a GOP nomination battle 36 years ago. Businessmen Rich Pezzullo, Brian Goldberg, and college professor Murray Sabrin round out the Republican field.

North Carolina: Survey USA conducted a poll of Tar Heel State voters (3/27-31; 1,489 NC registered voters) and found, as other polls have, that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) trails all of her virtually unknown Republican opponents. Her closest competitor is state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R). She trails him 45-46%. The candidate performing best against her is Charlotte mega-pastor Mark Harris (R) who leads 47-43%.

House

CO-3: After the Democrats were left without a candidate when Pueblo County Commissioner Buffie McFadyen (D) dropped her congressional challenge to Rep. Scott Tipton (R), they successfully recruit a replacement just as the state candidate filing deadline expired. Former state lottery commission director and state legislator Abel Tapia submitted his documents to run, so the party will field a credible candidate in what can perform as a swing western slope Colorado district.

MI-4: House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R) announced that he will not seek re-election later this year. Mr. Camp was originally elected in 1990. His district becomes the 43rd open seat in the country, and 25th that Republicans currently hold. The CD has a Republican voting history, so the eventual GOP nominee will have the advantage in the general election. The leading early contender appears to be state Sen. John Moolenaar of Midland, the central Michigan district’s largest population center. Several more current and former state legislators from both parties are weighing congressional bids. The Michigan candidate filing deadline is April 22nd.

MI-8: Staying in Michigan, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R) also announced his retirement. The Congressman, first elected in 2000, will begin hosting a new national radio program in 2015. This seat, though leaning Republican, could become competitive in the general election. The most serious early GOP contender is former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. For the Democrats, their 2010 gubernatorial nominee, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero who confirmed serious contemplation about entering the race, said as the week was drawing to a close that he would not run. Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk, former state legislator and daughter of ex-state Sen. Dianne Byrum (D), who Rep. Rogers beat by only 111 votes in 2000, is already preparing to launch her own congressional candidacy.

MI-11: Radio talk show host Nancy Skinner (D), who challenged then-Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI-9) in 2006 and scored 46% of the vote, says that she will enter the 11th District race this year. Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R) is fending off a strong primary challenge from businessman and attorney David Trott. The level of intra-party competition could yield a competitive general election contest, thus Skinner’s move may put her in a more favorable political position to score an upset. The eventual Republican nominee will be a distinct favorite, but this campaign could be one to watch post-primary.

WI-6: Veteran Rep. Tom Petri (R), who ranks ninth in overall House seniority (elected in a 1979 special election), will draw a primary challenge. Conservative state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) announced that he will challenge the long-time moderate incumbent in the state’s August 12th primary. State Assemblyman Duey Stroebel (R) is also publicly considering a run.

Governor

Georgia: A new Landmark Consulting/Rosetta Stone poll (released April 1st, but no report of sample size) confirms that Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is falling into a competitive contest with state Sen. Jason Carter (D), the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter (D). According to the data, Gov. Deal has only a 43-39% edge on the general election ballot test.

New Hampshire: Businessman Walter Havenstein (R) announced his gubernatorial challenge to first-term Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), the latter of whom enjoys very strong job approval ratings. Already in the race is GOP activist Andrew Hemingway. The Governor is the prohibitive favorite to secure a second term. New Hampshire is one of only two states to maintain two-year terms for their Governors. Neighboring Vermont is the other.

Pennsylvania: The new Franklin & Marshall College Poll (3/25-31; 524 PA Democratic primary voters) projects businessman Tom Wolf, who has been spending copiously on statewide televsion ads, to the top of the Democratic primary field. According to their data, the York area entrepreneur and former state Revenue Commissioner under former Gov. Ed Rendell (D), holds a 40-9-8-3% (including leaners) lead over Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13), state Treasurer Rob McCord, and former State Department of Environmental Protection director Kate McGinty, respectively. The findings also post Wolf to a huge 44:3% positive to negative personal favorability ratio. The winner of the May 20th Democratic primary will challenge Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in November. The Governor is widely seen as the nation’s most vulnerable GOP incumbent.

South Carolina: Candidate filing concluded in the Palmetto State, and Gov. Nikki Haley has drawn a Republican primary opponent. Attorney Tom Ervin (R) may prove himself a nuisance candidate, but the Governor will now likely have to expend campaign resources to secure re-nomination. Additionally, her re-match general election contest against 2010 nominee Vincent Sheheen, a state Senator, promises to be close irrespective of the state’s Republican voting history. Four years ago, the two battled to a 51-47% outcome. Gov. Haley has scored consistently low job approval ratings, making the general election campaign significantly competitive.