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Period Ending May 9, 2014

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

Senate

Alaska: A new poll was released in the important Alaska Senate race that concentrated mostly on the August Republican primary. According to Moore Information (4/27-28; 500 AK registered voters; non-disclosed number of Republican primary voters), from an internal campaign poll for former Attorney General and Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan, the principal leads his two GOP opponents, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former 2010 Senatorial nominee Joe Miller 38-22-12%, respectively. In the general election, Mr. Sullivan trails incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D), 42-44%.

Georgia: Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) released her own Rosetta Stone Communications survey (5/6; 729 GA Republican primary voters) that confirms the previous Insider Advantage poll. Both studies post businessman David Purdue to be in first place, closely ahead of Ms. Handel. The three Congressmen, Reps. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), Paul Broun (R-GA-10), and Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) follow in respective order. All five candidates are still within range to make the run-off election. The primary is fast approaching on May 20th.

Louisiana: The Southern Media Opinion Research firm released its annual spring poll (4/28-30; 600 LA registered voters) and it reports bad news for incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). The study posts the Senator to only a 36-35% lead over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6), with retired USAF officer Rob Maness registering 7%, and state Rep. Paul Hollis (R) posting four percent. The Senator’s job approval rating dropped to its lowest level since SMOR began polling, 39:58% positive to negative.

Nebraska: NSON Opinion Strategy for the Tea Party Express (4/16-20; 400 NE Republican primary voters) surveyed the upcoming May 13th Republican primary for the state’s open US Senate race. According to NSON, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn maintains a shrinking lead over Midland University President, and Tea Party favorite, Ben Sasse, and banker Sid Dinsdale, 29-27-13%. Dinsdale, delving into his own substantial wealth, is dropping almost $1 million into advertising in the campaign’s final stretch. Sen. Mike Johanns (R) is retiring. The Republican nominee will be the prohibitive favorite for the general election.

North Carolina Primary: Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis won the GOP Senate nomination outright, with a 46-27-15% victory over physician Greg Brannon and Charlotte pastor Mark Harris. All other candidates finished in single-digits. Under NC election law, a candidate is nominated if he or she reaches the 40% plateau. Sen. Kay Hagan (D) scored a 77% victory in her primary against minor opponents. The Hagan-Tillis race now becomes one of the most important Senate campaigns in the country and is a must-win contest for both parties.

South Dakota: Consensus Democratic candidate Rick Weiland released the results of his internal Public Policy Polling survey (4/30-5/1; 745 SD registered voters). The data forecasts a very low decided factor within the polling sample, which is abnormal when one of the candidates, former two-term Gov. Mike Rounds (R), is universally known. The PPP Weiland data projects the former Governor to only a 38-28% lead over the future Democratic nominee. The South Dakota primary is June 3rd, but Rounds and Weiland both have little intra-party opposition.

House

AR-2: Hendrix College/Talk Business, as they often do, conducted a new set of political surveys (4/29; 360 registered Republican voters via an interactive voice response system). In the open 2nd Congressional District Republican primary, banker French Hill is staked to a commanding 59-14-7% advantage over Iraq vet Conrad Reynolds and state Rep. Ann Clemmer. The eventual Republican nominee will face consensus Democratic candidate Patrick Hays, the mayor of North Little Rock. The Arkansas primary is scheduled for May 20th. If no candidate exceeds 50%, the top two finishers will advance to a June 24th run-off election. The GOP nominee will be favored to hold the seat being vacated by sophomore Rep. Tim Griffin (R), who is running for Lt. Governor.

AR-4: Hendrix College Talk Business (4/29; 392 registered Republican voters via an interactive voice response system) also surveyed the open 4th District. Here, despite being on the short end of the fundraising race, state House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman enjoys a huge 47-10% Republican primary lead over energy executive Tommy Moll. The winner faces former Clinton Administration official James Lee Witt, who is the consensus Democratic nominee. The district is open because freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R) is challenging Sen. Mark Pryor (D). A competitive general election is forecast.

FL-13: As special election winner David Jolly (R) prepares to seek a full term in the House, Democrats settled upon a candidate to oppose him as candidate filing closed. Ed Jany is a former military officer who exited the Republican Party just a few months ago. He does not reside in the 13th District, and he may not be a member of the Democratic Party long enough to even be an eligible candidate. Therefore, expect a legal battle over ballot access or Jany running as an Independent candidate. In all, Rep. Jolly now becomes a heavy favorite for November, and all signs suggest he will be successfully elected to a full term from this politically marginal Tampa Bay congressional district.

FL-26: In 2012, then-Rep. David Rivera (R) was defeated for re-election due to multiple campaign finance and other related scandals. As filing closed for 2014, Rivera surprisingly filed his candidacy papers. It’s unclear how his entry will affect the primary. Several Republicans have been running for months, including the favorite to win the nomination, Miami-Dade County School Board member Carlos Curbelo. This seat is in play for the Republicans, assuming Rivera does not become the party nominee. Rep. Joe Garcia (D) seeks a second term.

IN Primary Results: With no Governor or Senate race on the Indiana ballot, the House races dominated the May 6th primary. In all, six of the state’s nine congressional incumbents, each of whom are seeking re-election, faced primary opposition. All six were easily re-nominated. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN-4) was the low winner, even while notching a strong 71 percent. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN-7) recorded the highest percentage of any challenged incumbent, garnering 89% of the vote in his contest against three Democratic opponents.

MI-13: It appears that the controversy surrounding Rep. John Conyers’ (D) ballot petitions continues. According to the Wayne County Clerk, the Congressman does not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the 2014 ballot. Mr. Conyers campaign spokesman says they will contest the clerk’s decision. If the ruling stands, Conyers would still be able to run a write-in campaign, or access the general election ballot as an Independent. The Congressman, first elected in 1964, will become the Dean of the House if he is re-elected. Democratic pastor Horace Sheffield III is challenging him. This is a developing story.

NC Primary Results: All incumbents of both parties were re-nominated. Six of the ten House members seeking re-election faced primary opponents. The low winner was Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-NC-3), getting only 51% against two Republican challengers. The high vote getter was Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), who attracted 81% opposite one Democratic opponent.

Three seats are open in North Carolina. In two, party voters virtually annointed the new House member. In the open 7th District, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) retiring, 2012 Republican nominee and former state Sen. David Rouzer scored a 53-40% win over New Hanover Commissioner Woody White. Without McIntyre on the ballot, Mr. Rouzer is now a cinch to win the general election against what should be minor opposition. In the vacant 12th District, Charlotte state Rep. Alma Adams scored a 44% victory against five Democratic opponents. She will succeed former Rep. Mel Watt (D), who resigned to accept a federal appointment from President Obama. Ms. Adams will also win the special election, held concurrently with the November 4th general election, and then serve the balance of the current term. In the 6th District open seat – Rep. Howard Coble (R) retiring – a July 15th Republican run-off election will occur between Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. and Baptist pastor Mark Walker. The run-off winner takes the safely Republican seat in November.

One race remains undecided. In the 2nd District, for the right to oppose Rep. Ellmers, singer Clay Aiken holds just a 369-vote lead over businessman Keith Crisco in the Democratic primary. Since the first place finisher will break 40%, the final canvass will determine the official Democratic nominee.

OH Primary Results: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) turned back three under-funded Republican challengers to win renomination in his local district with 69% of the vote. Other incumbents facing intra-party competition were also victorious. Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH-10), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), David Joyce (R-OH-14), and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) all scored victories. The closest winner was Rep. Joyce, garnering 55% of the vote. Mr. Stivers recorded the biggest landslide total, 90 percent. Gov. John Kasich was unopposed in the Republican primary. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald easily won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Ohio has no Senate race in 2014.

WV-3: Veteran Rep. Nick Rahall (D), after seeing several polls project him to be trailing state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R), finds that a Sheet Metal, Air, and Transportation Workers Union DFM Research survey (4/22; 400 WV-3 registered voters) puts him well ahead of his Republican challenger. According to this data, the Congressman holds a 48-39% advantage despite President Obama registering a terrible 24:71% favorable to unfavorable job approval ratio.

Governor

Iowa: After several polls began detecting weakness in Gov. Terry Branstad’s (R) re-election numbers, a new Victory Enterprises survey (4/30-5/1; 400 IA registered voters) reverses the trend. The VE data gives the Governor a 48-33% lead over state Sen. Jack Hatch (D), which is consistent with earlier polling results.

Maine: Portland-based Critical Insights released the results of its latest study of the Maine electorate (4/16-23; 601 ME registered voters) and, like every other pollster who has tested the race, finds a very close three-way campaign. According to these results, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) leads Gov. Paul LePage (R) by a single point, 37-36%. Independent attorney Eliot Cutler is significantly behind with 18 percent. Four years ago, LePage won a similar three-way election, topping Cutler 38-36% with Democrat Libby Mitchell only garnering 19 percent of the vote.