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Period Ending June 14, 2013

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

Senate

Iowa: Selzer & Company, polling for the Des Moines Register newspaper (6/2-5; 809 adults; 591 IA likely voters) surveyed the fledging US Senator's race. Their findings produce no surprise. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) has the highest name identification of any candidate and a 29:14% positive to negative favorability index. Recently announced Republican contender Matt Whitaker, a former US Attorney, scores 10:8% positive to negative. David Young, former chief of staff to senior Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), registers 17:9%. The ballot was not tested in this survey, most likely because the undecided response from those in the sampling universe would be extremely high considering the candidates' aggregate low name recognition.

Massachusetts: Both special Senate election candidates, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) and investor Gabriel Gomez (R), are advertising heavily and supported with major ad buys from their respective political parties. Two polls were released this week. The first, from McLaughlin & Associates, a Republican survey research firm (6/4-5; 400 MA likely voters), gives Democrat Markey only a one-point, 45-44%, lead over Republican Gomez. MassINC, polling for National Public Radio station WBUR (6/6-9; 500 MA likely voters) posts the suburban Boston Congressman to a 46-39% advantage. The latter numbers are more consistent with other findings. The special election is scheduled for June 25th.

Michigan: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) has scheduled a news conference for Friday to announce his plans vis-à-vis the state's open US Senate race. All signs point to Mr. Rogers not running statewide. Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is an announced Republican candidate. Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) is fast becoming the consensus Democratic nominee.

New Jersey: The candidates have met the deadline for submitting their qualifying signature petitions for the August 13th special primary election and it appears that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-9) and Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver will comprise the Democratic field. Only two Republicans filed. Those seeking the GOP nomination are former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and physician Alieta Eck. Both Quinnipiac University (6/7-9) and Rutgers-Eagleton (6/3-9) jumped quickly into the field to test the special Democratic primary, but each employed very small sampling universes (Q-Poll: 306 registered Democrats; R-E: 364). Both surveys project Mayor Booker to be in the mid-50s, while Reps. Pallone and Holt are each hovering around 10%. Ms. Oliver was not included in either poll.

South Dakota: Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD-AL) confirmed that she will not challenge former Gov. Mike Rounds for the Republican Senatorial nomination next year. Speculation abounded that she would enter the race, but the Congresswoman never gave any true indication that she was actively pursuing a Senate campaign. Ms. Noem says she plans to seek re-election to her current position in the US House.

House

IL-17: Former Rep. Bobby Schilling (R), who won this seat in 2010 but lost his re-election bid to current Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) two years later, says he is seriously considering running again in 2014. He cites the lower mid-term turnout model as a factor that will play to his favor in addition to not having favorite son Barack Obama head the Democratic ticket. Bustos won the 2012 election 53-47%. Mr. Obama scored 57.6% in District 17.

MN-6: Former state Representative Tom Emmer, the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee who held current Gov. Mark Dayton (D) to a 43.6 to 43.2% victory margin, will become a 2014 congressional candidate. Also jumping into the 6th District race is Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah (R). Environmental activist Judy Adams is running on the Democratic (Democratic Farm Labor Party in Minnesota) side. The eventual GOP nominee will be in strong position to succeed retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann (R). Minnesota usually selects their nominees through a caucus process. It is possible to force a post-caucus primary, but such rarely happens. Mr. Emmer is viewed as the early favorite to keep the seat in Republican hands.

PA-12: It's quite possible we've not heard the last from former Rep. Mark Critz (D). Though defeated in the post-redistricting 12th District general election after winning a tough nomination campaign against then-Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA-4), Critz was in Washington this week to discuss a possible comeback bid with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) officials. He is also reportedly mulling over a race for Lt. Governor. Mr. Critz lost to freshman Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) 48-52% last November. He succeeded his former boss in Congress, veteran Rep. John Murtha (D-PA-12), with a special election victory upon the latter's death in 2010. He was then elected to a full term later that year.

WV-3: State Sen. Bill Cole (R) says he will not challenge veteran Rep. Nick Rahall (D) in 2014. Mr. Rahall has been in Congress since 1977, but has recently seen his southern West Virginia district turn decidedly more Republican (Obama '12: 32.8%). Former state Delegate Rick Snuffer (R), who held Rahall to a 54-46% victory margin in 2012, is considering seeking a re-match.

Governor

Illinois: Former US Commerce Secretary and Obama chief of staff Bill Daley (D) this week announced the formation of a gubernatorial exploratory committee for purposes of challenging incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn in next year's early March Democratic primary. Daley is the son of legendary former Mayor Richard J. Daley, and the brother of ex-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is also expected to join the nomination contest, but has yet to do so. Quinn possesses low approval ratings, among the worst of any Governor. The race is likely to feature hotly contested Democratic and Republican primary battles along with a competitive general election campaign.

Iowa: The aforementioned Selzer & Company poll also surveyed the Governor's race. They find that Gov. Terry Branstad (R), who will likely be seeking an unprecedented sixth non-consecutive term, is in strong standing for re-election. His job approval index registers 58:32% favorable to unfavorable. On the ballot test, Mr. Branstad leads state Sen. Jack Hatch (D) 55-27%.

Maine: Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) took a major step toward entering the 2014 Governor's race. He formed an exploratory committee and produced a video announcing the effort. Remember that Michaud jumped into the 2012 Senate race, but quickly withdrew when it became apparent that former Gov. Angus King (I) was fast becoming a consensus candidate. The Maine Governor's race, similar to what occurred in 2010, will likely be a three-way contest. Republican Paul LePage placed first that year with only 37.5% because of the strength of Independent candidate Eliot Cutler who finished second with 36%. Democrat Libby Mitchell was third capturing only 19%. Cutler has already announced that he will run again. Michaud's entrance in the race will add another dynamic. Such a setup, however, plays well for Gov. LePage. Representing the minority party, he fares much better in a multi-candidate race. Since Michaud has attempted to run statewide before only to pull back, his action of forming an exploratory committee must be taken at face value. It is not a certainty that he will actually enter the race come candidate filing time.

Massachusetts: The aforementioned MassINC poll (see MA-Senate above) also tested potential gubernatorial contenders for the 2014 open race. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is not seeking re-election. Former Sen. Scott Brown (R), defeated for re-election in 2012 and presently confirming that he is considering running for the Senate from neighboring New Hampshire, again fares best among all candidates of either party. Mr. Brown leads state Treasurer Steve Grossman (D), a likely gubernatorial contender, 55-26%. Against Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-7), a possible candidate, Brown’s advantage is 45-33%. His margin drops to only 42-41% against former Rep. Joe Kennedy II (D-MA-8), but the ex-Congressman is not likely to enter the contest. Should Brown not run, all three Democrats lead the two other tested Republican prospects - former 2010 nominee Charlie Baker and ex-state Senator and congressional candidate Richard Tisei – in all scenarios.

Pennsylvania: Things continue to trend downward for Gov. Tom Corbett (R). Quinnipiac University (5/30-6/4; 1,032 PA registered voters; 460 Democratic primary voters) again finds the Governor's job approval in upside down territory. His index registers 35:48% favorable to unfavorable. In pairings, Corbett trails both Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) and state Treasurer Rob McCord. Ms. Schwartz leads the incumbent 45-35%, while Mr. McCord is ahead 43-35%. In the Democratic primary, Schwartz leads with 18%, attorney Kathleen McGinty is second at 5%, and McCord registers only 4%.

Virginia: Rasmussen Reports released their first poll of the Virginia Governor's race (6/5-6; 1,000 VA likely voters) and finds former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in similar standing to the other pollsters. The RR numbers give McAuliffe a 44-41% edge. Democrats held their primary election this week and nominated Norfolk/Virginia Beach area state Senator Ralph Northam for Lt. Governor to oppose Republican E.W. Jackson, and state Sen. Mark Herring of Leesburg will face his Republican colleague Mark Obenshain for Attorney General. Mr. McAuliffe was unopposed for the gubernatorial nomination.

Wisconsin: Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) basically made official what most political observers have surmised for weeks: he won't challenge Gov. Scott Walker (R) next year. After winning the heated re-call election in early 2012, Walker's standing is strong to the point that no Democrats have yet to file against him.