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Period Ending June 28, 2013

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

Senate

Massachusetts: As expected Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) won the June 25th special election against businessman Gabriel Gomez (R) by a 55-45% count. More than 1.17 million people cast ballots in the election, approximately 27% of the registered voters, which is a relatively good participation rate for such an election. Mr. Markey becomes the longest-serving House member to win a Senate election in US history (36 years). He will soon be sworn into office, and is eligible to run for a full six-year term in November of 2014. He replaces Secretary of State John Kerry (D) who left the Senate to assume his current position. Sen. Mo Cowan (D) has been serving as an interim appointment.

Montana: Public Policy Polling (6/21-23; 807 MT registered voters) conducted a survey of the Montana state electorate and found that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), who has not yet decided whether to run, no longer enjoys a commanding lead in the battle to replace retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D). According to the data should Republican former Gov. Marc Racicot run for the Senate, he would lead Schweitzer by a single point, 47-46%. Mr. Schweitzer still enjoys a relatively strong personal approval rating, 54:40% positive to negative. Mr. Racicot's index is 43:37%. The former two-term Montana Democratic chief executive would also lead Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT-AL), but only through a 48-45% spread. Should Schweitzer decide not to run, this seat would then lead to a major Republican conversion opportunity.

New Jersey: Kean University polled the New Jersey electorate on June 18th (1,000 NJ likely voters), and also found Newark Mayor Cory Booker commanding the campaign as the special election begins to formulate. According to the figures released about the Democratic primary, Booker places first with a near-majority 49%. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12) and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver are tied for second with 9% apiece. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) trails the pack with just 6% support.

House

Voting Rights Act: The US Supreme Court ruled in the Shelby County (AL) plaintiffs favor, and struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act earlier this week. The decision effectively eliminates the Department of Justice's ability to preclear state enacted election laws from jurisdictions under VRA supervision. Because live redistricting litigation is currently ongoing in Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona, major action such as the redrawing of congressional lines for the 2014 election is a possibility. Because DoJ no longer has the power to stay state election laws, all of the statutes previously denied preclearance, such as the voter ID laws over which the Department has denied constitutional enforcement, are now in effect. The ruling sent the formula for determining whether a jurisdiction is to fall under the VRA supervision back to Congress for revision. The current law, authorized for an additional 25 years back in 2006, still uses the 1972 presidential election, and 1968 and '64 prior to that, as the triggering mechanism.

IA-2: State Rep. Mark Lofgren (R) announced that he will challenge four-term Rep. David Loebsack (D) next year. Former two-time Republican nominee Marianette Miller-Meeks says she is considering another bid, too. President Obama scored 56% in this district during the 2012 election. The seat encompasses southeastern Iowa, including the cities of Davenport, Bettendorf, Iowa City, Burlington, and Ottumwa. The Congressman's re-election winning percentages are 55, 50, and 55% in 2012, '10, and '08, respectively. The 2010 and '08 campaigns were run against Miller-Meeks. Loebsack is the clear favorite for re-election, but the district could potentially become competitive.

MA-5: The election of Rep. Ed Markey (D) to the Senate will force a special election to succeed him in the House later this year. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will schedule the vacancy vote as soon as Mr. Markey resigns his House seat to officially become a Senator. In anticipation of a Markey victory and an impending special election, several Democrats have already been running for weeks. Three state Senators: Katherine Clark, Karen Spilka, and Will Brownsberger have declared their candidacies. So has state Rep. Carl Sciortino and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian. MA-5 is a heavily Democratic seat, so the special primary will determine who is Mr. Markey congressional successor.

New York City Mayor: Two days after NBC/Marist released a poll of the New York Mayor's race that featured former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) forging into the lead over City Council President Christine Quinn in the 2013 Democratic primary, a new survey shows a much different result. Quinnipiac University (6/19-25; 1,238 NYC registered voters) gives Quinn a very tight 19-17-16-10% lead over Weiner, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, and City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, respectively. The primary elections are scheduled for September 10th. Though the two polls have Quinn and Weiner flip-flopping, both consistently detect surging movement for Mr. Thompson.

Governor

Illinois: State Sen. Bill Brady (R), who came within less than a percentage point of unseating Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in 2010, announced that he will return for a second try in 2014. Brady will have to first get by state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who he outlasted in 2010, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and investor Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary. Gov. Quinn will face a Democratic primary battle against former US Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and probably Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The Illinois Governor's race is shaping up to be one of the most interesting of the 2014 cycle, at least in the early going.

Maine: On the heels of Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) announcing the formation of a gubernatorial exploratory committee, Clarity Campaigns went into the field (6/22-24; 628 ME registered voters) to test the statewide campaign. According to the data, Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Michaud are tied at the 32% support level, and Independent attorney Eliot Culter, who placed a close second in 2010, drops back to 24%.

Minnesota: Both former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers and state Sen. Dave Thompson announced entries into the statewide Republican primary with the intent of facing Gov. Mark Dayton (D) in the general election. Dayton, a former US Senator who won the 2010 election by only 8,770 votes of more than 2.1 million cast, appears in solid shape for re-election. Other Republicans, in addition to Zellers, Thompson, and previously announced candidates Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, and local businessman Scott Honour, are expected to soon join the race.

Ohio: Quinnipiac University (6/18-23; 941 OH registered voters) tested the Ohio Governor's race and found that first-term Gov. John Kasich (R) is continuing to gain strength. His job approval rating stands at a high of 54:32% favorable to unfavorable. Against announced candidate Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive, Gov. Kasich leads 47-33%. If former Attorney General Richard Cordray were to be the Democratic nominee, and he has yet to enter the race, Kasich's margin becomes a similar 47-36%.

South Carolina: Gov. Nikki Haley (R), lagging in popularity and facing a difficult re-match election battle with state Sen. Vincent Shaheen (D), told the Florence (SC) Morning News that she is not yet fully committed to running for re-election. She says running again may make it too difficult on her family. The Governor has young children and her husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan. Considering Ms. Haley's current political standing, the Republicans might be stronger with a different candidate.