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Period Ending July 12, 2013

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

Senate

Colorado: Two Republican state Senators announced their US Senate candidacies in order to challenge first-term Sen. Mark Udall (D). Sens. Randy Baumgardner and Owen Hill, on successive days, announced that they will run statewide. Sen. Udall remains a heavy favorite for re-election.

Iowa: Public Policy Polling (7/5-7; 668 IA registered voters) tested the open US Senate race and found Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) to be leading both his announced Republican challengers. Against former US Attorney Matt Whitaker (R), Braley jumps out to a 43-34% lead. When paired with former Senate chief of staff (to Sen. Chuck Grassley) David Young, Mr. Braley's margin swells to 45-32%. Sen. Tom Harkin (D) is retiring.

New Jersey: Quinnipiac University took their turn surveying the NJ special Senatorial election (7/2-7; 1,068 NJ registered voters; 400 registered Democrats) and drew similar conclusions to the pollsters before them. In the all-important Democratic primary, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is again way out in front, posting a 49% support factor among respondents. In a distant second place is Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) with 10%, followed by fellow-Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12) with 8%, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver dropping to just 3%. The determinative special primary election is August 13th.

South Dakota: State Senate Majority Whip Larry Rhoden says he will challenge former Gov. Mike Rounds in the Republican Senatorial primary. Rounds has been running hard since the 2012 election concluded and is the prohibitive favorite for the GOP nomination and the seat. Democrats are so far fielding only former Senatorial staff member Rick Weiland.

House

AZ-1: Freshman state Rep. Adam Kwasman of Oro Valley, located just north of Tucson, announced that he will challenge Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D). The Congresswoman is only one of sixteen House members to score less than 50% of the vote last November, underscoring her potentially precarious political situation. Ms. Kirkpatrick was first elected in 2008, defeated in 2010, and rebounded to score a second term last November. This will be a highly competitive race in the fall of 2014. Other Republican contenders are expected to join the race.

AZ-2: Former Air Force officer Martha McSally (R) came within 2,454 votes of unseating then-freshman Rep. Ron Barber (D) last November in this Tucson metro area CD. Expected to return for a re-match, Ms. McSally this past week officially filed her new election committee with the Federal Election Commission.

CA-25: 2012 Democratic nominee Lee Rogers, who held House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon (R) to a 55-45% victory, formally announced his intention to run again in 2014. Retirement rumors continue to swirl around Mr. McKeon, but so far the Congressman has not revealed his plans for the next election.

FL-26: Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo (R) officially announced his congressional challenge to freshman Rep. Joe Garcia (D) in what is a marginally Republican district. Garcia, in his third attempt for a congressional seat, scored a 54-43% win over scandal-ridden Rep. David Rivera (R) last November. Curbelo joins two other announced candidates, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall and former Miami-Dade County Commission chairman Joe Martinez, but neither of the latter contenders has made any discernible move to organize a serious campaign. This race is projected to host heavy competition.

IL-17: Former Rep. Bobby Schilling (R), who won his seat in 2010 but lost in a re-configured 2012 17th CD, announced that he will enter into a re-match with Rep. Cheri Bustos (D). The new district is more Democratic than the one in which he became victorious, mostly because the city of Rockford was added, but the lower mid-term turnout and sans favorite son Barack Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket could provide some help to the former Congressman. Rep. Bustos begins as the early favorite, however.

IA-3: State Sen. Staci Appel (D), who earlier in the year took herself out of the congressional race, has done an about face. This week, Sen. Appel announced that she will challenge Rep. Tom Latham (R) in the new 3rd District. Mr. Latham won a hard-fought 52-44% victory over veteran Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) in 2012, after the two were paired in one district when the national reapportionment formula eliminated one Iowa seat. Mr. Latham is favored.

ME-2: Now that Gov. Paul LePage (R) has officially taken himself out of the open 2nd Congressional race, movement is starting to occur. Former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R), a second place finisher in the 2012 GOP Senatorial primary, is making moves to enter the rural congressional district race. Six-term Rep. Mike Michaud (D) is vacating the seat to challenge Mr. LePage and Independent attorney Eliot Cutler for the Governor's office.

MA-6: 2012 was expected to be a losing year for Rep. John Tierney (D) due to his wife's conviction for federal tax fraud, but he still managed to eke out a 46-45% win over former state Sen. Richard Tisei (R). Now, another individual has stepped forward to do battle with Tierney in the next election, and this one from his own party. Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton will challenge the Congressman in the 2014 Democratic primary.

WV-2: Last week, former US International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane (R) announced her candidacy for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's (R) open 2nd Congressional District. This week, state Delegate Meshea Poore says she will enter the Democratic primary, challenging former state party chairman Nick Casey for the nomination. Rep. Capito is vacating the seat to run for the Senate. A competitive general election is forecast, with the eventual Republican nominee likely being considered the post-primary favorite. For the GOP, aside from Ms. Lane, former state Sen. Steve Harrison, ex-state Delegate Larry Faircloth, and ex-Maryland Republican chairman and state Sen. Alex Mooney are all announced candidates.

Governor

Hawaii: When Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) appointed Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D) to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) sounded early warning signals that she would challenge either the Governor or Senator in the 2014 Democratic primary. When she decided to go after Schatz, it appeared that Mr. Abercrombie would be unimpeded for renomination. Such is not the case, however. This past week, state Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, announced that he will enter the Democratic primary battle against the incumbent Governor. Mr. Abercrombie is a heavy favorite for renomination and re-election, but he won’t be unopposed.

Illinois: We Ask America (6/20; 1,310 IL registered voters), as they often do, polled the Illinois electorate. Among Republican primary voting respondents in the Governor's race, it is state Treasurer Dan Rutherford who has the lead for the nomination, in what promises to be a close contest. According to the WAA results, Rutherford is the choice of 22% of the respondents, followed closely by 2010 nominee Bill Brady at 18%, private investor Bruce Rauner has 12%, and state Senator Kirk Dillard, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, follows with 11%. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) faces his own serious Democratic primary battle against former US Commerce Secretary and Obama chief of staff Bill Daley, and probably Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Iowa: The aforementioned Iowa Public Policy Polling survey also tested Gov. Terry Branstad (R) as he prepares to run for an unprecedented sixth non-consecutive term in office. Against ex-Governor Chet Culver (D), the man Branstad unseated in 2010, the Republican leads 47-42%. Paired with state Sen. Jack Hatch (D), Mr. Branstad's lead swells to 47-35%. If Democratic state Sen. Mike Gronstal were to run, Branstad's margin would be 50-36%. Should state Rep. Tyler Olson prevail for the nomination, he would trail Mr. Branstad 33-47%. Of this group, only Hatch and Olson are announced candidates.

New York City: Scandal-ridden former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), who was forced to resign over participating in a prostitution ring, surprisingly announced his candidacy for New York City Comptroller. Because he waited so long to enter, Spitzer is now scrambling to acquire the required 3,750 nominating signatures he needs this week to qualify for the ballot. NBC News/Marist College quickly went into the field with a poll (7/7-8; 546 NYC Democratic registered voters) and found Spitzer to be leading Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 42-33%.

Texas: Gov. Rick Perry (R), the longest-serving chief executive in Texas history, announced that he will not seek re-election to a fourth full term next year. It is clear, however, that he is at the very least seriously considering another run for President, so his career in elective politics is likely not over. Mr. Perry, at the conclusion of his present term in office, will have served 14 years in the state’s top post. Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) is likely to run for the Republican nomination. At least in the early going, Abbott is the favorite in both the GOP primary and the general election.