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Period Ending July 26, 2013

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

Senate

Georgia: Michelle Nunn (D), daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and CEO of the Points of Light Foundation, officially filed her campaign organization documents. She is expected to become the consensus Democratic candidate and will face the winner of the five-way Republican nomination fight, which won't conclude until the August 5, 2014 run-off election. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) is retiring after two terms.

Kentucky: Wealthy hedge fund manager Matt Bevin launched a Republican primary challenge against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bevin, hailing from Louisville, is personally wealthy and has the financial wherewithal to run a serious campaign. It remains to be seen if he gains any traction. Immediately after Bevin's announcement became official, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton labeled him "an east coast con man" in a prepared statement. Both men have already aired attack ads.

Nebraska: In an open seat that has so far garnered little attention, Midland (NE) University president Ben Sasse this week became the second official candidate to enter the Republican primary race to attempt to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R). Previously, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn (R) was the only person from either party to declare his candidacy. Others will soon join the race. The eventual Republican nominee will be favored to hold the seat.

Wyoming: The first two public polls of the Republican primary battle between Sen. Mike Enzi and Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice-President, US Defense Secretary, and Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney, were released this week. Both Harper Polling (7/17-18; 422 WY GOP registered voters) and Public Policy Polling (7/19-21; 780 WY Republican primary voters) give the Senator a wide early lead over Ms. Cheney. Harper scores it 55-21% in favor of the incumbent, while PPP forecasts a similar 54-26% spread.

House

AL-1: Rep. Jo Bonner (R), scheduled to resign from the House on August 15th in order to accept a position with the University of Alabama, will now leave early. Officially departing Congress on August 2nd will allow Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to schedule the replacement special election in time for the new member to be sworn in at the beginning of the second session of the current 113th Congress.

HI-1: With Rep. Colleen Hanabusa challenging appointed Sen. Brian Schatz for the Democratic Senatorial nomination, the Honolulu-anchored 1st Congressional District becomes open in 2014. This week, a second individual officially declared his candidacy. State Sen. Will Espero joins Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang as official Democratic contenders. On the Republican side, speculation surrounds former Congressman and ex-Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou about whether he will enter the open seat contest. Elected in a special election early in 2010 when then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D) resigned to run for Governor, Mr. Djou was unseated by Hanabusa in the regular general election of that year. He ran again in 2012, losing to the incumbent 53-44%.

IL-13: Illinois University professor George Gollin announced that he will enter the Democratic primary against former county court Judge Ann Callis in the swing 13th District that houses the main university campus at Champaign. Ms. Callis has already been publicly endorsed as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's candidate. The winner faces freshman Rep. Rodney Davis (R), assuming he survives a primary challenge from attorney Erika Harold, the 2003 Miss America.

MI-1: Retired National Guard Major General Jerry Cannon is confirming he will become a candidate against sophomore Rep. Dan Benishek (R). After winning a decisive 52-41% victory in 2010, the Congressman only managed to scratch out only a half-point victory against the same opponent two years later, but under a different turnout model. The race has competitive potential.

MN-2: Victoria Research (7/17-21; 400 MN-2 registered voters) conducted a push-survey against incumbent Rep. John Kline (R) for the liberal House Majority PAC organization. According to the data, Kline only has a 45-32% lead over 2012 nominee Mike Obermueller, who he defeated 54-46% margin. The poll, due to various push questions, is slanted, however. Still, the nature of the district could yield a competitive race under the proper circumstances.

MN-3: Democrats may be successfully recruiting former veteran news anchorman Don Shelby to challenge three-term Rep. Erik Paulsen (R). Mr. Shelby confirms he is seriously considering making the race. The 3rd District, like the 2nd mentioned above, is also politically marginal but trends a bit more Republican.

NH-1: While former Rep. Frank Guinta (R) has not yet decided whether to seek a re-match with Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), another Republican may be stepping forward. University of New Hampshire Business School dean Dan Innis says he is considering launching his own campaign. Ms. Shea-Porter was first elected in 2006, lost her seat to Guinta in 2010, but reclaimed it last November. Her election percentages of 51, 52, 42, and 50%, beginning in 2006, suggest that the eventual Republican nominee will be highly competitive in this swing district.

TN-4: Despite being badly outraised against two Republican primary opponents in the second quarter and still battling the after-effects of seeing his extra-marital affairs with patients in his physician's practice become public, announced that he will seek re-election, nonetheless. A crowded primary may help the embattled incumbent, however, because Tennessee has no run-off law.

Governor

Connecticut: RState Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R), the son of the late former Rep. Stewart McKinney (R), announced that he will run for Governor next year. His entering the campaign means a likely Republican primary challenge to former US Ambassador Tom Foley who held Gov. Dan Malloy (D) to less than a one percentage point victory in 2010. Mr. Foley is expected to run again. Gov. Malloy has already announced his re-election campaign effort. The Governor's approval ratings have been suspect, so a competitive race is a likelihood.

Tennessee: State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D), who was publicly contemplating challenging Gov. Bill Haslam (R), has decided to seek re-election to his current position, instead. So far, Mr. Haslam faces no major re-election challenger.