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Period Ending July 31, 2015

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

President

Jim Gilmore (R): Former Virginia Governor and Republican National Committee chairman Gilmore became the 17th official Republican presidential candidate with his announcement at the end of this week. Mr. Gilmore will find it difficult to raise sufficient funds to compete but in such a crowded field, particularly in the early small states, it is impossible to rule anyone out at this juncture of the campaign.

Polls: Public Policy surveyed the Illinois electorate (7/20-21; 931 registered voters; 409 likely Democratic primary voters; 396 likely Republican primary voters) and found Hillary Clinton touching 60% before her birth state electorate, and leading Sen. Bernie Sanders by 37 percentage points. Among Republicans, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has blunted businessman Donald Trump’s run on the polling by taking the lead in the Land of Lincoln. He tops Trump with a 23-18% margin, with ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush obtaining just 11 percent. The important Illinois primary is scheduled for March 15th.

St. Pete Polls, a firm generally known for providing spotty data at best, released the results of their home state of Florida’s GOP primary (7/18-28; 1,902 FL registered GOP voters), and finds Donald Trump leading favorite sons Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. According to these results, Trump attracts 26%, Bush 20%, Walker 12%, and Rubio 10 percent.

Monmouth University (7/23-26; 467 NH registered Republicans and Independents who are likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary) polled the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary and finds Donald Trump again in first place. Trump doubles up Jeb Bush 24-12%, with Govs. John Kasich (R-OH) and Scott Walker (R-WI) following with 7% apiece. This is very similar to the NBC/Marist College results from random New Hampshire voters (1,037 residents; 910 registered voters; 401 likely NH Republican primary voters): Trump 21%, Bush 14%, Walker 12%, Dr. Ben Carson 8%, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 7 percent.

Senate

California: After months of saying he was contemplating entering the open Senate race, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) said he will not enter the campaign. This leaves Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) as the top candidates.

Florida: Two polls were reported during the week, both giving Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) the lead in the Republican primary. According to Mason-Dixon Polling & Research (7/20-23; 500 FL likely Republican primary voters; 500 FL likely Democratic voters), Jolly has a 16-10-9-8% lead over Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1), respectively. St. Pete Polls claims Jolly has just a one point lead, 10-9-9-5% over Lopez-Cantera, Reps. DeSantis, and Miller, in that order. The M-D poll also surveyed the Democratic race. For the third poll in a row, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) holds a one-point 33-32% edge over fellow Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18). This is the first survey to include northern Florida Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2), who confirms she may now enter the race. She records 11% in this particular poll. At the end of the week, Rep. Miller ended speculation that he would enter the race, as did Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL-3). Neither of these latter men will become Senate candidates.

Illinois: Public Policy Polling (7/20-21; 931 IL registered voters) finds first-term Sen. Mark Kirk (R) trailing Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) by a 42-36% margin. Kirk has received bad publicity over various comments he has uttered in the past several weeks, so it will be interesting to see if his numbers improve once the controversy dissipates. In any event, the state’s Democratic nature likely makes Illinois the party’s top conversion opportunity nationally.

New Hampshire: NBC/Marist College (1,037 residents; 910 registered voters; 329 likely NH Democratic primary voters; 401 likely NH Republican primary voters) released the results of their latest Granite State survey. It delivered good news for Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) has been pursued to challenge the first-term Senator, but has so far not committed to the race. According to this poll, Ayotte has opened up a 50-42% lead over the two-term Governor. New Hampshire’s political nature since 2006 has been volatile, so whomever the Democrats nominate will be competitive.

House

CA-24: Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider (D) released her internal Lake Research poll (7/26-28; 350 CA-24 primary voters) that finds Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian leading the jungle primary field with 24% respondent preference. Mayor Schneider is in second place with 16% followed by Democratic Party favorite Salud Carbajal, a Santa Barbara County Supervisor. GOP businessman Justin Fareed scores 10 percent. The top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to the general election. Schneider is using the poll to demonstrate her strength as a candidate despite party leaders expressing preference and endorsements for Carbajal.

FL-2: Despite sending signals last week that he was considering making a political comeback if the new redistricting plan makes the 2nd District more Republican, former Rep. Steve Southerland (R) said he will not run for Congress in 2016. Southerland was one of only two GOP House members to lose in 2014. Rep. Gwen Graham (D), mindful that the court-ordered mid-decade redistricting could remove her home base of Tallahassee from the district, confirms that she may enter the Senate race instead of seeking re-election.

FL-13: St. Pete Polls (7/21; 1,142 Tampa Bay area voters via Interactive Voice Response system) also again surveyed the 13th District, being vacated by Rep. David Jolly’s (R) run for the Senate. Assuming the type of boundaries the district will have after redistricting is complete – meaning the city of St. Petersburg will be added to the seat and more Republican areas sent elsewhere – the first data is not particularly encouraging for former Gov. Charlie Crist (D). The Republican-turned Independent-turned Democrat who last week said that he would seek the congressional seat if his home is place within the new confines, leads former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker (R) only 46-42%. Baker has made statements expressing interest in launching a congressional campaign, and would be the strongest Republican possible.

IL-8: State Sen. Tom Cullerton (D), cousin to Illinois state Senate President John Cullerton (D), announced that he is ending his congressional campaign. Previously, Mr. Cullerton had declared his candidacy for the seat that Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) is vacating to run for the Senate. Cullerton was viewed to be one of the leading Democratic candidates for what should be a safe seat for the party in a presidential election year. Ex-Deputy state Treasurer and former congressional candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi and state Sen. Mike Noland remain the top tier Democrats.

ME-2: Bangor City Councilman Joe Baldacci (D), brother of former Governor and US Rep. John Baldacci (D), announced his congressional candidacy. He joins ex-state Senator and 2014 congressional nominee Emily Cain in the Democratic primary. The winner will face freshman Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland). The Congressman defeated Cain 45-40% last November.

PA-2: Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) was indicted on 29 federal charges involving alleged racketeering and other crimes this week, but insists he will seek a 12th term next year. Regardless if Fattah eventually runs or not, the urban Philadelphia seat will remain in Democratic hands.

Governor

Kentucky: Survey USA, conducting the Bluegrass Poll for several Kentucky media outlets, reported numbers for the 2015 Governor’s race at the end of the week. The poll (7/22-28; 685 KY likely voters) finds Attorney General Jack Conway (D) taking a 45-42% lead over Republican businessman Matt Bevin. Right after the primary election, Bevin, who was nominated on a 38-vote win margin, held a similarly slight lead.