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Period Ending July 5, 2013

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

Senate

Hawaii: Three different Aloha State polls were released during the week and, as usual in Hawaii political polling, the results are quite divergent. The political blog Civil Beat commissioned a Merriman River Group survey (6/18-20 & 6/24; 869 HI registered voters) and its results give appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D) a 36-33% edge over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) in their Democratic primary battle. The EMILY'S List political action group, supporting Ms. Hanabusa, countered with the results of their own Clarity Campaigns poll (6/10-11; 771 HI registered voters). This data projects the Congresswoman to be leading Sen. Schatz 46-35%. In response, the Schatz campaign went into the field and made public their internal Mellman Group research (6/26-30; 600 HI registered voters) claiming the race is tied at 37%, but that the Senator enjoys a 47-34% margin among respondents "who know both candidates." In the 2012 cycle, Hawaii polling data was highly inconsistent and it appears this trend continues in the present cycle.

Kentucky: Though most signs were pointing to the Democrats not convincing their top Senatorial prospect to challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) next year, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes this week abruptly announced that she will run. Now with a top-tier candidate, the Kentucky contest will become highly competitive. Though the Blue Grass State is one of the most reliable Republican conclaves during presidential campaigns, Democrats are still very much alive in state races. Sen. McConnell is the clear favorite, but Ms. Grimes will battle hard.

Texas: Public Policy Polling (6/28-7/1; 500 TX registered voters) went into the field to test Sen. John Cornyn (R) as he prepares to run for a third term. Though he has yet to attract an opponent, PPP polled some of the more noteworthy Democrats against him. Brandishing only a 36:33% job approval rating, Cornyn does well in all ballot tests. Against San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the Senator's advantage is 50-37%; it’s 48-40% over state Sen. Wendy Davis; 49-36% over Houston Mayor Annise Parker; and 47-40% over former Houston Mayor and gubernatorial nominee Bill White.

House

CA-45: Rep. John Campbell (R) announced that he will not seek re-election next year, saying he never intended to become a "professional politician." Mr. Campbell was elected in a 2005 special election after serving in the state legislature since 2000. State Sen. Mimi Walters (R), who succeeded Mr. Campbell in both the state Assembly and Senate, announced her congressional candidacy. Other prominent Republicans will soon follow. The seat should easily remain in the Republican column.

IA-4: Jim Mowrer (D), a former Defense Department official and Iraq War veteran, announced a challenge to Rep. Steve King (R). The 4th District leans Republican and Mr. King must be rated a heavy early favorite, particularly on the heels of his convincing 2012 victory against Christie Vilsack (D). His previous opponent is the wife of US Agriculture Secretary and former two-term Governor Tom Vilsack. Mr. King won that race, which was one of the most expensive House campaigns of last cycle (the two candidates spent a combined $7 million), 53-45%.

NV-3: Erin Bilbray-Kohn (D), who runs a Nevada organization that encourages women to run for political office, is taking her own advice and launched a challenge to sophomore Rep. Joe Heck (R). Ms. Bilbray-Kohn is the daughter of former four-term Rep. Jim Bilbray (D-NV-1) who lost his seat in the Republican landslide of 1994. The 3rd District, which encompasses the southern tail of the state wholly within Clark County, is highly marginal. Mr. Heck scored a victory margin of 50-43% last November after originally unseating then-incumbent Dina Titus (D) 48-47% in 2010. Ms. Titus was again elected to Congress from the new 1st CD in 2012.

PA-2: Our condolences to the family of former Rep. Bill Gray (D) who died suddenly this week while attending the Wimbledon tennis championship in London, England. Mr. Gray was first elected to the House in 1978 and rose to the Majority Whip position, as well as becoming chairman of the Budget Committee. He resigned from Congress in 1991 to become the President of the United Negro College Fund. Mr. Gray was 71 years of age.

WV-2: Former US International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane (R), who served under President George W. Bush, announced her candidacy for the open 2nd Congressional District. She joins former state Delegate Larry Faircloth, ex-state Sen. Steve Harrison, and former Maryland state Republican chairman and state Senator Alex Mooney as formal or soon-to-announce candidates. Nick Casey, the former state Democratic Party chairman, and attorney Matt Dunn make up the early Democratic field. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) is vacating the seat to run for the Senate.

Governor

Texas: The aforementioned Public Policy Polling Texas survey also tested Gov. Rick Perry (R). Though his job approval is only 40:45% positive to negative, he fares very well on the ballot questions opposite prominent Lone Star State Democrats. He scores 53-39% over state Sen. Wendy Davis, 50-43% against San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 52-35% opposite Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and 50-40% over 2010 opponent Bill White.