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Period Ending August 30, 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: For the second time the 2014 Georgia primary has been moved. Originally, the first nomination vote was scheduled for July 15th, but transferred to June 3rd in order to comply with the federal MOVE Act provisions. The legislation mandates a specific number of days for military and overseas ballot distribution and response. Subsequently, in order to ensure that early voting does not occur during the elongated Memorial Day weekend period, a judge has again rescheduled the primary, this time for May 20th. The run-off date remains August 5th, thus yielding a record-long secondary election period. Since the Republicans have a crowded field vying for their open seat Senate nomination, a GOP run-off is a virtual certainty. Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn (D), appears to be her party's consensus candidate so the new primary date does not affect her campaign to any great extent.

Kentucky: Veteran Republican pollster Jan Van Lohuizen conducted an internal campaign poll for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R) re-election effort and finds him standing in solid position against his new primary challenger, investor Matt Bevin. According to the survey (8/18-20; 600 KY registered Republican voters), the Senator enjoys a commanding 68-21% lead.

New Jersey: The latest Fairleigh Dickinson University poll (8/21-27; 700 NJ registered voters) gives Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) a whopping 50-22% margin over former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R). The special general election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is scheduled for October 16th.

House

AR-4: Early in this election cycle, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr (R) announced that he was going to run for Governor. When former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR-3) joined the open seat race, Darr then decided to challenge Sen. Mark Pryor (D). When Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) announced his own statewide run against Pryor, Darr subsequently dropped down to the open 4th Congressional District seat. Now, he's out of that race, too. Late this week Mr. Darr decided to withdraw from the congressional contest ostensibly to battle financial disclosure issues relating to his past Lt. Governor political committee. Exiting his third campaign of the cycle leaves, at least for now, state House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman as the lone major Republican candidate.

CA-17: A just-released Public Policy Polling survey for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (8/2-4; 806 CA-17 registered voters) gives incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (D) a 49-15% margin over former Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Ro Khanna (D). The challenger, however, has more than $1.7 million cash-on-hand at this early point in the campaign cycle compared to Honda's less than $375,000. In California's jungle primary system, the top two finishers in the June election, regardless of political party affiliation or vote attainment, advance to the November general election.

CA-52: The resignation of disgraced San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) almost assuredly means that GOP congressional challenger Carl DeMaio will forego his federal run in order to enter the special mayoral replacement election that will occur before year's end. DeMaio lost the Mayor’s race 48-52% to Filner last November. The special election will be competitive and, win or lose, DeMaio is sure to drop his congressional bid. In 2012, Democratic Port Commission chairman Scott Peters unseated Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) 51-49% in the newly configured San Diego CD. The Peters-DeMaio campaign was shaping up to be one of the best Republican challenger opportunities in the country. Without Mr. DeMaio as the prospective nominee, the focus here will change.

FL-15: Rep. Dennis Ross (R), who was fortunate enough to run opposed in his first re-election campaign, won't be so lucky in 2014. Former television news reporter Alan Cohn (D) says he will soon create a campaign committee with the intent of challenging the two-term Republican incumbent. The 15th District is largely Republican, as Mitt Romney's 53-46% victory here over President Obama attests, so Rep. Ross begins as a heavy favorite to win again.

FL-18: One potential Republican challenger to freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) says no to a congressional race, but another prominent GOP leader may soon be entering the campaign. While state Rep. Gayle Harrell says she won’t run for Congress, reports are surfacing that former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who ran unsuccessfully in the heavily Democratic 22nd Congressional District last year, is planning to run in more favorable 18th. Former state Rep. Carl Domino and Juno City Commissioner Ellen Andel are two viable candidates who have already announced. Hasner's entry into the campaign would make him a big favorite for the nomination and cast the general election outlook into the toss-up category. Mr. Murphy unseated freshman Rep. Allen West (R) by a slim 1,904 votes of more than 330,000 cast ballots in 2012.

GA-1: David Schwarz, former staff member to Rep. Jack Kingston (R), ended his attempted effort to replace his ex-boss. This reduces the size of the Republican field to five including state Sen. Buddy Carter and state Rep. Jeff Chapman. The eventual GOP nominee will be favored to hold the seat in the general election.

ME-2: Former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R) announced that he will run for Rep. Mike Michaud’s (D-ME-2) open congressional seat next year. Poliquin ran for the Senate in 2012, placing second to eventual nominee Charlie Summers (who would then lose to Independent former Gov. Angus King in the general election), capturing 22% of the voted as compared to the winner's 28%. He also ran for Governor in 2010, faring poorly in that race as he finished sixth of seven candidates. Also in the congressional Republican primary are former state House Majority Leader Josh Tardy, state Rep. Alex Willette, and businessman Blaine Richardson. For the Democrats, state Sens. Emily Cain and Troy Jackson are announced candidates, as is building contractor Alden Smith. The Democratic nominee will begin the general election campaign in the favorite’s position, but the race has competitive potential.

NE-2: Omaha City Councilman Peter Festersen (D), who was openly weighing a potential challenge bid against Rep. Lee Terry (R), has decided not to run for Congress in 2014. The 2nd District, largely due to Nebraska apportioning their Electoral Votes by congressional district, has become a hotbed of political activity in presidential election years. In each of the last two national election years (2008, '12), Mr. Terry's win percentage dropped below 52%. In 2010, his vote share rose to 61%. The 2014 mid-term turnout should again expand his victory margin.

NH-2: Finding the fundraising path to be a rocky one, former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien (R) ended his fledging congressional challenge to freshman Rep. Annie Kuster (D). No other Republican has yet to step forward, but New Hampshire political campaigns tend to develop late in the election cycle. Ms. Kuster ousted incumbent Rep. Charlie Bass (R) 50-45% in 2012 after losing a 47-48% race to him in 2010. Of New Hampshire’s two CD's, this one is the more Democratic.

VA-2: Sophomore Rep. Scott Rigell (R), who represents a politically marginal Virginia Beach CD, will again face serious competition. In the military-heavy region, retired Navy Commander Suzanne Patrick (D) who served as a Deputy Undersecretary of the Defense Department under President George W. Bush, says she is running against Rep. Rigell because of his "partisanship", especially as it relates to his support of the budget sequester that has "made life tougher for the military, families, and seniors."

Governor

Colorado: A new Quinnipiac University poll (8/15-21; 1,184 CO registered voters) confirms their June findings. Once again, they project former US Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO-6) to be trailing Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) by just a single point, 45-46%. Two months ago, the Governor's lead was 42-41%. Hickenlooper’s favorability index is 47:42% positive to negative. Tancredo’s is 34:30%. The Governor's lead over Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) is 47-42%; against state Sen. Greg Brophy (R), the incumbent's margin is 47-40%.

Illinois: A We Ask America poll that was taken on August 6th (1,528 IL Democratic registered voters) but just released this week, shows Gov. Pat Quinn clinging to only a 27-23-13% lead over former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, and state Sen. Kwame Raoul in the Democratic primary. The poll's language may be skewed in Raoul's favor, but a showing of under 30% for an incumbent within one's own party, regardless of the survey methodology, reveals serious weakness.

Maine: A new Public Policy Polling survey (8/23-25; 953 ME registered voters) gives Democratic challenger and Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) a 39-35-18% lead over incumbent Gov. Paul LePage (R) and attorney Eliot Cutler (I). Considering that the same poll gives Michaud a 53:30% favorability rating while LePage has an upside down job approval score (39:56%), one would think the Democrat's lead would be larger. LePage won a similar three-way race against Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell in 2010, on a 38-36-19% split.

New Jersey: The aforementioned Fairleigh Dickinson University poll also tested Gov. Chris Christie (R) as he seeks a second term in the November 5th regular election. According to the data, the Governor enjoys a robust 50-26% lead over state Sen. Barbara Buono (D).

Virginia: Simultaneously conducted with the Quinnipiac University poll (8/14-19; 1,129 VA likely voters) that we covered last week, which posted former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to a 48-42% edge over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), Myers Research (8/13-18; 600 VA registered voters) produced similar results. According to their survey conducted for the Virginia Democratic Party, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 48-44%. Public Policy Polling also released their new results (8/27-28; 500 VA registered voters) yielding a 44-37% McAuliffe advantage.