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Period Ending September 13, 2013

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


Arkansas: A Global Strategy Group August poll released during this week (8/26-29; 501 AR registered voters) gives Sen. Mark Pryor (D) a 47-41% lead over Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) in what could become the nation’s premier Senate race.

Michigan: Harper Polling (9/4; 958 MI registered Republicans) tested the potential Republican primary field for US Senate. They find Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, the only announced candidate, leading the prospective contenders by a wide margin. Land scores 45% in the poll, distantly followed by Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra at 16%, businessman Rob Steele with 4%, and District Judge Kim Small with 2%. Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) is the consensus Democratic candidate. Sen. Carl Levin (D) is retiring. Since the publication of this poll, Mr. Dykstra announced that he is not running for the Senate. EPIC-MRA tested the general election race (9/7-10; 600 MI registered voters) and found candidates Peters and Land separated by only one percentage point, 38-37%.

New Hampshire: Former Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-2), who lost his seat in 2006, regained it in 2010, and then lost again last year, says he is considering challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). No one has yet come forward to run against the first-term Senator, who has strong favorability ratings. Still, with New Hampshire arguably performing as the most swing state in the nation since 2006, no seat can be considered completely safe. This is a developing story.

South Carolina: A one-day brushfire poll from Landmark/Rosetta Stone (8/25; 500 SC registered voters) shows Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) falling below the 50% threshold to avoid a Republican run-off election. According to the data, the Senator posts 42% to state Sen. Lee Bright’s 13%, businesswoman Nancy Mace's 10%, and businessman and former congressional candidate Richard Cash’s 7%. Since the snap shot poll was conducted only on a Sunday, the results are potentially skewed. More research will have to be commissioned here in order to determine the most accurate picture.

South Dakota: Harper Polling (9/4-5; 517 SD registered voters) tested the South Dakota electorate regarding their open US Senate campaign and finds former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) attaining majority status. Paired with former congressional aide Rick Weiland (D), Mr. Rounds enjoys a 52-38% advantage. Should state Rep. Stace Nelson become the Republican nominee, the GOP lead dissipates to 40-38%. If physician Annette Bosworth were to win the primary, Mr. Weiland would claim a 38-36% edge.


FL-2: EMILY'S List, the leftist group that funds only female ideologically compatible candidates, conducted a Clarity Campaign Labs survey (8/27-28; 1,152 FL-2 registered voters via Interactive Voice Response system) and the results give incumbent Rep. Steve Southerland (R) just a 44-42% lead over Leon County school official Gwen Graham (D), the daughter of former Governor and Senator Bob Graham (D). This is expected to be a highly competitive race.

FL-22: Ex-Congressman E. Clay Shaw (R), who was elected to Congress in the Reagan landslide of 1980 and lost in the Democratic wave of 2006, passed away this past week at the age of 74. Our condolences are extended to the Shaw family.

MN-1: Former congressional aide Jim Hagedorn (R), whose father, Tom Hagedorn, served four congressional terms in the seventies and early eighties, announced that he will challenge four-term Rep. Tim Walz (D). The 1st District, Minnesota’s southernmost seat, can become competitive. Since ousting Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) in 2006, Mr. Walz has had one close election, a 49-44% win in 2010.

Texas Redistricting: The special three judge federal panel in San Antonio that continues to hear the various Lone Star State redistricting cases will allow the 2014 election cycle to proceed on the new maps adopted by the legislature earlier in the year. The 2013 maps change only slightly the boundaries that housed the 2012 elections. The panel also will allow plaintiffs to argue their motion about “bailing in” the state under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act. Winning the motion would bring Texas under federal electoral jurisdiction even though the Justice Department no longer has preclearance authority.

UT-2: Salt Lake City state Senator Luz Robles (D) announced that she will challenge freshman Rep. Chris Stewart (R) in his first re-election. Stewart scored a 62-33% victory in 2012 against former state Rep. Jay Seegmiller (D). The incumbent will begin the race as a prohibitive favorite.

VA-10: Attorney Richard Bolger (D) announced a challenge to seventeen-term Rep. Frank Wolf (R) next year. The 10th District became more Republican in redistricting, so Wolf now has a much less competitive district. He is expected to seek re-election.


Michigan: The EPIC-MRA poll mentioned in the Senate capsule above also reported numbers for the Governor’s race. The survey finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) in an improved political position, leading former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7) by a 44-36% margin. The spread represents a net swing of seven points in the Governor's favor when compared to EPIC’s May poll.

Nebraska: Republican Pete Ricketts whose father, Joe Ricketts, founded the TD Ameritrade financial company and owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team, announced his candidacy for the open gubernatorial campaign. Mr. Ricketts ran for the Senate in 2006, scoring 36% against then-Sen. Ben Nelson (D).

Pennsylvania: Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced his gubernatorial campaign, becoming the eighth Democrat to run for the office. Polling suggests the leading contender to date is Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13), but this could become a wide open primary. The eventual nominee opposes vulnerable Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

Rhode Island: Allen Fung, the Mayor of Cranston, made formal his entry into the Republican gubernatorial primary. He will likely oppose 2010 nominee John Robitaille, who finished second to then-Indepenent candidate Lincoln Chafee. Last week, Gov. Chafee, now a Democrat, made public his intention to retire, thus making the 2014 race an open contest. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Tavares will be the leading Democratic contenders. The eventual Democratic nominee will become the heavy general election favorite.

Virginia: Rasmussen Reports (9/3-4; 998 VA registered voters) took its turn surveying the Old Dominion electorate and their results are consistent with all of the others. According to RR, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe leads GOP Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 45-38%. Virtually all recent polls have shown the race to be within this type of range, and all project McAuliffe to be leading. Purple Strategies, the bipartisan public affairs and research firm, released their own poll (9/6-10; 800 VA registered voters) and arrived at a similar 43-38% spread in favor of the Democrat. The latter poll turned in very poor favorability numbers for each candidate, however. McAuliffe scored a poor 24:39% positive to negative rating, while Cuccinelli fared even worse at 29:49%.


New York City: Public Advocate Bill deBlasio placed first in the Democratic primary, but may have to go to a recount to determine if he has avoided a run-off with second place finisher Bill Thompson. Mr. de Blasio is hovering right on the 40% mark that one needs to capture a party nomination. It is likely that the Public Advocate will become the Democratic nominee; the question is will he win now or on October 1st. The race’s early leader, City Council President Christine Quinn languished with a 15% finish. Scandal-ridden former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) took only 5% of the vote.

Joe Lhota, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Metropolitan Transit Authority Board chairman, won the Republican nomination outright, capturing 53% of the vote versus Supermarket magnate John Catsamitidis. The latter scored 41%, with Doe Fund founder George McDonald garnering 7%. The overwhelming Democratic voter registration advantage makes Mr. de Blasio at least the early favorite for the November 5th general election.

In other city election news, former Governor Eliot Spitzer lost his political comeback attempt as he fell to Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer 48-52% in the Democratic primary for City Comptroller.