The Battle for the Senate- 2016: August Happenings in Review

Having made it through the dog days of August and as the kids head back to school, a summary of US Senate 2016 happenings:

ARKANSAS:  In the “Really? Why?” Department, Democratic US Attorney Conner Eldridge is said to be considering a run against Boozman.  Not only is Arkansas now a reliably red state, Boozman really has not done anything to upset anyone.  It is hard to see the Democratic Party wasting much time and money here in a losing cause.

CALIFORNIA:  Unsurprisingly, [mc_name name=’Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000287′ ], the 4th ranking Democrat in the House, passed on a run for the Senate.  He has his eyes on a future House Speaker position.  That leaves Kamala Harris to crush [mc_name name=’Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S000030′ ] to advance to the general election, although a top 2 primary system can create a replay for the general election.

FLORIDA: In a move that surprised many given his staffing and fundraising efforts, [mc_name name=’Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001144′ ] decided against a run for the Senate on the GOP side.  He explained that his chairmanship of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee was the reason.  However, if reelected, he will have to relinquish that role due to chairmanship term limits.  The Left is giddy with conspiracy theory here since when Miller wins reelection, he will have to move on anyway.  Therefore, in their minds, his explanation makes no sense so something nefarious must be afoot.  Of course, Miller could seek a waiver of the rule and Boehner would likely grant it.

GEORGIA: Funny how Leftist websites like to drop the fact that GOP incumbent Isaakson has Parkinson’s Disease and that should not be a reason for thinking they can pull one off here.  But, they always drop that line in there.  No Democrat has stepped forward yet, but there are rumors that Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, may be considering a bid.

ILLINOIS: One top fundraiser, Tom Jensen, would like [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000360′ ] to drop out of the Senate race.  He cites some recent comments that Kirk made like: (1) Graham is “a bro with no ho”, and (2) “let’s make the black community the one we don;t drive past through.”  Personally, I find no trouble with the statements since they reflect the truth despite the language used, but some at the NRSC are telling Kirk to avoid the media.  Kirk will most likely be running against [mc_name name=’Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000622′ ], yet he trails by only four points in a Left-leaning PPP poll.  Unless something drastically changes, he is in trouble given his 25% approval rating- clearly within “no chance for reelection” territory.  Another Democrat, Richard Boykin, is expected to jump in the race, but no one knows why.  Some have speculated it is to get his feet wet and he is really aiming for [mc_name name=’Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000096′ ]’ seat when he will most likely retire in 2016.  Most of the eggs are in Duckworth’s basket at this point.  Back to Kirk, in an apparent attempt to get his moderate cred back, he was the lone Republican to vote against defunding Planned Parenthood which prompted stiff criticism from other Illinois Republicans.  This dude needs a primary opponent to lose to…anybody!!!

INDIANA: The Club for Growth threw their endorsement (and money to follow) behind [mc_name name=’Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S001188′ ] rather than [mc_name name=’Rep. Todd Young (R-IN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’Y000064′ ].  Democrats are allegedly happy with the endorsement as they perceive Stutzman as the “more extreme” candidate and most likely to make a miscue on the campaign trail.  However, their man- Baron Hill- is hardly burning up the endorsement and fundraising trail.

KENTUCKY:  In a strange turn of events, the state GOP switched from a May presidential primary to a March caucus.  This allows Paul to run for both President and Senate since Kentucky law prohibited appearing for two different offices on the same ballot.  In order to accommodate this move, Paul mus pay the state GOP $250,000 by September 18 for caucus expenses.  According to most reports, the GOP almost rejected Paul’s bid, but McConnell interceded on his behalf.  If this compromise was not reached, Paul intended to remain on the Senate ballot and run for President in all other states except Kentucky.  The short moral of the story: the state GOP and Paul are still at odds with one another.

MARYLAND: [mc_name name=’Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’V000128′ ] continues to pick up the endorsements with a slew of Baltimore-area Democrats jumping on the bandwagon, including Maggie McIntosh who chairs the Maryland Appropriations Committee and is considered the most powerful woman in Maryland politics.  On the GOP side, former Governor John Ehrlich’s name has gotten some mention of late although he remains non-committed.  Edwards came out with a poll showing her five points ahead.  Confusing all this is the fact that [mc_name name=’Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C000984′ ] has hired a noted Senate fundraiser.  Could he also enter the race, or is he Maryland’s Jeff Miller?

MISSOURI: This is a strange one to fathom, but PPP- a Left leaning polling company- finds GOP incumbent Blunt with a 30-47 favorability rating.  Its strange because (1) Blunt is pretty inoffensive and (2) another polling firm found him with a 39-31 favorability rating three months ago.  The moral of the story: don’t trust PPP or Left-leaning pollsters.  In fact, given the fact that Obama’s rating in Missouri is in the toilet, one can surmise that PPP, not Blunt, may have some problems.

NEVADA: Kathleen Cortez-Masto, the Democrat seeking to keep One Eye Reid’s seat in their hands, recently had a fundraiser attended by Obama.  Given his “winning” record on the campaign trail in 2014, let’s hope he gets more involved in 2016.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Yes, the Hassan watch is STILL on.  Taking no chances, Americans for Prosperity is running $1.3 million in ads against her over raising taxes.  Still, there are Democrats like state senator Andrew Hosmer ready to enter the gubernatorial race should Hassan take on Ayotte (or he may enter the Senate race).

NORTH CAROLINA: Democrats are having difficulty finding a candidate almost as badly as the Republicans are doing in Colorado.  State representative Duane Hall has formed an exploratory committee but cautions he is not running…yet.  Burr can be unseated given his lax fundraising, but any opponent will need help from the top of the ticket as in 2008 when Hagan unseated an incumbent.  There are also rumors that Heath Shuler may enter the race for the Democrats although given his relatively conservative voting record in the House in the past, the powers that be may not really want him running.  Meanwhile, polling shows Burr with a lead against any potential Democratic opponent.

OHIO: In a campaign appearance in Ohio, Hillary Clinton endorsed Ted Strickland in his Senate bid which, right now, may not be such a good thing for Strickland given Clinton’s problems.  Having someone who voters do not trust endorse you may not be the best thing politically  All we now need is for Obama to make an appearance for Strickland and Portman should have nothing to worry about come 2016.

PENNSYLVANIA: Laying the groundwork for reelection, Concerned Veterans of America recently began running television advertisements in support of Republican Toomey to the tune of $1.5 million.  Katie McGinty has entered the Democratic primary against Joe Sestak which may help explain the ad buys.  This sets up an interesting dynamic where some national Democratic operatives were starting to rally around Sestak while state operatives lean towards McGinty.  This should be an interesting primary.  McGinty picked up the endorsement of EMILY’s List and the Steelworkers Union almost immediately.  Also, as expected, many Democratic US House members from Pennsylvania are lining up behind McGinty.   However, one- Matt Cartright- is sticking with Sestak which is grating on some other Pennsylvania Democratic operatives.  Things should be interesting in Pennsylvania in 2016.

WISCONSIN:  In polling this far, Marquette finds Johnson trailing Feingold by 5 points, 47-42 which is an improvement over their last poll which found him trailing by 16 points.  This same poll found Feingold with a positive favorability rating while Johnson’s is upside down.  It also showed Clinton winning the state against any potential GOP rival (including Walker) which the Left interprets as a Feingold slam dunk win in 2016.  Although they are dismissive of the closing of the gap, the most recent Marquette poll is in line with another poll which showed Johnson down by 8 points.  At this stage, being down 5-8 points rather than 16 seems more realistic.  Under ordinary circumstances one would start to worry a bit since Johnson is the incumbent, but Feingold is well-known and well-funded this time out.  Further, Wisconsin politics is kind of schizophrenic and its possible for Clinton to win the state (even with Walker as an opponent) and for Johnson to win, or vice versa.

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