2016 US Senate News: October Edition

ARIZONA:  It is no secret that the more conservative voices in the GOP would love to see McCain go.  Thus far, only Kelli Ward has mounted a primary challenge.  Nothing against Ms. Ward, but that almost ensures a McCain victory.  Instead, two US Representatives- Schweikert and Salmon- were considering a bid. Either would give McCain a serious run for the money and there is some consternation, based on early polls, that McCain would have a hard time defeating his likely Democratic opponent, [mc_name name=’Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’K000368′ ].  Democrats would love a messy GOP primary. But, Salmon announced he is staying put in the House and the only real conservative opposition to McCain remains Schweikert.  Meanwhile, time is running out for Sinema to enter on the Democratic side since the DSCC has officially endorsed Kirkpatrick.

COLORADO: State senator Tom Neville was not waiting for a decision from Brauchler and has announced he is in for the GOP.  Which is a good thing since Brauchler finally announced he would NOT run for the Senate this year.  He was heavily recruited for the task by national Republicans.  Is this a fatal blow to GOP chances?  One would think that among seven declared candidates and several more potential ones, someone with some credibility will emerge to take on Bennet.  Bennet is not the biggest target out there, but neither is he the strongest Democratic incumbent.  And with Brauchler now out, the dysfunctional Colorado GOP has turned their attention to state senator Ray Scott.

FLORIDA: State CFO Jeff Atwater ruled himself out back in April but there are rumblings he is re-considering.  Back in April, everyone said his decision not to run was because he had his eyes on the open 2018 gubernatorial race.  If he had entered, he may have scared away a few challengers except possibly DeSantis.  Perhaps he surveyed the possibilities in 2018 which indicate a contentious primary against Pam Bondi and Adam Putnam.  Further, some polls indicate that should he enter the race, he would perform well in the Senate primary.  What would an Atwater Senate candidacy possibly mean?  It could potentially split the establishment vote between himself, Jolly and Lopez-Cantera and allow DeSantis to sneak in with the victory.  Importantly, both Jolly and Lopez-Cantera were crushed in fundraising in the last quarter by DeSantis.

INDIANA: Both Democrats- Baron Hill and John Dickerson- posted horrible fundraising numbers.  Democratic donors, however, are likely sitting on the sidelines until after the primaries to see who the GOP nominee will be.  They like their chances against Stutzman more than they do against Young.  We’ll see…

ILLINOIS:  [mc_name name=’Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’K000378′ ]’s name has come up as a possible alternative to Kirk.

MARYLAND:  Most of the focus has been on the Democratic side in this open race, but the GOP may have landed a decent opponent- state delegate Kathy Szeliga- who is also the minority whip.  Allegedly, [mc_name name=’Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001052′ ], Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele heavily encouraged her to enter the race with the Harris endorsement the most important.  In fact, his singing her praises pretty much leads me to scratch his name off the list of potential GOP candidates.

And in the “Ah…geez…make up your mind already” department, seemingly in, but out again [mc_name name=’Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C000984′ ] said he needs another month to finalize his intentions for 2016.  His entry into the race would serious upset Van Hollen’s apparent coronation on the Democratic side.

NEVADA:  It may just be some Democratic mischief, but there are rumors that failed 2010 GOP Senatorial candidate Sharon Angle may be considering entering this race to succeed Reid.  It would take a gargantuan effort at this point to defeat [mc_name name=’Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001055′ ] in a primary, but some Democrats are salivating over the possibility of a fight.  Considering the fact she could not beat the hated Reid at his most vulnerable could work one of two ways.  Either it could be proof that she is a really bad candidate and campaigner, or she can view it as, “Hey- it is an open seat and my chances are better this time town around.”  As much as I would like to see a more conservative candidate than Heck to emerge, I would much rather prefer to see the GOP keep control of the Senate and take Reid’s seat as icing on the cake.  Let’s hope these are just rumors or mischief at this point.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:  Thank God the suspense is over.  Maggie Hassan will run against Ayotte in 2016, thus vacating the Governor’s office.  This is expected to be a close race, but early polling has Ayotte out front.  In the interest of keeping the majority in the Senate, Ayotte may be a bitter pill to swallow for many conservatives, but a Senator Hassan would be worse.  Hassan’s decision will likely clear the field.

NORTH CAROLINA: The most recent PPP poll out of the Tar Heel State shows Burr defeating all his potential Democratic rivals.  State representative Duane Hall ruled himself out on the Democratic side this past month.  There are two other Democrats said to be considering entering and one- Deborah Ross- entered the race.  This may be the best the Dems can do here as other bigger names have ruled themselves out.  Ross is on the (shall we say…) progressive side which may not bode well in a general election in North Carolina.  All this makes me feel a little sad for Chris Rey.

OHIO: In the third quarter of this year, Democrat Ted Strickland raised an unimpressive $971,000 to Portman’s $2.1 million.  Even worse for the Democrats, Portman has an $11 million war chest compared to Strickland’s $1.5 million which is way behind the benchmark the DSCC set for him.  Regardless, since dollar bills don’t vote, this is still an important race.

PENNSYLVANIA: Katie McGinty continues to solidify her standing with Democrats in her primary bid against Joe Sestak.  Governor Tom Wolf is the latest endorsement.  She also reported a healthy $1 million haul in two months of fundraising.

WISCONSIN: In a “too good to be true” moment, Marquette gives Feingold a 14 point lead in the polls over [mc_name name=’Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’J000293′ ].  Because this race may be in the toss up category, 14 points is rather excessive.  Proof? A month ago, Marquette found Feingold up by only 5 points (as have other polling outlets) and nothing has happened in the previous month to change anything- no scandal, no controversial vote or statement…nothing.

Race ratings as of this publication (subject to change as circumstances dictate):

R. Shelby- AL (M. Rubio- FL) OPEN K. Ayotte- NH M. Kirk- IL
L. Murkowski- AK (D. Coats- IN)- OPEN R. Johnson- WI
J. Boozman- AR R. Paul- KY
J. Isaakson- GA (D.Vitter-LA)- OPEN??
M. Crapo- ID R. Blunt-MO
C. Grassley- IA R. Burr-NC
J. Moran- KS R. Portman- OH
J. Hoeven- ND P. Toomey- PA
J. Lankford- OK
T. Scott- SC
J. Thune- SD
M. Lee- UT
(B. Boxer- CA)- OPEN M. Bennet- CO (H. Reid- NV)- OPEN
R. Blumenthal-CT (B. Mikulski-MD) OPEN
B. Schatz- HI
C. Schumer- NY
P. Leahy- VT
P. Murray- WA