2016 US Senate News- December Edition

ARIZONA-  Strategies 360 is one of the better polling companies out there and they show McCain beating probable Democratic opponent [mc_name name=’Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’K000368′ ] 51-36 at this point in the game.  Other polls have shown similar leads while others have shown smaller leads.  The bottom line?  They all show leads.  McCain first has to get by a primary challenge as most of the more conservative representatives from Arizona are not showing any signs of challenging McCain at this point.

FLORIDA- Democrat [mc_name name=’Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000556′ ] saw some campaign operatives resign this past month.  That can be taken one of two ways.  First, as we enter 2016, it seems like a good time to make some changes and this is natural in the ebb and flow of any campaign.  OR it could mean dissension in the ranks and some disorganization.  We’ll have to wait and see.  In either case, a Grayson primary victory would likely bolster GOP chances to keep this seat.  And it would make things more entertaining.

GEORGIA:  We don’t hear much from this state on the Democratic side because they know that the chance of unseating John Isakson is low.  However, they were trying to convince Michael Sterling, an ally of Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, although he turned down the possibility. Sterling is said to have his eyes on the Atlanta mayor’s race in 2017.  He is most likely waiting for an open Senate seat before making any statewide run for office.

ILLINOIS:  The filing deadline for 2016 came and went and the action will be on the Democratic side with [mc_name name=’Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000622′ ] most likely to emerge.  Unfortunately for the GOP, it appears that we are stuck with [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000360′ ] as the candidate since neither Schilling nor Walsh decided to take on the incumbent Democrat…er, Republican Kirk.

KENTUCKY: It is no secret that [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] is alienating some Bluegrass State voters by persisting in this presidential bid which he has no chance of winning.  It makes it look as if he is taking the Senate seat- and Kentucky residents- for granted.  However, the Democrats are not too keen on winning this seat either.  The three names mentioned most often are VA Commissioner Heather French Henry (although her association with the VA may be a liability), Louisville mayor Greg Fischer (who says he is happy where he is) and actress Ashley Judd.  The hope is that one will take on Paul, not in the hopes of defeating him, but in hopes of increasing Democratic turnout so that they can retain control in the state lower house.

LOUISIANA-  Former state senator Troy Hebert (a Democrat) is toying with a run for Vitter’s open seat in Louisiana.  Hebert is actually a former Democrat turned independent.  After his tenure in the state senate, Governor Jindal appointed him to a state commission from which he recently resigned fueling speculation he will run next year.  If so, even though technically an independent, he would be the de facto Democratic candidate since no actual Democrat is stepping forward.  However, the DSCC is reportedly high on former US Attorney Don Cazayoux.  Another possibility is state senator Gary Smith who represents a Republican-leaning district in the state senate.  In order to prevail in a general election, the Democrats will need Republican cross-over votes which would seem to point the arrow at Smith.  The biggest name on their wish list- New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu- announced he would not make a run for the Senate.  Overall, there are five Democrats considering a run.

On the Republican side, there were rumors that Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne would enter the race but he emphatically said he would not make a run for the Senate.  Considering that he endorsed John Bel Edwards in the runoff against Vitter, his chances among Republicans in the state was nil.  However, Rob Maness has expressed interest.  In all, three Republicans are officially in the race, three have formed exploratory committees and another three are publicly considering a run.

With so many candidates, should it come to fruition, can you say “runoff?”

MARYLAND- [mc_name name=’Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’V000128′ ] may have the inside track for the Democrats in this open seat, but fellow Congressperson [mc_name name=’Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’E000290′ ] will give him a fight.  That was underscored when EMILY’s List stepped in with a $1 million investment in her Democratic primary campaign.  They even came out with an ad that was “ho-hum.”

Van Hollen has picked up the endorsement of the state’s SEIU affiliate even though labor has been close to Donna Edwards since she won her House seat in 2008.  Apparently, they are angry because Edwards supported a proposed non-union hospital.

NORTH CAROLINA: The filing deadline for the primary has passed and there were no surprises on the Democratic side.  However, the late addition of Republican Greg Brannon into the race came as a surprise.  Brannon could potentially defeat incumbent [mc_name name=’Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001135′ ].  Last time out in 2014, he almost forced a runoff against the more establishment-friendly [mc_name name=’Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’T000476′ ] who went on to beat Kay Hagan.  This could be interesting on the GOP side.  So….stay tuned to this race as 2016 unfolds.

PENNSYLVANIA:  Surprise!  Surprise!!  Another Keystone state union has endorsed Democrat Katie McGinty in her bid to unseat Pat Toomey.

No changes to the Senate race ratings this month:

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