2016 US Senate News- January Edition

There was surprisingly lots of news on the Senatorial front in January.  This writer also has a race rating change in Wisconsin moving the Republican incumbent from toss-up into the danger category.

Alabama:  Perhaps learning the lesson of Pat Roberts in Kansas and Lamar Alexander in Tennessee in 2014, Richard Shelby, who seems a shoo-in for the GOP nod and reelection to the Senate, has took out a $6 million ad buy.  He is likely playing it safe, or maybe he knows something we don’t know.

Arkansas:  John Boozman is out with new commercials re-introducing himself to the electorate.  He will likely face Connor Eldridge for the Democrats come November.

California:  A recent poll by Field Research shows Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez advancing to the general election in November.  Harris leads Sanchez 27-15.  Doing the math, that is only 42% of the electorate.  I’m not suggesting the GOP has a legitimate chance here; Kamala Harris will probably be the next Senator from California.  But if the GOP can consolidate behind a single candidate and edge out Sanchez, it would make this race a little more interesting than a liberal Democrat versus a liberal Democrat.

Colorado:  There are now 12…count ’em… 12 GOP candidates lined up to take on Michael Bennet in November.  Peg Littleton is the latest to enter the race  For my money, I just hope that Gary Swing of the Boiling Frog Party wins this race in November.  We need someone from the Boiling Frog Party to teach those Washington types a thing or two.

Florida: Republican Dave Jolly announced he will cease personally fundraising and will give that task to his staff arguing that members of Congress need to focus on national security, not seeking money.

The most recent polling in this state shows Democrat Alan Grayson with a 27-20 lead on Patrick Murphy in their primary with 45% undecided.  For the GOP, the aforementioned Jolly leads with 28 to only eight against fellow Republicans DeSantis and Lopez-Cantera with a whopping 50% undecided.  Obviously, the primary races are still in flux.

Georgia: Democrats are having a hard time finding someone to run against John Isaakson, but they are reported to be keen on ex-US attorney, Ed Tarver.  His chances are not very great, but they may be grooming him for a future run in Georgia believing the state’s changing demographics favor them in future years.

Indiana:  This race on the Republican side will boil down to the more Tea Party-favored Marlin Stutzman versus the more establishment-favored Todd Young.  Stutzman recently replaced most of his senior campaign staff and it showed in his 4th quarter fundraising which decreased about 50%.  Meanwhile, Young took in a healthy $750,000 in the fourth quarter, a slight increase over his third quarter haul.

On the Democratic side, John Dickerson dropped out due to weak fundraising.  That leaves Baron Hill as the likely Democrat to emerge in this state.  However, Hill’s fundraising prowess is nothing to write home about either.

Louisiana:  State treasurer John Kennedy has entered the race for this open seat on the Republican side.  In 2004, he ran as a Democrat and finished third and in 2008 ran as a Republican against Mary Landrieu and lost a surprisingly closer-than-expected race.  Also entering the race is Rob Maness who finished third in the jungle primary to unseat Mary Landrieu.  With GOP heavy hitters like Kennedy, Fleming and Boustany in the race, Maness will have his work cut out for him this year.  No Democrat has entered the race yet.

Kentucky:  Popular Lexington mayor Jim Gray- who is openly gay- has entered the race on the Democratic side to take on Rand Paul.  Although a prominent recruitment for the Democrats, he still faces an uphill battle.  The good news is that with a probable viable candidate in November, Paul will now focus on his day job and forget about those visions of sugar plums and the White House.

Maryland:  Despite a huge money and name recognition advantage, Chris Van Hollen leads Donna Edwards by only two points in the most recent poll of Democratic primary opponents.  Back in November, he enjoyed a 14 point lead.  Hopefully, they’ll beat each other up, a terrible blizzard will hit Baltimore on Election Day and a Republican will sneak into the Senate from Maryland.  I can dream…

New Hampshire:  PPP had a poll on this hotly contested race between incumbent Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Maggie Hassan.  It shows Ayotte with a two-point lead, 44-42 which is about where it was a month ago.  Ayotte sports a 41% approval rating as a Senator which is on the lower end of the cusp of electability.  Another poll by the more reliable Marist shows Ayotte up 45-40.

North Carolina: The DSCC has thrown their endorsement behind Deborah Ross joining the state’s chapter of the AFL-CIO and EMILY’s List.  I feel sorry for his primary opponent, Chris Rey.  Regardless, they’ll have a tough time unseating GOP incumbent Richard Burr.

Ohio:  The March primary is quick approaching and the key question here is who will challenge Rob Portman on the Democratic side.  Cincinnati city councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is running a quixotic campaign against former governor Ted Strickland in the Democratic primary.  And the most recent poll shows Strickland decimating him 61-10.

Wisconsin:  A Marquette poll shows that Democrat Russ Feingold is up 50-37 on GOP incumbent Ron Johnson.  While we should not get too concerned about a single poll this far out, Feingold shows some consistency in the 50% range necessitating a downgrade in Johnson’s chances.

Senate ratings (Johnson of Wisconsin’s chances downgraded):

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