The Battle For the Senate in 2016- May News

California: We start in the Golden State where the seat being vacated by Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer has drawn an incredible 34 declared candidates in the primary.  As one is aware, the top two finishers regardless of party affiliation go on to face one another in November.  But with 34 candidates, officials have run into a problem.  They cannot fit all the candidates onto one page and will instead have to spread it over two pages.  This creates its own set of problems since voters believe that candidates listed on the second page are for a different office.  In fact, they estimate that about 30% will make this mistake.

If this mistake is made as many suspect, it will negate their entire choice since any voter is allowed to vote for only one person for any office.  In other words, about 30% of voters would essentially have their votes negated.  Granted, not all counties are spreading the candidates across two pages, but the problem is still so widespread that state officials are starting to worry.  Further, one’s placement on the ballot is randomized- not by party, or alphabetical or anything else.  Confusion reigns in California.

And with Ted Cruz suspending his campaign, officials expect GOP turnout to be lighter than originally anticipated.  However, with Bernie Sanders promising to fight on in California, Democratic turnout should be higher than anticipated.  What’s this have to do with a Senate primary?  In a state where the top two primary people advance to the general election, the chances of Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez advancing- both Democrats- increased.

Colorado:  Jon Keyser won his court battle to have his name restored to the GOP primary ballot after a judge ruled that disallowing certain signatures was the result of a minor technical glitch.  However, a more serious problem has developed when the signature of at least one person showed up on a petition for another candidate and they claim the signature on the Keyser petition was forged.  A watchdog group has found other conflicting signatures which, if true, could put Keyser below the minimum required to be on the ballot.  These new allegations seem more serious than the first.

Meanwhile, two other Republicans were kicked off the ballot- Ryan Frazier and Robert Blaha.  Frazier has announced he will challenge the disqualification in court.  Blaha was restored to the ballot by a judge, but not before that judge suggested the secretary of state resign for malfeasance in kicking people off the ballot for trivial reasons.

The judge also determined that even though Frazier fell short of the required signatures, he should be put back on the primary ballot.  However, because there appears to be charges of forgeries in some signatures, the judge said that if he is found to be ineligible while that investigation continues but after the actual primary, his votes could always be disqualified.  Strange times indeed in Colorado!

Florida:  There are rumblings within the GOP that Dave Jolly drop out of this race and instead seek reelection in his 13th District.  These concerns are over Jolly’s fundraising efforts, or lack thereof, in a race that will be very expensive to win.  This is the Senate seat of Republican Marco Rubio that is up for grabs.  Jolly also received some bad press recently when he tried to scrub his Wikipedia page of references to Scientology.  They have a very large presence in Clearwater which lies in his 13th District and he has substantial ties to them.

Another candidate, Carlos Beruff, recently summoned his inner Donald Trump and asserted a ban on immigrants from Middle Eastern countries.  He later qualified the statement as a ban on any country with terrorist organizations or ties.  He inadvertently widened the field of countries from the Middle East to the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh… well, you get the idea.

A recent poll out of Florida shows that likely Democratic candidate Scott Murphy would beat any of the top 4 Republican possibilities.  That same poll shows Hillary Clinton up by 13 points in Florida against Donald Trump.  This was done by a conservative outlet.  If true, it illustrates the likely bloodbath in the Senate for the GOP with Trump as the presidential nominee.

One poll shows a very tight race with Democrat Scott Murphy winning against the five most prominent GOP opponents, but by no more than six points.  He runs the closest against Ron DeSantis with the Republican trailing by only one point.  When it comes to the other Democrat- Alan Grayson- he trails three Republican opponents, is tied with a fourth and leads by only one point against the fifth.

Speaking of Grayson, he recently got into a tussle with Harry Reid who was invited to the Congressional Progressive Caucus by Keith Ellison.  Grayson allegedly challenged Reid over recent calls that Grayson resign over ethics charges involving his hedge fund.  Reid told him point blank that he wants him to lose the Democratic Party.  Ellison later criticized Grayson for his lack of decorum.  Imagine that!

And if things were not any funkier in Florida, some Republican operatives are suggesting that Marco Rubio should defend his seat now that he is no longer a presidential candidate.  That would totally throw the primary and general election races into chaos.  Rubio has thus far deflected those rumors.

Iowa: Illustrative of the local versus national leadership dynamic in many races this year, even the Democrats are not immune.  In both House races in Pennsylvania where there was conflict, the locals won out.  In the Iowa Senate race on the Democratic side, the national apparatus supports Patty Judge over Rob Hogg, a state senator.  Hogg has the unwavering support of many local Democratic officials and has now won the endorsement of two Iowa labor organizations.

Part of the problem involves a previous bill that would have expanded union bargaining rights in Iowa.  Former Governor Chet Culver vetoed that bill, supposedly upon the advice of Judge.  That partially explains why local Democratic operatives and Iowa labor unions have circled the wagons around Hogg while national Democrats are pushing Judge.   Additionally, Iowa environmentalists have been cool to Judge citing her closeness with agricultural interests.

Nevada:  The Chamber of Commerce is running a series of ads in support of Republican Joe Heck in this important race to succeed Harry Reid in Nevada.  One spokesman for the Chamber stated this is the only race where the GOP stands to realistically pick up a seat in the Senate which sort of shows they are not interested in the Colorado race against Michael Bennet, the Democratic incumbent.

New Hampshire:  Security is Strength- a PAC set up to help Lindsey Graham’s presidential chances- is running ads in New Hampshire in support of incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte.  And yet another poll shows Ayotte holding a 4-point lead over her Democratic opponent.

North Carolina:  PPP, a North Carolina-based left-leaning pollster, shows GOP incumbent Richard Burr holding a steady 5-point lead over Democratic challenger Deborah Ross.  A poll a month ago showed an identical lead.  This is considered good news for Burr as the false outrage instigated by the Left over that state’s HB-2 has not filtered into the Senate race.  Still, this race bears watching as Burr sometimes gives the impression of going through the motions as if the “R” after his name guarantees victory.

Ohio:  And in a poll likely to be mirrored elsewhere since Trump is the presumptive nominee on the presidential side for the GOP, Republican incumbent Rob Portman finds himself deadlocked with his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland.  Another poll showed Portman losing by a point.

This helps explain why Portman has reserved $14 million in advertising time between June and November.  The the DSCC has reserved $10 million and are counting on some liberal outside groups to step up here.

Wisconsin:  Bernie Sanders has encouraged his donor base to contribute to the campaign of Mr. Money in Politics Is Evil- a/k/a Russ Feingold.

Updated ratings chart:

R. Shelby- AL C. Grassley- IA J. McCain- AZ (M. Rubio- FL) OPEN
L. Murkowski- AK R. Paul- KY K. Ayotte- NH M. Kirk- IL
J. Boozman- AR R. Burr-NC R. Johnson- WI
J. Isaakson- GA P. Toomey- PA R. Portman- OH
M. Crapo- ID
(D. Coates-IN) OPEN
J. Moran- KS
(D. Vitter- LA) OPEN
R. Blunt- MO
J. Hoeven- ND
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
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