Red State Weekly Political Update for Period Ending April 3, 2009

Key Political Developments

Senate Update

Alaska: Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and officials of the Alaska Republican Party have called upon Sen. Mark Begich (D) to resign his seat in light of the Justice Department revelations about former Sen. Ted Stevens. Attorney General Eric Holder dropped all charges against Stevens due to previous DoJ prosecutorial misconduct violations in their pursuit of the 40-year Senatorial veteran. Palin stated that a special election should be called since Begich was elected under false pretenses. Alaska has a recall law, but it does not apply to federal officials.

Connecticut: Quinnipiac University released the results of their new Connecticut survey (3/26-31; 1,181 likely CT voters), showing ethically challenged Sen. Christopher Dodd being trounced by former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT-2) 50-34%. Dodd also trails state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, who officially announced his candidacy earlier in the week, 41-37%. Former Ambassador Tom Foley would beat Dodd 43-35%. The “Senator-for-Life”s’ job approval dropped to 33%. This is the first poll taken since the AIG-bonus flap involving Dodd. Look for Democrats to try to force him out of the race before they lose to Simmons.

Florida: Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14) ended speculation that he would run for the Senate. The three-term Congressman announced plans to seek re-election and said he endorses Gov. Charlie Crist (R) for whatever office, either Governor or Senator, he chooses to seek.

Minnesota: The three-judge panel hearing the Senatorial re-count challenge ruled that only 400 ballots will be re-examined. This is a victory for Democrat Al Franken, as he officially leads by 225 votes. Should Republican Norm Coleman lose before this panel, he could ask the state’s Supreme Court to intervene. The loony-leftwing Franken is now likely to be certified the winner and thus seated in the Senate.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Arlen Specter (R) has already launched a negative media campaign against GOP primary challenger Pat Toomey. The ads connect Toomey to the Wall Street collapse and criticize him for voting to “privatize” Social Security. This action is virtually unprecedented for an incumbent and shows that polls posting Toomey to a double-digit lead over the liberal Senator are in fact being confirmed by the Specter camp.

House Update

HI-1: Former Rep. Ed Case (D-HI-2) announced he will be a candidate for the vacated 1st district seat of Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D). The Congressman officially declared his campaign for Governor last month. Case won two House elections in the adjoining district before unsuccessfully challenging Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) in the 2006 Democratic primary, and is a perennial candidate for virtually every office in the state. This year alone he was reported to be running for Governor and both House seats. The race is expected to attract several strong Democrats including Mayor Mufi Hannemann of Honolulu. GOP City Councilman Charles Djou, also of Honolulu, will be the consensus Republican candidate and could be competitive in the general election. A Republican can win in Hawaii now and then.

NY-20: The counting and re-counting process promises to be long in duration. An adjusted tabulation of the March 31st special congressional election now places Republican Jim Tedisco ahead of Democrat Scott Murphy by a scant 12 votes. On election night, Murphy originally led by 65 votes. More than 6,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted. Military and absentee ballots will be accepted until April 13. Democrats thought they had this one in the bag until people actually began voting. Both sides now claim they will win when all the votes are recorded.

OK-4: Rep. Tom Cole (R) announced that he will seek re-election next year. He had been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, but will yield to fellow Rep. and former Lt. Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK-5) who has already launched her campaign for the state’s top job.

Governor Update

Alabama: Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr. (D) decided not to run for Governor; instead announcing he will seek another term in his current office. Ron Sparks, the state Agriculture and Industries Commissioner, a statewide elected position in the state, will seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Rep. Artur Davis (D-Al-7) previously announced his candidacy. GOP Gov. Bob Riley is term-limited. Republicans have a crowded field. The GOP winner should be considered the favorite to hold the seat, but Democrats are fielding strong candidates.

Georgia: Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D) announced his campaign for Governor next year. Former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) is considering a comeback after he was thrown out of office in 2002, so this development means he will have major primary opposition if he chooses to run again. Republicans feature a tough battle among Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, state Insurance Commissioner Mark Oxendine, and Secretary of State Karen Handel. Incumbent Sonny Perdue (R) is term-limited.

Michigan: Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI-2), who earlier in the year announced he will not seek a tenth term in the House, made his gubernatorial bid official this week. He will likely face Attorney General Mike Cox, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson in the Republican primary. Lt. Gov. John Cherry is the likely Democratic nominee. Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) is term-limited. Republicans are polling strong here, in what will be a critical re-districting state in 2011.

Ohio: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-17), who earlier declined to join the crowded Democratic US Senate primary, announced that he will leave the House in order to seek the state’s Lt. Governor position. The move was welcomed by leftist Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who will run as a team with the eventual Democratic nominee. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) is running for the Senate, also with Strickland’s support.

Virginia: A new Public Policy Polling survey (3/27-29; 740 likely Democratic primary voters) again reveals that the Democrats will likely tear themselves apart in their primary. Reversing last month’s trend, former Alexandria Delegate Brian Moran, brother of liberal US Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA-8), re-captured the lead in the field of three candidates. He tops former DNC Chairman and Clinton sycophant Terry McAuliffe 22-18%. State Senator Creigh Deeds, the losing 2005 Attorney General Democratic nominee, trails the field with 15%. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) is term-limited. Former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, who is proving to be a strong candidate, is the consensus Republican nominee.