Red State Weekly Political Synopsis for April 24, 2009

Senate Update

Arizona: Sen. John McCain (R) will have at least one Republican primary challenger next year. Chris Simcox, the founder of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps an outspoken border protection group, officially announced his candidacy.

Arkansas: State Senate Minority Leader Kim Hendren (R) announced he will challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) next year. Hendren, 71, ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1982, losing the Republican primary. Lincoln is expected to draw stronger opposition later and is surprisingly vulnerable for re-election. Former US Attorney Tim Griffin (R) is the strongest of the potential candidates.

Colorado: Public Policy Polling completed a new statewide survey (4/17-19; 1,050 CO voters) that showed appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) in a politically weakened condition. He trails former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO-7) by one point, 43-42%, but beats lesser known GOP candidates. Sen. Bennet leads Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier 39-35%; Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck 40-34%; and state Senate Minority Leader Josh Pendry 41-34%.

Delaware: Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE-AL) is indicating that he is moving closer either to running for the Senate or retiring from Congress altogether. Castle is facing what promises to be a strong re-election challenge from former Lt. Gov. John Carney (D). In a meeting with Carney earlier this week, the moderate Congressman is reportedly to have said that “there’s probably a better chance that I will run for the Senate than the House, [but] there’s a chance I won’t run at all.” He promised to make a final decision relating to his 2010 plans by “early summer.” Beau Biden, the Vice-President’s son, will be the likely Democrat nominee. Castle leads in early polling.

Kansas: Survey USA conducted a poll of 442 Kansas Republican primary voters (April 17-19) and found Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS-1) leading fellow Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS-4) 39-35% in their battle for the open GOP Senatorial nomination. Sen. Sam Brownback (R) is running for Governor. Tiahrt is the more conservative of the two and comes from the bigger population base (Wichita). Earlier polling showed Tiahrt with a similar lead. Consider this race a virtual dead heat.

Maryland: Leftist Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) ended retirement speculation by telling Baltimore Sun reporters that she has $1.2 million in the bank and will be embarking upon an aggressive tour of public appearances throughout the state in order to “discourage” Republican opposition. She’ll easily win re-election again.

Pennsylvania: Democratic state Representative Bill Kortz officially announced his Senatorial campaign. The Pittsburgh area legislator becomes the third official Democratic candidate to enter the race. PA Education Board chairman Joe Torsella and state Rep. Josh Shapiro previously announced their intentions to run. Sen. Arlen Specter and former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA-15) are vying for the Republican nomination. Watch for liberal Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), a former Navy Admiral and Clinton Administration official, to jump into this race at some point.

House Update

CA-10: Lt. Governor John Garamendi (D) is pulling out of the open Governor’s race and will soon officially enter the special congressional election to be scheduled later this year. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA-10) has accepted an Obama Administration State Department appointment and will resign from Congress upon confirmation to her new post. The Dem establishment is backing ultra-leftwing state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier. This will make for an interesting special election. Republicans have little chance to win here.

CA-32: Endorsements are adorning the major candidates in the special election to replace Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu (D) received the official support of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as the California Democratic Party. State Sen. Gil Cedillo (D) picked up the support of the United Farm Workers and the Southern California District Council of Laborers. One of the two will win the special Democratic primary on May 19th, which is tantamount to ultimate victory.

FL-22: State House Majority Leader Adam Hasner (R) announced he will not enter the Republican primary to challenge sophomore tax, spend, and tax again-Rep. Ron Klein (D). Former military officer Allen West (R), who held Klein to a 55-45% victory margin in 2008 despite being outspent by almost a 5:1 margin, is running again.

IL-10 Grayslake state Sen. Michael Bond (D) announced the formation of an exploratory committee to challenge Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL-10). Kirk survived tough campaigns in both 2006 and 2008 in what is now a Democratic-leaning district. Bond may be positioning himself in case the seat comes open, as Kirk is weighing a bid for the US Senate.

IL-14: Ethan Hastert, son of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL-14), is publicly saying he may challenge Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL-14) to reclaim his father’s former congressional seat. Foster won the seat in a 2008 special election after Hastert resigned in mid-term.

NY-19: State Assemblyman Greg Ball (R) scheduled a May 9th news conference to officially announce his 2010 challenge to sophomore Rep. John Hall (D-NY-19). Hall defeated six-term Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY-19) in 2006.

NY-20: Republican Jim Tedisco will reportedly officially concede the special election to Democrat Scott Murphy as early as today. Murphy now leads in the absentee count by more than 400 votes. At one point, the election was so close that the two candidates had exactly the same number of votes with more than 154,000 ballots tabulated. Murphy will replace Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY-20) who was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s US Senate vacancy. Tedisco violated the cardinal rule of special elections in that he de-energized his base by taking two weeks to say whether or not he would have voted against the Obama stimulus package. Yet, he still almost won. A better candidate with a stronger campaign team probably would have won this race going away.

Governor Update

Alabama: State Treasurer Kay Ivey (R) is saying she will be a candidate for Governor next year, entering a field becoming ever more crowded. Gov. Bob Riley (R) is term-limited. The Republicans will be favored to hold the state house, but no clear favorites have yet emerged on either side.

Georgia: With GOP front running candidate Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle last week dropping out of the Governor’s race for health reasons, other potential candidates are taking a second look at running for the state’s top job. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3), who had decided not to run is now said to be reassessing the situation since Cagle is out. Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) is term-limited.

Kansas: The same Survey USA poll (4-17-19; 422 KS GOP voters) that showed a tight Republican battle for the US Senate nomination, posts Sen. Sam Brownback to a huge 64-17% lead over Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh (R). Brownback is a heavy favorite to in the general election, too. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) awaits confirmation as President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson (D), who will ascend to the Governorship once Sebelius resigns, has already stated his intentions to return to the private sector and does not plan to seek a full term next year.

New Jersey: Two new polls have been released for the 2009 New Jersey Governor’s race. Quinnipiac University conducted a huge 2,222 person survey during April 14-20, and recorded their all-time worst job approval number for a New Jersey chief executive. By a margin of 34:57%, the respondents disapprove of the job Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is doing. In a ballot test against former US Attorney Chris Christie (R), Corzine trails his GOP opponent 45-38%. Strategic Vision, in the field April 17-19 surveying 800 NJ voters, recorded similar numbers. They show Christie leading 47-36%.