Diary

Red State Weekly Political Update

SENATE UPDATE

Connecticut: Software company executive Merrick Alpert (D), a former Air Force officer and aide to Vice-President Al Gore, announced his intentions to challenge Sen. Chris Dodd in the 2010 Democratic primary. Sports agent Roger Pearson is also a candidate for the nomination. Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT-2), state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, and stockbroker Peter Schiff are announced Republican candidates. Simmons should win the primary and is a strong bet to defeat Dodd.

Florida: A new Mason-Dixon poll (5/14-18; 625 registered FL voters) shows Gov. Charlie Crist (R) with a huge early lead over Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek (D-FL-17), 55-24%. Additionally, the same poll posts Crist to a 53-18% margin over conservative former House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary.

New York: Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY-2), previously indicating that he would challenge appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), has changed his mind after President Obama personally asked him to pass on the race. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14) says she is still considering running, but Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D) will also forego his candidacy after earlier testing the waters.

North Carolina: After polling dead even with Sen. Richard Burr (R), Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) announced that he would not run for Senate next year. Democrats are now searching for a candidate, even returning to ask Reps. Bob Etheridge (D-NC-2) and Heath Shuler (D-NC-11), to reconsider their publicly stated intentions not to run. Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7) is sounding the most positive about running. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker continue to rule out their own Senatorial candidacies. This development is a big plus for the conservative Burr

Oklahoma: While American Hero Sen. Tom Coburn (R) says he will announce his future plans during the first week of June, a new poll shows him standing tall against the Democrats’ strongest possible candidate, term-limited Gov. Brad Henry. A new Public Policy Polling company survey (5/13-17; 715 OK voters) shows Coburn leading Henry 52-40%. Should the Senator decide not to seek re-election, other Republican potential candidates such as Rep. Tom Cole (R-Ok-4) and former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK-4) run in dead heats against Henry.

Ohio: State Auditor Mary Taylor (R) ended speculation that she would challenge former Bush Budget Director Rob Portman (R) for the GOP Senate nomination. Taylor instead announced that she will seek re-election to her present position. This is good news all around because Portman doesn’t need to spend money in the primary and Taylor’s position has redistricting implications.

HOUSE UPDATE

AL-2: Montgomery city Councilor Martha Roby officially announced her congressional candidacy against freshman Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL-2). This district is one of the most Republican seats to fall to a Democrat in 2008 as Bright out-dueled former state Rep. Jay Love (R) by 1,800 votes. Love is also a possible 2010 candidate.

CA-32: The May 19th special election primary produced two Chu’s for the general election. Board of Equalization chair Judy Chu, a former state Assemblywoman, defeated state Senator Gil Cedillo and financial analyst Emanuel Pleitez, 32-24-13%, to win the Democratic nomination. Betty Chu, a distant relative of Judy’s, won the Republican nomination. The two will square off on July 14th for the right to replace Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in Congress. Judy Chu is an overwhelming favorite because of the Democratic nature of the district.

CA-36: Marcy Winograd, who drew 37.5% of the vote against Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA-36) in the 2006 Democratic primary, announced that she will run again next year. Harman has been at odds with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the CIA waterboarding controversy and other Intelligence Committee-related matters. The Congresswoman was ranking member of the House panel during the 2005-6 congressional session, but Pelosi did not appoint her as chair when the Democrats re-captured the House majority.

IL-13: Last week, Democrat Scott Harper officially renewed his challenge to Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL-13). This week, the 71-year old incumbent announced that she will seek a seventh-term in the House. Biggert won by nine points in 2008 and is a bigger favorite in 2010.

MI-13: Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI-13), who survived her 2008 renomination fight with only a small plurality of votes, will again fend off challenges from her previous Democratic opponents. State Sen. Martha Scott and former state Rep. Mary Waters both say they will run again. Defeated Mayor Ken Cockrel, who succeeded Kilpatrick’s scandal-tainted son in the Mayor’s office only to lose earlier this month to former Detroit Pistons basketball star Dave Bing, is also saying the congressional race is “of interest”.

GOVERNOR UPDATE

Colorado: Former Rep. Scott McInnis (R-CO-3) officially announced that he will challenge Gov. Bill Ritter (D) next year. McInnis, who retired from Congress in 2004, has been mentioned as a possible statewide candidate ever since. The former Representative has the inside track to the Republican nomination and early polls have even pegged him to a small lead over Gov. Ritter. McInnis has a real shot to win here.

Florida: Attorney General Bill McCollum (R) officially announced his candidacy for Governor, now that incumbent Charlie Crist (R) is running for Senate. Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson (R), who was originally expected to follow suit, is now reportedly backing away from launching a campaign of his own. This is a huge boost for McCollum and goes a long way to possibly making him the lone GOP candidate. The state’s Chief Financial Officer, Adelaide “Alex” Sink (D), mirroring the Republican situation, is likely to become the consensus Democratic candidate as, likewise, no major primary opponent is surfacing. McCollum was elected Attorney General in 2006, after serving 20 years in the US House. He twice lost statewide bids for Senate. Sink was elected Florida CFO three years ago in her first run for public office. Her husband, Bill McBride, is a defeated 2002 gubernatorial candidate. The aforementioned Mason-Dixon poll posts McCollum to an early 40-34%. McCollum is under-rated as a campaigner and Sink is over-rated. This will shape up to be a good race.

Iowa: Republican state Auditor Dave Vaudt announced that he will not challenge Gov. Chet Culver (D) next year. So far, the GOP has no strong candidates running. Conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA-5) has not ruled out a statewide run.

New Jersey: After a Rasmussen Reports poll showed that former US Attorney Christopher Christie’s Republican gubernatorial primary lead was slipping against former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, two new surveys are showing the opposite. A new Monmouth University study (5/13-18; 706 NJ Republican voters) posts Christie to a 50-32% primary lead, while the latest Quinnipiac University Q-Poll (5/13-18; 543 likely NJ GOP voters) pegs Christie’s advantage at 56-33%. Christie continues to lead unpopular Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine by high single-digits.

Oklahoma: The Public Policy Polling survey (5/13-17; 715 OK voters) that forecast Sen. Coburn’s strong standing, also tested the upcoming open seat Governor’s race. Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK-5) fares best. She leads Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) 48-38%, and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins (D) 50-34%. This is a prime conversion opportunity for Republicans.

Utah: The appointment of Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) as the new US Ambassador to China means that Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) will ascend to the Governorship upon the former’s official confirmation. Herbert will now have to stand for a special election in 2010 to fill the balance of the current term, which expires in 2012. The Democrats’ strongest potential candidates appear to be Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2), Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, and Salt Lake City Mayor Peter Becker. No one, including Herbert, has made any public comment about whether or not they will enter this new race.

Virginia: The latest Survey USA poll (5/17-19; 502 likely VA Democratic voters) is showing a clear spread in the Democratic primary field. Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe is the big gainer in the latest survey, and former Alexandria Delegate Brian Moran is badly slipping. The new numbers show McAuliffe with a 37-26-22% lead over state Sen. Creigh Deeds and Moran, respectively. In the general election, where the sample size rises to 1,692 registered VA voters, Republican former Attorney General Bob McDonnell continues to lead all contenders. Against both McAuliffe and Deeds, McDonnell’s advantage is a consistent 46-40%. Paired with Moran, the former AG’s margin increases to 47-37%. A McDonnell victory would be huge for national GOP prospects.