Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Senate Update

Connecticut: Former US Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley officially entered the field of candidates vying for the Republican Senatorial nomination. Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT-2) and state Sen. Sam Caligiuri are already running. Sen. Chris Dodd (D) continues to be one of the Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents.

Florida: While one Democratic Senatorial candidate dropped out of the race, another potential contender stated that she may enter. State Sen. Dan Gelber officially ended his Senate campaign in order to pursue a race for the state’s Chief Financial Officer position. He is also a possibility to be tabbed as presumptive gubernatorial nominee Adelaide “Alex” Sink’s running mate for Lt. Governor. Conversely, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL-3) made a public statement saying she is considering running for the Senate. A self-proclaimed ally of the Meek family – Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL-17) is currently the leading candidate – Brown says that her 17 years of congressional experience is a strong asset for her possible statewide campaign. Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is favored in both the GOP primary and general elections.

Minnesota: The seven-month long post-election process to determine the winner of the November 4th Senate contest entered another phase. Both candidates made their oral arguments before the Minnesota state Supreme Court. Because two of the seven justices were appointed to the original canvassing commission, the case is being heard by just five jurists. Republican Norm Coleman is asking the state’s highest court to overturn a lower court ruling posting leftist Al Franken to a 312-vote victory.

New York: Liberal sources are claiming that Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14) is telling colleagues and constituents that she will challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) next year. Like Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY-2) who went right up to the line of forming an exploratory committee only to back down at the personal request of President Obama, it remains to be seen if Maloney actually declares her candidacy.

North Carolina: In an announcement generating little surprise, Elizabeth Edwards (D) the wife of former Vice-Presidential nominee and Sen. John Edwards, stated that she would not challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R) next year. Edwards had been tested in polling against Burr, but hadn’t made any discernable move to enter the race against him.

Ohio: In a minor development, state Rep. Tyrone Yates (D) decided to officially end his fledging campaign for the US Senate. The field is winnowing down to a two-way contest between Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. Former Bush Budget Director Rob Portman is the consensus Republican nominee.

Oklahoma: After about a month of public discussion as to whether conservative stalwart Sen. Tom Coburn (R) would run for re-election, the maverick legislator announced that he would in fact seek a second term in office. He did reiterate his promise to serve no more than two terms, meaning that this will be his last election. Coburn, brandishing high popularity numbers, is likely to face only minimal opposition next November.

House Update

FL-17: Speculation is swirling around Miami that former Rep. Carrie Meek (D-FL-17) will come out of retirement to again seek her former office. The 83-year old Mrs. Meek would then be expected to serve just one more term. Her son Rep. Kendrick Meek is in strong shape to become the Democratic Senatorial nominee next year. Should he lose the general election, under this arrangement, he could then return to the House in 2012 when his mother retires for the second time.

KS-1: State Sen. Jim Barnett, the 2006 GOP gubernatorial nominee, announced his candidacy for the open 1st congressional district (Rep. Jerry Moran (R) running for Senate). Barnett joins fellow state Sen. Tim Huelskamp and former Sen. Sam Brownback chief of staff Rob Wasinger in the Republican primary. KS-1 is a safe Republican seat, sprawling the entire western sector of the state.

MD-6: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R), always a retirement possibility because he is now 83 years old, officially announced that he will seek re-election next year. The 6th district is the lone safe Republican seat in a Free State dominated by Democrats.

PA-6: GOP state Rep. Curt Schroeder announced the formation of an official congressional exploratory committee. This gives further credence to the statewide plans of Rep. Jim Gerlach (R), who is actively considering a campaign for the open Governor’s race, and is being encouraged by some Republicans to oppose former Rep. Pat Toomey in his challenge to Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter. With polling numbers showing Toomey performing competitively against Specter, Gerlach appears headed for the Governor’s race.

Governor Update

Alabama: The ever-enlarging gubernatorial field grew again this week. Judge Roy Moore (R), who came to fame a number of years ago by protecting the placement of a Ten Commandments statue in the Alabama Supreme Court chambers, announced that he will run for Governor next year. State Treasurer Kay Ivey also joined the Republican field. Gov. Bob Riley (R) is term-limited.

Georgia: As expected, defeated former Gov. Roy Barnes (D), ousted from office in 2002 by Republican Sonny Perdue who is term-limited in 2010, has announced that he will attempt to reclaim the office next year. Barnes faces Attorney General Thurbert Baker in the Democratic primary in addition to a state legislator. Secretary of State Karen Handel, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and Rep. Nathan Deal make up the Republican field. The eventual GOP nominee will likely begin the general election as a slight favorite over the Democratic winner.

Michigan: In a major announcement, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard (R) joined the GOP field for Governor this week. Also in the race are Attorney General Mike Cox, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI-2). Bouchard was the 2006 Senatorial nominee against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), against whom he garnered 41% of the vote. Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) is term-limited.

Minnesota: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) officially announced that he will not seek a third term in office next year. This will set off a free-for-all among prospective candidates in both parties.

New Jersey: Former US Attorney Christopher Christie won the Republican nomination for Governor this past Tuesday, scoring a 55-42% victory over ex-Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. Christie will now face liberal Gov. Jon Corzine (D). The first Rasmussen Reports survey, taken one day after primary voting day (500 likely voters), shows Christie leading the incumbent 51-38%.

New Mexico: State House Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D) has formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee. If he decides to run, he will face Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (D), who begins the contest with the inside track to the party nomination. Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is term-limited. Democrats are favored to retain the post.

New York: Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, despite polling numbers showing him to be a huge favorite over Gov. David Paterson (D), says he is only interested in running for re-election to his current position. Paterson as the Democratic nominee would mean the state house will be up for grabs, as Republicans, especially if former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani runs, will have a strong chance of unseating the Governor.

Tennessee: State Senate President Ron Ramsey (R), who is first in line to succeed the Governor because the state has no Lt. Governor, officially launched his campaign for the state’s top post. Also in the Republican race is Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN-3), Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, and Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons. Businessman Mike McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, is the leading Democrat. Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is term-limited. This is one of the best Republican conversion opportunities in the country.

Virginia: A myriad of polls show different Democratic leaders for the gubernatorial primary election this next Tuesday. Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, Charlottesville state Senator Creigh Deeds, and ex-Alexandria Delegate Brian Moran are in a nip and tuck campaign for the party nomination with each candidate pointing to a poll showing him in first place. As the candidates head for home, it appears the Deeds has the most positive momentum with both McAuliffe and Moran appearing to turn downward. The race is too close to call. The winner faces GOP former Attorney General Bob McDonnell.