Red State Weekly Political Update

Promoted from diaries by Mark Impomeni

Senate Update

Kansas: Survey USA released its latest poll in the GOP primary battle to replace Sen. Sam Brownback. Reps. Jerry Moran (R-KS-1) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS-4) remain virtually dead even with Moran holding a slight 40-38% advantage. The winner holds the open seat for the GOP.

Louisiana: Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3), now facing the prospect of a tough re-election (GOP state Rep. Nickie Monica is saying he will enter the race) as well as the possibility of losing his seat in the 2011 redistricting is indicating that he is reconsidering running against scandal-laden Sen. David Vitter (R). Melancon’s entry will make the race highly competitive.

Missouri: Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) told The Hill newspaper this week that she is now considering a run for Rep. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO-7) congressional seat rather than challenge him in the GOP Senate primary. In a subsequent conversation with a local Springfield media outlet the next day, Steelman still left the door open for a Senate run, however, stating she is still “considering” the statewide venture.

New Hampshire: Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) is being discussed in Republican circles as a potential Senate candidate to replace the retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R). Ayotte was appointed by former Governor Craig Benson (R) and retained by current Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

Pennsylvania: Rasmussen Reports released its first poll on the potential primary between Democratic Senator Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7). The survey of 500 likely voters shows Sen. Specter with a comfortable, but shrinking, 19 point lead, 51-32%. The numbers are better for Sestak than one might believe at first glance. The name ID disparity between the two candidates, with Specter’s being virtually universal and Sestak’s low throughout the state, suggests that the latter has much room to grow as he becomes better known.

House Update

AZ-5: Former video game company president Jim Ward (R) has announced his candidacy against Rep. Harry Mitchell (D). Though Ward has deep pockets, he will face a tough challenge from the 2008 GOP nominee, former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert.

ID-1: The GOP primary field has added another candidate as current state House Majority Leader Ken Roberts has thrown his hat into the ring to challenge freshman Rep. Walt Minnick (D). Roberts joins McCain ally Vaughn Ward and possibly former Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID-1), who remains undecided as to whether he will seek a rematch. This seat should come back to the GOP in 2010.

NH-2: Rep. Paul Hodes’ open seat attracted its first official Republican candidate, in the person of former state Rep. Bob Giuda. Speculation still remains as to whether 2008 nominee and former radio host Jennifer Horn or even former Rep. Charlie Bass will join the fray.

Governor Update

Kansas: Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh (R) announced he is no longer pursuing the Governorship. Thornburgh was not considered to be a particularly significant threat to Republican Sen. Sam Brownback.

Michigan: Former Michigan State football coach George Perles, 75, officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Perles is currently a Michigan State trustee, a statewide elected position. He joins Lt. Gov. John Cherry in the race to replace term- limited Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D). The general election will be a toss-up.

Oregon: Moore Information, a GOP polling firm headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, released a survey featuring gubernatorial match-ups for Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2). Though Walden is unlikely to run, against former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-5) and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (D) the data shows a surprisingly close result with the GOP Congressman trailing each Democrat by only four points.

Pennsylvania: Businessman Tom Knox (D) released a Fairbank-Maslin poll conducted for his potential gubernatorial campaign, which shows an extremely tight race for the Democratic nomination. Knox trails Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato in a head-to-head matchup by just a 22-21% margin, with most of the likely voters undecided. The survey also matched Knox and Onorato against state Auditor General Jack Wagner and Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham. This mix shows Knox and Onorato tied at 14%, with Wagner and Cunningham receiving 13% and 7%, respectively.

Virginia: Anazalone-Liszt produced a poll on behalf of the Democratic Governors Association this week revealing an early lead for recently nominated state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D). Republican nominee Bob McDonnell trails Deeds, 42-38%. This is potentially a good sign for Deeds considering current Democratic Governor Tim Kaine trailed his Republican opponent in every major poll during the early part of the 2005 campaign. A brand new Research 2000 survey shows McDonnell faring better – leading Deeds 45-44%.

Wisconsin: Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle continues to see his polling numbers fall. Public Policy Polling released a survey showing Gov. Doyle trailing both potential GOP nominees. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker leads Doyle by a 48-40% margin and former Rep. Mark Neumann has a slim edge of 42-41%. Gov. Doyle appears to be in poor shape with independent voters as 69% of this political segment disapprove of his job performance.