Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Senate Update

Delaware: Republican At-Large Rep. Mike Castle announced that he will run for the state’s open US Senate seat. His likely opponent is Attorney General Beau Biden, the Vice-President’s son. The latest polling shows Castle leading by five points. Appointed Sen. Ted Kaufman (D) is not a candidate for the special election in November of 2010. The winner has the right to serve the balance of the current term, which ends in 2014.

Florida: Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, 74, is saying that he will run for the Democratic Senatorial nomination. Miami Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL-17) continues to be a solid favorite to win the Democratic primary, however.

Kentucky: Rasmussen Reports released the results of their latest Senatorial poll (9/30; 500 likely KY registered voters). Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Attorney General Jack Conway (D) are tied at 40%. Grayson leads Lt. Governor and 2004 Senatorial nominee Dan Mongiardo (D) 44-37%. Conway leads Rand Paul (R), son of US Rep. and former presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX-14) 42-38%, but Paul leads Mongiardo 43-38%, in separate pairings.

Louisiana: Rasmussen Reports (10/5; 500 likely LA registered voters) released the results of their Bayou State US Senate survey. They find Sen. David Vitter (R) holds a 46-36% lead over Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3).

Massachusetts: Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley released a Lake Research poll (9/21-24; 800 likely MA voters) showing her with a 47-12% lead over Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-8). Though the poll is dated, the numbers mesh with other polls that are now in the public domain. The two are vying to win the special election necessitated by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D).

Nevada: A new Mason-Dixon poll (10/6-8; 500 registered NV voters) again shows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) trailing two potential Republican opponents. Pitted against Nevada Republican Chair Sue Lowden, Reid trails 49-39%. Against former Secretary of State candidate Danny Tarkanian, Reid is down by five points, 48-43%. The Majority Leader’s favorability ratio is a poor 38:50%. President Obama scores 46:43% on the same question. Lowden leads Tarkanian 23-21% in a Republican primary match-up.

House Update

FL-8: In the wake of Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D) comments saying Republicans want people to die because they oppose a government run healthcare program, businessman Armando Gutierrez, Jr. announced his congressional candidacy. Gutierrez’s father was the spokesman for the Elian Gonzalez family in Miami, when the Clinton Administration returned the Cuban refugee child back to the controversial island nation. Republicans are waiting for former state Senate President Dan Webster to make a decision about his own candidacy. Most believe Webster, forecast to be the GOP’s strongest candidate, will run.

GA-2: Some surprising fundraising totals are being registered by certain GOP candidates in heretofore non-competitive districts. State Rep. Mike Keown (R), challenging nine-term Rep. Sanford Bishop (D), raised $105,000 for the previous quarter and has $101,000 cash-on-hand.

HI-1: Hawaii state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa (D) officially entered the open 1st congressional district campaign. She will oppose former 2nd district Rep. Ed Case in the Democratic primary. The two faced each other before, in the 2nd district, when Case was first elected. Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou will be the Republican nominee.

KY-6: In another district that has the potential of voting Republican but has a previously unchallenged Democratic Congressman (Ben Chandler), attorney Andy Barr (R) reports raising $185,000 for his fledging campaign.

NV-3: State Senator Joe Heck officially ended his campaign for Governor and will challenge freshman Rep. Dina Titus (D) in the 3rd district. Heck’s candidacy gives the GOP a strong candidate in a district that has grown more Democratic since it was originally drawn in 2001. Titus begins the race as the favorite.

NY-15: The rumor that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) would step down from the House and allow Gov. David Paterson to run for his congressional seat has been squelched. Paterson says he has no interest in running for Congress and continues his quest to win election to a full term as Governor.

OH-16: Congressional candidate Jim Renacci (R), owner of the now defunct Arena Football League’s Columbus franchise, reports raising $202,000 in the first quarter of his campaign against freshman Rep. John Boccieri (D).

OH-18: 2008 GOP nominee Fred Dailey is saying he will seek a re-match with Rep. Zack Space (D). Republicans are looking to state Sen. Bob Gibbs, however, since Dailey ran a poor campaign and managed only 40% of the vote in a district that was originally drawn as a safely Republican seat.

PA-11: Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien (D) announced his primary opposition to scandal-tainted Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D). O’Brien has been publicly speculating about the race for months, and kicked off his effort by campaigning for 30 straight hours. Kanjorski reiterated his intention to seek a 14th term.

SC-5: House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D) drew what could become a competitive challenge from state Sen. Mick Mulvaney (R), who officially announced his candidacy this week.

SD-AL: Term-limited Secretary of State Chris Nelson (R) announced that he will challenge Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) next year. Nelson will first battle state Rep. Blake Curd for the GOP nomination. Herseth Sandlin is a decided favorite for re-election.

VA-5: It appears that Republicans successfully convinced their top choice of prospective candidates to challenge freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D). State Sen. Bob Hurt (R) officially announced his congressional campaign. This is one of the GOP’s best conversion opportunities in the country and is a virtual must-win, if the Republicans hope to make major gains next year.

Governor Update

California: The Field Poll, a favorite of California Democrats for decades, has new numbers on the battle to succeed GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The survey (9/18-10/5; 1,005 California voters in both English and Spanish – not all respondents receiving the same questions) gives former Gov. Jerry Brown the lead in his quest to regain the state’s top position, some 28 years after leaving office. The poll shows Brown having a 20 point lead over San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the Democratic primary, 47-27%. He leads Republicans Meg Whitman 50-29%; former Congressman Tom Campbell 48-27%, and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner 50-25% in proposed general election match-ups. The long sampling period plus the questionnaire and language inconsistencies damage the survey’s reliability factor.

Iowa: Former four-term Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee, signaling his intent to challenge Democratic incumbent Gov. Chet Culver (D) next year. Branstad enjoys big early leads in polling and makes this once seemingly secure Democratic post very competitive.

Nevada: The aforementioned Mason-Dixon Nevada poll also shows deep trouble for GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons, while Rory Reid, the Senate Majority Leader’s son and Clark County Commissioner, doesn’t fare much better. While the younger Reid would beat Gibbons 49-37% in a hypothetical ballot test, Reid would lose to former US federal judge Brian Sandoval (R) 50-33%. In a three-way match-up that includes Independent Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, the trio breaks down into a 36-27-24% split in favor of Goodman, followed by Reid and Gibbons, respectively. Sandoval leads Gibbons in the Republican primary 41-20%.

New Jersey: Several new polls are out, all showing a continued close race, but incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) still cannot come close to majority support despite pulling even or ahead in some ballot tests. The Democracy Corps (10/6-7; 614 likely NJ registered voters), a Democratic firm led by former Clinton advisor James Carville, scores it 43% for Corzine, 40% for Republican Chris Christie, and 14% for Independent Chris Daggett. Survey USA, during the almost identical period (10/5-7; 639 likely NJ registered voters) registers the same margin, but order of candidates is reversed. SUSA has Christie up 43-40%, with Daggett tallying an identical 14%. Rasmussen Reports (10/5; 750 likely NJ registered voters) shows Christie with a 47-44% lead over Gov. Corzine, with Daggett only at 6%.

Virginia: The Washington Post conducted a new survey of 1,001 “certain” Virginia voters from October 4-7, and found Republican Bob McDonnell has a 53-44% lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds. This survey gives McDonnell his largest lead since the flap about his controversial Masters thesis where he expressed views about women in the workplace, abortion and contraception.