Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Senate Update

Massachusetts: A New England College Polling Institute survey (10/18-22; 468 registered MA Democratic voters) shows Attorney General Martha Coakley maintaining a strong lead in the battle to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Coakley places first at 37% in the Democratic primary forecast, Boston Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca is second at 14%, Rep. Mike Capuano has 13%, and philanthropist Alan Khazei is last with 4%. Winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to final victory. The special primary is December 8th followed by a January 19th special general election.

Pennsylvania: Franklin & Marshall College released a small-sample poll of the Pennsylvania electorate (10/20-25; 616 adults; 529 registered PA voters, with a relatively large error factor of 4.3%). Aside from showing that all PA politicians and President Obama, with the exception of Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D), have upside down approval ratings, the survey gave Sen. Arlen Specter (D) only a 33-31% lead over Republican Pat Toomey. Specter leads Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7) 30-18% in the Democratic primary. Toomey leads Sestak 28-20%, when those two are isolated in a general election pairing.

South Dakota: Democrats may have finally found a candidate to take the long-shot plunge against Sen. John Thune (R). Mark McGovern, grandson of former Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern (D) and director of an alternative energy advocacy group, is indicating he may challenge the popular first-term Senator.

Wisconsin: Terrence Wall, a wealthy Madison area real estate developer who would have the capacity to self-fund his campaign, is indicating he will challenge three-term Sen. Russ Feingold (D) next year. Wall’s presence in the race would give Republicans a credible candidate in the uphill battle against the quintessential leftwing Senator.

House Update

FL-19: Liberal state Sen. Ted Deutch (D) appears to be locking up all the key support in his quest to replace retiring Rep. Robert Wexler (D), who is resigning mid-term. Aside from gaining Wexler’s official endorsement, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-20), Ron Klein (D-FL-22), and Alcee Hastings (D-FL-23) have also officially endorsed the Palm Beach County state legislator. Republicans have no chance in this district.

IL-7: Rep. Danny Davis (D) has already announced his candidacy for Cook County Board President, but may now be hedging his bet. He apparently will file petitions for re-election, too. He has until November 9th to withdraw from one of the races.

IL-18: Democrats have a candidate to oppose freshman Rep. Aaron Schock (R). D.K. Himer, the state director of the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group, says he will run for Congress. Schock is rated as a heavy favorite for re-election.

IA-3: Seven-term congressional veteran Leonard Boswell (D) may draw another strong Republican challenger yet again. State Senator Brad Zaun is now testing the waters for a congressional run next year. Zaun is also the former Mayor of Urbandale, a Des Moines suburb.

MI-2: State Sen. Bill Kuipers joined the large Republican field vying to replace retiring Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), who is running for Governor. Already is the race is former state Rep. Bill Huizenga, ex-NFL and University of Michigan football player Jay Riemersma, and businessman Bill Cooper. Winning the GOP nomination in this western Michigan district means victory in the general election and a potentially long congressional career.

MN-3: Freshman GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen is now seeing a group of potential opponents line up against him. Psychiatrist Maureen Hackett (D) is the first to file petitions to run, but Minnesota PTA president Jim Meffert-Nelson is expected to soon follow suit. State Sen. Teri Bonoff, who lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to military veteran Ashwin Madia, says she is also considering a 2010 run for Congress.

Governor Update

Connecticut: A new poll shows a competitive race between incumbent Republican Jodi Rell and Democratic challenger Susan Bysiewicz, the current Secretary of State, within six points of the Governor, 47-41%, according to internal Democratic data. The numbers are believable, however, since Connecticut is so overwhelmingly Democratic.

Massachusetts: Despite very poor approval ratings, the proposed three-way general election, featuring state Treasurer Tim Cahill running as an Independent, apparently gives Gov. Deval Patrick (D) the inside track for re-election. According to a new Rasmussen Reports (10/22; 500 registered MA voters) poll, Patrick would lead a race against Republican businessman Christy Mahos and Cahill 34-23-23%. Against Republican healthcare executive Charlie Baker and Cahill, the numbers are similar: 34-24-23% in favor of Gov. Patrick.

New Mexico: Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) announced that she will not seek the open Governor’s office next year. Four relatively unknown Republicans are battling for their nomination. Lt. Governor Diane Denish (D) has the inside track to her party’s nomination and is becoming a heavy favorite to eventually replace term-limited Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

Ohio: The University of Cincinnati released a poll conducted for the Ohio Newspaper (10/14-20; 687 registered OH voters), and it showed a close race between Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and former Rep. John Kasich (R). Among likely voters, Strickland leads 49-46%; when just registered voters are sampled, Kasich actually does better, pulling within one point, 48-47%.

Pennsylvania: The aforementioned Franklin & Marshall College poll also surveyed the respective gubernatorial primary fields. Among Democrats, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato leads the crowded field of candidates, but with just 10% among those expressing a preference. The Republican field is clearer. Attorney General Tom Corbett has a 30-8% lead over Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA-6).

Rhode Island: Republicans may have found a credible candidate for Governor, thus making a likely three-way race to replace term-limited Gov. Don Carcieri (R). Businessman Rory Smith, philosophically from the Carcieri wing of the Republican Party, will run. Former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee is in the race as an Independent, and the two will face an eventual Democratic nominee, possibly state Treasurer Frank Caprio or Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Democrats are the early favorites to convert the state house, and may have an even greater advantage in a three-way race.

South Carolina: Lt. Governor Andre Bauer (R), who would ascend to the Governorship early next year if legislators pursue threats to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford (R), announced that he will run for the state’s top office next year. Already in the GOP race are Attorney General Henry McMaster and Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC-3). Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim Rex leads the Democratic side.

Wisconsin: Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton (D) has now reversed course and announced that she will not run for Governor next year. This paves the way for Milwaukee Mayor and former US Rep. Tom Barrett (D) to run for the Democratic nomination. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Rep. Mark Neumann are in the Republican field of candidates. Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has already announced his retirement.