Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Senate Update

Connecticut: Quinnipiac University’s latest Q-Poll (11/3-8; 1,236 registered CT voters; 474 Democrats and 332 Republicans) shows former Republican Rep. Rob Simmons decisively leading leftwing Sen. Chris Dodd (D), 49-38%. Ex-Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley (R) leads Dodd 47-40%. Former World Wrestling Federation executive Linda McMahon, already spending large amounts of her own money on advertising, even has a two point lead over the five term Senator, 43-41%. Against two unknown Republican candidates, state Sen. Sam Caligiuri and businessman Peter Schiff, Dodd can do no better than tie the former at 42% and lead the latter by a single point, 42-41%. Dodd’s job approval rating has dipped to a Jon Corzine-like 40:54%.

Illinois: Democratic Senatorial contender Cheryle Jackson, the president of the Chicago Urban League, is making known the results of her internal Celinda Lake Research poll. It shows her trailing state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 31-13% in the Democratic primary. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL-10) will win the GOP nomination. This is a competitive race in the fall.

Nevada: Yet another Republican officially joined the already bulging field of candidates vying for the chance to oppose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). Former Nevada Board of Education member Greg Dagani now becomes the 11th official GOP primary contender and candidate filing doesn’t close until March 12th.

Massachusetts: Suffolk University is out with a new poll (11/4-8; 600 registered MA voters) and the results show little change from previous surveys. Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) continues to enjoy a huge lead in the Democratic primary, posting 44% against Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca’s 17%, Rep. Mike Capuano’s 16%, and businessman Alan Khazei’s 3%. The primary is December 8th; the special general is January 19th. The leftist Coakley is the state’s next Senator, as the eventual Republican nominee has little chance to become competitive.

North Carolina: Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC-2) promises to announce his decision about running for the Senate by this weekend. Since he has already informed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee of his intentions, and they reportedly asked him to delay making his decision public for a couple of days, speculators believe that he will not run statewide. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) is already a Senatorial candidate, but trails GOP incumbent Richard Burr (R) by double digits in all early polling. Former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker (D), is saying he will consider running if Etheridge decides to seek re-election to the House. After forming an exploratory committee months ago, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham announced he would not seek the Democratic Senatorial nomination.

Ohio: Quinnipiac University also completed a poll (11/5-9; 1,123 registered OH voters) in the Buckeye State Senate race and it is reporting very good news. Republican Rob Portman has taken a three point lead over ultra-liberal Lt. Governor Lee Fisher (D), 39-36%, in their isolated ballot test. Against even more liberal and partisan Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D), Portman leads 38-34%. Unknown businessman Tom Ganley (R) also fares well against the Democrats. Despite having virtually no name ID, Ganley trails Fisher 38-34% and Brunner 35-32%.

House Update

CO-4: Former Ft. Collins city councilor Diggs Brown will announce his candidacy for the Republican congressional nomination and the right to challenge freshman Rep. Betsy Markey (D). Already in the race is the early favorite, state Rep. Cory Gardner, and University of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero. The general election will be highly competitive.

DE-AL: Businessman Fred Cullis became the first Republican to declare for the open seat being vacated by Rep. Mike Castle’s (R) run for the Senate. Former Lt. Governor John Carney (D) is the prohibitive favorite to win next November. DE-AL represents the Democrats’ best chance to convert a Republican open seat.

FL-8: Freshman state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle (R) announced he will not run for Congress next year. The GOP field of candidates continues to dwindle despite the fact that kooky freshman Rep. Alan Grayson (D) appears highly vulnerable.

FL-13: African American pastor James Golden (D) announced that he will challenge sophomore Rep. Vern Buchanan (R). After winning the closest election in 2006, the Congressman appears to be in solid political shape to win a third term.

ID-1: State House Majority Leader Ken Roberts (R) has dropped his bid for Congress. This makes former CIA officer Vaughn Ward the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Former Rep. Bill Sali (R) has still not ruled out another campaign. The eventual GOP nominee will face freshman Rep. Walt Minnick (D) and will have a strong chance of winning this district, a territory that gave John McCain 62% of the vote last November.

IN-3: Veteran conservative Rep. Mark Souder (R) is getting a primary challenge from the right. Attorney Phil Troyer, a former congressional aide, officially announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Former Ft. Wayne city Councilman Tom Hayhurst, who challenged Souder in 2006 and drew 46% of the vote, will run again for the Democrats.

NJ-3: Reports emanating from New Jersey are that state and national Republican leaders are attempting to recruit former Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Jon Runyan into the race against freshman Rep. John Adler (D). Until 2008, the 3rd district had been in Republican hands since Jim Saxton won the seat back in 1984. Governor-elect Chris Christie (R) ran particularly strong in this part of the state last week during his election, prompting renewed GOP interest in winning back this congressional seat.

NY-23: Errors made in counting the election night ballots for the special election in upstate New York are making the final margin of victory much closer, but will not overturn Democrat Bill Owens’ win last week. Adjusting for the tabulation error and estimating the results of the 5,400 absentee ballots that remain uncounted probably means Owens 5,000+ vote margin decreases to under 2,000.

NY-24: Republican Richard Hanna, who lost to incumbent Rep. Michael Arcuri (D) 52-48% last November, is making moves to run again. Hanna is the National Republican Congressional Committee’s first choice to again be their standard bearer in 2008.

PA-17: State Sen. David Argall (R) says he’s “99% certain” he will not challenge nine-term Rep. Tim Holden (D) for what should be a Republican congressional seat.

Governor Update

Colorado: State Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry (R) announced he is ending his campaign for Governor. This puts former US Rep. Scott McInnis (R) in the driver’s seat for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Gov. Bill Ritter (D), whose job approval ratings are poor and trails McInnis in early general election polling, is highly vulnerable. Penry stated he was withdrawing from the race in the interest of party unity after seeing the victories united Republican efforts in Virginia and New Jersey produced.

Connecticut: Gov. Jodi Rell (R), despite polls showing her in relatively strong shape for re-election in a highly Democratic state, announced she would not seek a second full term in office. Rell, then the state’s Lt. Governor, replaced Gov. John Rowland in 2004, after the latter was convicted of accepting bribes. Democrats will now be the favorites to capture the state house. The leading candidates are Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and 2006 Democratic Senatorial nominee Ned Lamont.

Ohio: The Quinnipiac Ohio poll (11/5-9; 1,123 registered OH voters) shows Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and former presidential candidate and Congressman John Kasich (R) in a 40-40% tie in their latest gubernatorial ballot test. Strickland’s job approval ratio has dropped to 45:43% positive to negative.

Rhode Island: Liberal Lincoln Chafee, who served in the US Senate as a Republican until his defeat in 2006, is now running for Governor as an Independent. He claims his internal polling shows him leading Democratic state Treasurer Frank Caprio and Republican businessman Rory Smith 36-34-8%, respectively. According to Chafee, the poll stakes him to a 37-24-15% lead over Democratic Attorney General Patrick Lynch and Smith.