Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Senate Update

Arkansas: Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D) political troubles may not be confined to the general election. Democratic Lt. Gov. Bill Halter appears to be making moves to enter the Senatorial primary, indicating he will campaign from her left, should he officially contend for the nomination. This could force Lincoln to the left for the short term, which may further endanger her against an eventual Republican nominee.

Kansas: A new Survey USA poll (12/4-6; 466 registered KS Republican voters) again places the GOP Senatorial contest between Reps. Jerry Moran (R-KS-1) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS-4) within the margin of error. After other pollsters showed a more definitive lead for Moran last month, SUSA pegs the race at 37-34% in the 1st district Congressman’s favor. Sen. Sam Brownback (R) is vacating the seat to run for Governor.

Massachusetts: As the polling consistently predicted, liberal Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) won the special Democratic primary to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) earlier this week. She defeated Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-8), businessman Alan Khazei, and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca by a 47-28-13-12% margin. She now faces state Sen. Scott Brown, who easily won the GOP primary with 89% of the vote. Coakley is the prohibitive favorite to win the January 19th special general election in this knee-jerk Democratic state.

Nevada: A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey (11/30-12/2; 625 registered NV voters) conducted for the Las Vegas Review Journal again shows Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) trailing his two main Republican opponents. Against former state Republican chair Sue Lowden, Reid is behind 51-41%. When paired with ex-Secretary of State candidate Danny Tarkanian, the Reid deficit is 48-42%. Lowden and Tarkanian split the primary vote 25-24%, respectively. Reid’s favorability ratio is a poor 38:49%.

Ohio: A new Rasmussen Reports poll of Ohio voters (12/7; 500 likely OH voters) gives former Bush Budget Director and Congressman Rob Portman (R) a 38-36% lead over Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D), while his prospects against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) balloon to 40-33%. One would think Portman might have a larger lead considering the same polling sample posts his favorability rating is 48:21% versus Fisher’s 36:35% and Brunner’s 34:36%. For comparison purposes, President Obama scores an upside down 46:53%, while Gov. Ted Strickland (D) does slightly better at 48:50%.

Pennsylvania: Rasmussen Reports just released the results of their brand new Pennsylvania poll (12/8; 1,200 likely PA registered voters; 442 likely Democratic primary voters). Challenger Pat Toomey (R) enjoys a 46-42% lead over party-switching veteran Sen. Arlen Specter (D), and a 44-38% advantage over lefty Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), the Senator’s Democratic primary challenger. When Sestak and Specter are paired in a primary ballot test, the Senator leads 48-35%. Specter’s improving on his favorability score, but is still upside down at 44:50%. Toomey fares best with a 51:29% favorable to unfavorable rating. Sestak’s ratio is 36:38%. By comparison, President Obama scores an unimpressive 50:48%; Gov. Ed Rendell (D) registers a poor 39:59%.

South Dakota: Matt McGovern, grandson of former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, and who announced a challenge to Sen. John Thune (R), now is withdrawing from the race. This leaves Thune without a Democratic opponent, but filing does not close until March 30th.

House Update

AL-2: The local Tea Bag group is moving forward with a challenge to Montgomery City Councilor Martha Roby (R), who hopes to defeat Rep. Bobby Bright (D), one of the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic freshmen. Businessman Rick Barber, a leader of the southeast Alabama Tea Bag movement, is confirming that he will enter the Republican primary.

DE-AL: A new Public Policy Polling survey (11/30-12/2; 571 DE registered voters) gives former Lt. Governor John Carney (D) a big lead in his attempt to succeed Republican Rep. Mike Castle, who is running for Senate. Carney leads former state Sen. Charlie Copeland 44-32% and businessman Fred Cullis 47-24%. The Delaware seat is the Democrats best national chance to convert a Republican open seat.

IL-14: It is becoming clear that the 14th district Republican primary is going to become a two-way race between Ethan Hastert, the former Speaker’s son, and state Sen. Randy Hultgren. In two successive weeks, minor challengers who previously filed candidate papers have withdrawn. The winner of the February 2nd primary will challenge two-term Rep. Bill Foster (D) for the seat that Dennis Hastert held for 19 years.

KS-2: Freshman Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R), who defeated both former Rep. Jim Ryun (R) and freshman Nancy Boyda (D) in 2008, may have drawn her own primary challenger. State Sen. Dennis Pyle (R) obtained candidate filing papers this week. State Sen. Laura Kelly is unopposed for the Democratic nomination at this point in time.

NV-3: The aforementioned Mason-Dixon poll also gives freshman Rep. Dina Titus (D) some bad news. Her new Republican challenger, former state Sen. Joe Heck, ties her at 40% on the poll’s 3rd district ballot test question. This is a better showing for Heck than many believed would be the case in the race’s first public poll. The campaign should now be considered a toss-up.

PA-6: Chester County Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello dropped his bid for the Republican congressional nomination, leaving wealthy entrepreneur Steven Welch and state Rep. Curt Schroder as the two heavyweight candidates to replace Rep. Jim Gerlach (R), who is running for Governor. Philadelphia Enquirer editorial writer Doug Pike is the leading Democratic candidate in the swing district, but is drawing primary opposition from physician Manan Trivedi. The general election is considered a toss-up.

PA-11: Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta (R), who held embattled Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D) to a 52-48% victory in 2008, announced he will run again next year. Kanjorski first must defeat a
formidable opponent for the Democratic nomination, Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien. Kanjorski defeated Barletta 56-42% when the two ran against each other in 2002.

WA-3: With the retirement announcement of Rep. Brian Baird (D), several Democrats are already indicating that they will run. State Rep. Deb Wallace announced that she will run for the seat. State Sen. Craig Pridemore and state Rep. Brendan Williams are both possible entrants. State Rep. Jaime Herrera, Washougal city Councilman Jon Russell and accountant David Hedrick, all Republicans, were in the race even before Baird announced that he would leave Congress.

Governor Update

Nevada: The aforementioned Mason-Dixon Nevada poll again shows Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman leading the field of candidates should he run for Governor as an Independent. The Mayor is saying that he will soon make a decision about his political future. The poll shows Goodman leading ex-federal judge Brian Sandoval (R) and Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid (D), the Senate Majority Leader’s son, 35-32-24%, respectively. Sandoval leads scandal-ridden Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) 39-18% in the Republican primary.

Ohio: The latest Rasmussen Reports poll (12/7; 500 likely OH registered voters) gives conservative former Rep. John Kasich (R) a 48-39% lead over Gov. Ted Strickland (D). This is the first time any pollster has shown Kasich enjoying this much of a lead.

Texas: Houston Mayor Bill White (D) officially announced that he will run for Governor and face the winner of the Gov. Rick Perry-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison Republican primary shoot out. Democratic county singer Kinky Friedman says he will drop out of the race, following the lead of former Ambassador Tom Schieffer who exited the race just before Thanksgiving. The filing deadline is January 4th. Primary is March 2nd.