Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Promoted from the Diaries by Neil Stevens

Senate Update

Colorado: A new poll again confirms appointed Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D) political weakness. Rasmussen Reports (9/9; 500 CO registered voters) shows the liberal Bennet leading Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (R) 43-37%, but trailing Aurora city Councilman Ryan Frazier (R) 40-39%. The campaign’s newest entrants, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) and ex-Lt. Governor Jane Norton (R) were not tested.

Kentucky: Research 2000 (8/31-9/2; 600 registered KY voters), polling for the leftwing Daily Kos national blog, stakes GOP Secretary of State Trey Grayson to a lead against both top Democratic candidates. Versus Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo, Grayson leads 45-41%. When paired with Attorney General Jack Conway, the Republican scores a similar 46-40% advantage. In the Democratic primary, Mongiardo has a seven point lead, 37-30%, over Conway.

Massachusetts: Rasmussen Reports (9/8; 611 registered MA voters) released the first public poll of the Massachusetts special election field of Democratic candidates vying to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Attorney General Martha Coakley jumps out to the early lead, claiming 38% of the primary vote. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-9) is second with 11%; Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-7) has 10%; and Reps. Mike Capuano (D-MA-8) and John Tierney (D-MA-6) trail with 7 and 3%, respectively. Since the poll, Markey has indicated he will not run, as did former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card on the Republican side. State Senator Scott Brown is the only Republican candidate so far. Former Boston Red Sox baseball star Curt Schilling is still a possibility to run as an Independent, but such a move grows more unlikely every day that he fails to take action.

North Carolina: Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall filed papers forming an exploratory committee to challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R) next year. Democrats have been floundering to recruit a candidate since Attorney General Roy Cooper surprisingly decided not to run. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC-2) is still saying he is considering the race, but Marshall’s entrance onto the scene makes it less likely that the Congressman will make the jump. New Public Policy Polling information shows Burr leading all potential opponents by eight to sixteen points, but does not break the 43% mark in any pairing.

Texas: Though Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) is still indicating she will resign her seat to concentrate on her run for Governor, one of the people thought most likely to be appointed to replace her and then run in the subsequent special election, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), has announced that he will seek re-election. African American state Railroad Commission member Michael Williams (R), meanwhile, is sounding confident that he will be appointed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) to succeed Hutchison. In a related development, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (R), is reportedly testing the waters about his own Senatorial candidacy should Hutchison go through with her promised resignation.

House Update

IL-14: State Sen. Randy Hultgren (R) is reportedly beginning to explore his chances of challenging Rep. Bill Foster (D) next year. Already in the GOP primary race is Ethan Hastert, son of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), businessman Jeff Danklefsen, former Defense Department official Mark Vargas, and ex-Aurora city Councilman Bill Cross.

NY-23 A new McLaughlin Associates poll (8/25-26; 300 registered NY-23 voters) gives liberal GOP Assemblywoman DeDe Scozzafava a 30-20-19% lead over Democratic attorney Bill Owens and Conservative Party businessman Doug Hoffman. A special election will be held here, upon the confirmation and subsequent resignation of Rep. John McHugh (R) as Army Secretary.

ND-AL: Public Service Commission chairman Kevin Cramer (R), who twice challenged lackluster Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) in the 1990s, is planning another race in 2010. With backing from the National Republican Congressional Committee, Cramer has a chance of being a more formidable challenger this time around.

PA-3: Freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D), who is vulnerable in her first re-election in what should be a Republican district, is all of a sudden facing multiple GOP challengers. Joining Elaine Surma, an official in the PA Attorney General’s office, in the field of candidates is businessman Paul Huber. John Onorato, the former Erie County Solicitor (District Attorney), regarded as potentially the strongest challenger to Dahlkemper, is also sounding more and more like a candidate. This race will become a top Republican target in 2010.

SC-3: The crowded Republican field to succeed Rep. Gresham Barrett, who is running for Governor, got a bit smaller. Businessman Stuart Carpenter ended his campaign for Congress and endorsed state Rep. Rex Rice (R) upon departing. The eventual winner of the now seven-person field of Republican candidates will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election.

Governor Update

Arizona Tax-hiking Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who is indicating she will run for a full term after succeeding Janet Napolitano when the latter left office to become Homeland Security Secretary, has very poor approval ratings. The Arizona Capital Times released the results of a poll they commissioned which pegs Brewer’s re-elect score to be only 18%, versus 46% who say they will vote for another candidate. State Treasurer Dean Martin (R) is a potential GOP challenger. Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) is the likely Democratic nominee. Brewer’s insistence on increasing taxes to fix the state’s budget deficit has sent her numbers through the floor.

Colorado: The aforementioned Rasmussen Reports Colorado poll also reveals continued weakness for Gov. Bill Ritter (D). The Governor trails former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) 44-39%, and leads state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry (R) by only two points, 41-39%.

Illinois: Gov. Patrick Quinn (D) released his own internal polling numbers that post him to a big advantage against his Democratic primary opponent, state Comptroller Dan Hynes. The Anzalone-Liszt survey (conducted over the period of 8/18-26) gives the Governor a 54-26% early primary lead.

Nevada: State Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley indicated that she will not be a candidate for Governor next year, leaving, at this point, the nomination for Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid, Harry’s son. The two Reid’s could lead the statewide ticket next year in the Silver State, which is a double-bonus for the GOP, and double-trouble for the Democrats.

New Jersey: Two more polls show GOP challenger Chris Christie holding his lead against unpopular leftwing Governor Jon Corzine (D) as the November 2009 election draws closer. The Democratic firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (9/8-9; 615 likely NJ voters) polling for Stan Greenberg and James Carville’s Democracy Corps posts Christie to a 41-38% advantage. Rasmussen Reports (9/9; 500 likely NJ voters) gives Christie a bigger margin at 46-38%. These numbers have been consistent for months despite massive Corzine campaign spending.

Tennessee: Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN-3) released an internal Tarrance Group poll that gives him a lead in the crowded GOP gubernatorial field. The data shows him leading state Senate Speaker (the de facto Tennessee Lt. Governor) Ron Ramsey, Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons, and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam by a 22-15-14-12% count, respectively. Tennessee is one of the few southern states without a run-off law, so the winner of this primary race will only require a plurality of the vote.

Virginia: A new Survey USA poll (9/1-3; 611 likely VA voters) still shows Republican Bob McDonnell enjoying a large 54-42% lead despite being under severe attack from the Washington Post and opponent Creigh Deeds (D) for writing a controversial social issues thesis 20 years ago as a graduate student at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Like in New Jersey, this gubernatorial election will be decided this November.