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Political Roundup for March 3, 2015

by: GoBigRedState

Tue Mar 03, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM EST

President:

Hillary: Hillary Clinton will officially kick off her presidential campaign in April, according to aides who have spoken of the timetable in private meetings. This a quicker entry into the race than had been expected, as she had been expected to wait until the summer. The accelerated timetable is intended to reassure those with lingering uncertainties that she will actually get in the race, especially potential donors who have held off donating until she is actually running. The move has drawbacks too however, as it makes her an easier target for Republicans and forces her to begin articulating positions on tough issues.

Senate:

IL-Sen: Ex-Gov. Pat Quinn (D) says he is not focusing on any future campaign, such as the 2016 US Senate race. He does not rule out a future run for office, however.

PA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Joe Sestak (D) will officially launch his bid for a rematch with Sen. Pat Toomey (R) tomorrow. Sestak is currently the only Democrat in the race, although some in the party have indicated a lack of excitement for the repeat bid and want others to get in. Other Democrats who have openly discussed running are Philadelphia DA Seth Williams. Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, and former Rep. Chris Carney.

House:

IA-3: Ex-state Sen. Staci Appel (D) is openly considering a rematch with Rep. David Young (R). Appel, who lost to Young by 11 points in 2014, says that she is hopeful that higher presidential election year turnout will make the seat more competitive in 2016. 

MS-1: Itawamba County Prosecutor Chip Mills (R) is joining the race to replace the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R). He joins state Sen. Nancy Collins (R) of Tupelo, Lee County DA Trent Kelly (R) and Oxofrd businessman and former Jackson city councilman Quentin Whitwell (R) in the special election which will be held May 12.

NY-11: Staten Island DA Dan Donovan (R) has received the endorsement of the Independence Party and will appear on the ballot with their line for the May 5 special election. Although Donovan is already a heavy favorite, the Independence line could help draw moderate Democrats who don't want to vote on the Republican line. Donovan will appear on lines for the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties. He will face New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D) of Brooklyn.

Governor:

IN-Gov: Gov. Mike Pence (R) appears to be focusing on a re-election bid, and not a run for President. A local columnist points out 5 signs that Pence will run for re-election including that he is not hiring campaign staff for a presidential run and would-be Pence supporters from Indiana are supporting other candidates-a contrast to the 2012 cycle when state Republicans waited on the decision of former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) when he was considering the race.

LA-Gov: Speculation continues on whether New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) or another Democrat will join this race. Some say he will eventually get in(he has a habit of getting in races at the last minute) while others call it unfathomable. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell's name has been floated as another Democrat that could get in the race, and he would fill a void as being the only candidate from the northern part of the state. Currently, the lone Democrat in the race, state Rep. John Bel Edwards has a good chance of making a runoff, but some Democrats fear that another Democrat in the race could lead to an all-Republican runoff.

UT-Gov: Overstock.com CEO Jonathan Johnson is apparently planning a primary challenge to Gov. Gary Herbert (R). Although he has not officially announced a bid, he said in a recent speech that his candidacy is the "worst kept secret in the state" and that he has "every intention of running". 

WV-Gov/Sen: The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill that would require a special election in the event of a vacancy in the US Senate. Currently, a governor can appoint somebody to fill the seat if there are less than 28 months left in the term. The measure, passed on a party line vote in the Republican controlled chamber is seen as targeting the potential candidacy of Sen. Joe Manchin (D) for a return to the governor's office in 2016.

State & Local:

NE-Electoral vote: A bill to return Nebraska to the winner-take-all method for awarding electoral votes has received first round approval in the Legislature. A cloture motion passed with the bare minimum of 33 votes and the bill then passed 31-17. The bill must still clear two more rounds of debate before it is sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who will likely sign it.

Houston Mayor: Bill King, an attorney and businessman and former mayor of the small town of Kemah in Galveston County just over the border from Harris County, is running for Houston mayor. He joins former Rep. Chris Bell, attorney Ben Hall, state Rep. Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington in the race.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

MD-Sen: Mikulski Retiring

by: shamlet

Mon Mar 02, 2015 at 09:18:23 AM EST

After 30 years in the Senate and a generation as arguably Maryland's most influential political figure, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) is retiring.

The 4-foot-11 Baltimore native has scheduled the news conference for 11 a.m. at the Inn at Henderson's Wharf in Fells Point. Three people familiar with her plans -- a close friend in Maryland, a senior Democratic Party official and a Senate staffer – said she would announce at the event that she would step down at the end of 2016 and not seek another term.

Mikulski started out as something of a Conservative Democrat; she first came to national prominence in the 1970s on a platform that looks strangely like modern populist conservatism. Mikulski's early career was spent railing against both big business and big government, and defending traditional American values. As Maryland shifted from just a Democratic state to a liberal one, Mikuski shifted with it, and by the end of her tenure has been known as a generic liberal. Needless to say, in one of America's most inelastically blue states and a presidential year, it's only a question of what type of lliberal is going to replace her. But it's important to note that Maryland is not really a machine state and contested primaries are much more common here than in states further north. So this primary field is likely to be crowded.

One name that comes immediately to mind is ex-Gov. and quixotic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley (D), who is currently at asterisk level support in his hopeless White House run. O'Malley is quite unpopular with Marylanders at large; his string of tax hikes are more or less single-handedly responsible for last year's election of Gov. Larry Hogan (R). But he still retains real appeal with the Democratic base, which is probably enough to get him through the primary if he wants to swallow his pride and go for it. Beyond O'Malley, Maryland Democrats have a huge bench. Let's break it down by geography, as the 695 (Baltimore) and 495 (DC) universes are highly polarized.

Three Washington suburban Reps. have long been thought to have their eyes on bigger perches: Rep. Donna Edwards (D) has a strong base in PG County, while Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) similarly starts with a strong base in Montgomery County. However, Van Hollen may see a high opportunity cost with his rising stature in House leadership. Finally, Rep. John Delaney (D) is another possibility; Delaney could carve out a niche as the moderate Democrat in the field, which may be enough to get him to a plurality victory. Another candidate who could fill the moderate niche is Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), who was thought to have his eye on state office but would not need to give up his seat to make this race. Some other names from the DC suburbs include PG CE Rushern Baker (D) and US Labor Secretary Tom Perez (D), who previously served on the Montgomery County Council. Ex-State Rep. and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D) is getting some mentions and may have an opening as a far-left candidate. One final name we'd thought we'd seen the last of was ex-LG Anthony Brown (D), who epically blew the 2014 gubernatorial election; however, Brown is apparently now considering the race.

From the Baltimore area, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D), John Sarbanes (D), and Elijah Cummings (D) are slight possibilities, but all three are considered less ambitious than their 495 colleagues. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) is another possibility, but would need to give up her perch to run. Additional Baltimore-area possibilities include Baltimore CE Kevin Kamenetz (D) and ex-Howard CE and 2014 LG nominee Ken Ulman (D).

On the GOP side, it's hard to see Republicans having any real chance at the seat barring a DGLB (other than maybe the slightest chance with an O'Malley nomination.) But we actually have a pretty strong bench here thanks to sweeping nearly all contested races in 2014. Possible candidates to take one for the team in hopes of raising their profile for 2022's Governor race (none would need to give up a current post to run) could include LG Boyd Rutherford (R), Howard CE Allan Kittleman (R), Anne Arundel CE Steve Schuh (R), 2012 nominee Dan Bongino (R), State Rep. Anthony O'Donnell (R), ex-Harford CE and 2014 gubernatorial candidate David Craig (R), and ex-State Rep. and Craig's running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R).

This is strangely a race where we might be wishing against having a prominent candidate; fresh blood will help build our bench. But more prominent names would start with ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) as a possibility. However, it's hard to see what Ehrlich (who is currently pursuing a quixotic presidential bid) would gain from such an uphill run at this stage in his career. The only way I can see him running is if O'Malley does and he runs to spite his archnemesis. From the "send in the clowns" file, ex-LG Michael Steele (R), ex-UN Ambassador John Bolton (R), and neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R) might all see this race as a path to national visibility, but all would almost certianly even underperform Generic R here and provide us little help in getting a candidate for a winnable race.

A final scenario worth considering is to pull an Orman and get Republicans to throw the race in favor of an Indie. A candidate who could potentially play that role is 2012 candidate Rob Sobhani (I), who took 15% of the vote with a six-week campaign in 2012 and held incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D) to an unimpressive 55% performance.

UPDATE: Carson is out, while unconfirmed twitter reports suggest that both O'Malley and ex-LG Anthony Brown (D), who managed to lose the 2014 gubernatorial race through sheer laziness, are considering.

UPDATE #2: From the horse's mouth, Delaney is considering.

UPDATE #3: Not straight from the source, but third-parties say that both Ruppersberger and Rawlings-Blake are considering.

Discuss :: (91 Comments)

Political Roundup for March 2, 2015

by: shamlet

Mon Mar 02, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM EST

President:

CPAC: As expected, Rand Paul won the CPAC straw poll, with Scott Walker a close second.

Senate:

CA-Sen: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (R), one of the few prominent Republicans to look seriously at this race, will not run for Senate. State Rep. Rocky Chavez (R) is starting to look like the GOP's consensus pick here, though a few other C-list Republicans are still considering.

FL-Sen: Sen. Marco Rubio (R) has not definitively said he will give up his Senate seat for a White House bid, but one GOPer is already laying the groundwork to replace him, State CFO Jeff Atwater (R). Atwater has met with the NRSC and Chamber of Commerce to lay the groundwork for a run. The news is mildly surprising, as just last year Atwater appeared ready to leave elective politics for a university presidency (which he was passed over for). As a statewide official and one of the few Republicans with strong appeal in South Florida (he's a Palm Beach native), Atwater is likely to be a front-runner for the seat. However, an open seat primary is likely to be crowded.

Governor:

MO-Gov: Veteran and nonprofit executive Eric Greitens (R) made a very unfortunate decision to open up an exploratory commitee for this race last week, just hours before news of his entry was buried by Auditor Tom Schweich's suicide. Greitens will face State House Speaker Catherine Hanaway (R), and potentially now many others, in the GOP primary. AG Chris Koster (D) is the presumptive Dem nominee. However, expect this race to be frozen for at least a few weeks out of deference to Schweich and the sheer number (at least a half-dozen) of contenders who will need to recalibrate their decision-making process.

More MO-Gov: Here's a piece with more analysis of the race and the state of the MOGOP after Schwiech's death. Speculation is that newly-installed MOGOP chair John Hancock, whom Schweich had been feuding with over an alleged whispering campaign, may be a casualty. There is also speculation that Schweich's main primary rival, ex-State House Speaker Catherine Hanaway (R), may see some blowback from Republicans over the harsh tone her campaign took against Schweich in recent weeks.

House:

CA-21: 2014 nominee Amanda Renteria (D) is taking a job as a top-level campaign manager for Hillary, taking her out of a possible rematch with David Valadao (R). Democrats are attempting to recruit ER physician Joaquin Arambula (D) as a candidate for this top-tier D target.

CA-36: Republicans may have scored a top recruit here. Indio Mayor Lupe Ramos-Watson (R) is likely to run against Rep. Raul Ruiz (D). Ruiz, who overperformed in 2014 even by the high standards of California Democrats, will still be a tough target.

CA-52: Another GOP recruit who may try to oust a Democratic incumbent is veteran Jacquie Atkinson (R), an aide to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R). Atkinson, who is openly lesbian, is considering a challenge to Rep. Scott Peters (D).

IL-18: The personal spending troubles just keep mounting for Rep. Aaron Schock (R). A new story alleges that he improperly failed to disclose expenses related to a 2011 trip to London and a 2012 fundraiser. Schock has also paid $40K from his personal funds to reimburse the government for the elaborate office decorations that sparked the slow-burn scandal weeks ago.

MS-1: We had some major movement in this race last week. Three candidates entered the race, and the only major candidate previously in the race exited after just two days. The 3 new candidates are State Sen. Nancy Collins (R-Tupelo), Lee County DA Trent Kelly (R), and ex-Jackson city councilman Quentin Whitwell (R), who now lives in Oxford. Meanwhile, State Rep. Chris Brown (R) said Tuesday that he would drop out after two days in the race, citing family business obligations.

NY-11: NYC Councilman and Dem nominee Vincent Gentile (D) is pushing his opponent, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan (R), to release the grand jury transcripts from the controversal non-indictment of a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. Gentile's decision to use the Garner case in his campaign is a questionable one politically, as polls have showed that a strong majority of this police-friendly district supports Donovan's handling of the incident.

PA-8: 2014 primary candidate Shaugnessy Naughton (D) is running again for the competitive open seat of outgoing Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R), joining State Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D) in the primary. On the GOP side, moderate State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R) has been actively exploring a run.

State & Local:

MS-AG: Right at the filing deadline last Friday, Republicans finally got a credible candidate to run against AG Jim Hood (D), the last statewide Democrat in the Deep South. Mike Hurst (R), a deputy federal prosecutor and staffer for then-Rep. Chip Pickering (R), is now in the race. Hurst will have an uphill run against the popular Hood, but on paper looks like about the best candidate we could ask for. And with Democrats not seriously contesting any other statewide race, an upset is possible. There were no other significant filing deadline surprises in MS. All 8 statewide officers are running again and all look strongly favored for re-election, though Treasurer Lynn Fitch (R) and Auditor Stacey Pickering (R) do have semi-serious primary challenges.

MO-AG, etc: Jackson CE Mike Sanders (D) will not seek statewide office next year. Sanders had been considered a top-tier prospect for a downballot statewide office.

MT-Supt: Teacher Melissa Romano (D) has become the first candidate to enter this race. Incumbent Denise Juneau (D) is termed out.

NJ-LD-22: State Rep. Linda Stender (D-Fanwood), who lost a pair of runs for NJ-7 in 2006 and 2008, is not running for re-election. Stender was under fire after it was revealed her husband recieved Habitat for Humanity funds to rebuild their luxury beach house after Hurricane Sandy.

Chicago-Mayor: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has had a good working relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), and Rauner is going to bat for Rahm. Rauner has apparently called third-place finisher Willie Wilson (D) twice and asked him to endorse Emanuel. Wilson previously said that he would be supporting Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia (D) in the runoff, but has since backtracked from that statement.

More Chicago-Mayor: We also have dueling banjos polls here. An indpendent poll from Ogden and Fry, who nailed the first round, puts Rahm up just 43-39 on Garcia, while a Rahm internal shows him up 50-40.

San Diego-Mayor: A SUSA poll shows Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) ridiculously popular. Faulconer, who is up for re-election in 2016, sports a 61-17 approval rating... with adults. No potential challengers have yet indicated that they are exploring this race, and numbers like these may just keep all credible opponents away.

Discuss :: (120 Comments)

Weekend Open Thread

by: Ryan_in_SEPA

Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 17:16:18 PM EST

(1) Why doesn't a liberal equivalent to Scott Walker exist?

(2) Is anyone from the congressional class of 2014 presidential material and why?

Discuss :: (162 Comments)

Political Roundup for February 27th, 2015

by: Greyhound

Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM EST

President-2016:

Jeb Bush: The junior Bush has taken a number of steps towards what looks like backing Gay Marriage, and would become the first major Republican presidential candidate to do so. On one hand I bet that the people currently supporting Jeb in the primary support SSM by a large margin, but on the other hand Bush has serious problems with the conservative base already. It’d be interesting to see what percentage of primary voters would even consider voting for him, as current polls of his approval rating have him at underwater or close to it with Republicans.

Congress:

CA-44: LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino (D) has decided not to run for this open congressional seat covering South-Central Los Angeles County. This makes the election of State Senator Isadore Hall more or less a formality, and Black Democrats will reclaim the third Los Angeles Congressional seat they lost in 2012.

MO-Sen-16: Todd Akin thankfully isn’t going to try to primary Senator Roy Blunt this year. The toxic Republican candidate whose remarks on rape probably cost us 2 Senate seats in 2012 wouldn’t have gained traction anyway, but this at least saves us another distracting sideshow for a seat we’d prefer to put away early.

NY-11: State Island Democrats have officially nominated Brooklyn City Councilman Vincent Gentile for this special election. Gentile will have a ton of problems: being from Brooklyn in a Staten-Island dominated seat, being associated with the highly-unpopular (at least in this district) Mayor Bill DeBlasio and NYC Government, and running against the uber-popular Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan.

WATN: Kerry Bentivolio (R), the second most accidental congressman in recent history after Joseph Cao in 2008, has filed for bankruptcy with over $300,000 in debts. The former Reindeer farmer and beneficiary of Thad McCotter’s spectacular crash out of Congress in 2012 never really fit into the congressional life, and a lawsuit by his former chief of staff over improper firing cost him a large settlement.

Governor/State:

LA-Gov: George H.W. Bush has endorsed David Vitter (R) for Governor of Louisiana. This is unusual, as the 41st President’s Establishment BizCon wing of the GOP is generally more aligned with Vitter’s challenger and fellow Republican Lt. Gov Jay Dardenne, but I guess Vitter is looking to shore up support with them ahead of Louisiana’s Jungle Primary later this year.

MS Lt. Gov: Chris McDaniel (R), aka the guy who barely lost the 2014 R Senate primary against Thad Cochran, is running for re-election. We’d probably be better off if he retired, as his primary loss resulted in months worth of conspiracy theorizing over ineligible voters from the already-controversial candidate, but this is better than his rumored primary against current Lt. Gov Tate Reeves.

VA-Gov/St Sen: Republican State Senator Jeff McWaters of Virginia Beach has announced he is retiring from the State Senate this year, but hasn’t ruled out a run for a statewide office in the future. His State Senate district covers the R+6ish eastern half of Virginia Beach, but we only need to lose one to flip control of the chamber back to the Democrats, so every open seat counts.

Discuss :: (138 Comments)

MO-Gov: RIP Tom Schweich

by: shamlet

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 14:30:00 PM EST

Tom Schweich, Missouri's State Auditor and the front-runner for the 2016 GOP gubernatorial nomination, has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The full circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. Schwiech was just re-elected with no Democratic opposition last year, and had previously served as a high-ranking State Department official in Afghanistan under Bush 43.

Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will appoint a replacement to serve out his term. The news also deeply scrambles the gubernatorial race, where Schweich had been favored over ex-State House Speaker Catherine Hanaway (R) for the GOP nomination, with some lesser names considering the race. We may now see other Republicans, such as LG Peter Kinder or Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, reconsider their decisions to stay out of the race.

Discuss :: (41 Comments)

Political Roundup for February 26, 2015

by: shamlet

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 08:15:41 AM EST

President:

Veepstakes-Kaine: Here's a good piece on why Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine's decision to become the first non-moonbat D to skip Bibi's speech could make him a more attractive #2 for Hillary.

Congress:

MO-Sen: Ex-Rep., 2012 nominee, and 2012 RRH Turkey of the Year Todd Akin (R) is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt (R). As Akin is pretty much persona non grata with the bulk of Republicans and Blunt has paid close attention to connecting with Tea Party groups, this challenge probably won't go too far.

OH-Sen: As expected, ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D) kicked off his campaign for the seat of Sen. Rob Portman (R) yesterday. Strickland is favored in the primary over Cincinnati councilman PG Sittenfeld (D).

FL-26: Ex-Rep. Joe Garcia (D) won't run for this seat a fifth time after losing to now-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R). Garcia has taken a job with an investment bank and says he is not running for anything this cycle.

Governor:

KY-Gov: Ag Commissioner James Comer (R) has his first TV ad out, and leaves no doubt that he is making targeting rural and blue-collar voters a centerpiece of his campaign.

FL-Gov '18: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) still has to win re-election next week over token opposition, but that's not stopping him from looking forward to a 2018 run for Governor.

State & Local:

Chicago-Mayor: Here's a cool interactive map of the Mayoral election results. Basically Rahm is headed to a runoff because he didn't do as well as expected among black voters and moderates on the far north and northwest sides.

Colorado Springs-Mayor: A new poll of the open mayoral race in Colorado Springs shows ex-AG John Suthers (R) in front with 30%. Ex-Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace (D) is second with 22%, and two other Republicans are in single-digits. The first round of this Louisiana-Rules Top Two race is on April 7. 

VA-LD-86: State Rep. Tom Rust (R-Herndon) is retiring. This is a near-certain D pickup, as at D+9 it's the bluest seat held by an R. Rust, a popular, mooderate longtime incumbent, held on by just 50 votes in 2013.

Discuss :: (136 Comments)

Political Roundup for February 25, 2015

by: GoBigRedState

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM EST

Congress:

CA-Sen: Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced he will not run for Senate. His statement said he was still thinking "about how best to serve the people of this great state”, and went on to talk about important issues he thinks are facing the state, leading observers to think he is still considering a bid for governor in 2018. With Villaraigosa out of the race, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) becomes a strong favorite for the seat.

CA-Sen: Former Rep. David Dreier (R) is being encouraged by others to run. A spokesman confirmed that “a wide variety of people (are) urging him to look seriously at a Senate run", but did not respond to a follow-up question about Dreier's level of interest in the race. Dreier is the best-known Republican to openly consider the race, but would still face a difficult road to win.

OH-Sen: Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is expected to announce officially today that he is running for Senate. Strickland's run has been rumored for several weeks and he should be the favorite for the Democratic nomination over Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, the only other announced candidate so far.

SD-Sen/SD-AL: Brendan Johnson, who recently resigned as US Attorney, is being mentioned as a possible candidate in 2016 either against Sen. John Thune (R) or Rep. Kristi Noem (R). Johnson, who is the son of former Sen. Tim Johnson (D) is joining a private law firm in Sioux Falls, and has not given any indication as of yet that he plans on running for office anytime soon. A race against either Thune or Noem would be very difficult for Johnson, who has never run for political office before. There is some speculation he could wait until 2018 and run for governor when he won't have to face an incumbent as Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) will be term-limited.

WI-Sen: Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) is sounding more and more like he is planning for a rematch with Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who defeated him in 2010. Feingold, in his last speech as an envoy to Africa for the State Department talked about his "once, current and I hope future Chief of Staff". 

MS-1: A date has been set for the special election to replace the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R). The all-party primary will be held May 12, with a runoff if necessary to be held June 2. Candidates have until March 27 to file for the seat. Also, we have the first officially announced candidate for the race-state Rep. Chris Brown (R) of Aberdeen. 

Governor:

DE-Gov: State Sen. Greg Lavelle (R), has announced he will not run for governor. State Sen. Colin Bonini (R) has already announced a bid, and is so far the only Republican candidate for the open office.

LA-Gov: The head of the DGA recently touted New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) as a "strong candidate" for this race and said he is "carefully considering" to run. But experts say he still would face a lot of challenges, foremost the fact he is a Democrat in a Republican state, and he would also be well behind the other candidates in fundraising. Although he would be the strongest candidate the party could get, experts say he likely wouldn't be able to get more than 45% in a runoff.

ND-Gov: Speculation continues to swirl around Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) making a bid for governor. One columnist though is casting doubt on her making the race-pointing out that she would have to deal with an overwhelmingly Republican Legislature and that she will receive pressure from Senate Democrats to stay in the Senate, as they would find it difficult to hold her seat in a special election(assuming the Legislature goes through with its plan to require one) or in 2018 even if she could appoint a placeholder who would run then. Add to that she would not be a sure thing in a gubernatorial election and this columnist says the odds are against her making the race.

VA-Gov 2017: LG Ralph Northam (D) is already announcing he plans on running for Governor in 2017. This will likely set up a battle with AG Mark Herring (D) for the Democratic nomination. Such a battle has been expected ever since both were elected to their current positions in 2013, but the early announcement by the usually low-key Northam is intended to get out ahead of the more high-profile Herring and start raising money for what could be a bruising and expensive battle, one that some Democrats have expressed hope that they can avoid. 

Other:

NE-Electoral vote splitting: The Nebraska Legislature is debating a bill to return the state to a winner take all formula for electoral votes. A proposal by Sen. Ernie Chambers though would take the state in the other direction. He proposes that instead of awarding 2 electoral votes to the winner of the statewide vote that the state should award all of the state's electoral votes on a district basis-dividing the state into 5 districts solely for the purpose of awarding electoral votes. The proposal, filed as an amendment to the original bill to return the state to winner take all, has not yet been voted on and is unlikely to become law as it is likely intended more as a poison pill amendment to the original bill.

Election results:

The race for Chicago Mayor will go to a runoff, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel took 45%, well short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. He will face Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who took 34%. In CT-SD-23, former state Sen. Edwin Gomes (WFP) won fairly easily with 1,309 votes to 767 for Richard DeJesus (D). Gomes is the first person elected to a state Legislature solely on the Working Families Party line. In CT-LD-107, Stephen Harding (R) defeated Howard Lasser (D) by more than 200 votes. In CT-LD-129, Steve Stafstrom (D) edged out Enrique Torres (R) 776 votes to 720.

Discuss :: (105 Comments)

Chicago Mayoral Liveblog

by: shamlet

Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 20:00:00 PM EST

Results: Associated Press || City of Chicago 

9:00 -  We're at 70% and Rahm has inched back up to 46. But this looks like it's certain to go to a runoff. Gonna go ahead and call it.

8:52 - Reports from Bridgeport have the regular Democrat, Steve Stafstrom, holding LD-129, while ex-State Sen. Ed Gomes has won a comeback on the Working Families Party line in SD-23.

8:50 - Up to 65% in and Rahm is still at 45. Garcia is taking 34% in a surprisingly strong performance.

8:48 - From Connecticut, Republicans have held LD-107 as expected. No word on the Bridgeport races.

8:40 - Half in and Rahm is down to 45, with the vote spread out from all wards relatively equally. Looks like this is going to a runoff.

8:33 - Big vote dump has put a quarter of the city in, and Rahm is at 46%. No word on which parts of the city have reported fastest.

8:00 - Polls have now closed in Chicago and Connecticut. Have some theme music while you're waiting.

Discuss :: (21 Comments)

Chicago Mayoral Preview

by: shamlet

Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 15:00:00 PM EST

Today we have the biggest single local election of the year, as well as some unusually interesting special elections in Connecticut. Polls close in both at 8 Eastern and we will have a liveblog.

Chicago Mayor:

Four serious candidates are squaring off for the extremely powerful top job in America's third-largest city. The contest is non-partisan (though all are Dems) and uses Louisiana-rules Top Two. If nobody takes 50%, the race will head to a runoff on April 7.

The big question today is whether that second round will be necessary. The incumbent, Rahm Emanuel (D), is certain to take the top spot. Emanuel was known as a ruthlessly effective partisan during his stint in Congress and as Obama's CoS, but has taken a relatively centrist course to governing the liberal city. Indeed, Emanuel as mayor has been mainly known a pragmatist unafraid to make enemies of powerful liberal interests. Foremost among those interests is the city's powerful teachers' union (CTU), which has been at war with Emanuel over his closure of dozens of failing schools on the depopulating South and West Sides. Polls have shown Emanuel just below the magic 50% mark with a significant number of undecideds, so it looks like a coin flip whether things wrap this up today or go to an April runoff. The best sign for Rahm winning outright today will be high turnout among his base, relatively moderate white voters on the city's North Side.

As for the Anti-Rahms, CTU president Karen Lewis (D) was planning a run against Emanuel until health issues forced her to drop her bid last year. Instead, the CTU has backed Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D), who represents a heavily Mexican-American district based around Little Village and covering roughly the southern half of IL-4. Garcia has run well behind Emanuel, polling in the high teens, but he has a strong (if low-turnout) base in the Hispanic community and among CTU machine partisans. Importantly, Garcia is uniformly in second place and thus will be the beneficiary of forcing Emanuel into a runoff. High turnout on the heavily minority South and West sides is good for him. Though he has gotten some national attention for his DeBlasio-esque liberal populist message, Garcia's name rec is still poor, and his campaign is hampered by a late start and mediocre fundraising. So don't look for him to take an imposing vote share tonight unless the CTU turnout apparatus is at full swing. Instead, for Garcia it's all about forcing this to go to Round Two and being the "not Rahm" candidate in April, when he can try and energize the left.

Two other serious candidates are running, neither with any real chance to actually win. Fast food franchise owner Willie Wilson (D) is the only serious Black candidate in the race. Wilson is one of the most unique pols anywhere; it's not a perfect parallel, but just about the only figure Wilson can be compared to is the legendarily zany NYS Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. Wilson has an impressive life story; he built several businesses despite a seventh-grade education and language skills that might be generously described as unpolished. In some ways Wilson's campaign sounds conservative notes. He strongly emphasizes his business acumen and faith, endorsed now-Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) in 2014, and is the only one of the four to actively court GOP voters. But Wilson mixes those seemingly moderate cues with rhetoric bordering on Black Nationalism, openly blasting white voters for not understanding the African-American community and apparently (though he denies this) using the epithet "Whiteys" in a speech. Wilson has been polling in high single digits, a share likely due almost entirely to Black support. A high vote share for Wilson means that Garcia will likely have to work harder to win African-American votes in any second round.

Finally, city councilman Bob Fioretti (D) of the Loop is the fourth wheel in the race. Fioretti is a fairly typical upscale good-government progressive, as opposed to Garcia's thoroughly machine-flavored liberalism. Despite the potentially-powerful council perch, Fioretti has made few strong allies in the thoroughly machine-dominated council. Indeed, his main impetus for running was the fact that his council seat was dismantled in redistricting. Despite being the first anti-Rahm progressive in the race, he was actively passed over by the CTU in favor of recruiting Garcia. Thus, Fioretti has seen his numbers gradually erode from the mid-teens to single digits over the course of the race. Fioretti has been polling consistenly in fourth with around 5%, drawn mostly from white moonbats in the Loop and Lakefront, and that's probably where he ends the race today.

All 50 seats on the city council are up; the races are far too numerous and complex for me to do them justice. But one contest worth particular attention is in the 33rd Ward around Ravenswood, where Rod Blagojevich's sister-in-law Deb Mell (D) is facing a tough fight to hold onto the seat she inheirited from her powerful father.

Special Elections:

There are also two State House and one State Senate specials in Connecticut today, and deep-blue Bridgeport has emerged as a surprise battleground. The State Senate special is for CT-SD-23, a D+40, heavily Black and Hispanic district, covering the eastern 3/4 of Bridgeport. Nevertheless, the election is actually competitive. Hispanic Bridgeport councilman Richard DeJesus (D) won the party's endorsement (CT uses the NY system where special election nominees are selected by a cabal of insiders) by one vote. However, DeJesus is under investigation for residency violations and is suffering personal financial troubles, including liens for unpaid taxes and back child support. Thus, he has attracted two serious challengers. First is the man he beat out for the endorsement, African-American ex-State Sen. Edwin Gomes, who is running on the Working Families Party line. Gomes has a fairly strong machine and could be helped by high turnout in the Black community. However, that community is not united; Gomes has long antagonized a rival machine led by Mayor Bill Finch (D). Finch and Gov. Dan Malloy (D) are backing pastor Kennth Moales, a somewhat more moderate Dem running as an Indie. A victory by any of DeJesus, Gomes, or Moales is not out of the question. What can be counted out is a victory by the Some Dude GOPer in the race, who almost certainly finishes fourth.

There are also two specials in the State House. The uninteresting one is for CT-LD-107 in Brookfield. The seat is deep-red for Connecticut at R+5; Republican school board member Stephen Harding should be favored over Democratic Brookfield councilman Howard Lasser. But we also have even more Bridgeport fun - and a potential GOP pickup - with CT-LD-129. This seat is based in the Black Rock City area; importantly for turnout, there is almost no overlap with SD-23. At D+27 it should be safely Democratic, but again we have some crazy intraparty feuds. There is one Republican, Bridgeport councilman Enrique Torres (R), and four serious Democrats. The endorsed D candidate is ex-Bridgeport councilman Steve Safstrom (D), whom Torres ousted to win his council seat in 2013. Safstrom is a machine hack of the first order, mainly selected for the fact that his uncle is a powerful CTDP insider. Safstrom has thus been taking heat from three other Dems running as Indies, ex-State Reps. Hector Diaz and Robert Keely and Bridgeport councilman Robert Halstead. All three are promising a more independent brand of liberalism. Safstrom is still favored, but with low turnout and vote-splitting, it's very possible Torres (or even one of the Indies) could win this race.

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