With the thanksgiving week upon us, there's little immediate news to discuss - so today we're going to take an early baseline look at next year's races in lieu of a second roundup.
The dynamics of this race can go in two different directions, based on one man: Sen. Mark Warner. If he does run, there's almost no way for him to lose. His 2001-2005 term as Governor was remembered extremely fondly, and a recent Q poll had him with over 50% support. LG Bill Bolling and AG Ken Cuccinelli are the big names of the Virginia GOP, but they most likely can't hold a candle to Warner, and Virginia Democrats would be in strong position to break the "Win the white house, lose VA-Gov" curse. On the other hand, if Warner does not run (as the CW is currently suggesting) Democrats will probably be left with a decidedly lackluster nominee in Terry McAuliffe, whose 2009 campaign flopped in the primary. We can't count McAuliffe out entirely with recent polls showing the race close, but it's a pretty safe bet that whoever the Republicans nominate starts out as a slight favorite if Warner is not in the picture due to McAuliffe's poor campaign skills. On the Republican side, there is much less drama; Cucinelli, a slightly weaker and more polarizing candidate beloved by the grass roots, is favored to take the nomination. If Bolling pulls a convention upset it might make the race an easier hold against McAuliffe or another generic D. But the difference between Bolling and Cuccinelli is nowhere near the difference between Warner and any other Virginia Democrat. RRH rates this race Likely D if Warner runs and Lean R if Warner passes.
Like Virginia, Democrats' issues in this race come down to one man and his decision: Newark Mayor Cory Booker. And like Warner in VA, the conventional wisdom suggests that he will not pull the trigger on a run, due to his close working relationship with Christie and a strong overlap in big donors between the two. Booker would make this race close to a pure tossup against the popular Christie, but he would not be the favorite - a status he would clearly enjoy in any future statewide race without Christie in the picture. Without Booker, lists of possible candidates usually start with State Sen. Barbara Buono and State Reps. John Wisnewski and Lou Greenwald, and may also include State Sen. (and former interim Gov.) Richard Codey, US Reps. Rob Andrews and Frank Pallone, and Senate President Steve Sweeney (who is thought to be more interested in the 2014 Senate race). While unions will undoubtedly want dearly to give Christie a tough race, the governor's popularity makes him a heavyweight in any matchup. RRH rating - Likely R(though that will adjust if Booker enters.)
Because of the immense size of New York City and its municipal government, the mayor of New York is more like a Governor in power and prestige. As such, the mayoral races often attract national attention and we will be following the 2013 contest closely. Both sides have hotly contested primaries. On the D side, the main clash is between Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose support comes from business interests and the LGBT community, and ex-Comptroller and 2009 nominee Billy Thompson, who has the backing of most Black and many Hispanic community leaders. The other names in the contest on the D side are Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, who is couning on white progressives, and Comptroller John Liu, whose ethics issues have hampered his attempts to expand his support beyond his base in the Asian community. On the Republican side, the only declared candidate is recent party switcher and newspaper publisher Tom Allon; however, 4 other candidates have been exploring runs - charity founder George McDonald, businessman John Catsimatidis, Bronx Borough President Alfonso Carrion, and Dem State Senator Malcolm Smith. Catsimatidis is considered the most formidable candidate, and has recently taken steps towards a run; if he doesn't run most Republican bigwigs seem to be supporting Carrion. Carrion and Smith would each need waviers (called Wilson-Pakulas, or WPs) from 3 Republican county chairs in order to run, as neither is a registered Republican. Smith's most likely route to a WP is if his caucusing with Republicans gives them control of the State Senate. Of the Republican candidates, Catsimatidis is likely the only one who likely has the resources to tangle with the D front-runners on such a tilted and expensive playing field. However, with Democrats 0 for 5 in the mayoral races since 1990, the possibility of electing a non-D mayor as a check on Democratic power in almost every other office cannot be discounted. RRH rating - Likely D.
In LA, the preliminary election is coming right up on March 5. As incumbent Villaraigosa is term-limited, the field is extremely muddled. The top two finishers in March will almost certainly advance to a May run-off, as no one is likely to crack 50% in the first round. There are 4 major candidates in this non-partisan race: City Comptroller Wendy Greuel, Councilors Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, and fomer federal prosecutor/talk show host Kevin James, the lone Republican-affiliated candidate. James recently became the beneficiary of anew SuperPAC run by strategist Fred Davis, which aims to raise $4M in support of his run. As for the 3 Democrats, Greuel and Garcetti are running pretty standard liberal campaigns and differ very little on the issues; the main difference seems to be that Greuel is favored by the IBEW union while Garcetti is favored by the SEIU union. Perry, a Jewish woman of African American heritage, is running as a more moderate business-friendly Democrat and is similar to Michael Bloomberg on the ideological spectrum. Most observers agree that the current horserace order is clearly Greuel > Garcetti > Perry > James, but the field is fluid enough that any two could advance to a runoff.
With this race single-handedly deciding control of the State Senate, both parties are likely to see crowded fields. Republicans already have a crowded field; the front-runner is generally considered to be Prince William County Exec. Corey Stewart, but State Sen. Stephen Martin, Del. Scott Lingamfelter, Stafford Co. Exec. Susan Stimpson, and ex-State Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis (Tom Davis's wife) are all considered credible candidates. Democrats' lone declared candidate is Obama administration official Aneesh Chopra, but he is likely to be joined by other candidates including some or all of: State Sens. Ralph Northam and Kenny Alexander, Roanoke Mayor David Bowers, and former State House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong. Early guesses place Armstrong as the front-runner for the D nod if he runs. The general election outcome of the race depends highly on who is atop the ballot. If Warner runs bet on Democrats to take this easily; otherwise the Republican can be considered a slight favorite.
State Sen. Mark Herring of Loudon County is Democrats' likely nominee here, giving Democrats a strong candidate. Republicans' choice is likely to be State Sen. Mark Obenshain, though State Del. Rob Bell is also running and could pull an upset at the convention. Similarly to the LG race, this one's general election outcome depends a lot on who is atop the ballot.
New York will elect two other citywide officials in 2013, the Public Advocate (a do-nothing post similar to a very weak Lt. Governor) and City Comptroller. Both seats will be open due to their incumbents running for mayor. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D) is considered the favorite for the Comptroller post, though Councilman Dan Garodnick (D) is also running. For the PA post, State Sen. Dan Squadron (D) and Councilwoman Letitia "Tish" James (D) are considered the front-runners. It's very unlikely that Republicans will field more than a sacrificial lamb for either post; the last Republican elected to either office was Newbold Morris (as City Council President, the PA's predecessor) in 1941. The entire 51-member city council is up; Republicans have a chance to pick up a fifth seat on the council, in South Brooklyn, with the expected campaign of ougoing State Sen. David Storobin for a conservaitve district.
New Jersey and Virginia have legislative elections next year. Both houses in NJ are up but not expected to see significant change. The closely divided VA Senate is not up (except in the tie-breaking LG office) and Republicans are expected to easily keep their majority in the VA House even if Warner gives Democrats coattails to run on.
There are a lot of mayoral elections in 2013, most of which have fields that not taken shape yet. Some of the more important ones where jockeying as already begun include Boston and Detroit:
In Boston, Mayor Menino is seen as a retirement possibility after suffering from a string of back ailments that have kept him in the hospital for several weeks. The jockeying in this race has not begun, but potential candidates include 2009 loser Michael Flaherty and councilors Ayanna Pressley, John Connolly, John Tobin, and Rob Consalvo. As you'd expect, all are Democrats.
In Detroit, Mayor Dave Bing has drawn siginificant enemies over his radical restructuring of the failed city and may not seek re-election; he's liable to have a tough time gaining a second term if he does run. Two candidates, State Rep. Liza Howze and (white) former Wayne County DA Mike Duggan, have already declared their candidacy. Other potential candidates include State Rep. Fred Durhal, Council President Charles Pugh, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, and soon-to-be-former Rep. Hansen Clarke. All are, of course, Democrats.