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Red State Weekly Political Synopsis

Promoted from the diaries by Brian Faughnan.

Senate Update

Arkansas: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) received bad news from a Public Policy Polling survey (8/21-24; 784 registered Arkansas voters). Against three virtually unknown candidates, Lincoln scores virtually even with them, and well below 50%. Paired with state Senator Gilbert Baker (R), Lincoln trails 42-40%; with businessman Curtis Coleman (R), Lincoln’s deficit is one point, 41-40%; against Afghan War veteran Tom Cotton (R), Lincoln takes the barest of leads, 40-39%. this is a surprising GOP conversion opportunity.

Colorado: Despite leading appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) 42-39% in the latest Public Policy Polling study (8/14-16; 969 Colorado registered voters), former Rep. and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez (R) announced he would not run for the Senate. Former Lt. Governor Jane Norton (R) is telling media outlets and supporters that she will decide about her own candidacy in 30 days. Aurora at-large city Councilman Ryan Frazier and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck are the two official GOP candidates.

Illinois: Former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman (D) announced that he will challenge state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson in the Democratic Senatorial primary. Hoffman immediately hired Barack Obama consultant David Axelrod to plan his campaign. Republican Rep. Mark Kirk has the inside track to the GOP nomination.

Louisiana: Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3) made official his challenge to GOP Sen. David Vitter. Melancon recently had made his intentions to run clear after earlier indicating he planned to seek re-election. Melancon called himself a “pro-life, pro-gun Southern Democrat.” Despite a prostitution scandal in 2007, Vitter begins the race as the favorite.

Massachusetts: The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy leaves his seat open. Under current Massachusetts law, a special election will be called within 145-160 days, meaning sometime between January 17 and February 1, 2010. A move to change the law to allow Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to make a short term appointment may be enacted when the legislature returns to Boston in September. If so, former Gov. and presidential nominee Michael Dukakis (D) could be a possible candidate for appointment. Many Democrats, including Reps. Ed Markey, Richard Neal, Mike Capuano, and Stephen Lynch are all mentioned as possible candidates, as well as Attorney General Martha Coakley. Former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II is also a possible contender. Republicans could be in position to do rather well in a special election. Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey appears to be the most prominent of Republicans mentioned as potential candidates.

House Update

AK-AL: State Rep. Harry Crawford (D) announced his candidacy against 19-term Rep. Don Young (R). Crawford is not expected to be a major opponent, yet another indication that Young will have an easier race than in 2008, when former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz came within five points of beating him.

CA-18: Mike Berryhill, a Turlock, CA Irrigation Board member, announced he will challenge Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D). Berryhill’s uncle, Clare Berryhill, is a former state Assemblyman and Senator as well as Secretary of Agriculture in the George Deukmejian administration. His cousins, Tom and Bill Berryhill are currently members of the state Assembly. This race has the potential of becoming competitive.

GA-4: Rep. Hank Johnson, who defeated ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the 2006 Democratic primary, might get his own nomination challenge next year. DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May (D) is telling associates and supporters that he is considering a run for Congress against Johnson.

IN-9: Former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R), who has run against Rep. Baron Hill (D) four times (winning once) says he has not yet ruled out a fifth campaign in 2010. Already in the race for the Republicans are attorney Todd Young and conservative activist Travis Hankins.

NE-2: Rep. Lee Terry (R) is also apparently going to have a competitive primary challenge. Heath care technology company president Matt Sakalosky is confirming he is in the race for 2010. Sakalosky has the ability to self-fund. Terry was originally elected in 1998. He was re-elected in 2008 with 52-48% in a district carried by President Obama.

NY-20: Former state Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R), who lost the special congressional election to Rep. Scott Murphy (D) by less than 1,000 votes earlier this year, is now indicating he is considering a re-match, after originally ruling out another challenge. NY-20 remains the most Republican seat in the state and is expected to be in play come next November.

OH-16: Jim Renacci (R), the owner of the Arena Football League’s Columbus Destroyers, has announced his intention to challenge freshman Rep. John Boccieri (D). Boccieri won the seat last November when 36-year congressional veteran Ralph Regula (R) retired. This has the potential of becoming a competitive race. Renacci is the former Wadsworth town Mayor.

Governor Update

Colorado: Public Policy Polling (8/14-16; 969 Colorado registered voters) shows weakened Gov. Bill Ritter (D) trailing former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) by a rather sizable 46-38% margin. Against Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, Ritter can do no better than a 40-40% tie.

Florida: A poll conducted in early August (Public Opinion Strategies, 8/4-5; 600 registered FL voters) was just recently released. It showed the best numbers for GOP Attorney General Bill McCollum since Gov. Charlie Crist (R) announced that he would run for the Senate in 2010 and vacate the Governorship. McCollum leads Florida CFO Alex Sink (D) 48-37% according to the data.

Iowa: More evidence is coming to the forefront that former four-term Gov. Terry Branstad (R) may be attempting a comeback against liberal Gov. Chet Culver (D). The Iowa First Foundation conducted a poll of Iowa voters, and it showed Branstad easily beating Gov. Culver 53-34%. The poll was taken in late July, but just recently released.

New Jersey: Two new polls show the New Jersey gubernatorial race drawing closer. Former US Attorney Chris Christie (R) continues to lead Gov. Jon Corzine (D), but by reduced margins. A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll (8/25-26; 608 likely NJ registered voters for the Democracy Corps) indicates that Christie’s lead has fallen to 43-41%. Rasmussen Reports (8/25; 500 likely NJ registered voters) posts Christie to a larger 50-42% lead. The election is November 3rd.

South Carolina: Attorney General Henry McMaster (R) formally announced his gubernatorial candidacy, as expected. Embattled Gov. Mark Sanford (R) is term-limited. McMaster’s announcement comes amidst further calls for Sanford’s resignation due to his now public extra-marital affair and charges of abusing his taxpayer funded expense account. Should Sanford resign or be forced from office, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R) would ascend to the Governor’s office. Such an occurrence would drastically change next year’s GOP primary, as Bauer would be eligible to run for the office in his own right.

Vermont: Four-term Gov. Jim Douglas (R) announced that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in 2010. Vermont, along with New Hampshire, still maintains two-year terms for its Governors. With Douglas out of the race, Democrats become the favorites to win in this most liberal of states. Democratic Secretary of State Deb Markowitz and state Senators John Racine and Susan Bartlett are already announced candidates. Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie appears to have the inside track to the Republican nomination.

Wisconsin: A Tarrance Group poll conducted for the Scott Walker campaign (800 WI likely general election voters) shows the Milwaukee County Executive leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) 44-43%. He has a bigger lead over Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3), 49-39%, and a 48-40% advantage over Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton. Walker leads former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI-1) 57-21% in the Republican primary. Barrett leads Lawton and Kind 39-25-19, respectively, on the Democratic side.

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