Down the Ballot

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2013 Race Preview

Mr. Bill Says: "Take a look at these Polls!"
2013 looks to be just as interesting for the political junkie as 2012 turned out to be. There are 4, count them 4 special elections for congress going on right now. The race to fill the remainder of John Kerry's senate term is happening in Massachusetts right now. Congressman Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch are vying for the Democratic nomination. The Republicans have several candidates, none of which are household names. Former Senator Scott Brown declined to run and he was probably the only Republican that could have fared well against either Markey or Lynch. Mo Cowan, a former Chief of Staff for Governor Deval Patrick will be filling in as the interim Senator until the election is over.

The race looks interesting. Lynch and Markey represent very different factions within the state party. Everyone's a Democrat, but when you look at the recent 2012 elections you'll note Ed Markey campaigned heavily with and for Elizabeth Warren...while Lynch, well I couldn't find a picture of them campaigning together. It looks like he sat out participating in the senate race. Odds are, the folks that show up in this special election are going to be those Warren and Obama voters that turned out in November. It will be curious to see if Warren endorses at all. Markey has already been endorsed by Victoria Kennedy and the DSCC.

When South Carolina Nicky Healey appointed Congressman Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate, I bet she never thought a Colbert would be running to replace him. No, not Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert. His sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch is running for the Democratic nomination. She looks like the candidate to beat in the Democratic race. Lulu as she is called by friends and family is adding some much needed energy to what would normally be a rather dull campaign season. How much her famous brother helps or hinders her campaign will be just as important as the type of campaign she runs. Colbert is already hosting fundraisers for her that will give her a good strong showing and help maker her competitive against one of the 16 Republicans that are vying for the nomination.  You can hear about some of them from Stephen Colbert.

One of the reasons we call them special elections, is because they are special. We don't have a firm idea of what the electorate is going to look like until we get closer to the election. In recent years, special elections have provided surprises that go contrary to our expectations. In 2011, New York saw two such special elections give two very different outcomes. In the what was considered the most conservative district a Democrat won and in a very liberal district a Republican won. Colbert is going to give this race a lot of attention.

The race coming up in about six days is the primary that will decide who will replace embattled Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois. There are 16 Democratic candidates on the ballot, 5 Republicans, and 3 third party candidates. The Democrat, whoever it is, should be easily elected in the general. Jackson won the 2nd Congressional District with 63% in 2012.

In Missouri's 8th Congressional District, Democrats and Republicans will have the chance to replace Jo Ann Emerson. They have already selected their nominees, without a primary even. The Republicans have picked Jason Smith, who serves in the Missouri House of Representatives and the Democrats picked Steve Hodges, also a state representative.  Emerson was re-elected with 72% of the vote in 2012. My guess is the GOP should hold this seat.

Virginia and New Jersey are having their typical off year gubernatorial elections. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is limited from running for another term. Running to replace him would have been his Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. Electoral drama ensued even before a single vote had been cast. Bolling had intended to run, but once Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli made his intentions clear, he decided against mounting a campaign. Apparently, the GOP also deciding to switch from a primary to nominating conventions also contributed to his decision. He has pretty much put his gubernatorial ambitions on hold. Bolling has not ruled out the possibility of mounting a third party campaign. For now though, he will not be endorsing Cuccinelli.

The Democrats in Virginia seem to have their hearts set on former DNC Chairman, and candidate for governor in 2009 Terry McAuliffe. Even though he raised an astonishing 7.5 million in the primary, he fell short of defeating State Senator Craig Deeds. This year, it appears Terry will have a pretty clear path to the Democratic nomination. Virginia is a place where the political landscape is changing. Of the last 6 governors: 3 were Democrats and 3 were Republicans. Unlike 2010, where Deeds lost by 17 points, this race should be much closer.

New Jersey will also be up for grabs this year and Republican Governor Chris Christie looks like house favorite to win re-election as governor. He is facing Atlantic City Councilman Seth Grossman in the primary. The Democrats lost their dream candidate, Newark Mayor Cory Booker to a 2014 bid for the U.S. Senate. Now they are trying their best to field a strong candidate. If you're in Atlantic City right now the safe bet is Christie.

More to come on these races and others to come in the near future.

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