Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Brown Shows Interest; No Ohio Re-match; 22 Candidates File in IL-2 Race

In Governor, House, Senate on January 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Speculation continues over former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s political future, but his re-entry path into public life may be clearer after what happened this week. Brown, who lost his Senate seat to former national consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren (D) last month, says he plans to seek public office in the future but has been mum about which office and when.

Because of Sen. John Kerry’s (D) appointment as Secretary of State, a special election to fill his vacated seat will occur later this year. Brown, who despite losing still maintains high favorability ratings from the Bay State electorate, could also run for governor in 2014.

While Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) shows early strength in the Senate race and appears to be on his way of becoming a consensus Democratic Party special election candidate, the gubernatorial contest is not so secure for Massachusetts’ dominant political organization.

Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said a year ago he did not plan to seek a third term in office, thus paving the way for a competitive open seat contest next year. Though Massachusetts is one of the most loyal of Democratic states, Republicans have elected three of its last four governors.

This week, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz (D), who would have been the first Hispanic to win a major party nomination in Massachusetts, said she will not run for governor nor enter the Senate special election citing plans to remain in her current position. Gov. Patrick had publicly said that Ms. Ortiz was his favored person to succeed him. Thus, it is possible that ex-Sen. Brown’s strongest gubernatorial opponent may have just walked away.

Expect Brown to remain quiet about his own plans until Sen. Kerry resigns and Patrick announces the interim Senate replacement, which is a prelude to the special election under state law.

No Ohio Re-Match

There will be no re-match of the 2010 political battle between Gov. John Kasich (R) and former Gov. Ted Strickland (D). The latter man, who was elected statewide in the Democratic landslide year of 2006, lost his re-election bid to Kasich by a close two-point, 49-47 percent, margin.

Yesterday, Strickland said he will not again run for governor, denying Democrats possibly their strongest candidate. In a related development, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman (D) also said he has no intention of entering the gubernatorial contest.

Since Ohio is currently the quintessential battleground state, Kasich can expect a highly competitive re-election opponent, but it is becoming clear that such a person will not be widely familiar to the statewide voting public.

IL-2

Candidate filing for the Feb. 26 special election party primaries to replace resigned-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) has now closed. Seventeen Democrats and five Republicans filed to run. With no run-off law, the candidates receiving the highest number of votes, regardless of percentage, in the Democratic and Republican primaries will face each other in an April 9 special general election. The heavily Democratic nature of the south Chicago-anchored district means that party’s Feb. 26 winner will succeed Jackson.

As has been the case in two other majority African-American districts around the country (TN-9 and MI-14), a white candidate, securing only a small plurality of the vote, has a chance of winning the primary and therefore the seat. Former one-term Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D), who was previously the state Senate Majority Leader, is running in this district again — in 2012, she challenged Jackson in the Democratic primary and received 23.6 percent of the vote — against what appears to be six competitive African-American candidates. Could splitting the vote among too many black candidates again elect another white Democrat? The possibility certainly exists.

Despite 17 names being present on the Democratic ballot, the strongest candidates appear to be Halvorson, newly elected state Sen. Napoleon Harris, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who is a former staff member for Halvorson, Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale, ex-Cook County Chief Executive Officer Robin Kelly, and local pastors Victor Jonathan (formerly Victor Onafuye) and Anthony Williams. Ex-US Rep. Mel Reynolds, who resigned the seat because of financial and sexual felony convictions thus leading to years in federal prison, has also filed his candidacy.

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