Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Senate Politics Already Hot

In Senate on January 30, 2013 at 10:56 am

Massachusetts

Considering yesterday’s confirmation of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) as Secretary of State, expect Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to name an interim replacement this week. He previously indicated that he intends to appoint a caretaker who will serve only until voters choose a new senator in the June 25 special general election and through the succeeding post-election certification period.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) is the only announced special election candidate from either political party, but Boston Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8) is expected to join the race before week’s end. Democratic Party leaders have worked hard to give Markey an unimpeded march to the nomination, but a Lynch candidacy means that there will be a significant Democratic primary to be decided in an April 30th election.

Little definitive action is yet occurring on the Republican side, but the party’s nominee likely will be either former Sen. Scott Brown, ex-Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, or former state senator and 6th District congressional candidate Richard Tisei. Ex-Gov. Bill Weld is unlikely to enter the contest. Should Brown decide to run he will almost assuredly have an unopposed primary, thus providing him an opportunity to build momentum for what will be a very difficult special general campaign.

Since Markey’s Christmastime announcement, he has failed to develop a major statewide presence and may have lost valuable time. With last week’s MassINC poll (Jan. 16-19; 435 registered Massachusetts voters) projecting Brown to be holding a 53-31 percent lead over the Malden area Democratic congressman, and now with at least a moderately competitive primary challenge from Rep. Lynch potentially on his hands, this race is quickly becoming more interesting. The final field of candidates will formulate over the next few days, and then the real race will begin.

Georgia

Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) publicly said yesterday that he has no desire to run for departing Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ (R) Senate seat. The most likely Republican battle will feature Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6) and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) at the very least, and probably one current or former statewide official and maybe another congressman or even two.

Among Democrats, two of their best potential statewide candidates — from the perspective of those who could legitimately sell a moderate record to the voters, Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) and ex-Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA-8) – both say they won’t run for the Senate. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed doesn’t answer questions about whether he will run, meaning he has yet to say no.

Iowa

Nobody is yet in the open Senate race (Sen. Tom Harkin is retiring), but Gov. Terry Branstad (R) took himself out yesterday with a public statement. Clearly, with five statewide wins under his belt, he would be the Republicans’ strongest candidate.

US Agriculture Secretary and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) has yet to make a comment about his plans. Same is true for his wife, Christie Vilsack, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year against Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4).

Expect Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) to soon announce that he will run for the Senate. Fellow Democratic Rep. David Loebsack (IA-2) is unlikely to mount a statewide effort.

Rep. King is said to be seriously considering running. Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) hasn’t disclosed his thoughts about the Senate race. The conservative King will enjoy great strength in the Republican primary, but Latham is the better general election candidate.

South Dakota

Rumors were swirling yesterday that Sen. Tim Johnson (D) informed his staff that he will not seek re-election next year. If true, expect a public announcement very soon, possibly even today or tomorrow. Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds is already an announced 2014 Senatorial candidate.

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