Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Graves Out in Minn.; Tillis Commits In N.C.

In Senate on June 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

When Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) announced that she will not seek re-election to a fifth term in the House at the end of last week, her action set in motion another political move. The congresswoman’s 2012 opponent, businessman Jim Graves (D), who held her to a 50.5 – 49.3 percent re-election victory on the heels of Bachmann’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, had previously announced his intention to seek a re-match.

Responding to Bachmann’s retirement announcement, Graves followed suit. Over the weekend, the Democrat announced that he is “suspending” his 2014 congressional campaign. He is unlikely to re-start his political effort.

Minnesota’s 6th District is the safest Republican seat in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Though Bachmann only barely survived, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney scored a 56.5 – 41.5 percent advantage over President Obama in the district. Romney carried only one other Minnesota CD, the 7th (53.9 percent), ironically represented by Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson.

At this point, neither party has an official 6th District candidate. That will soon change, as a number of Republican hopefuls are about to come forward. Without Graves in the on the Democratic side, the eventual GOP nominee should cruise to election in the fall of 2014.

NC-Senate

The North Carolina Senate race is one of the campaign opportunities that has so far confounded the Republicans. With a vulnerable Democratic incumbent, first-term Sen. Kay Hagan (D), the GOP leadership was surprisingly having trouble recruiting a candidate. In the past few days, that situation has changed.

Thom Tillis, 52, is the Speaker of the NC House of Representatives. First elected to the state House in 2006, Tillis was chosen by his colleagues to lead the chamber when the Republicans captured the majority in the 2010 elections. Late last week he made official his quest for the US Senate.

Hagan defeated incumbent senator Elizabeth Dole (R) 53-44 percent in one of 2008’s top upsets. Hagan has generally voted the liberal line, which is out of step with the state’s more conservative constituency. Though President Obama carried North Carolina by the barest of margins (49.7 – 49.4 percent) in his first election, it became one of two states to desert him for Romney last November (50.4 – 48.3 percent).

The state drifted back to the Republicans in 2012. Hagan will have to face a mid-term turnout as opposed to the presidential year participation model that originally elected her. That should cut well for Tillis, assuming no other strong Republican steps forth to challenge him for the party nomination. This race has the potential of becoming one of the most competitive Senate campaigns in the nation and a seat the GOP must win if they are to have any chance of ousting the Democratic majority.

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