Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Three States, Three Different Approaches

In Governor, Mayor on August 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

Pennsylvania

A major political decision announced just yesterday will help a Pennsylvania freshman Republican congressman. In November, businessman Keith Rothfus (R) unseated incumbent Rep. Mark Critz (D) in the newly drawn 12th Congressional District.

Critz was originally paired with then-Rep. Jason Altmire (D) in the one district after PA lost a seat in reapportionment. The sophomore congressman prevailed over Altmire in a close, hard-fought contest, but then Critz went on to lose the general election to Rothfus 48-52 percent, despite President Obama again carrying Pennsylvania.

Since the election, it was assumed that Critz would seek a re-match with congressman Rothfus in an attempt to regain his lost position. Critz, however, has decided on a different political direction. Instead of again running for Congress, the ex-member will now run for lieutenant governor. With the Democrats appearing well positioned to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett (R), riding on a ticket with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee could allow Critz to sail back into office.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for lieutenant governor run independently in the primary but, once nominated, are paired with the gubernatorial nominee on a general election ticket. The leading Democratic gubernatorial contender is Critz’s former congressional colleague, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13). As a political team, the two would strike a balance between the dominant liberal wing of the Democratic Party and its more moderate faction.

Maine

With the polls showing that Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) would defeat Gov. Paul LePage (R) even in a three-way match with Independent attorney Eliot Cutler, the congressman will officially announce his gubernatorial campaign later today. Earlier, Michaud had formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee.

While Michaud’s prospects appear strong in the governor’s contest, the battle for his open House seat could reflect a different complexion. Though the Democrats will be viewed as likely winners early in the race, a strong Republican candidate could become highly competitive in an inland western district that is more conservative than its 1st District counterpart, and had been represented by Republican Olympia Snowe for eight terms prior to her election to the Senate.

Potential candidates from both parties will soon be coming forward now that Rep. Michaud will be officially vacating the seat.

San Diego

The falling political fortunes of scandal-ridden mayor and former US Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA-51) are affecting at least one congressional campaign. Despite calls for his resignation from every corner of the city, Filner remains steadfast in his desire to remain in office. A recall effort is underway, but gathering over 100,000 valid signatures in a short time period makes the qualifying proposition difficult. Political activists involved in the campaign report tough going on the fundraising circuit because most donors believe that Filner will eventually resign.

Carl DeMaio is a former San Diego City councilman who lost a close race to Filner last November. Since his citywide defeat, DeMaio has been organizing a race for Congress against freshman Democrat Scott Peters (D-CA-52), and at least two polls posted the potential challenger to a rather substantial lead.

But the prevailing wisdom, and now even a virtual acknowledgement from DeMaio himself yesterday, says that he will abandon the race for Congress as soon as the mayor’s position opens. While stopping short of actually saying he would run for mayor, DeMaio said, “anyone would be better than Bob Filner, so our first step has to be driving Bob Filner from office.”

If the mayor’s office opens and DeMaio runs, there would still be a challenge to Peters, but one not likely to be as well funded. The 52nd District is a marginal seat and has the potential of electing a Republican, especially in a mid-term election.

Much more will happen in San Diego as the city’s political dominoes begin to fall.

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