Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

AL-1 Special is Tomorrow; Gov. Announcements in Mass. and Fla.

In Governor, House on September 23, 2013 at 10:34 am

Alabama

Voters in southwest Alabama go to the polls tomorrow for the special primary election to fill resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) Mobile-anchored district. While the Democrats probably will choose realtor and state representative candidate Burton LeFlore as their nominee, the favored Republicans are almost certainly headed to a run-off election scheduled for Nov. 5. The GOP’s second election will likely determine the identity of Bonner’s successor.

Nine Republicans are on the ballot tomorrow, and former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne appears favored to secure one of the two run-off positions. If things go according to script, the other qualifier will be one of the following: businessman and former congressional candidate Dean Young, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer, former Republican National Committee deputy chief of staff Webb Griffith, or state Rep. Chad Fincher.

Through the Sept. 4 pre-primary Federal Election Commission disclosure period, the aforementioned candidates all find themselves within the same fundraising realm. Byrne tops the list with just over $317,000 raised. The three others, with the exception of Fincher, are between $162,000 and $176,000 in receipts. Fincher has obtained just over $102,000.

If one of the Republicans does secure an outright majority, the special general will then be held on Nov. 5. If the primary results in the expected run-off, the general occurs on Dec. 17.

Massachusetts

Eight-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-7) is expected to unveil a gubernatorial campaign bid this week. The congressman has run for statewide office before, losing to Attorney General Martha Coakley in the special Democratic senatorial primary election back in 2010. Coakley would then go on to lose to Republican Scott Brown in the special general. Capuano scored 28 percent of the primary vote compared to the Attorney General’s 47 percent.

The congressman flirted with the idea of running for the Senate in 2012, but backed away when Sen. Elizabeth Warren quickly became the consensus Democratic nominee soon after formally declaring her candidacy.

Should Capuano in fact announce for governor in the next few days, it will set up a re-match of sorts because Coakley just entered the campaign last week. Also in the race, adding a much different dynamic to this intra-party contest than the previous special senatorial campaign, is state Treasurer Steve Grossman. Early in the cycle, Grossman was viewed as the favorite, but Coakley and Capuano now entering the battle casts doubt upon the outcome.

The general election, regardless of who becomes the Democratic nominee, also figures to be competitive. Republicans are coalescing around 2010 gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker, who held incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to a 48-42 percent win. Gov. Patrick, though eligible to seek another term, is retiring.

Florida

Reversing the recent trend of individuals announcing candidacies, a major potential gubernatorial contender says she won’t run next year. Former Florida CFO Alex Sink (D), who fell to Gov. Rick Scott (R) 49-48 percent in 2010, says she will not seek a re-match.

Sink’s decision not to run isn’t a surprise. The sudden death of her husband, attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride, late last year is a key factor in her decision to not challenge Gov. Scott. The development now leaves a wide open path for former Gov. Charlie Crist to seek the Democratic nomination.

Crist served one gubernatorial term as a Republican, and then ran for the US Senate in 2010 leaving the party in the early stages of the campaign to become an Independent. He officially joined the Democrats last year. Considering Gov. Scott’s lagging job approval numbers, the general election is expected to be highly competitive.

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