Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Another House Member Set to Retire; A New Political Carter in Georgia

In Governor, House, Polling on November 8, 2013 at 10:32 am

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC-6), who has represented the Greensboro, N.C. area since his first “landslide” election in 1984 that featured a victory margin of less than 100 votes, announced that he will retire at the end of the current Congress. Coble, now 82 and dealing with health challenges, will close out 30 consecutive years of congressional service when his final term in office comes to an end at the beginning of 2015.

Though the 6th District is safely Republican and should not cause the national party any trouble in the replacement campaign, the Coble announcement yields the third such new open seat just this week. The grand total of 2014 open districts has now increases to 23, 16 of which are Republican held.

We can expect a spirited Republican primary, which is often the case when a region has not been open at the congressional level for a long period of time. Possibly the leading contender, and an individual who appears poised to run, is Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., whose father is the state Senate president. Tom Manning (R), Alamance County commission chair, is another possible candidate, as is former Guilford County commissioner Billy Yow, who challenged Coble in 2012 and scored 20 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Last election’s second place finisher, radio talk show host Billy Flynn (22 percent), is another potential open seat aspirant.

Democrats will likely not be a factor in this campaign, though they will field a candidate. The key elections will be the Republican primary and potential run-off. In North Carolina, if no one receives 40 percent of the primary vote a run-off election is then mandated for the top two finishers.

Georgia

In May of 2010, former president and Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter’s grandson won a special election to the state Senate from his Decatur-anchored legislative district. Now Sen. Jason Carter is attempting to climb the political ladder, following in the footsteps of his grandfather.

Yesterday, Sen. Carter announced that he will seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with the hopes of challenging Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in the general election. Georgia is normally strong for the Republicans in a mid-term election, but a crowded Senate field could yield a competitive fall campaign, and the announcement that Deal is facing an FBI inquiry over some of his campaign finance dealings has caused his job approval ratings to tumble. The combined effect could put Georgia into play next November.

In an October poll (Public Policy Polling; Oct. 7-8; 602 registered Georgia voters), Gov. Deal’s job approval reached upside-down proportions for the first time in his gubernatorial tenure. According to the PPP data, his job approval index stood at 34:41 percent favorable to unfavorable. Perhaps more disconcerting for Deal and the Republicans, and possibly the reason that the younger Carter accepting the national Democratic Party leaders’ overtures to run, is the closeness of the ballot test. When pitted directly against the governor in a head-to-head match-up, the proposed challenger comes within a 40-44 percent margin.

The Deal campaign is taking this potential challenge seriously, as is the Republican Governor’s Association. Until things begin to stabilize, the Georgia governor’s race is now becoming a race to watch.

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