Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Sink Raking in Donations in Fla.; Rehberg’s Return in Montana?

In House on January 6, 2014 at 11:12 am

FL-13

With the Jan. 14 special primary election fast approaching in the race to succeed the late Rep. Bill Young (R), former Florida chief financial officer and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink reported crushing financial numbers on the pre-primary financial disclosure report as released by the Federal Election Commission.

According to the statement, Sink had raised $1.143 million for her special election campaign and has $1.054 million cash-on-hand. More than $823,000 of her current political income came from individual donors, versus $300,700 from political action committees. The candidate invested $7,700 of her own money and reports no debt.

On the Republican side, lobbyist David Jolly obtained $388,450 in contributions and has just under $142,000 in the bank. State Rep. Kathleen Peters is weaker. She raised just under $170,000, but had only $17,549 at the Christmas Day reporting deadline. The Jan. 14 primary is a major event for the Republicans because that election will decide who faces Sink in the March 11 special general vote. The former state CFO is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Florida’s 13th CD, anchored solely on the western Tampa Bay peninsula, is one of only 16 congressional districts that voted for President Obama (50-49 percent over Mitt Romney) and elected a Republican to the House (Rep. Young 58-42 percent over attorney Jessica Ehrlich).

Alex Sink was elected Florida CFO in 2006 with 53.5 percent of the vote. She lost a 49-48 percent gubernatorial campaign to current Gov. Rick Scott (R) four years later. Sink is a heavy favorite to convert this congressional district to the Democratic column in early March.

MT-AL

With freshman at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R) now running for Montana’s open Senate seat, the Republican race to succeed him in the statewide House campaign has drawn its share of early attention.

Former congressional aide (to Sen. Max Baucus) John Lewis, to date, is the lone Democratic candidate, while the Republican field features three current or former state senators in addition to a Tea Party-backed businessman.

The GOP field may drastically change, however, if ex-Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) follows through on comments he made during a local radio interview just after the first of the year. The former congressman indicated he is “seriously considering” running for his old seat, a position he held for 12 years beginning in January of 2001. Despite saying he was done with politics after his 49-45 percent loss to Sen. Jon Tester (D) in the 2012 general election, even though Mitt Romney simultaneously broke the 55 percent mark in the state against President Obama, Rehberg still has an obvious desire to continue his public service career.

The former congressman publicly flirted with the idea of another Senate run upon Sen. Baucus’ retirement announcement, but has abandoned any thought of that race and is now apparently concentrating on another at-large House bid. Clearly, Rehberg becoming a congressional candidate would greatly increase the Republicans’ chances of holding the seat, which is a GOP must-win campaign if they are to keep and increase the size of their current majority.

Rep. Daines will most likely be running against Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) in the 2014 Senate general election campaign. Since the retiring Baucus has been appointed US Ambassador to China, it is highly likely that Gov. Steve Bullock (D) will appoint Walsh to the vacated Senate seat once the senator resigns after securing confirmation to his new position. This move will force Daines to run against an appointed incumbent instead of conducting an open seat effort.

With Lt. Gov. Walsh in the Senate and former Rep. Rehberg likely to enter the House race, Montana politics will soon feature a much different complexion.

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