- Sanders Raises $5 Million In Less than 24 Hours
- Huckabee Says Cruz Practices ‘Low-Life, Sleazy Politics’
- Former Spokesman Says Obama Prefers Clinton
- Fiorina Ends Presidential Bid
- Marco Rubio Tries to Bounce Back
Democrats need Republican incumbents to retire from competitive districts in order to expand the playing field of competitive House races. But GOP Rep. Dan Benishek’s decision not to run for re-election in Michigan barely moves the status quo of the House battlefield.
Benishek was already considered vulnerable this cycle, and his 1st District was already counted among the three dozen most competitive races in the country. His narrow re-election victory in 2012 — 48.1-47.6 percent (a margin of 1,881 votes), made him an attractive target. But the seat leans Republican under most conditions.
With just hours before Election Day, the only question is how good of a night it will be for Republicans.
In the Senate, the following states have been updated: Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and West Virginia.
In the House, we’ve updated the state of play in the following districts: Arkansas’ 2nd, California’s 52nd, Georgia’s 12th, Michigan’s 6th, Nebraska’s 2nd, New York’s 1st and Utah’s 4th.
The House playing field continues to shift in favor of Republicans as President Barack Obama’s slumping job approval numbers cast a shadow over the landscape and Democrats shift their financial resources from offensive opportunities to defensive positions.
At the beginning of the cycle, Republicans David Valadao of California, Rodney Davis of Illinois, and Dan Benishek of Michigan were three of the top House Democratic targets anywhere in the country. Now all three are on the fringes of the conversation about competitive races.
California’s 21st District. Democrats are about to fall short of winning this Northern California district for the second straight cycle. Valadao has been consistently strong this year, even though Obama won the district in the last two presidential cycles. Democrat Amanda Renteria’s challenge has never really materialized, even though national Democrats were ecstatic about her successful recruitment. She may well try again in 2016, but 2014 doesn’t look like her year. We’re changing the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Leans Republican to Republican Favored. Full story
While the campaign of Michigan GOP Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land crows about a new Wenzel Research poll showing her tailing the Democratic nominee, Rep. Gary Peters, by less than three percentage points, it’s increasingly difficult to see this contest as highly competitive.
A year and a half ago, we noted the retirement of Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., gave Republicans at least an opportunity in the open seat contest but emphasized that “the burden is on the GOP to prove that it can make this race into a competitive contest.” Initially, we maintained our “Safe” rating for Democrats.
With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.
Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.
While things could still change — and national polls continue to show an environment that may produce a substantial GOP wave in the House and Senate — the Senate battle has boiled down to two reliably red states and three swing states.
Democrats believe, as competitive races become more engaged and the party exercises some of its financial advantage to get its message out, that some contests will turn in their favor. That scenario is possible, but in many cases Democratic challenges aren’t developing as quickly as expected and some Democratic incumbents are struggling to gain their footing.
In the game “Would You Rather?” one is usually faced with a choice between two difficult and undesirable options.
“If you had a machete, would you rather amputate the feet of two friends or amputate one of your own feet?” asks the site YouRather.com. Or, “Would you rather spend a day with Justin Bieber or spend a day with Miley Cyrus?”
It’s some of the same anxiety facing voters at the polls in the next election. But the contrast in a trio of House races stand out as particularly difficult choices for voters this year. Remember, your first reaction may not be the best choice.
Question 1: Would you rather be an indicted congressman from Staten Island or a candidate from Brooklyn in New York’s 11th District?
Don’t laugh. The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
When a 20-count indictment came out against GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm in April, there was a widespread assumption the congressman could not win his re-election bid in New York’s competitive 11th District.
But the charges against Grimm may not be as toxic as being from Brooklyn in a district dominated by Staten Island. That’s one of the biggest challenges facing former Democratic New York City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr., who is challenging Grimm.
There is qualitative and quantitative data that suggest this race is far from over. Grimm has withstood the barrage of negative headlines and is still standing. But the question is whether the congressman can withstand paid Democratic attacks headed his way later this year, particularly when is fundraising has been poor.
The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call continues to rate the race as Leans Democrat, but Democrats still have some work to do to put it away. And as I wrote this spring, legal action does not guarantee electoral loss.
Question 2: In a congressional race in West Virginia, would you rather be a former state senator from Maryland or a former Obama advocate?
Being a former state legislator and former chairman of the state party are common credentials for office, except when they are from a different state. Democrats, and even some Republicans, aren’t happy with Alex Mooney’s move from Maryland to West Virginia, where he is the GOP nominee in the 2nd District.
But even though most of Mooney’s résumé comes from across the state line, he is a Republican running in a district where President Barack Obama’s job approval rating can’t be higher than the mid-30s.
Democrat Nick Casey is trying to position himself as a bipartisan accountant, but he is a former state party chairman and top party fundraiser who endorsed Obama in the past presidential elections.
This race will be an excellent test of what West Virginia voters hate more: candidates from Maryland or candidates connected to Obama. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Leans Republican.
Question 3: In a congressional race in Michigan’s 11th District, would you rather be a Santa Claus-impersonating incumbent or someone whose law firm sent a foreclosure notice on Christmas Eve?
Republican Kerry Bentivolio has been ridiculed for his reindeer farm and hobby of impersonating Santa Claus. He became an accidental congressman when former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter was dropped from the 2012 primary ballot because of a lack of valid signatures.
But Bentivolio is a sitting member of Congress at a time when 99 percent of incumbents (273 out of 275 through July 8, according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Kyle Kondik) have won their primaries thus far this cycle. And the congressman’s primary challenger, attorney Dave Trott, is not perfect.
Trott’s law firm specializes in home foreclosures on behalf of banks and lenders. The Detroit Free Press detailed one eye-popping incident in particular:
But Rozier, like tens of thousands of other Michiganders, lost his home to foreclosure during the housing crisis. After a three-year legal battle with Trott’s law firm and the bank, the notice arrived last Christmas Eve. He was evicted in January and moved his wife, who is on kidney dialysis, his bedridden mother, and his uncle, who has Down syndrome and is in a wheelchair, into a neighbor’s empty duplex across the street.
But Trott is far outpacing Bentivolio in fundraising and is controlling the debate on the television airwaves. Most GOP insiders believe the congressman is at least a slight underdog in the Aug. 5 primary.
As a Republican governor in a blue state, Rick Snyder started the midterms as one of Democrats’ prime targets. But while Michigan has been a tossup for much of the cycle, it appears to be slipping from the top tier of opportunities.
At this stage, Maine, Pennsylvania and Florida are more likely Democratic takeovers, while Ohio and Michigan make up a distinct second tier of Democratic opportunities. In both cases, Republican governors are presiding over states that Barack Obama won in two presidential contests, but where Democratic challengers have yet to put together the type of campaigns often necessary to knock off incumbents — particularly when the national trend is working against them. Full story
A couple months ago on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, I said that I thought the 2014 elections would be driven by anecdotes related to the Affordable Care Act. I think a pair of ads in two of the most competitive Senate races in the country could be a pretty accurate roadmap for the debate that is coming over the next six months.
Last week in Alaska, an outside group called Put Alaska First went on the air with a new, 30-second television ad, “Beat,” featuring cancer survivor Lisa Keller talking about her struggle to gain insurance coverage and thanking Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, for his fight against the insurance companies.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuoXvQDC6oU Full story
These Republican retirements must be driving Democratic strategists crazy. Some tantalizing districts have come open as formidable Republican incumbents have announced their retirements, but the midterm election environment is turning out to be very tough terrain for Democrats. And that makes it difficult for Democrats to take over those districts, which they certainly would have won in 2006 and 2008 (and possibly in 2012, as well), had they been open seats at that time.
Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers is the latest Republican to announce his retirement. He leaves behind an 8th District that Mitt Romney carried with just 51 percent in the 2012 presidential election and Barack Obama won with 52 percent four years earlier. In 2004, President George W. Bush won the 8th with 54 percent.
Rogers is the 22nd member of the House to retire this cycle without seeking another office. From 1976 to 2012, the average and median number of House retirements was 22.
When it comes to Republican chances of winning the Senate race in Michigan this year, we have been skeptical. While our colleagues at the Cook Political Report have Democratic Sen. Carl Levin’s seat rated as a Toss-Up, the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call has had it rated as Democrat Favored.
As we wrote in the Nov. 8 edition of the Report ($), and continue to believe, the fundamentals in Michigan favor a Democratic candidate in a federal race. But this may not be a typical cycle. Full story
I hate candidate recruitment stories.
More specifically, I hate stories that seem to blame the party campaign committees for their inability to coerce candidates to run.
In reality, there are so many factors that the committees cannot control that it’s simply unfair to hold them responsible for every alleged recruiting “failure.” Until party strategists obtain the abilities to heal the sick and cause children to age more rapidly, there is no amount of polling or promises that will get some potential recruits to run for Congress.
Florida state Rep. Kathleen Peters came up short in last week’s Republican primary in Florida’s 13th District, but most people are probably unaware of what she was going through personally during her bid. Full story
Republicans don’t need to win Michigan to get the majority in the Senate, but the Wolverine State could become a serious takeover target later next year.
After more than three decades, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin announced that he would not seek re-election. Instead of competitive primaries filled with ambitious candidates, it looks like both parties have settled on their nominees for next fall. At this point, the general election looks like it will be between Democratic Rep. Gary Peters and Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. Full story
In this political environment, not having an extensive legislative record can be an asset. Not surprisingly then, three of six Democratic House candidates I interviewed recently have never before sought elective office, and a fourth was elected as a judge, not a legislator. (I will discuss a seventh Democratic hopeful, Martha Robertson, in a separate column.)
Considered as a group, the half-dozen hopefuls deserve to be mentioned in any discussion of Democratic House takeover opportunities in 2014. The only question is how many of them will continue to be in the conversation one year from today. Full story
Democrats failed to get a top-tier candidate against Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., in 2012, and the congressman won re-election with 53 percent. This time around, Democrats are likely to nominate a spunky former legislator and make the 7th District a top target in 2014.
Pam Byrnes, 66, has had her share of wins and losses throughout her political career. But she should give Democrats a credible nominee in a competitive district. Mitt Romney carried the 7th 51 percent to 48 percent in 2012, while Barack Obama carried it 51 percent to 47 percent in 2008. In 2004, President George W. Bush carried the district handily, 55 percent to 44 percent. Full story