Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weekly round-up: Senate races

This week, we're going to look at three states that have an open Senate seat due to the incumbent Senator retiring.

Georgia: Georgia's Senate seat is open due to the retirement of two-term Senator Saxby Chambliss.  The Republican Party will have a fairly competitive primary on May 20.  Out of the declared candidates, there is not a clear favorite at this time.  The candidates are former CEO of Dollar General, David Perdue, Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston, former Secretary of State of Georgia Karen Handel, Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey, and Georgia Congressman Paul Broun.  Gingrey and Broun have been coming up behind Perdue, Kingston, and Handel in recent polls.  Perhaps that is why Gingrey is debuting a new expensive advertisement.  If no candidate receives a majority of the votes in the primary, there will be a run-off in the summer with the top two vote-getters.  Gingrey, despite poor fundraising numbers last month, still has over $1 million in cash for the stretch run of the primary. Broun's campaign has run out of cash.  Despite high-profile endorsements from TEA Party organizations and Ron Paul, Broun's campaign is struggling.  The TEA Party organization and activists are upset that they have not been able to take advantage of the open Senate seat with their preferred candidate, Broun.  Handel is currently in third place in polls but she might be able to sneak in the top two.  Handel has received the endorsement from Sarah Palin.  Handel 's fundraising numbers are slightly higher than Gingrey and Broun but she does not have the cash on hand to compare to Gingrey.  The American Future Fund has decided to help out Handel and give their candidate some more media time. Kingston was the initial Republican establishment candidate and has maintained his status throughout.  Kingston has received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and even Fox News Commentator Sean Hannity.  Despite pollsters in Georgia urging Kingston and other Republicans to temper down anti-Common Core rhetoric or they will lose in November, Kingston sent a direct mailer attacking Perdue and his statements on Common Core.  Kingston has decided to go negative in this stretch run, also targeting Perdue's business practices.  Perdue pumped in an additional $1 million of his own money in his campaign.  Perdue has been leading in most polls but he is not even close to the 50% mark in the polls.  Perdue has been able to get his name out there by spending big on television advertisements.  He appears to be safe to advance, at least, to the run-off.  

Iowa: In Iowa, Congressman Bruce Braley will be the Democratic nominee.  On June 3, Iowa Republicans will hold a primary to determine who will run against Braley to replace retiring Senator Tom Harkin's seat.  It appears to be a two-person race as the former CEO of Reliant Energy Mark Jacobs and State Senator Joni Ernst have emerged as the favorites.  Ernst has been endorsed by prominent Republicans Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Deb Fischer.  Ernst gained national attention with her advertisement showing her experience with pig castration.  Her newest advertisement has her at a firing range firing guns as the narration talks about her opposition to Obamacare.  Recently, she has told the Des Moines Register that the attacks that she was AWOL during state Senate sessions was offensive.  Polls have shown that she is actually polling worse than Jacobs among women.  That might just give Jacobs what he needs to be able to defeat Ernst.  However, Jacobs recently moved back to Iowa to run for the Senate seat.  This does not play well in midwest states.  Super PACs spent a lot of money stating that Jacobs is a Texas millionaire who lobbied President Obama for cap and trade.  Jacobs has stated that his support of cap and trade was only part of his company's view and not a personal view.  It looked, initially, that Braley would be easily elected.  Braley made somewhat of a gaffe, attacking Chuck Grassley for not having a law degree but sitting near the top of the Senate Judiciary Committeee.  Braley has quickly backtracked and released his first advertisement of the election season.

South Dakota: In South Dakota, Democratic Senator Tim Johnson decided to retire instead of running for re-election.  The candidates for the candidate are going to be former Governor Mike Rounds (R) and former staffer for Tom Daschle, Rick Weiland (D).  The most recent poll from Public Policy Polling shows Ronds leading Weiland by 10 points.  Weiland has tried to make campaign finance reform a major issue.  Weiland's latest news includes support of a bill that would allow college students to refinance student loans. 

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