As one might expect, a pretty busy start to the week, as "the holiday season" comes to a close and everyone gets back to work. Not much polling data, but a ton of political news stories worthy of note in this "sigh.....Back to Work" edition of the Wrap.
MA-Sen: Private Polling Gives Coakley Double-Digit Lead in Special
While it has been a month since any public polling has been conducted in the special election (15 days from today) to replace Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate, Dave Weigel has happened upon reports of a private Dem poll showing Martha Coakley up by eleven points (50-39) in Massachusetts. The race began receiving a lot attention over the holidays, as Republican activists grew increasingly convinced that Brown has a chance of scoring the upset in the Bay State. We will be getting an independent poll (of sorts) in the coming days, as Rasmussen has announced that they will be heading into the field to poll Massachusetts two weeks in advance of the January 19th special election.
NH-Sen: GOP Leading Dem Hodes In Race To Succeed Judd Gregg
According to a year-end survey from the polling pirates at ARG (American Research Group), the GOP has a modest lead in their efforts to protect the fairly perilous open Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Judd Gregg. No matter whether the GOP nominee is insider candidate Kelly Ayotte (43-36) or right-wing insurgent Ovide Lamontagne (37-31), either candidate leads the presumptive Democratic nominee, Congressman Paul Hodes. Hodes seems to have some indecisive base problems: against either candidate, Hodes is held to 70% or less of the Democratic vote.
IN OTHER NEWS....
- Hey, it occurred to me that I haven't mention during this entire year that you can find me over at Twitter. Yes...I realize that the joke is a lame one. Yes...it is probably the 35th time I have used some variation on that same joke.
- NY-Sen/NY-03: Peter King's dithering on his political future apparently did not end in 2009. After basically slamming the door on a Senate bid in the wake of Rudy Giuliani's decision to stay out of the 2010 election cycle, King inched the door back open, telling The Hill that he has been approached about running for the Senate against Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and that he was "looking at it".
- RI-Gov: As has been telegraphed for quite a while now, former Republican "maverick" U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee announced today that he would seek the office of Rhode Island Governor as an Independent candidate. In one slight surprise, Chafee's fundraising has apparently been somewhat anemic, as he has had to tap into his own checkbook to the tune of over $300K. Despite that, he still trails both leading Democratic contenders (state Treasurer Frank Caprio and state Attorney General Patrick Lynch). It is worth noting that, not counting a recent $200K loan to his own campaign, Chafee only raised around forty thousand dollars in the quarter that just ended.
- WA-Sen: At some point, one has to wonder how many white NFL players can be crammed into a single election cycle. Following the leads of former Bill Jay Riemersma (MI-02) and current Charger Jon Runyan (NJ-03), former Washington Redskins tight end Clint Didier announced he will challenge three-term Democratic incumbent Patty Murray for her U.S. Senate seat. Didier is a businessman from the uber-conservative Tri-Cities area, and is unlikely to be able to challenge Murray (who is sitting on nearly $5 million) in the resources department.
- UT-Sen: As had been rumored late in the year, longtime Republican incumbent Bob Bennett is far from out of the woods in terms of internecine drama in the Beehive State. SLC attorney Mike Lee is set to challenge Bennett in a GOP primary. Lee is coming to battle with a political pedigree (his dad was Solicitor General under Reagan) as well as some legitimate endorsements already in his holster: former Congressman Jim Hansen and former Governor Norman Bangerter. Lee was the counsel for former Governor Jon Huntsman, but appears likely to challenge Bennett from the right.
- HI-01/HI-Gov: Congressman Neal Abercrombie has put a date on his resignation from the U.S. Congress. He will leave the House on February 28th. Likely GOP opponent Duke Aiona is trying to make hay of the resignation, essentially calling Abercrombie a quitter. Hard to imagine that this charge will stick, since most voters are rational enough to understand that it is not easy to try to run for statewide office when you are locked into the Beltway, some 5500 miles away. As for the special election to replace Abercrombie in the House, it looks like the earliest date for such an election will be May 1st.
- CA-19: Apparently, the stinging slap of voter rebuke was not enough for one Richard Pombo. Pombo, who was discarded in the 2006 wave election by current Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney, is heading a little bit to the south and east to run in the open seat election to replace George Radanovich in CA-19 (Central Valley). Pombo would not likely even be considered the favorite here, as this race has become crowded in a hurry. Other likely contenders include former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson, as well as state senator Jeff Denham.
- SC-01: In an interesting move, Congressman Henry Brown elected to retire, rather than seek re-election in 2010. Brown, who was nearly upset in 2008 by Linda Ketner, was already facing a spirited primary from "Tumpy" Campbell, the son of the popular late Governor of the state, Carroll Campbell. In what may well be good news for the Democrats here, Ambinder at The Atlantic noted this afternoon that Ketner, who had originally declined to pursue the seat in Congress, is now reconsidering in the wake of Brown's retirement.
- TN-08: This could be a signal that those tough Democratic-held open seats should not be automatically conceded to the GOP. Roy Herron, who left the Tennessee gubernatorial race to switch his attention to the open seat to replace John Tanner in TN-08, is going to report a quarterly fundraising haul north of $400,000, according to Hotline On Call.
- FL-10: This might be all for naught (as it has been in the past), but a throwaway item in the St. Petersburg Times might raise the issue, yet again, of a retirement by Republican Congressman Bill Young in one of the more Dem-friendly potential open seats in the country:
Retired University of South Florida St. Petersburg political science professor Darryl Paulson is convinced U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, will announce his retirement after 40 years in office, either at a Pinellas GOP meeting Jan. 11 or at a Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon later this month.
Of course, it is worth noting that a lot of folks thought in 2008 that Young's slow fundraising pace, and the presence of a potentially strong Dem candidate in Bob Hackworth, would send Young to the showers. It didn't happen, and Young was re-elected easily in November.