Last night, city comptroller Annise Parker was elected Mayor of Houston on a 53% to 47% vote, making Houston the largest city to elect a gay mayor after a runoff election that was marked by explicitly homophobic campaigning. This vote added to gay rights activists’ ballot-box successes this year: Washington State passing RI-71, Chapel Hill’s mayoral race, a local referendum in Kalamazoo, Georgia electing its first gay African-American legislator. That track record has been understandably overshadowed by Maine’s vote on gay marriage, but Parker’s victory (combined with California preparing to elect its first gay Speaker) caps the year favorably.
In national politics, this week’s dominant story is that House Democrats got themselves two unexpected headaches. First is Brian Baird’s out-of-nowhere retirement announcement, which makes the swing WA-03 district a prime pick-up opportunity for the GOP; second, Neil Abercrombie’s resignation creates a tricky special election that gives a Republican a chance to capture HI-01 with a plurality of the vote. The other high-profile development came from MA, where Martha Coakley and Scott Brown won their party’s nominations to face off in the January Senate special election. In other news:
In Nevada, Harry Reid’s prospects might still take a turn for the worse. Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki, who was at the top of the NRSC’s list when the cycle started, was eliminated from contention when he was indicted on charges of misappropriation and falsification of accounts. This week, a court dismissed the charges as overly vague, potentially enabling Krolicki to mount a challenge to the Senate Majority Leader. While his spokesperson initially said he would not be running but reports now say he is considering jumping in. We would have to see how much lasting damage Krolicki’s image endured because of his indictment, but his entry should still be a step-up for the GOP.
In Rhode Island, Linc Chaffee’s prospects of winning the Governor’s Mansion improved this week as the sole Republican in the race (businessman Rory Smith) announced he was dropping out. If the GOP fails to file a credible contender, Chaffee would become the contest’s right-most option despite the fact that he will be running as an independent. Rhode Island is a staunchly blue state in Democrats have a strong bench, but a Lieberman-Lamont type scenario would help the former Senator’s political comeback.
In Alaska, Governor Sean Parnell (who was elevated to that position after Sarah Palin’s resignation) got himself a primary challenger: former Speaker Ralph Samuels, who left the legislature in 2008 to work as a vice-president for Holland America Line. Samuels made it clear that the catalyst that pushed him towards a run was Parnell’s support for taxes on oil companies Palin pushed during her tenure. As such, it will be interesting to see how fiscal conservatives react considering Parnell has been a protege of the Club for Growth.
In South Dakota, Matt McGovern dropped out of the Senate race, depriving Democrats of the one challenger they had found to John Thune. The party would be well-advised to field a credible contender: While Thune will be the overwhelming favorite no matter who Democrats nominate, if he does not have to work for his re-election at all he would be free to travel around the country, building a network that would be useful for a future presidential campaign.
In Idaho, it’s still highly unlikely that Governor Butch Otter will have to sweat to win re-election; but from the sound of this article, the state’s political establishment was shocked to learn that former professor Keith Allred would challenge him as a Democrat. Allred had formed a citizens group that had acquired clout in Boise, and he had a nonpartisan profile that had won him many allies in both parties. Democrats now seem delighted at his unexpected gubernatorial candidacy, which could make the race worth watching - but the bottom line is that Idaho is ranked the 35th most vulnerable race (out of 37) in my latest gubernatorial ratings.
Finally, we are still waiting to find out whether to Southern senators will face primary challenges. This week, the buzz surrounding Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne and Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Brian Halter increased, as the former stated again that he was considering challenging David Vitter and the latter traveled to D.C. to meet with some union leaders and progressives about the possibility he might run against Blanche Lincoln.
|Will retire||Rep. Brian Baird (WA-04)|
|Will resign||Rep. Brian Abercrombie (HI-01)|
|Will not resign||Rep. Mike Capuano (MA-08)|
Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:
|KY-Sen, Dem||doctor James Buckmaster is running
retired customs officer Darlene Price is running
businessman Maurice Sweeney is running
|KY-Sen, GOP||businessman Bill Johnson is running
Gurley Martin is running
consultant Roger Thoney is running
|MA-Sen, Dem||Attorney General Martha Coakley won nomination|
|MA-Sen, GOP||state Senator Scott Brown won nomination|
|NC-Sen, Dem||former state Sen. Cal Cunningham announced run
Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy wlll not run
|NV-Sen, GOP||Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki added|
|SD-Sen, Dem||Matt McGovern dropped out|
Third, updates to gubernatorial races:
|AK-Gov, GOP||former state Rep. Ralph Samuels announced run|
|ID-Gov, Dem||Keith Allred announced run|
|NH-Gov, GOP||Karen Testerman announced run|
|OR-Gov, Dem||Soloflex founder Jerry Wilson is running|
|RI-Gov, GOP||businessman Rory Smith dropped out|
|TX-Gov, Dem||teacher Felix Alvarado is running
Bill Dear is running
hair products magnate Farouk Shami is running