The 2010 cycle got its official launch this week as Illinois hosted the first primary of the year. State voters put an end to brutal intraparty battles, though the GOP’s gubernatorial primary has yet to produce a clear winner (more on Illinois soon.) The other states that monopolized our attention are Delaware, where New Castle County Executive Chris Coons entered the Senate race, and Indiana, where former Senator Dan Coats came out of nowhere to announce he was preparing to challenge the man who replaced him, Evan Bayh.
While Coats is obviously a major threat to Bayh’s re-election, his move in the race was followed by an avalanche of stories that he will struggle to overcome. The latest episode: A video filmed in 2008 in which he says he is planning to retire in North Carolina, footage that could haunt him the same way Tom Dashle’s “I’m a D.C. resident” damaged his 2004 campaign. This video will be all the more damaging that Coats changed his voter registration to Virginia as soon as he left office ten years ago. The continued drip of revelations about Coats’s lobbying clients is also sure to give Democrats major ammunition. Coats spent ten years paying no attention to how his actions and words might play in an electoral context, which is now making him an opposition researchers’ dream.
In North Dakota, Democrats got their first Senate candidate: first-term state Senator Tracy Potter announced this week he will take on Governor John Hoeven. (Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp had been getting the most buzz, but she has yet to clarify her plans.) The Republican is obviously heavily favored to pick-up this seat and while Democrats now have a credible candidate in case Hoeven self-implodes due to some bizarre scandal, that’s probably all Potter can pull off.
Interestingly, Potter has a long political career that started with his activism on behalf of North Dakotan Eugene McCarthy in the 1972 presidential election. While the Democrat plans to tout himself as a centrist, the Grand Folk Herald notes that he was a prominent member of the Prairie Campaign for Economic Democracy, a group that sought to strengthen the state party’s progressive wing in the 1970s; in 1980, he walked out of the Democratic convention in protest over Jimmy Carter’s renomination. Another interesting fact: In 1984, he lost the Democratic primary to be insurance commissioner to Earl Pomeroy, who went on to win the general election and now serves in the House.
In Arkansas, Rep. John Boozman formally announced his challenge to Senator Blanche Lincoln. Since it was already all but certain he would do so 9 days ago, I already analyzed his move at length last week and I refer you to that post for why Boozman’s entry goes a long way towards sealing Lincoln’s fate and why the GOP is clearly favored to defend his open seat (AR-03).
In Maryland, it is looking increasingly likely former Governor Bob Ehrlich will seek a rematch against Marty O’Malley, who defeated him in 2006. The Washington Post reports Ehrlich has been lining up fundraising events; “I’m willing to serve,” he said to the Post. While he added he would not make up his mind until March, that alone signals he is leaning towards running: pulling out of the race so late would make it next to impossible for the GOP to find a back-up. Larry Hogan, who looked like the probable Republican nominee before the Ehrlich buzz increased, ended his exploratory committee this week. “I am convinced [Ehrlich] will run,” he explained.
In Connecticut, both parties have their front-runners but there is still movement. On the Democratic side, state Senator Gary D. LeBeau announced this week he was dropping out, which leaves four candidates in the primary. The Republican side got a new entry: Mark Boughton, who has served as the Mayor of Danbury since 2001. Danbury is a decent-sized city whose population hovers around 80,000, so expect Boughton to be a player in the Republican primary; Quinnipiac’s most recent poll found a wide open field with Tom Foley at 17%, Lieut. Gov. Michael Fedele at 8% and Boughton at 6%.
In California, Rep. Jackie Speier ruled out leaving her House seat this week, despite mounting rumors that she was preparing to run for California Attorney General. Her retirement would have created a fierce Democratic primary in her staunchly blue seat, but it would have been all but impossible to envision a competitive general election (Kerry and Obama both received more than 70% in CA-12). Another Democrat who confirmed his re-election plans this week is Tennessee’s Rep. Lincoln Davis. While he had already said he would run, the GOP still hoped it could push him towards the exit and have a shot at an open seat in a district that voted for McCain by 30%.
While I typically publish my weekly update on Sunday, I had left time to blog today so I am posting this post (which is prepared through the week) today and shall have time to do something else tomorrow.
|Will retire||Rep. John Boozman (R, AR-03)|
|Will not retire||Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA-12)
Rep. Lincoln Davis (D, TN-04)
|Added to retirement watch||Rep. Bill Delahunt (D, MA-10)
Rep. Diane Watson (D, CA-33)
Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:
|AR-Sen, GOP||Rep. John Boozman announced run|
|DE-Sen, Dem||New Castle County Executive Chris Coons announced run|
|IL-Sen, Dem||Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias won nomination|
|IL-Sen, GOP||Rep. Mark Kirk won nomination|
|IN-Sen, GOP||former Senator Dan Coats exploring run
Secretary of State Todd Rokita ruled out run
|KY-Sen, Dem||doctor Jack Buckmaster is running
Darlene Price is running
businessman Maurice Sweeney is running
|KY-Sen, GOP||former Ambassador Cathy Bailey will not run
Bill Johnson is running
Gurley Martin is running
Jon Scribner is running
|ND-Sen, Dem||state Senator Tracy Potter is running|
|NY-Sen-A, GOP||CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow added|
|WA-Sen, GOP||former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi added|
Third, updates to gubernatorial races:
|CT-Gov, Dem||state Senator Gary D. LeBeau dropped out|
|CT-Gov, GOP||Danbury Mayor Mark D. Boughton is running|
|IL-Gov, Dem||Governor Pat Quinn won primary|
|MD-Gov, GOP||Lawrence J. Hogan dropped out|
|MN-Gov, GOPDFL||former state Senator Steve Kelley dropped out|