In the Heart of Dixie politics is a contact sport, but due to heavy gerrymandering and a strong conservative bent it is rare to see a competitive contest. This year is no exception, with the only interesting race being an open seat primary for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District. Here’s the situation in the Yellowhammer State for 2014:
Senate: Incumbent Republican Jeff Sessions is running unopposed, so it looks like we’ll have him around for at least another six years.
Governor: Governor Robert Bentley (R) is going for another term and so far he looks likely to get one. His most significant worry, a big name primary challenger from the right, never really emerged and Bentley now faces two no-names in the race for the GOP nomination. His likely opponent in the general election is former Rep. Parker Griffith, the Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat who was unsuccessful in being renominated in after switching to the GOP in 2010. And unless Bentley really screws things up, Griffith will add yet another election to his growing losing streak.
AL-6: No seats are going to switch parties in Alabama this year. However, there is an interesting primary for the seat vacated by retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus (R) and right now its a wide-open race for the nomination. The candidates include State Rep. Paul DeMarco, businessman Will Brooke, surgeon Chad Mathis, Alabama Policy Institute President Gary Palmer, and State Senator Scott Beason, who ran unsuccessfully against Bachus in 2012. All of them have a shot of winning this seat and it will be interesting to see how this race plays out over the coming months.
The Buckeye State was pivotal in the 2012 elections and it looks like Ohio will once again been on the political radar in 2014. Governor John Kasich (R) is running for reelection ahead of a potential 2016 run for president, where being a two-term governor of a swing state would have its advantages. Meanwhile, Republicans will look to hold gains made in 2010 as the Democrats eye a couple competitive seats in what is otherwise a favorable climate for the GOP. This is what is ahead for Ohio in the coming year:
Governor: Four years ago former Fox News host and US Representative John Kasich successfully unseated Governor Ted Strickland (D) in the midst of a phenomenal year for Republicans. This year Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) looks to return the favor in what is either a close or not so close race, depending on who your preferred pollster is. If you put your faith in Public Policy Polling, which has had a pretty good track record over the past few years, Kasich is barely ahead in his race for reelection. On the other hand, the venerable polling outfit at Quinnipiac University gives the Governor a much more substantial lead. Either way, FitzGerald has been stuck in the high thirties while Kasich has been as high as 47%. Until FitzGerald starts getting numbers in that range, this race is Likely Republican.
OH-6: This was one of the most competitive races in the last cycle and while former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) almost won back his old seat, freshman Rep. Bill Johnson (R) was able to hold on for another term. With e GOP facing a much better environment in 2014, it will be even more difficult for the Democrats to take this seat in November. That being said, the DCCC has recruited State Rep. Jennifer Garrison (D) and if the national trends turns against Republicans she could be a formidable opponent. But as it stands now, this race is Likely Republican.
OH-14: Rep. David Joyce (R) might have a real challenge on his hands with Democrat Michael Wager in what is probably the most competitive district in the state of Ohio. To be fair, that challenge looked a whole lot bigger last year when it the Democrats were on track make gains in the 2014 midterms. But now that things have swung towards the GOP, Joyce may be able to breath a bit easier and Wagner faces an uphill race in the coming months. This race is currently Likely Republican, but remember that a lot can happen between now and November.
Unfortunately, there’s little action going on in the Bluegrass State’s House races. Freshman Rep. Andy Barr (R) may be the most vulnerable in the state, but in this environment it’s hard to see him losing his seat. And while Rep. John Yarmouth (D) represents an ostensibly competitive seat, he’s facing no real Republican challenger this year. The main political show is going to be the fight for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection and of course he’s facing a Tea Party challenger in businessman Matt Bevin. Polls show that McConnell maintains a healthy lead over Bevin, but the primary is still three months away and that’s a lifetime in politics. But all in all, it looks like McConnell will win his party’s nomination for another term. However, he face’s an even bigger challenger in the general election where the Democrats look set to nominate Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes. Polls show her tied or even slightly ahead of McConnell in what should be a friendly environment for Republicans. This isn’t the first close race McConnell has run, but if he wants stay in the Senate he’s going to have to work for it. Right now, this race only Leans Republican.
The Mountain State has a couple House seats that are competitive this cycle. And if the Republicans want to take control of the Senate, the open seat in West Virginia is a must win for them.
With incumbent Jay Rockefeller (D) retiring after serving 5 terms in the United States Senate Republicans have a golden opportunity to pick-up a seat in what was once a Democratic stronghold. They have a strong candidate in Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, an experienced campaigner with popular statewide appeal and no significant opposition within the party. She’ll be up against West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is popular in her own right and unlike Capito has actually won a statewide election. And while West Virginia ranks 49th in its approval of President Obama, Democrats still dominate the state legislature and hold all but one of the statewide elected offices. However, the era of Democratic supremacy may be coming to an end as polls show that Capito leads Tennant by double digits. For now , it looks like West Virginia may elect its first Republican Senator since 1956. This race is Likely Republican.
WV-2: With Rep. Capito running for the Senate, this is an open seat that the GOP should be able to hold onto. The GOP primary field is wide open at the moment, though there is some slight controversy over the candidacy of Alex Mooney, who served in the Maryland House of Delegates and has been branded by some as a “carpetbagger.” The Democrats seem certain to nominate former West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey. While Casey’s not a no-name by any means, this race is still Likely Republican.
WV-3: Rep. Nick Rahall (D) is the lone surviving West Virginia Democrat in the United States House of Representatives, though he may not be after this election. With President Obama being deeply unpopular in the state and a formidable opponent in Evan Jenkins, a Democrat turned Republican State Senator, this may be the year the House GOP gets a clean sweep in the West Virginia. Right now, this race is a Toss-Up.