Illinois Primary Wrap-Up

Tuesday was the Illinois primary election and the results were as follows:

Governor: The Illinois GOP selected businessman Bruce Rauner to be their nominee in this year’s governor’s race. Polls had him with a lead in the double digits going into the primary, but he was only able to narrowly avoid an upset by winning 40% of the vote compared to 37% for his nearest rival, Kirk Dillard. This may partly be due to heavy spending against Rauner,to the tune of $3 million, by unions who fear that he might become the next Scott Walker. This race currently Leans Republican, but we’ll have to wait and see what damage the unions can do to Rauner between now and election day.

Senate: Republican State Sen. Jim Oberweis defeated businessman Doug Truax to win the right to challenge Sen. Dick Durbin for his seat in the US Senate. Oberweis has globs of money to spend and while he remains the big underdog, I wouldn’t underestimate his ability to get under Durbin’s skin and put a scare into the Democrats. With the Senate picture as bleak as it is, the last thing the Democrats want is to have to spend money for what is supposed to be a safe seat. That being said, it is hard to see how Durbin actually loses reelection and this race is currently Safe Democrat.


IL-08: Veteran Larry Kaifesh easily won the March 18th primary fight against and will face freshman Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D), a fellow veteran. The race was previously rated Likely Democrat, but with with a GOP nominee selected, we can make a better guess as to the outcome of this race. Kaifesh had cash trouble during the primary, with his opponent raising almost twice as he did. In addition, his website looks like something out the 1990s and uses phrases like “conservative values” in a D+8 district. Thus, we change this race to Safe Democrat

IL-10: There was no competitive primary in this district, leaving former Rep. Bob Dold (R) as the challenger against current Rep. Brad Schneider (D). Nothing has changed since our last analysis and this race remains a Toss-Up.

IL-11: State Rep. Darlene Senger is the Republican nominee against Rep. Bill Foster (D) in this D+8 district. It is a long shot by any means and Senger will have to step up her game if she wants to be competitive, particularly when it comes to fundraising. Until that happens, this race is Likely Democrat.

IL-12: Illinois’s 12th District, which split its vote in the 2012 presidential election, is one of the most competitive in the nation and it is currently represented by Democrat Bill Enyart. The question is whether the Republicans have a candidate that can win it. The candidate they do have, State Rep. Mike Bost (R), has electoral experience and has proven to be an adequate cash collector. Meanwhile, Enyart has shown some really weak fundraising numbers this election cycle and if Bost runs a well-organized campaign, he will be in pretty good shape by November. We’re moving this race from Likely Democrat to Leans Democrat.

IL-13: To the dismay of Democrats, Rep. Rodney Davis (R) beat a primary challenge from former Miss America Erika Harold to win renomination for his seat. However, they also got some good news in that their  preferred candidate, former Madison County Judge Anne Callis, emerged from the Democratic primary. We originally rated this race as Leans Republican in light of the possibility of Davis losing the primary, but now that he has emerged victorious his hold on the seat looks a bit sturdier. That being said, we’re going to give this race a bit more time before officially moving it to safer ground and so it remains Leans Republican.

IL-17: Another non-competitive primary and another Republican former congressman trying to regain his seat. Former Rep. Bob Shilling (R) is looking to avenge his 2012 loss to Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) and he couldn’t have picked a better year to do it. That being said, this is a D+7 district and Bustos is out-fundraising more than 4 to 1. This race may get closer as we approach November, but we’re moving this race to Likely Democrat until Shilling shows that he can bring in the money he will need in order to win.


2014 Election Preview: North Carolina

Since embarrassingly losing North Carolina to Obama in 2008, Republicans have been on roll in the the Tar Heel State. In 2010, they gained a seat in the US House of Representatives while taking control of both houses of the state legislature. In 2012 they won North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, gained 3 US House seats, retained the US Senate seat held by Richard Burr (R), and won the governorship by a 11.5% margin. And this year, they look likely to take another US House seat while having a decent shot at taking a US Senate seat as well.


The Senate seat occupied Kay Hagan (D) is a top pickup opportunity for the GOP in 2014. In 2008, Hagan soundly beat incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in what was an exceptional year for Democrats. Since then, North Carolina has returned to its conservative roots and this makes Democrats worry about Hagan’s prospects. The big question right now is whether the Republicans will field a candidate that won’t blow up this golden opportunity. The major players in the race for the GOP nomination are: North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, physician Greg Brannon, former Mayor Ted Alexander, pastor Mark Harris, and nurse Heather Grant. Tillis is currently the front runner, but he has had trouble shoring up the support and he’s had trouble fending off the conservative challengers yapping at his heels. Right now this race Leans Republican, but if one the less experienced candidates wins the Republican nomination then we could the Democrats breathing a bit easier on election night.


NC-07: Rep. Mike McIntyre (R) has been a dead man walking ever since the GOP-lead legislature changed his district from one with a PVI of R+5 to one with R+11. The amazing thing was that even with this drastic change, the Republicans still failed to unseat him in 2012 in what was the closest House race in the country. Despite this setback, it was only a matter of time till McIntyre got the boot and earlier this year he announced that he was not running for reelection. And with McIntyre out of the picture, this seat is all but a lock for the GOP. The only outstanding issue to resolve is who will be the Republican nominee in November. The 2012 nominee, former State Sen. David Rouzer, is competing in the primary with lawyer Woody White. Rouzer is the favorite to win the nomination, but this race still might take some interesting turns before the May 6th primary. This seat is Likely Republican.

2014 Election Preview: Maryland

With the exception of the 1st District, Maryland has been consistently blue and there is no sign that Democratic dominance is coming to an end anytime soon. That being said, there are a few races worth watching. Here’s the situation:


On the Democratic side the clear favorite is Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown, who has consistently lead in the polls since last September. His main opponent is MD Attorney General Doug Gansler, who trails Brown by nearly 20 percentage points in the latest Washington Post poll. Though there’s more than three months until the June primary, it’s hard to see how Brown loses. As for the Republicans, the field is wide open with folks like Harford County Executive David R. Craig, former MD cabinet member Larry Hogan, and former GOP official Charles Lollar all within the margin of error. All in all, this is the Democrats’ race to loose and is rated Safe Democrat.


MD-06: During the redistricting process after the 2010 census, Maryland Democrats aimed their sights at Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R), who had been in office since 1993. The result was that what was once a Republican friendly district became one that was tilted towards the Democrats. Bartlett lost his reelection campaign in 2012 and now the district is represented by first-term Democrat Rep. John Delaney. However, the Maryland Assembly didn’t totally stack the deck and the district sports a Cook PVI rating of only +4 Democrat (a guide to the PVI can be found here). So it is not outside the range of possibility for a skillful Republican in a good year to stand a chance at winning. With this year looking especially good for Republicans, this is a race to keep at least one eye on. The GOP looks set to nominate Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and the 2012 nominee for US Senate. He was obliterated by Sen. Ben Cardin (R), but he also had to deal with a strong independent challenge by former Republican Rob Sohani. Bongino has natural talent as a politician and if he can utilize the experience he gained from his 2012 campaign, this race for this seat just might get interesting as election day approaches. But for now, this race is Likely Democrat.

Primary Wrap Up: Texas

Yesterday Texas voters went to the polls to vote in the first round primary for various federal, state, and local offices. Here’s what happened:


To nobody’s surprise, Democrat State Sen. Wendy Davis and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott both won their respective primaries in the race to become the 48th Governor of Texas. The only bit of surprising news was how poorly Davis performed in South Texas, where she lost quite a few counties to a virtual unknown candidate, Ray Madrigal. In addition, Democratic turnout was down a whopping 20% from 2010 while Abbott alone received more than twice the votes cast in the Democratic primary. This is a sign that the Democrats’ uphill climb to turn Texas blue is even steeper than originally thought.


Senator John Cornyn (R) fended off a primary challenge by Rep. Steve Stockman, easily surpassing the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Stockman ran possibly one of the worst campaigns ever conducted by an elected official in modern history. He barely did any events, he  threatened criminal action against the media for publishing true reports about his arrest record, he alienated the conservative base, and he literally went missing for days in the middle of the campaign. So while this race was entertaining to watch, Cornyn never had to break a sweat over what could have been a competitive primary. And now that he has the GOP nomination, Cornyn should have smooth sailing towards reelection.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have been trying to fend off the crazies in their own ranks. Kesha Rogers, a follower of Lyndon LaRouche (the guy behind this stuff), placed second in the Democratic Senate primary and is now set to face Dallas dental mogul David Alameel in the runoff in May. The last thing Texas Democrats need is a LaRouchian on a state wide ticket and you can be certain that they’ll do everything they can to make sure Alameel is the eventual nominee.


TX-04: At age 90, Rep. Ralph Hall (R) is the oldest guy in Congress. But that doesn’t mean that he can escape the clutches of a primary challenge. Despite three decades of incumbency, Rep. Hall failed to garner 50% of the vote on Tuesday and as a result he now faces a runoff against former US Attorney John Ratcliffe. For now Hall is still favored for reelection, but these low turnout primaries are often unpredictable and we could be in for a surprise in May.

TX-23:  As noted previously, former CIA operative Will Hurd has run a strong campaign for the GOP nomination and last night it paid off when he came in first place ahead of former Rep. Quico Canseco. Of course, this  is similar to what happened in 2010 and that year Canseco came back and beat Hurd in the runoff with 56% of the vote. Once again this race should be close and each candidate has about an even shot at winning in May and a decent chance of taking the seat from the Democrats in November.

TX-36: In the race to replace Rep. Steve Stockman(R), no GOP candidate received more than 50% of the vote and that means that the top two candidates, Dr. Brian Babin and Ben Streushand, will face off in the May runoff election. Right now, this race is anybody’s game and it’ll be a test of organizational muster to see who wins the nomination. And since this is one of the most conservative districts in the country, whoever wins the primary will almost definitely be the new congressman come 2015.


Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst (R) is in the fight of his life for reelection. In yesterday’s primary, Dewhurst came second place behind Houston lawmaker and radio host Dan Patrick while netting only 28% of the vote. Dewhurst, who (in)famously lost the 2012 GOP Senate primary to Ted Cruz, is in dire shape and unless things really turn around for him it looks like the Tea Party will score a majority victory in the Lone State state.

Meanwhile, a quiet race for Land Commissioner saw the return of the Bush family to politics. George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H. W. Bush (whew), easily won the GOP nomination for LC. And in state like Texas, that means that he’s as good as gold for victory in November. Could this be the beginning of Bush III: With Vengeance? Only time will tell…

2014 Election Preview: Indiana

The Hoosier State is going to have a quiet year without a gubernatorial or senatorial race. The only election to watch is a single house district and even that may turn out to be a snoozer if things keep going the way they are.


IN-02: In 2012 Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) narrowly won the open seat vacated by Joe Donnelly (D), who ran successfully for the US Senate. Despite the fact that Romney garnered 55% of the vote in Indiana’s 2nd District, Walorski only topped her Democratic rival by less than four thousand votes. This year, the race has attracted an interesting Democratic challenger in Notre Dame official and former Missouri State Rep. Joe Bock (D). If this was as poor a cycle for Republicans as it currently is for Democrats, this would be a top pickup target for the DCCC. But it is not and unless Bock turns out to be a heckuva campaigner, it looks like Walorski will survive this cycle. This race is Likely Republican.