STATE LEGISLATURES: Election day is now less than four months away. Many pundits are writing about significant GOP gains which are expected in the U.S. House and Senate, but the battle over state legislatures has been ignored.
The outlook in this category is also very favorable for the GOP. The Republican Party is now expected to win control of the state House of Representatives in Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The GOP should also win the New York State Senate, and both chambers in Alabama, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
The Alaska Senate is currently controlled by a coalition, but this should also tip to the GOP.
NEW YORK: Huma Abedin, 34, and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), 45, will be married tomorrow in a ceremony performed by former President Bill Clinton. Abedin was the traveling chief of staff for Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign and rarely left the candidate’s side. She previously dated actor George Clooney, and is currently a special advisor to the Secretary of State. Weiner is expected to be a future candidate for Mayor of New York City.
Weiner is Jewish and Abedin grew up in Saudi Arabia and is Muslim. He lost the 2005 Mayoral nomination and pulled out of the 2009 contest. In 1998, Weiner replaced Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the House. He has a liberal voting record but did support the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein in 2002. He later said the vote was a mistake and sponsored a resolution to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq.
NEBRASKA: It’s a nice house, but no Democrat is interested. The Nebraska Democratic state convention is on July 23rd, and there is still no candidate for Governor. The party has approached 12 people who have all declined the opportunity to take up residence in the Nebraska Governor’s mansion. Mark Lakers dropped out of the race after winning the May primary. Sen. Ben Nelson (D) has said he will seek re-election in 2012, but is currently trailing GOP Gov. Dave Heineman by 30%.
FLORIDA: Attorney General Bill McCollum (R) has been rapidly sinking in the gubernatorial primary. Rick Scott has been attacking him for supporting the “pro-abortion, pro-homosexual” presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Scott, a former hospital executive, has spent over $20 million of his own fortune on the campaign, and has a lead in the polls over McCollum.
Alan West, one of the few black GOP candidates, leads the nation in the amount of money raised by a congressional challenger last quarter, $1.4 million. West, a retired army colonel, is challenging liberal Rep. Ron Klein (D). West’s total fundraising this cycle is $3.5 million. Klein defeated West by 10% in 2008 and this is a tough district for the GOP.
WEST VIRGINIA: The state will apparently hold a Senate election this November to replace the late Robert Byrd (D), but GOP prospects are dim now that Gov. Joe Manchin (D) will enter the race. He is pro-life while the most prominent Republican is pro-choice. The state legislature will convene on Thursday to change the law and allow a special election this November.
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D) was defeated in the primary by Mike Oliverio, who said he would not support Nancy Pelosi’s election as Speaker of the House. He has since changed his mind.
TENNESSEE: Democrats have little hope of holding on to the Tennessee’s Governor’s office, but the GOP candidate is going to be an upset. Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey are both trailing Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam by a significant margin in the primary. In the 6th District, Rep. Bart Gordon (R) is retiring and GOP State Sen. Diane Black has a huge lead in both the primary and general election. This Democratic district is now rated “Safe Republican.”
OHIO: The U.S. Senate race will be one of the closest in the nation, but the GOP won the fundraising battle last quarter by a 2 to 1 margin. Former Rep. Rob Portman (R) now has $9 million in cash on hand. The Democratic candidate is Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and his defeated primary opponent, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, is refusing to endorse him.
Former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R) is doing well in his comeback attempt and currently has the lead in the contest for state Attorney General.
ALASKA: Gov. Sean Parnell (R) is staying neutral in the primary but former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and the Tea Party Express have both endorsed challenger Joe Miler over Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). Palin was elected Governor by defeating the incumbent Republican, who was Murkowski’s father.
Palin says Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Energy Committee, is “part of the big-government problem in Washington.” Murkowski criticized Palin for abandoning the state when she resigned as Governor. Palin has a 46% approval rating while Murkowski’s is 64%. Miller is a West Point and Yale law school graduate. He is a former Judge who was defeated in his 2004 campaign for State Representative.
ARIZONA: Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth’s primary challenge to Sen. John McCain (R) has been collapsing for the past month. Hayworth’s most recent TV ad buy was a meager $2,100. McCain is calling Hayworth a “huckster” because of his 2007 TV infomercial on “free government grant money.” Hayworth says the grants really do exist, but grants.gov says the former Congressman’s claim is a scam.
ARKANSAS: Liberal Rep. Vic Snyder (D) is retiring after five terms, and conservative former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin (R) has a commanding 50% to 34% lead. A boost to Griffin was the upset in the Democratic primary. House Speaker Robbie Wills, a moderate, was defeated by liberal Senate Majority Leader Joyce Elliott. Wills attacked her for being pro-choice and anti-gun, but that did not help him win the Democratic nomination. Elliott is best known for sponsoring legislation which gave college scholarships to illegal immigrants. She is also one of the few candidates to endorse earmarks which are associated with pork barrel spending.
IOWA: Democrats had a 100,000 voter registration advantage six months ago, but that lead has now been cut in half. Former four term Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is trying to reclaim his old office. A Branstad TV ad out today says:
“Chet Culver likes to say unemployment was highest in state history when Terry Branstad took office. He’s exactly right. And by the time Terry Branstad left, unemployment was the lowest in state history and Terry helped create nearly 300,000 new jobs. Chet Culver? Under him unemployment has nearly doubled, the highest in 24 years.”
KANSAS: Sen. Sam Brownback (R) will be the state’s next Governor, and Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt are contending for the nomination to succeed him. Moran has been endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) while Sarah Palin is backing Tiahrt. The race is seen as a battle between fiscal conservatives (Moran) and social conservatives (Tiahrt).
NEVADA: Karl Rove’s 527 group, American Crossroads, has now spent over $500,000 on independent TV ads attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). First Lady Dawn Gibbons (R) and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini (R) are both refusing to support GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle. Angle wanted the United States to leave the United Nations, but has since withdrawn the statement from her website. Former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich (R) had also threatened to not support the GOP nominee but has changed her mind.
Vucanovich met with Angle and told the news media she said “Sharron, you’re scaring the bejesus out of everybody. I told her you better make damn sure people really understand what you’re trying to do.”
MISSISSIPPI: Rep. Travis Childers (D) has been endorsed by the NRA, National Right to Life and the Chamber of Commerce, but is still performing poorly against State Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R). The Republican candidate has a 50% to 42% lead. Obama won just 38% of the vote in this district in 2008, and currently has an approval rating of just 36%.
COLORADO: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) visited the state yesterday to endorse the Senate candidacy of former Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. Buck is challenging former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton for the nomination to oppose appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D). Buck was introduced by former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) who called President Obama “the greatest threat to the United States today.” Buck called the statement a “Tancredoism.” “I am concerned about the direction of the country. I love Tom, but I don’t always agree with him,” Buck said. Tancredo has said if there is another terrorist attack on the United States, the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina should be bombed.