1:54 PM, Mar 12, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican David Jolly won Tuesday's special election for an open House seat in Florida over Democrat Alex Sink, a former chief financial officer for the state and a 2010 candidate for governor. Jolly, a lobbyist and one-time congressional staffer, is succeeding his former boss, the late Bill Young, a 43-year House veteran and Republican. Young died in October of last year, opening up the St. Petersburg-area 13th district for the first time in decades.
Democrats saw an opportunity not just to pick up a longtime Republican seat but to perhaps slow the momentum the GOP seemed to be gathering ahead of the general election this November. Republicans and conservatives tried, and largely succeeded, to make the race a referendum on Obamacare that would presage more electoral victories later this year.
So what can we take away from Jolly's win? Most important to note is that a special election is just that--special. The particulars of the race, the district, the date, and the candidates can't give us a perfect picture of how elections in other states several months down the road will result.
With that said, there are a few indicators about 2014 from Jolly's victory. First is that despite the longtime Republican representation, the district is almost evenly split. Barack Obama won the district both in 2008 and 2012, and Cook Partisan Voting Index gives it just an R+1 rating. As Dave Weigel demonstrates, Sink won several precincts in the district that Young split in 2012 with Barack Obama, but she also lost several precincts that Obama won. It may not have helped that Sink didn't live in the district until last year.
Moreover, when Sink ran for governor in 2010 against Republican Rick Scott, she actually won Pinellas County, most of which constitutes the 13th district. That year was a good one for Republicans in Florida, and yet Sink won Pinellas by more than 5 points. Four years later, saddled with the unpopularity of Obamacare, she couldn't convince them again.
Nor could Sink and the Democrats convince voters that Jolly was a bad candidate, even as national Republicans fretted in the final days of the campaign that their man had been a disaster. Here's an excerpt from Politico's March 7 report:
Over the past week, a half-dozen Washington Republicans have described Jolly’s campaign against Democrat Alex Sink as a Keystone Cops operation, marked by inept fundraising, top advisers stationed hundreds of miles away from the district in the state capital and the poor optics of a just-divorced, 41-year-old candidate accompanied on the campaign trail by a girlfriend 14 years his junior. The sources would speak only on condition of anonymity.
After the big win, the National Republican Congressional Committee is touting its self-reported improved data operation, but the Jolly campaign was apparently so hopelessly inept that D.C.-area Republicans were already distancing themselves from what could have been an embarrassing loss.
It's more likely that Jolly's victory came not because of a sophisticated voter data operation or a huge swing toward the GOP in the district (he won by fewer than 3,500 votes) but because of two issues: Obamacare's Medicare cuts and Alex Sink's record as CFO in charge of the state's pension fund. Among the residents of the district, 22 percent are above the age of 64, higher than the state's average and among the highest in the nation. The two issues of Obamacare and Sink's record are loosely related, as the TV ads from conservative groups show. First, there's a Chamber of Commerce ad, which points out that the health care law makes "deep cuts to Medicare Advantage." Watch the video below:
Second, consider a pair of ads, the first from American Action Network and the second from American Crossroads, that focus on Sink's time as CFO. Both ads charge that Florida's pension fund lost billions because of mismanaged investment funds. Watch them below:
7:42 AM, Mar 12, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Colorado senator Mark Udall, a Democrat first elected in 2008, is in a statistical tie with Republican challenger Cory Gardner, according to a new poll from Rasmussen Reports.
The survey of likely voters in Colorado found 42 percent support Udall, while 41 percent support Gardner, a two-term congressman. Thirteen percent remain undecided.
5:43 PM, Mar 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Arkansas's Democratic senator Mark Pryor won't say why he believes Tom Cotton, the Republican congressman who is challenging him this year, "gives off" a "sense of entitlement" to the Senate seat because of Cotton's military service. In a recent interview with NBC News, Pryor said, "I think that's part of this sense of entitlement, that he gives off, that almost is like, 'I served my country, therefore let me into the Senate.' That's not the way it works in Arkansas."
Cotton, a first-term congressman, is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, serving as an Army captain.
9:01 AM, Feb 27, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Jack Kingston, the longtime Republican congressman from Georgia and a U.S. Senate candidate, is out with his first TV ad of the primary season. The 30-second spot will introduce Kingston, a South Georgian based in Savannah, to the rest of the state, particularly the Atlanta media market. The message of the ad is that Kingston is a principled conservative who shares values with the state's Republican voters. Watch it below:
10:04 AM, Feb 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
One Republican candidate hoping to replace Oklahoma's Tom Coburn in the U.S. Senate is out with a new ad introducing himself to voters statewide. T.W. Shannon, the 35-year former speaker of the state house, has a 60-second television spot highlighting his biography as a "sixth-generation Oklahoman" who is "guided by his faith" and instilling the values of his parents and grandparents in his own children.
6:01 PM, Feb 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Matt Doheny, a House candidate in upstate New York, lost his two previous bids for the seat. His more recent defeat, in 2012, came after photos and video surfaced of Doheny, then engaged, kissing one woman and canoodling with her and another woman outside a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Doheny had been attending a GOP-sponsored candidate workshop in Washington.
2:22 PM, Feb 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton has a four-point lead over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor in a new poll of the Arkansas race. According to the new Impact Management Group poll, 46 percent of likely Arkansas voters said they would support Cotton, the first-term congressman from Dardanelle, and 42 percent said they'd vote for Pryor.
12:16 PM, Feb 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican investment banker and two-time candidate for Congress Matt Doheny is running again for a House seat in upstate New York. Roll Call reports:
8:02 AM, Feb 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Americans for Prospertiy, a conservative tax-exempt organization, has a new 60-second television ad running in Michigan that criticizes Democratic congressman Gary Peters for his vote and continued support of Obamacare. The ad features Michigan citizen Julie Boonstra, who describes how she was diagnosed with leukemia but lost her health insurance coverage this year because of Obamacare's regulations.
11:06 AM, Feb 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Another conservative organization has endorsed congressman Paul Broun in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia. The Madison Project, headed up by former Kansas congressman Jim Ryun, endorsed Broun over four other major GOP candidates.
Marianne Williamson’s campaign to save America’s soul, starting with California’s 33rd Congressional District Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By ZACK MUNSON
11:49 AM, Jan 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll of Georgia voters found the likely Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate is slightly ahead of four the candidates in the crowded GOP primary. PPP, working on behalf of the liberal group Americans United For Change, found that Democrat Michelle Nunn leads Republican congressmen Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston, as well as former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel.
10:43 AM, Jan 23, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican congressman Tom Cotton, a candidate for U.S. Senate, raised more money in the last quarter of 2013 than his Democratic opponent, incumbent Mark Pryor. The Hill reports that Cotton, a first-term House member, raised $1.2 million dollars at the end of last year, compared to Pryor's $1.1 million.