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Rick Perry announces retirement from governorship: July 9, 2013

Leaves open a second run for the presidency

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that he will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to his record-setting tenure as chief executive of the Lone Star state. Perry, 63, has been the state's chief executive since December 2000, when George W. Bush left to become president.

Perry left open the possibility that he would try again and run for the White House, saying any "future considerations" will be announced "in due time and I will arrive at that decision appropriately." He recently rehired Mark Miner, a longtime aide who was one of the advisers behind his 2012 presidential bid.

Perry said he is focused on "actively" serving out the next 18 months as governor and will work "to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation." He is also paying close attention to a special session of the Texas Legislature that is going on now. Lawmakers are considering a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that would also close most of the state's abortion clinics, which Perry vowed would pass.

For much of the nation, however, Perry is known for his ill-fated White House bid last year. Once considered a top conservative alternative to eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Perry briefly was leading in early public opinion polls but faltered quickly. His "oops" moment during a televised debate, in which he forgot the name of the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate, solidified for many that Perry wasn't ready for the White House. The Texan dropped out of the 2012 race ahead of the South Carolina primary.

"If he plans to run for president again, he needs to be free of the governor's office so he can give his full attention to putting together a top-flight campaign team and prepare himself substantively, especially on foreign policy and national security issues," one political scientist said.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch
Click for issue stances of Gov. Rick Perry (R, TX).


Ed Markey (D, MA) wins Senate seat: June 25, 2013

Special election for 18-month term

Veteran Democratic US Representative Edward J. Markey beat Republican businessman Gabriel E. Gomez today in a special election for US Senate in Massachusetts that was marked by its brevity and by low voter interest. Markey had 55 percent of the votes, compared with 45 percent for Gomez, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.

Markey, 66, and Gomez, 47, were vying to fill the seat that Democrat John F. Kerry left vacant when President Obama picked him to be US secretary of state in December.

Markey, who has served nearly 37 years in Congress, sought to portray Gomez as too conservative for Massachusetts. Gomez, who has never held elected office, described himself as a “new kind of Republican” who would reach across the aisle in a gridlocked Washington.

Vice President Joe Biden traveled to the Bay State yesterday to try to rally the Democratic faithful. Biden criticized Gomez as a new-style Republican like those responsible for gridlock in Congress, who believe only in a “trickle-down” economy from the wealthy.” “They think compromise is a dirty word,” Biden said. “I was in the Senate for a long time. If you read anything about me, you know I had a good relationship with Republicans,” Biden said. “These new guys the last six or seven years are fundamentally different than everybody before them. ... They’re the new Republicans. They’re the tail that is wagging the dog in the U.S. Senate.”

Source: Boston Herald and Boston Globe
Click for full voting record of Rep. Markey or Gabriel Gomez, or excerpts from the Massachusetts Senate debates.


State Rep. Jason Smith wins U.S. House seat: June 4, 2013

Special election in Missouri's 8th district

Conservative Republican state Rep. Jason Smith, whose steep rise in Jefferson City coincided with Missouri’s sharp political move rightward, is headed for Congress. Smith, 32, of Salem, easily won Tuesday’s special election for the vacant 8th Congressional district seat in southeastern Missouri, beating fellow state Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie, by a more than 2-to-1 ratio.

Smith said in an election night interview with the Associated Press that he planned to fly to Washington today with the hope of quickly taking the oath of office. “We’ve been without representation in the 8th District the last 134 days, and I’m going to stay up there until the speaker of the House will swear me in,” Smith said.

Smith, a bachelor attorney from a fourth-generation farm family in southeastern Missouri, will succeed former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, who resigned in January to go into the private sector. He also goes in with a hard-right political philosophy that sharply contrasts with that of Emerson, who was widely viewed as a moderate.

Smith will be seated in Congress within a month and will become one of its youngest members. Smith was elected to the Missouri House in 2005 at age 25 and went on to become one of youngest speaker pro tems in state history.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch
Click for issue stances of Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R, MO-8);
we'll be adding issue stances for Rep. Jason Smith (R, MO-8) this week.


Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ) dies: June 3, 2013

Interim appointment in 2013; maybe special election too

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) passed away Monday morning at the age of 89.

The only thing that is clear is that when a U.S. Senate vacancy occurs, New Jersey’s Governor does appoint someone to fill the seat until a successor can be elected. What state law makes complicated is the timing of the election to choose that successor. Conflicting provisions of N.J. state law say that a vacancy would require a special election to be held on November 5 of this year. As a result, Republican Gov. Chris Christie would appoint a successor who would theoretically have to run five months from now. The Governor does have the discretion to call a special election anytime between now and November 4, 2014.

That will kick New Jersey’s Senate race into high gear in the coming days, particularly on the Democratic side where Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. Frank Pallone, who has not announced his campaign, have for months been prepping for a potentially bruising primary battle. Booker had previously said he wouldn’t announce his Senate campaign formally until after this year’s governor’s race, in which he is a prominent surrogate for state Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie’s Democratic challenger. Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat long thought to be interested in Lautenberg’s Senate seat, will also have to decide whether or not to launch a campaign.

Meanwhile, Christie could look to install a placeholder Republican in the interim. A special election, particularly with a character like Booker, will inevitably distract from the gubernatorial contest between Christie and Buono, who is trailing the popular incumbent governor by 30 points and needs all the party support she can rally from inside and outside the state. But what Buono will lose in visibility, she could gain in turnout with Booker’s name on the ballot. Christie has not announced yet how he will proceed.

Gov. Christie could, as is often the case in situations like these, choose to select a close ally from his own party as a replacement for Lautenberg. A few obvious possibilities are state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., the party’s 2006 Senate nominee; Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno; and Joe Kyrillos, a close Christie ally whom the GOP nominated for the Senate in 2012.

Of course, it’s possible--though less likely--that Christie would appoint a Democrat to the seat. He is campaigning as a bipartisan governor in a very blue state, after all. Tapping a Democrat would be seen as a major stroke of bipartisanship. Replacing a Democrat with a Democrat and then saying the voters should decide what happens next in November would no doubt be very well received by Democrats and moderates.

[Update: Gov. Christie set the primary for Aug. 13 and the general election for Oct. 16, though he did not say whom he might appoint in the interim. "I don't dawdle," he assured, saying he'd make the appointment call "relatively quickly."]

Source: Cook Political Report; BuzzFeed Politics; Washington Post "The Fix" (all June 3); Fox News (June 4)
Click for full voting record of Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ).


Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN-6) announces resignation: May 29, 2013

10th member of Congress to opt out of 2014 elections

With an early morning video message to supporters, embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann announced she would not run for re-election next year.

"My dear friends, after a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year that I will not seek a fifth congressional term to represent the wonderful people of the Sixth District of Minnesota," Bachmann said in the Wednesday morning video. "I've never considered holding public office to be an occupation."

The high-profile congresswoman had a narrow re-election last year and is under federal investigation for her 2012 presidential campaign. A recent poll found that a rematch with her 2012 Democratic challenger, Jim Graves, was a dead heat.


Bachmann's announcement makes 10 members of Congress who have announced their retirement for the 2014 elections:

  1. Rep. Jack Kingston (R, GA-1, running for Senate)
  2. Rep. Paul Broun (R, GA-10, running for Senate)
  3. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R, GA-11, running for Senate)
  4. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D, HI-1, running for Senate)
  5. Rep. Bruce Braley (D, IA-1, running for Senate)
  6. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R, LA-6, running for Senate)
  7. Rep. Gary Peters (D, MI-14, running for Senate)
  8. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN-6)
  9. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D, PA-13, running for Governor)
  10. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R, WV-2, running for Senate)

Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune and OnTheIssues archives
Click for issue stances of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN)


Rep. Jo Bonner (R, AL-1) announces resignation: May 23, 2013

Taxpayers of Alabama must fund special election; less than 5 months into a 2-year term

Jo Bonner will leave Congress effective Aug. 15 for a position as vice chancellor of government relations and economic development at the University of Alabama System, according to friends. Bonner is the younger brother of Judy Bonner, who was named president of the university in Tuscaloosa last fall. It will be up to Gov. Robert Bentley to set a special election for Bonner's seat. Bentley's office had no immediate comment today.

Alabama political consultants mentioned three potential Republican candidates who are likely to run in the special election to fill Bonner’s 1st District seat. They are:

  • State Sen. Tripp Pittman
  • First-term state Sen. Bill Hightower
  • Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne, a lawyer who lost a Republican gubernatorial primary bid in 2010
A House Democratic aide confirmed they have no plans to compete in this district, where President Barack Obama received 37 percent.

Bonner said in a press release:

"I will be retiring from Congress on August 15th in order to take a newly-created position of Vice Chancellor for Government Relations and Economic Development at The University of Alabama System. ...While I had every intention of completing this term, sometimes opportunities come along that are so rare – and so special – that it forces you to alter even your best-made plans. ...I decided to accept this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to work for The University of Alabama System."

Source: Mobile Press-Register; RollCall News; Press Release from Bonner's House office
Click for issue stances of Rep. Jo Bonner (R, AL)


Gov. Mark Sanford (R, SC) wins House seat: May 8, 2013

Returns to Congress after resigning from Governor's seat in 2009

I received the news about the outcome of the special election in my home district at a peculiar time. I was in the middle of an episode of “House of Cards.” My phone buzzed. “Your boy from SC won his seat back?” a friend texted, referring to Republican Mark Sanford’s victory Tuesday night over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch for a House seat from South Carolina. My friend has known I’ve often felt like a one-woman diplomatic envoy in D.C., attempting to explain the rationale of my fellow Carolinians to those unfamiliar with the southern Lowcountry.

I returned to watching Rep. Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), who was in his home district of Gaffney, S.C. While attempting to placate some of his constituents, Underwood turned to the camera — a style frequently used on the show — and spoke directly to the audience. “What you have to understand about my people is that they are a noble people. Humility is their form of pride. It is their strength; it is their weakness. And if you can humble yourself before them they will do anything you ask.”

The lines were so haunting, so apropos I could have sworn Mark Sanford was voicing them directly to me from my MacBook. I replayed the scene again. And again, making sure it was not the real congressman-elect uttering those words. That deep-seated cultural humility is the missing element that outside observers miss when trying to explain the outcome for the 1st Congressional District in South Carolina. It would’ve been miraculous for a Democrat like Colbert Busch to have won in this deep red district. But the truth is that the majority of voters there would rather a weeping Mark Sanford, hat in hand, acknowledging his imperfections than a polished business woman who has a famous, wealthy brother. No question.

If anything, the marital problems and mid-life breakdown ingratiated the former governor to South Carolinians. What people loved about him from his years in Congress was his ability to remain humble. He slept in his office. He carried pigs onto the House floor. He made campaign signs from plywood. His literal fall from the opulence in the Governor’s mansion only furthered his cause in the eyes of many. And Sandford was happy to oblige. The race felt as if he was groveling for a chance to return to his former job. And if he stumbles again, will it be all the more endearing to South Carolina voters? Probably.

Source: Cara Kelly, Washington Post blog
Click for issue stances of Representative-Elect Mark Sanford (R, SC) or excerpts from the South Carolina race


Massachusetts Senate Special Election primary: April 30, 2013

Gomez and Markey win; and the rest of the 2013 list

2013 is an "off-year" for elections, but there are still plenty of races to cover....

RaceCandidatesDate
Massachusetts Senate Special Election Gabriel Gomez (R, won primary)
vs. Ed Markey (D, won primary)
vs. Steven Lynch (D, lost primary)
Primary April 30
Election June 25
MA Debates
South Carolina 1st House District Special Election Elizabeth Colbert-Busch (D)
vs. Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R)
Primary April 2
Election May 7
SC Debates
Missouri 8th House District Special Election State Speaker Jason Smith (R)
vs. State Rep. Steve Hodges (D)
Election June 4
Illinois 2nd House District Special Election Robin Kelly (D) Elected April 9
New Jersey Gubernatorial Election Gov. Chris Christie (R)
vs. State Sen. Barbara Buono (D)
Election Nov. 5
NJ Debates
Virginia Gubernatorial Election Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe (D)
vs. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R)
Election Nov. 5
VA Debates
Massachusetts Senate vacancy Mo Cowan (D) Appointed Feb. 1
South Carolina Senate vacancy Tim Scott (R) Appointed Jan. 2
Hawaii Senate vacancy Brian Schatz (D) Appointed Dec. 26, 2012

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives.
Click for House coverage, Senate coverage, and Gubernatorial coverage


Sen. Max Baucus (D, MT) announces retirement: April 23, 2013

Sixth term ends in 2014

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is retiring rather than seek re-election in 2014. First elected in 1978, Baucus has been the top Democrat on the powerful committee since 2001. The likely Democratic candidate to succeed him would be former governor Brian Schweitzer, sources said.

At times infuriating his Democratic colleagues, Baucus worked with Republicans to co-write the Bush-era tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug plan, but he also served as the lead defender against George W. Bush’s 2005 effort to partially privatize Social Security and played a critical role in writing President Obama’s national health-care plan. From conservative-leaning Montana, Baucus has voted against Democratic initiatives on some social issues, most recently last week’s effort to create an expanded background check system for gun purchases.

The Baucus retirement also could have dramatic policy ramifications. No longer bounded by his own 2014 re-election, Baucus can now push for comprehensive tax reform without concerns about the political ramifications, his allies say.

Source: Washington Post
Click for full voting record of Max Baucus (D, MT).


New Democratic member of the House of Representatives: April 11, 2013

Special election winner Robin Kelly (D, IL) sworn in

Former Illinois State Rep. Robin Kelly was sworn in Thursday as the new congresswoman in the 2nd District, two days after winning an easy victory in the special election to replace the disgraced Jesse Jackson Jr.

She was sworn in twice--once officially by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and once ceremonially by Vice President Joe Biden. In her comments in the House, she stressed her commitment to combating gun violence, passing comprehensive immigration legislation, creating jobs and improving the health care system.

"I ran for Congress so that I could work to bring about a safer, less violent and more prosperous future, one in which our children can grow up without the fear of gun violence," she said on the House floor after taking the oath of office.

Source: CBS Chicago
Click for issue stances of Robin Kelly (D, IL).


Gov. Mark Sanford (R, SC) wins House primary: April 2, 2013

Open Senate in Nebraska in 2014

Nearly four years after a vanishing act that led to revelations of an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman, the former South Carolina governor has won the GOP nomination for a House seat he once occupied. And during his victory speech, his former mistress--now his fiancee--stood smiling at his side.

If he achieves his quest for redemption by defeating Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Sanford will join a string of politicians who have bounced back from disgrace or disaster for impressive second act, from Richard Nixon to Jerry Brown.

Sanford has stressed his fiscal conservatism while agreeing to discuss his past, at least in general terms. He ran a campaign ad in which he talked about learning "how none of us go through life without mistakes" and his belief in a "God of second chances."

"The events of 2009 absolutely represent a failure on my part for which there were and always will be at some level consequences," Sanford said at last week's debate. "But that does not mean because you've had a failure in your personal life, that you cannot step back into life again."

Source: Greg Henderson, NPR.org (Apr. 2); and Tracy Connor, NBC News (Apr. 3)
Click for issue stances of Gov. Mark Sanford (R, SC)


Supreme Court hears gay rights cases: March 26-27, 2013

Supreme Court ruling expected in May or June

Several establishment Democrats and Republicans have "come out" this week in support of gay marriage, surrounding the Supreme Court hearing two major cases on the issue. The Supreme Court heard cases on the Defense of Marriage Act (the federal ban on gay marriage) and Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California.

  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), upon his son's coming out, wrote in an Op-Ed, "I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn't deny them the opportunity to get married. That isn't how I've always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples."

  • Secy. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) endorsed gay marriage, saying "that her views on the issue have evolved as a result of her experiences personally and as secretary of state, I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law."

  • Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) wrote in an Op-Ed, "While serving as governor of Utah, I pushed for civil unions and expanded reciprocal benefits for gay citizens. That was 4 years ago. Today we have an opportunity to do more: conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry."

  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said, "Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country." In 2004, she said she opposed gay marriage while also opposing a state constitutional amendment to ban it
The Supreme Court usually decides cases in May or June; these two rulings will be big news then.

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives; The Columbus Dispatch (3/15); Politico.com (3/18); The American Conservative (2/18); Politico.com (3/25).
Click for previous Supreme Court coverage


Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI) announces retirement: March 8, 2013

Seventh term ends in 2014

Carl Levin sent political shock waves through the state when he announced Thursday that he would not run for a seventh term.

Even with the suggestion weeks ago that Levin might not run, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a Cascade Township Republican, had floated the idea of running to supporters. A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Levin leaving "offers us a real pickup opportunity."

Democrats might be quick to point out, though, that though Republicans have won statewide in other seats, including governor and attorney general, a Republican hasn't won a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan since 1994, when Spencer Abraham was elected to a single term. The woman who beat him, Democrat Debbie Stabenow, is now poised to become the state's senior senator.

Levin's older brother, Sander Levin, 81, represents the 9th Congressional District and lives in Royal Oak. He is the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Levin becomes the sixth member of the Senate to announce he will not run for re-election next year, joining Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va. At present, Democrats hold 53 seats in the chamber, with two Independents caucusing with them, to 45 Republicans. In 2014, 20 seats currently held by Democrats will be open and 13 seats held by Republicans will be.

Source: Detroit Free Press
Click for full voting record of Carl Levin (D, MI).


Two new Cabinet appointees: March 4, 2013

President Obama selects head of EPA and Energy Dept.

President Obama nominated two new Cabinet members; below is the list of 2013 changes in the Cabinet:

Source: New York Times; and OnTheIssue.org's archives
Click for full list of Cabinet members and their issue stances


Mike Johanns (R, NE) announces retirement: Feb. 18, 2013

Open Senate in Nebraska in 2014

Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns, who was a safe bet to win a second term in 2014, announced Monday that he would forgo re-election. Republicans are heavily favored to hold the open seat in the conservative state.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is term-limited from seeking re-election in 2014 and is considered a likely candidate in the race to replace Johanns. If Heineman doesn’t run, the GOP faces the prospect of a crowded and bruising primary.

The state has three Republican congressmen-- Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith -- but Fortenberry is viewed as most likely to run.

The two men who lost to now-Sen. Deb Fischer in the 2012 primary are likely to look at the race: state Attorney General Jon Bruning and state Treasurer Don Stenberg, the quintessential tea party candidate in 2012. Also mentioned is businessman Pete Ricketts, who lost to then-Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in 2006.

Source: RollCall.com; and OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for issue stances of Mike Johanns (R, NE)


State of the Union speech: Feb. 12, 2013

President Obama announces second term agenda

President Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term, outlining his agenda for the second term, with particular emphasis on the economy, energy, and gun control. The mainstream media focused on First Lady Michelle Obama's new bangs.

Senator Marco Rubio delivered the official Republican Party response to the President, and Senator Rand Paul delivered the Tea Party response. Both highighted the need for less government as the means to end the Great Recession, in contrast to Obama's call for additional stimulus spending and additional taxes. The mainstream media focused on how Sen. Rubio reached for a glass of water in the middle of his speech.

Coverage of the State of the Union address from Examiner.com:
"Michelle Obama was the toast of the star-studded and politico-filled crowd on hand at Congress to hear her husband's speech, still rocking her much talked about bangs that looked as if they might have been trimmed a bit in recent days but still as flattering as ever as worn by the FLOTUS on Tuesday night."

Coverage of the State of the Union address from The Atlantic Magazine:
"Marco Rubio's mid-speech lunge for an awkwardly placed bottle of Poland Spring water during his delivery of the official Republican Party response to the State of the Union immediately became the break-out moment of his remarks Tuesday night."

Source: Examiner.com; The Atlantic magazine; and OnTheIssue.org's archives
Click for full excerpts of Obama's speech and the GOP response


Governor's State of the State speeches: through Feb. 3, 2013

25 governors' speeches from January

President Obama's State of the Union speech will occur next week on Tuesday, Feb. 12. But Governors' State of the State speeches are well under way already.

We excerpt 25 governors' state of the state speeches which took place in January, 2013. Two dozen more are scheduled for February and later; we'll excerpt those too.

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives and State websites
Click for State of the State speech excerpts or OnTheIssues list of all Governors


Mo Cowan appointed to U. S. Senate: Jan. 30, 2013

Interim appointment until June 25 special election

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has picked William “Mo” Cowan, his former chief of staff, to serve as the state’s interim US senator until the successor to John F. Kerry is chosen by the voters in a June 25 special election. The temporary post will make him the first African-American to represent Massachusetts in the Senate since Edward Brooke held the seat as a Republican from 1966 to 1978.

In choosing Cowan, Patrick rejected former US representative Barney Frank’s request to be given the job. A primary election for the seat is set for April 30 and US Representative Edward Markey is so far the only high-profile Democrat to formally enter the race.

    Other developments in Senate politics:
  • Feb. 1: Sen. Scott Brown confirmed he will not run in a special election. The decision likely means the Senate seat will stay in the hands of Democrats.
  • Jan. 31: Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch launched his bid for a U.S. Senate seat representing Massachusetts, declaring his candidacy in the upcoming special election.
  • Jan. 26: U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D, IA) announced he will not seek a sixth term in 2014.
  • Jan. 30: Dr. Paul Broun’s wife, Niki, declared that her husband had her permission to run to be Georgia’s next junior U.S. Senator, and that he was announcing his candidacy.
  • Jan. 27: U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) announced he will not seek re-election to the Senate in 2014. "This is about frustration," Chambliss said, "both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress."
Sources: Boston Globe (Jan. 30); ABC News (Jan. 31); Fox News (Feb. 1); Deseret News (Jan. 26);
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Jan. 30); Washington Examiner (Jan. 27)
Click for 2014 Senate races
or 2013-2014 House of Representatives


Sen. John Rockefeller opts out of 2014: Jan. 17, 2013

Jay Rockefeller (D, WV) first Senator to announce retirement plans for 2014

Editorial: As [West Virginians] reflect on Sen. Jay Rockefeller's announcement last Friday that he will not seek re-election in 2014, we hope they pause to remember the many contributions he has made to the Mountain State and the nation, for almost 30 years as one of the state's two senators, and before that as governor and secretary of state.

While Rockefeller has done much good, he has continued to stray from the beliefs of many of his constituents, and there are those who felt he would face a difficult re-election had he decided to pursue it. Whether that, or his proclaimed need to spend more time with family and other projects, is the real reason for his decision, his early announcement leaves many to question how will he spend the next two years of his term.

Will he continue to move further left, as he's demonstrated with his support of Obama's Affordable Care Act (a highly unpopular law in the Mountain State)? Or will he more closely represent his constituents, even though he has nothing to fear now that he won't be seeking office again? It would be hard not to respect what he's done for West Virginians. However, that respect could be tarnished if the senator spends the remainder of his term propagating his own agenda at the expense of state residents' concerns and beliefs.


OnTheIssues.org is now fully prepared for the 2014 Senate races. Our 2013-2014 Senate page includes the list of 33 Senators up for re-election in 2014, plus their likely opponents (including Rep. Capito in WV and all other possible opponents).

If you think it's ridiculously early to start considering the 2014 elections, please see our page for the 113th Senate as elected. It contains only the newly-elected Senators from the November elections, plus those re-elected and those serving in the Senate since the January 2013 swearing-in (that's called the "113th Congress").

Source: The Exponent-Telegram (West Virginia); and OnTheIssue.org's archives
Click for 2014 Senate races
or U.S. Senate as sworn in, Jan. 3, 2013


Chuck Hagel nominated for Secretary of Defense: Jan. 7, 2013

Former Senator Hagel (R, NE) nominated by Obama

President Obama today rounded out his second-term national security team, nominating former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the CIA.

Obama's selection of Hagel is expected to trigger a political storm over his confirmation in the Senate, where a bipartisan group of critics has already lined up against the pick. The criticism stems from Hagel's controversial past statements on foreign policy, including a 2008 reference to Israel's U.S. supporters as "the Jewish lobby," public encouragement of negotiations between the United States, Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian group the State Department classifies as terrorists, and his stance on how to deal with Iran. "Hagel has consistently been against economic sanctions to try to change the behavior of the Islamist regime, the radical regime in Tehran, which is the only way to do it, short of war," Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said last month. The Nebraska Republican has also drawn fire for his outspoken opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq and the subsequent troop "surge" ordered by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, which has been credited with helping bring the war to a close.

On the left, gay rights groups have criticized Hagel for comments he made in 1998 disparaging then-President Bill Clinton's nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg James Hormel as "openly, aggressively gay." Hagel has since apologized for the remark as "insensitive." Giving nod to some of Hagel's more controversial views, Obama even praised Hagel's "willingness to speak his mind even if it wasn't popular, defied conventional wisdom."

In an interview with his hometown paper, the Lincoln Journal Star, Hagel today launched a rebuttal to critics, whom he said have "completely distorted his record." He said the confirmation process will allow him to show his "unequivocal, total support for Israel" and support for sanctions on Iran.

Hagel is a decorated Vietnam veteran and businessman who served in the senate from 1997 to 2009.

Source: ABC News; and OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for issue stances of Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R, NE)


113th Congress inaugurated: Jan. 3, 2013

82 new House members and 13 new Senators

The outgoing 112th Congress was panned by pundits and Americans alike, with approval ratings as low as 12%. But 95% of members who made it to the ballot retained their seats. The new incoming class features a record number of female (100), Latino (31), Asian American (12) and openly gay or bisexual (7) members, along with 43 African Americans.

And while a great many of those serving the previous two years are returning, the 113th Congress' class of more than 90 new lawmakers features plenty of historical firsts, including enough new women, LGBT members, Asian Americans and Latinos to set records.

There are 82 new members of the House -- 35 Republicans and 47 Democrats -- and 13 new senators, including appointee Tim Scott, R-S.C., who will be the upper chamber's only African-American. Scott, an appointee who replaces Jim DeMint, will be the first black senator from the South since Blanche Bruce of Mississippi in 1881 and the first Republican African-American senator since the 1970s.

Republican Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American who beat Texas's lieutenant governor in an upset primary, is the first Latino to represent the diverse state of Texas in the Senate.

Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, who became a folk hero among financial system reformers after the financial crisis, will sit on the Senate's banking committee. She's one of a record 20 women in the new Senate.

Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who defeated Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, will be the first openly gay senator.

Six of the new senators came from service in the U.S. House, including former Rep. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman to serve in the upper chamber. (She's also the first Buddhist.)

Arizona's Jeff Flake will join six other Mormon colleagues in the upper chamber.

All told, the partisan breakdown will narrow slightly in Democrats' favor. In the House, there will be a total of 233 Republicans, 200 Democrats, and two vacancies (likely to be filled by one Republican and one Democrat, respectively.)

In the Senate, Democrats will continue to control the Senate--but with a slightly larger 55-45 majority than the 112th, counting Sens. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Angus King (I-Maine), who will caucus with the Democratic Party. Republicans lost two seats, and Democrats gained two, including the closely-watched race in Massachusetts between Elizabeth Warren and departing Sen. Scott Brown.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, NBC News "First Read, and OnTheIssues list of all House members


Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D, HI) appointed to Senate: Dec. 27, 2012

Joins Senate immediately; will become Hawaii's Senior Senator in January

U.S. Sen.-designate Brian Schatz left for Washington aboard Air Force One tonight after he was selected by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. Schatz, 40, will be sworn in Thursday so he can participate in Senate votes to avert a fiscal cliff of federal tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January.

Abercrombie chose Schatz from a list of recommendations from the Democratic Party of Hawaii that included U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and and Esther Kiaaina, the deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Inouye had asked Abercrombie to name Hanabusa, who represents urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District, as his "last wish" before he died last week at 88 of respiratory complications. "Having served as chair of the Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee when the succession law was passed, I fully respect the process and the governor's right to appoint a successor," Hanabusa said in a news release.

Schatz will become the state's senior senator. U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who was elected in November to replace the retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, would be the junior senator. Schatz will serve until voters in 2014 elect a senator to fill out the remainder of Inouye's six-year term, which runs through 2016. Schatz said he plans to run in 2014 and in 2016.

Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser
Click for issue stances of Sen. Brian Schatz (D, HI)


Sen. John Kerry (D, MA) to resign: Dec. 21, 2012

Gov. Deval Patrick (D, MA) to appoint successor

President Obama nominated Kerry as the next secretary of state, a post friends and colleagues say he is well-suited for. The son of a Foreign Service officer has thought deeply about matters of war and peace, and has logged thousands of hours traveling the globe on various diplomatic quests. As a boy living in Europe during the Cold War, Kerry biked around communist East Germany despite his father’s warnings and hunted for D-Day casings on the beaches of Normandy. Those close to him said they believe he made a conscious decision after the 2004 presidential race to leverage his new influence in the international arena.

Gov. Deval Patrick wants the next interim senator to pledge not to run in the upcoming special election — adding he expects to name someone to the temporary spot “pretty quickly” after U.S. Sen. John Kerry is confirmed as Secretary of State by the Senate. “I expect to appoint someone who does not plan to run for the seat because, practically, I think that’s going to be hard for that person to do successfully,” said Patrick. He refused to rule out the possibility that the appointee may also run, however.

Gov. Patrick has spoken with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, about the appointment. “Those conversations are in the spirit of confidentiality and I will respect that confidentiality,” said Patrick. In addition to Kennedy’s name, former Gov. Michael Dukakis and the retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank have been mentioned for the appointment. Patrick will not name a temporary appointment until after Kerry is confirmed by the Senate, which is likely after Jan. 3. The special election won’t start until Kerry hands in his letter of resignation.

A WBUR poll of 500 registered voters finds voters view Sen. Scott_Brown favorably, despite the fact that in November they chose to elect Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in his stead. [The poll] matched him up theoretically against U.S. Reps. Ed Markey, Mike Capuano, Steve Lynch and former U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, and in each one of those cases, Brown led by between 17 and 19 points. Lynch did issue a statement saying if a Senate seat were to become available, he “would give serious consideration to running.”

Source: Boston Herald (12/21), Boston Globe (12/21) and WBUR (12/20)
Click for issue stances of Sen. John Kerry (D, MA)
or Sen. Scott_Brown (R, MA)


Sen. Daniel Inouye (D, HI) dies: Dec. 17, 2012

Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D, HI) to appoint successor

Daniel K. Inouye died today of a respiratory ailment at a Bethesda, Md., hospital, ending a life of remarkable service for his country and Hawaii that included sacrificing his right arm in World War II combat and spending 50 years as a U.S. senator. He was 88. His last words were, "Aloha."

In a letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie that was delivered at 11 a.m. on Monday, just hours before his death, Senator Daniel Inouye apologized for his inability to fulfill his term and made a request for his successor to the United States Senate, according to Senator Inouye's office. Inouye's representatives said that his last wish was for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to replace him, citing her intellect and presence and saying it would be a seamless transition if he were to choose her. By law, the state Democratic party will submit three names to Abercrombie for consideration.

As the most-senior member of the majority party, Inouye served as Senate Pro Tempore, making him third in line to the presidency behind Vice President Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). Less than two hours after Inouye’s died, the Senate passed a resolution naming Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as the new president pro tempore. Leahy was first elected to the Senate in 1974.

In other Senate news, Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Scott will become the first African-American senator from the South since the late 19th century after he was chosen Monday by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill Jim DeMint’s soon-to-be-vacated seat.

Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser; Hawaii News Now; Washington Post; Charlotte Observer (SC)
Click for issue stances of Daniel Inouye (D, HI)
or Rep. Colleen Hanabusa


Last House seat decided for 2013: Dec. 9, 2012

Runoff election decided on Dec. 8, 2012

In Louisiana's 3rd District runoff election, four-term Congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, beat freshman Tea Party member Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, by a healthy margin. Boustany received 61 percent and over 58,000 votes in the district, which was redrawn after a 2010 census showed a population slowdown in the state. Fellow Republican incumbent Rep. Landry received 39 percent and over 37,000 votes.

Boustany's victory represents another victory for the Republican rank-and-file over its right flank, piggybacking on several GOP establishment and Democratic wins over Tea Party candidates on Nov. 6.

Landry was heavily favored by Tea Party groups and picked up several key conservative endorsements, including the now-split FreedomWorks, Citizens United, Tea Party Nation and the Family Research Council, which hosts the annual Value Voters Summit. Meanwhile, Boustany has been able to grab some key local endorsements, including Louisiana House of Representatives Speaker Chuck Kleckley, state legislators from both sides of the aisle and various mayors and local officials.

* * *

Both Reps. Boustany and Landry are currently serving in the "lamw duck" session of Congress. Four special election winners have also been seated in the "lame duck" session; please see OnTheIssues' coverage of the special election newcomers' sponsorships and the lame duck bills.

Source: New Orleans Times Picayune (Dec. 8); and OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for issue stances of Charles Boustany or Jeff Landry,
or coverage of the 2012 lame duck session


Sen. Jim DeMint resigns: Dec. 7, 2012

Will take $1 million think tank salary, leaving SC taxpayers with Special Election bill

DeMint announced Thursday that he would resign to become president of the Heritage Foundation. The move puts DeMint at the head of the most prominent conservative nonprofit organization in Washington. DeMint’s decision marks a monumental change from a not-so-long-ago era when abandoning a prime perch in the Senate to head a think tank would have been unthinkable. But the past decade has shown the influence that figures outside of elected office — whether tea party leaders or anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist — can have on the conservative movement.

DeMint’s job at Heritage will almost certainly come with a great deal more money than his $174,000 Senate salary. The terms of his deal are unknown, but the man DeMint will replace, Edwin Feulner, makes more than $1 million a year.

DeMint retires from the Senate having exerted an enormous amount of influence on the institution — yet without ever having passed a single piece of significant legislation. Rather than rising up the Senate ranks to influence legislation, DeMint chose to be a cheerful starter of civil wars. With his Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint assembled candidates and money to wage primary fights against establishment Republicans he deemed insufficiently conservative.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint someone to fill the seat until a special election in 2014. She could appoint herself, or buy some time by appointing someone who is seen as having no ambition to run in 2014—such as David Wilkins, a well-liked and respected former state lawmaker who served as U.S. ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush.

But conservatives are urging her to name someone who would be interested in keeping the seat. A popular pick would be Rep. Tim Scott, who could become the only current black U.S. senator at a time when the GOP is trying to reach out to minorities.

Source: Washington Post (Dec. 6); Wall Street Journal (Dec. 6)
Click for issue stances of Sen. Jim DeMint
or his book Saving Freedom


House endorsement survey: Dec. 3, 2012

Organizatonal ratings of all incoming House members

OnTheIssues has gathered issue stance summaries by several 2012 rating organizations. All of the organizations rated some or all of the 2013 newly incoming House members.

We also include older ratings from the same organizations, for comparison. When the organization's ratings are identical from year to year, we just include the newly-elected people with a new date on the old page. When the rating system differs, we include both pages separately. For example, the new "NARAL" page is just endorsements; the older one rates every member on a 0% to 100% scale.


Click for our organizatonal ratings notebook
or click for incoming House Freshmen.


Senate races for 2014 begin: Dec. 1, 2012

Kay Hagan (D, NC) in; Jay Rockefeller (D, WV) undecided

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) told a local radio station she plans to run for reelection in 2014, when she is expected to be a top target of Republicans. In 2012, North Carolina voted for Mitt Romney, elected a Republican governor and netted the GOP at least three House seats.

Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Tuesday that he hasn’t decided whether he will run for reelection in 2014. “I’ll make that decision in time,” Rockefeller said, without offering specifics. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced Monday that she will run for Rockefeller’s seat.

OnTheIssues.org is now prepared for the 2014 Senate races. Our 2013-2014 Senate page includes the list of 33 Senators up for re-election in 2014, plus their likely opponents (including Rep. Capito in WV, and Sen. Hagan's possible opponents in NC).

If you think it's ridiculously early to start considering the 2014 elections, please see our page for the 113th Senate as elected. It contains only the newly-elected Senators from the November elections, plus those re-elected and those serving in the Senate which will be sworn in, come January 2013 (that's called the "113th Congress").

Source: Washington Post "The Fix" Nov. 27; and OnTheIssue.org's archives
Click for 2014 Senate races
or U.S. Senate as elected Nov. 6, 2012


Jesse Jackson resigns: Nov. 21, 2012

Gov. Pat Quinn (D, IL) to set a special election date in 2013

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress on Wednesday, ending a once-promising political career. House Speaker John Boehner has received Jackson's letter of resignation, a Boehner spokesman said.

Jackson, the son of the civil rights leader, was first elected in 1995. He has been on medical leave since mid-June and twice sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder. The Democrat was easily re-elected to a ninth full term on Election Day, even though his constituents haven't seen or heard from him in months.

Once considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, Jackson is being investigated on allegations that he misused campaign funds; any deal would likely include jail time. He also has been the subject of a long-running House Ethics Committee investigation stemming from allegations that he raised money for then-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for appointment to the U.S. Senate. Jackson has denied wrongdoing.

Source: Catalina Camia and Susan Davis, USA Today
Click for issue stances of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D, IL-2)
or Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.


84 new House members: Nov. 16, 2012

35 new Republicans; 49 new Democrats (final count)

There are still several House races being recounted, but OnTheIssues has set up issue coverage for all of the incoming members of the United States House of Representatives.

The final count is 35 new Republicans and 49 new Democrats -- we'll be filling in all of their contacts and issue stances over the next week or two -- plus filling in the several undecided race results.

Following are the most interesting new House members, in three categories:

  1. Former House members who got re-elected
  2. Special election winners who got seated in the lame-duck session this week
  3. Undecided races (recounts being conducted over the next week)
DistrictPartyNew House MemberVoteMatchContact


1. Re-elected Former House members

AZ-1DemocratAnn KirkpatrickVoteMatchContact
AZ-5RepublicanMatt SalmonVoteMatchContact
FL-9DemocratAlan GraysonVoteMatchContact
IL-11DemocratBill FosterVoteMatchContact
NH-1DemocratCarol Shea-PorterVoteMatchContact
NV-1DemocratDina TitusVoteMatchContact
NY-24DemocratDan MaffeiVoteMatchContact
TX-36RepublicanSteve StockmanVoteMatchContact


2. Special election winners

KY-4RepublicanThomas MassieVoteMatchContact
MI-11RepublicanKerry BentivolioVoteMatchContact
NJ-9DemocratDonald Payne Jr.VoteMatchContact
WA-1DemocratSuzan DelBeneVoteMatchContact
MI-11DemocratDavid Curson(Elected to lame duck session only)


3. Races being recounted

AZ-8: U.S. Rep. Ron Barber (D) vs. Martha McSally (R); pending recount
AZ-9DemocratKyrsten SinemaVoteMatchContact
CA-7DemocratAmi BeraVoteMatchContact
CA-36DemocratRaul RuizVoteMatchContact
CA-51: State Sen. Juan Vargas (D) vs. Michael Crimmins (R); pending recount
CA-52DemocratScott PetersVoteMatchContact
FL-22DemocratLois FrankelVoteMatchContact
LA-3: Runoff election scheduled for Dec. 8
NC-7: Mike McIntyre (D) vs. David Rouzer (R) (Pending recount)
So in summary by party:
35 newly-elected Republicans in 2012, and 49 newly-elected Democrats.
For comparison, in the previous House election, 94 new House members were elected. Not significantly more -- but the party balance was significantly different:
85 newly-elected Republicans in 2010, and only 9 newly-elected Democrats.
In other words, the 2010 House elections showed a very strong pro-Republican leaning; while the 2012 House elections showed a weaker -- but still significant -- pro-Democratic leaning.

These final House election results mean the 113th Congress (beginning in January 2013) will be divided 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. OnTheIssues predicted 235 Republicans to 200 Democrats, so we were only off by one out of 435 seats!

Sources: OnTheIssues list of new House members contacts and issues


Preliminary House results: Nov. 12, 2012

Democrats gain a few seats; GOP maintains majority

The Republicans held control of the U.S. House 240-190 before the election; the Democrats had a net gain of about 5 seats, so the 113th Senate, starting in January 2013, will still be controlled by the Republicans. (OnTheIssues predicted a net gain of 7 seats for the Democrats). The exact number is still not yet known because of several ongoing recounts; and the 3rd Louisiana House district will conduct a Dec. 8 runoff election.

The table below indicates, by category, the number of seats that changed hands in this election (with asterisks* indicating the races still undecided at this time).

Counts by category: Democratic gains Republican gains Commentary
Electoral takeovers: (Incumbent ran and lost to the opposing party) +18: CA-7, CA-36, CA-52, FL-18, FL-26, IL-8, IL-10, IL-13, IL-17, MD-6, MN=8, NH-1, NH-2, NY-18, NY-25, OH-3, TX-23 +6: AR-4, CA-8, CA-21, FL-3, IN-2, NC-13, OK-2, PA-4 This is a strong showing for the Democrats -- these are the hardest seats to win, since the incumbent is defending an existing seat. This category indicates that overall, this election shows the country agrees more with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party in 2012.
Redistricting gains: (New seats due to 2010 census) +3: AZ-9*, FL-22, NV-4 +7: AR-4, CA-8, CA-21, FL-3, IN-2, NC-13, OK-2, PA-4 This category indicates that demographics are shifting towards the Republicans -- i.e., red states are gaining population relative to blue states, and hence there are more GOP districts. Many of the "open seats" in the next category were open partly because of redistricting also -- many incumbents faced an election battle and hence retired -- so redistricting effects are even more widespread than directly indicated.
Open seat takeovers: (Incumbent retired, but newly elected member is of the opposing party) +5: AZ-1, CA-26, CA-29, CA-41, FL-9 +8: GA-9, IA-8, MO-3, SC-7, TX-33, TX-34, TX-36, UT-2 In a typical election, the party of the retiring incumbent strongly favors that the successor is of the same party. That did not happen in 2012. Some of these changes indicate a demographic switch, and some indicate a more partisan electorate.
Retentions: (Incumbent retired, and newly elected member is of the same party) 19: AZ-8*, CA-2, CA-5, CA-47, CA-51*, HI-2, IL-12, MA-4, MI-5, NV-1, NJ-10, NY-5, NY-10, PA-17, TX-16, TX-20, WA-1, WA-6, WI-2 16: AZ-5, CA-1, FL-6, FL-19, IL-15, IN-5, IN-6, KY-4, MO-2, MT-0, NC-9, ND-0, OH-2, OH-14, OK-1, TX-14 This is what normally happens when an incumbent retires: a replacement wins from the same party. These districts are all new faces in the U.S. House but do not affect the party balance.
Totals: +26 new Democrats
plus 19 replacement Democrats
+21 new Republicans
plus 16 replacement Republicans
Net change is about +5 Democrats
with 82 new members regardless of party.


Is this a Democratic "mandate"? No, not quite -- maybe more of a "message" about hyper-partisanship. The Democrats needed 25 seats to win control of the House -- THAT would have been a mandate! Even if all of the redistricting changes are ignored -- and we assume that all open seat takeovers were due to demographic changes from redistricting -- the Democrats would still have gained only 12 seats -- not nearly enough to take over control of the House.

Overall we will see about 82 new faces in the U.S. House of Representatives (we'll report the exact number, and rework our House member list, when the final tallies are completed). But it's not actually 82 NEW faces, because 8 of the incoming "freshmen" have been in the U.S. House before! They were re-elected after having been out of Congress, usually returning by taking advantage of some redistricting changes. They are:

Those eight did not have it easy -- three other former U.S. House members ran again and lost in either the primaries or the general election. See our full House page for details....

Click for detailed House prediction or House results for the new 113th Senate


Gubernatorial results: Nov. 9, 2012

5 new governors; 6 re-elected

The recounts are completed for all 11 gubernatorial elections that took place on Election Day:

  • Five new governors were elected; six incumbent governors were re-elected.
  • In all 5 cases of newly-elected governors, the elections were open seats -- 3 retirements and 2 term-limited governors -- so no incumbents were ousted.
  • In only one case did the party change hands -- NC, from Democrat to Republican.
  • Links to each new governor below; we'll be filling in the newly-elected governors' issue stances this week.

State  Newly-elected GovernorOutgoing Governor
IN Mike Pence (R) Mitch Daniels (R)
NC Pat McCrory (R) Bev Perdue (D)
NH Maggie Hassan (D) John Lynch (D)
MT Steve Bullock (D) Brian Schweitzer (D)
WA Jay Inslee (D) Christine Gregoire (D)
State    Re-elected Governor
DE Jack Markell (D)
MO Jay Nixon (D)
ND Jack Dalrymple (R)
UT Gary Herbert (R)
VT Peter Shumlin (D)
WV Earl Ray Tomblin (D)

Click for all governors


Final Senate results: Nov. 8, 2012

Democrats maintain control of Senate, 52-48

The Democrats held control of the U.S. Senate 53-47 before the election; the Democrats had a net gain of one or two seats, so the 113th Senate, starting in January 2013, will still be controlled by the Democrats, 55-45.

Senator-Elect Angus King (I-ME) has not stated with which party he will caucus; if he decides on the Republican Party, that would reduce the Democratic majority to 54-46 but would not change majority control. Majority control determines which party chairs each Senate committee, and hence which bills get debated on the Senate floor.

OnTheIssues predicted a Democratic majority of 50-50 (with V.P. Joe Biden casting the majority vote for the Democrats; we predicted the Presidential race correctly also). We were wrong in our prediction of 7 Senate races -- but right in 26 out of the 33 Senate races (a rate of 79% correct!), and right in predicting the Senate majority. Mostly, we over-predicted the number of Republican takeovers. The Republican Senate candidates did not do nearly as well as expected; hence the Democrats held on to many seats. Our prediction compared to actual results:

    OnTheIssues Senate prediction:
  • 3 Democratic takeovers
  • 17 Democratic retentions
  • 6 Republican takeovers
  • 7 Republican retentions
    Senate election results:
  • 3 Democratic takeovers
  • 22 Democratic retentions
  • 1 Republican takeover
  • 7 Republican retentions
Some of the interesting races, including all of those we predicted wrong, follow:
StateParty ResultElection WinnerElection Loser
AZ Republican retentionJeff FlakeRichard Carmona
CT Democratic retentionChris MurphyLinda McMahon
FL Democratic retentionBill NelsonConnie Mack IV
IN Democratic takeoverJoe DonnellyRichard Mourdock
MT Democratic retentionJon TesterDenny Rehberg
NE Republican takeoverDeb FischerBob Kerrey
NM Democratic retentionMartin HeinrichHeather Wilson
WI Democratic retentionTammy BaldwinTommy Thompson

One Governor's race and several House races are still to be decided as of today; we will report on those results when they are known.


Click for detailed Senate prediction & results or Senators in new 113th Senate


Presidential prediction: Nov. 3, 2012

OnTheIssues predicts Obama 279 to Romney 259

OnTheIssues.org predicts that President Obama will win re-election by an electoral margin of 279-259.We predict that the popular vote will be much closer, with Romney holding Obama to under 50% of thepopular vote. Hence we predict that the pundits will claim that the third party candidates acted as"spoilers" in this race. This map summarizes our prediction, or click for state-by-state prediction.

We read hundreds of polls over the last several months, and we see that the mainstream media mostlyignores the Electoral College, reporting instead on the popular vote. In the presidential election,the electoral vote is all that matters. Note that our map shows Romney overwhelmingly winning a geographicvictory; but that same map says that Obama wins the electoral victory!

We base our prediction on Obama's state-by-state victories in 2008, modified by the redistricting changes due to the 2010 census, and then further modified by several special considerations, including:

In summary, OnTheIssues recommends what to watch for on Election Night TV coverage:


Click for detailed electoral prediction


House prediction: Oct. 28, 2012

OnTheIssues predicts Republican majority 235-200

OnTheIssues predicts the Democrats will gain 7 House seats, leaving control of the United States House of Representatives in Republican hands, 235-200. Our evidence is laid out below.

So why do the Democratic pundits claim that they can gain the 25 seats necessary for their party to gain control of the House? For example, the Kansas City Star on Oct. 24, 2012, cites a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesperson saying "The Republican majority is in jeopardy," and expressing that he is "confident that his party can buck the odds and pick up the 25 seats needed to regain control of the House of Representatives." Let's look at the sort of evidence they present, starting with the current party split -- a large Republican majority -- of 242R-193D.

OnTheIssues conducted a "vulnerability analysis" which found 26 vulnerable Republican incumbents. If all of them lose, the Democrats would gain the House majority -- it would result in a House split with a slight Democratic majority, 217R-218D.

But of course that's only a half-truth, because some Democrats are vulnerable also. Our same analysis for vulnerable Democrats knocks down the Dems' hopes to a weaker Republican majority, 230R-205D.

But it's even worse than that, due to redistricting. The 2010 census takes effect in this House election -- and will cost the Democrats another 6 seats. Some special considerations reduce that by one loss, making our final prediction 235R-200D.

OnTheIssues does not claim to be prognosticators -- but we do claim to have real substantiation for our prediction, especially when compared to the hocus-pocus of other pundits. Our vulnerability analysis has worked to identify incumbents in our local State House who have been ousted; the redistricting analysis is complicated but accurate. We would be very shocked if the Democrats do better than 230R-205D or if the Republicans do any better than 240R-195D. More extreme results than that would indicate a "landslide mandate" for one party over the other.


Click for detailed U.S. House prediction
or click for U.S. House vulnerability analysis
or click for detailed U.S. House races


Romney and Obama Third and final Debate: Oct. 22, 2012

At Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida

    Third and final Presidential debate, Oct. 22, 2012:
  • Held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
  • Moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News.
  • Sponsored by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
  • 90 minutes on foreign policy topics.
  • "Democracy Now!" aired a live commentary called Expanding the Debate, including two 3rd-party candidates, the Green Party's Jill Stein and the Justice Party's Rocky Anderson; focusing on how Obama and Romney agree on the Afghan War and other foreign policies.

  • Commentary:
  • This debate was intended to stick to foreign policy, but the candidates often brought the topic back to domestic policy, despite the efforts of the moderator to stay on topic.
  • Any president has an inherent advantage when debating foreign policy topics, because the president has been immersed in foreign policy for four years, while the challenger mostly just reads about foreign affairs in the newspapers -- especially so this year because Romney has never served in the Senate.
  • Romney prepared heavily for this debate, and sounded like he had prepared heavily for this debate -- reciting esoteric facts about Mali and Pashtuns -- often sounding like a novice student who is excited at just having learned a new field. Romney sounded more comfortable and experienced when discussing the more standard topics such as China, Iran, Syria, and Libya. Overall, Romney accomplished his goal of not sounding like he would march the United States off to war.
  • Romney presented a much more cautious viewpoint than in the past -- definitively stating that he would not send ground troops to Syria nor Iran, contrasting his past much more belligerent statements on those same countries (which Obama pointed out were a shift towards his own positions). Romney remained belligerent towards China (saying we're in a trade war already) and Russia (saying they are still a geopolitiical foe).
  • Romney did make a couple of flubs, such as describing "crippling sanctions" against Iran as "peaceful dissuasion" against developing nuclear weapons. In fact, economic sanctions are an act of war under international law (they must be enforced by a navy, usually). And he head-scratchingly described Syria as Iran's "route to the sea," evidently not having been briefed on Iran's 800-mile coastline on the Persian Gulf and 300 miles on the Indian Ocean (that was RUSSIA who worried about a route to the sea, not IRAN). And Romney's attitude towards Russia sounded like he was still in the Cold War, but most of Europe feels that he is anyway.
  • Obama and Romney do not differ dramatically on foreign policy stances, judging by this debate. That will displease partisans on both sides -- but particularly Obama's progressive supporters. Absent was any discussion of closing Guantanamo; of reducing collateral damage of drone strikes; or of actually REDUCING the military budget as opposed to just reducing its growth rate. Those topics were addressed only in the Third Party debate -- another argument why third party candidates should be included in the main debates.
  • But in summary, Romney held his own in a forum in which Obama could have dominated Romney on the issues. Obama still "won" the debate, as expected, but it was not a crushing victory. At issue is whether Obama "won" by enough to reverse Romney's previous momentum -- the election is now just two weeks away!
Sources: OnTheIssues archives


Romney and Obama Second Debate: Oct. 16, 2012

At Hofstra University, Long Island, New York

    Second Presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012:
  • Held at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York.
  • Moderated by Candy Crowley of CNN.
  • Sponsored by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
  • 90 minutes on domestic issues in Town Hall format.

  • "Democracy Now!" aired a live commentary called Expanding the Debate, including three 3rd-party candidates, the Constitution Party's Virgil Goode, the Green Party's Jill Stein and the Justice Party's Rocky Anderson.

  • Commentary: Obama recuperated in this second debate after Romney "won" the first debate.
  • On the issues, Obama responded to all of Romney's key points, but Romney managed to connect to the audience, addressing his most significant weakness.
  • The pundits and talkshows all focused on just two non-issues (as usual). Both of these "issues," we predict, will be ignored in a week, and forgotten in a month:
  • Romney said he had "binders full of women" when he attempted to gender-balance his gubernatorial cabinet. He meant "binders full of women's résumés," which was obvious in the full context, but the mainstream media played and replayed the excerpt out of context.
  • Romney noted that his cabinet and his adminstration were nationally recognized as leaders in gender-balance, but that was forgotten in the wake of the replayed out-of-context phrase. Romney also neglected to mention that his running-mate, Kerry Healey, was also female (she served as Lieutenant Governor and then ran for Governor in 2004 and lost to Deval Patrick; Romney legitimately did push gender balance, and deserves recognition for it, binders full of women or not.
  • Romney's second gaffe was pushing Obama on whether he referred to the attack on 9/11/2012 which killed the American ambassador to Libya as an "act of terror." Obama asserted that he did refer to it as an "act of terror" in a Rose Garden speech on 9/12/2012, and Romney pushed hard to get Obama to say that "on the record," i.e., Romney thought Obama had the facts wrong. The moderator pointed out that Romney had the facts wrong.
  • Romney was correct in pointing out that Obama downplayed the terrorism aspects while focusing on the surrounding riots protesting a video demeaning the prophet Mohammed. But Romney's point was lost because of the hyperfocus on what exactly Obama said on 9/12/2012.
  • Romney was prepared poorly for that point -- his staff should have researched the original statement and Romney should not have pushed the point so hard without the proper research in advance. But Romney's lack of preparation is not what the talkshows talk about -- they get caught up in the buzz about fact-checking Candy Crowley -- so enjoy the buzz but recognize its meaninglessness.
Sources: OnTheIssues archives


Biden and Ryan Debate: Oct. 11, 2012

Vice Presidential debate in Kentucky

    Vice Presidential debate, Oct. 11, 2012:
  • Held in Danville, Kentucky, at Centre College
  • Moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News
  • Sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (a private bipartisan group which excludes third party candidates from debates)

  • Commentary:
  • Biden sure smiles a lot. And laughs a lot. And interrupts a lot.
  • And Ryan sure succeeded at looking vice-presidential by NOT smiling too much and NOT laughing too much and NOT interrupting too much.
  • Biden did fine on the issues -- he responded well to all of Ryan's points, and embarrassed Ryan by forcing him to admit that there was no Romney-Ryan plan to balance the budget (Romney & Ryan say they will cut spending without raising taxes, by closing loopholes, but Obama & Biden say there are not enough loopholes to do that, and choosing any loopholes is politically challenging. Ryan's response was to claim, as Romney did, that a Reagan-Tip-O'Neill-like discussion will take place to determine which loophooles to close).
  • Perhaps if one reads the transcript one would accept Biden's argument. But watching the vice president of the United States show off his dental whitening and chuckle repeatedly at a subordinate politician turned off most viewers to listening to Biden's content at all.
  • The mainstream media calls this one a "draw." We call a "draw" against an incumbent vice president a victory for his challenger.
Sources: OnTheIssues excerpts from V.P. debate


Romney and Obama First Debate: Oct. 3, 2012

In Denver Colorado

    First Presidential debate, Oct. 3, 2012:
  • Held at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado.
  • Hosted by Jim Lehrer of the "PBS NewsHour"
  • Sponsored by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
  • 90 minutes on domestic issues in six segments:
  • Three on the economy and one each on health care, the role of government and governing.

  • Since third-party canddates are excluded by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, "Democracy Now!" aired a live commentary called Expanding the Debate, including two 3rd-party candidates, the Green Party's Jil Stein and the Justice Party's Rocky Anderson.

  • Commentary: The mainstream media widely viewed Romney as having "won" this first debate. Obama several times seemed disengaged, and certainly not up to his usual level of passion.
  • On the issues, however, Obama did respond to all of Romney's key points. Obama's lack of passion and engagement seems to have come from lack of preparedness. I.e., Obama was not ready to respond to Romney's views.
  • Another way to view this debate is that Romney changed several of his key issue stances just for this debate -- he finally implemented the "Etch-a-Sketch" plan which was so much the focus of the mainstream media during the summer campaign. Some examples of key issue changes:
  • Romney formerly pushed for tax breaks for job creators and now says he will not reduce high-income tax rates.
  • Romney formerly pushed for trillions of dollars in reduced spending and now says he will not have any deficit spending, despite the tax cuts.
  • Romney says he will accomplish the above by closing tax loopholes, but has not (and it sounds like he will not) identified the loopholes in question. He matches that with a process description for how to decide spending cuts -- he will sit down with Congressional Democrats -- so far the only identified cut is PBS' "Big Bird" (which became the tag line of this debate).
  • Romney has now adopted Paul Ryan's plan to allow opt-outs of Medicare (known to opponents as the "voucher plan").
  • Most people expected Romney to modify his stances for the general election -- but there is a risk to doing so in October. Obama will respond more effectively to Romney's new stances in the next debate -- likely with passion and engagement. And in addition, Obama will be able to point to the "Etch-a-Sketch" changes themselves for political benefit.
  • In summary, Romney won this debate -- and gained several points in the polls -- but at the expense of making his task harder in the subsequent debates.
Sources: OnTheIssues archives


Senate race prediction: Oct. 1, 2012

OnTheIssues predicts: Republicans gain 3 seats

Following are the OnTheIssues predictions for each Senate race nationwide. 33 Senate seats (out of 100) are up for election in 2012, but 23 of those seats are currently held by Democrats and 10 by Republicans. That means the Democrats have more to lose in 2012 -- but the Dems also hold the majority in the Senate, 53-47.

To gain control of the Senate, the Republicans must gain 4 seats. We arrange the chart below based on which Senate seats we predict will stay in the same party and which will change hands:

StatePredictionPredicted WinnerPredicted Loser
AZ Democratic takeoverRichard CarmonaJeff Flake
CA Democratic retentionDianne FeinsteinElizabeth Emken
CT Republican takeoverLinda McMahonChris Murphy
I drive throughout Connecticut for my daily business, and I see a dozen "Linda" signs every hour, in every corner of the state, whereas seeing one Murphy sign per day is a lot. While signs don't vote, the lawn owners do, and they seem overwhelming.
DE Democratic retentionTom CarperKevin Wade
FL Republican takeoverConnie Mack IVBill Nelson
Paul Ryan's strong stance for Medicare/Medicaid overhaul hurts the Romney-Ryan ticket in Florida, and we therefore predict Obama will win Florida based on the large elderly population in this key state. But Florida voters prefer bipartisanship and therefore Sen. Nelson will suffer from "negative coattails."
HI Democratic retentionMazie HironoLinda Lingle
IN Republican retentionRichard MourdockJoe Donnelly
Oct. 26 update: Mourdock stumbled by saying in a debate that pregnancy rape was "God's will," which infuriated women's groups, but we do not see any change in the underlying dynamics that favor a conservative Senator to represent conservative Indiana.
MA Democratic takeoverElizabeth WarrenScott Brown
Obama will overwhelmingly beat Romney in blue-state Massachusetts, and we predict Warren will ride Obama's coattails to victory. Sen. Brown won in a special election -- when there were no presidential coattails -- and would probably win again if this were not a presidential election year -- but the coattails are just too long against him in 2012.
MD Democratic retentionBen CardinDan Bongino
ME Democratic takeoverAngus KingCharlie Summers
Gov. King is an independent but we predict he will win and then choose to caucus with the Democrats in the Senate, in effect gaining the Democrats one Senate vote. King is a true independent, but sides with the Democrats on healthcare, social issues, and the need for taxes to deal with the deficit -- key upcoming voting issues for Senators.
MI Democratic retentionDebbie StabenowPete Hoekstra
MN Democratic retentionAmy KlobucharKurt Bills
MO Democratic retentionClaire McCaskillTodd Akin
During the summer, we would have predicted a Republican victory in red-state Missouri, but Rep. Akin put his foot in his mouth and exacerbated the problem with yet more flubs with every passing week -- he blew it!
MS Republican retentionRoger WickerAlbert N. Gore
MT Republican takeoverDenny RehbergJon Tester
ND Democratic retentionHeidi HeitkampRick Berg
North Dakota's economy is booming due to new oil extraction. So this Senate race is missing the usual drag on Obama and the Democrats, that the economy is bad elsewhere and that the Democrats would limit oil extraction elsewhere -- and Hietkamp will benefit.
NE Republican takeoverDeb FischerBob Kerrey
NJ Democratic retentionBob MenendezJoe Kyrillos
NM Republican takeoverHeather WilsonMartin Heinrich
NV Republican retentionDean HellerShelley Berkley
NY Democratic retentionKirsten GillibrandWendy Long
OH Democratic retentionSherrod BrownJosh Mandel
Voter registration is an issue in many states but none more than in Ohio. As a result of the heavy-handed election-day voter suppression in minority districts in the 2004 election, Ohio Democrats have pushed voter registration and early voting (beginning Oct. 2) -- and Sen. Brown will benefit.
PA Democratic retentionBob CaseyTom Smith
RI Democratic retentionSheldon WhitehouseBarry Hinckley
TN Republican retentionBob CorkerMark Clayton
TX Republican retentionTed CruzPaul Sadler
UT Republican retentionOrrin HatchScott Howell
VA Democratic retentionTim KaineGeorge Allen
Gov. Allen seems to have recovered from his "macaca" gaffe in 2006, but he has run the nastiest campaign in the country, and we predict that many will vote against him to signal a dislike for negative campaigning.
VT Democratic retentionBernie SandersJohn MacGovern
WA Democratic retentionMaria CantwellMichael Baumgartner
WI Republican takeoverTommy ThompsonTammy Baldwin
The Tommy-Tammy race is one of the tightest in the country, but we predict a Republican victory based on Paul Ryan's coattails. While Wisconsin is a blue state, many independents will vote Republican on the presidential line based on Ryan's "favorite son" status, and will push that pattern downballot to the Senate race.
WV Democratic retentionJoe Manchin IIIJohn Raese
WY Republican retentionJohn BarrassoTim Chesnut

To summarize our prediction by party status:

The net result of our prediction: A 50-50 split in the Senate. The Republicans score a net gain of 3 seats, but that's not enough. We predict Maine Independent Governor Angus King will win his Senate race; and we predict he will caucus with the Democrats. But if he goes Republican the GOP will gain control of the Senate -- hence King will become the kingmaker in that scenario!

The more likely scenario is that one of our predictions goes the other way: The most likely? Connecticut, where a wrestling executive takes on a long-term Congressman. And then Indiana, where a Tea Party Republican beat the incumbent Senator in the GOP primary. If either of those races goes against our prediction, the Democrats maintain control of the Senate. But a 50-50 split is MUCH more fun!

A 50-50 split means that control of the Senate is determined by the presidential race: If Romney wins the Presidency, Paul Ryan would get the tie-breaking vote in the Senate; if Obama wins re-election, Joe Biden retains his tie-breaking Senate vote. So stay tuned for our House and presidential prediction next week....

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
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