Will These Governors Survive the Midterm Elections?

July 29, 2014

By Nick Blazer, Manager, Social Media Services and the 2014 Elections Project

blog-electionsIt has been a little over a month since the last round of gubernatorial primary elections and some of the biggest question marks in 2014 are finally reaching the primary election milestone this year. Six races with August primaries are listed below and in every race a governor is defending his incumbency for a second term in office. Additionally, in every race below at least one source rates the race as a toss-up this year. The one August primary to watch closely is the Hawaii primary on August 9: Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) may be the only governor to lose in a primary race this year. In addition, pending the results of the August primaries, Hawaii and Connecticut are potential rematches from 2010; and if former State Representative Jonathan Pelto (I) qualifies for the ballot in Connecticut, both races feature an independent candidate whose presence could impact the outcome of the already-competitive elections.

For more news about the races, chart listings of the gubernatorial candidates and more information, check out http://2014governorsraces.com.

Connecticut

Governor Dan Malloy (D) is seeking re-election to a second term and is unchallenged for the Democratic nomination. State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R) and former Ambassador Tom Foley (R) are competing for the Republican Party nomination. In addition, former State Representative Jonathan Pelto (I) is running as an independent; he is formerly a Democrat. If Tom Foley wins the party nomination, the race will be a rematch from the 2010 gubernatorial election.

The overall outlook for this race from major ratings outfits is a toss-up. Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia Center for Politics (Sabato’s Crystal Ball, now in partnership with Politico) and Real Clear Politics rate this race as a toss-up. FiveThirtyEight forecast the odds of the race in favor of the Republican nominee, while the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report view this contest as leaning Democrat. Furthermore, if Jonathan Pelto qualifies for the ballot as an independent, he adds another variable to the race as a candidate that could draw away votes – particularly Democratic votes (as a former Democrat) – from the other candidates.

There are two polls to draw data from in recent months – one released by Quinnipiac University in May and a new poll (as part of a nationwide series) released this past weekend by YouGov (in partnership with CBS News and the New York Times). The YouGov poll does not utilize traditional polling methods – the polls were conducted online and do not utilize probability sampling (meaning a random sample representative of the general population) – and does not have a margin of error. That said, if it is an indicator of the race, Tom Foley possesses a clear advantage. In addition, the Quinnipiac survey was published before most of the Republican primary candidates withdrew from the race.

The two existing general election scenarios appeared as competitive races in the May Quinnipiac poll. In a repeat general election match between Governor Malloy and Tom Foley, the two tied at 43%. In a race between Governor Malloy and John McKinney, Governor Malloy maintained a four-point advantage at 44% to 40%. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 2.4%. YouGov reported a completely different picture after the span of a few months: Tom Foley held a nine-point advantage over Governor Malloy at 42% versus 33% for outright voters, although the distance narrows to 48% versus 41% respectively when respondents leaning toward a particular candidate are factored in.

Governor Dan Malloy held the high ground in campaign funds in the last campaign finance report in June, in part due to public financing. Governor Malloy, State Senator McKinney and former Ambassador Foley committed to and qualified for public financing, but Governor Malloy was the only candidate to receive his funds in the reporting period. State Senator McKinney and former Ambassador Foley had to wait until July to receive their funds and received $1.35 million. In addition, since Governor Malloy is not challenged for the party nomination, he will only receive one round of financing; the Republican nominee will receive a second round for the general election. Governor Malloy concluded the reporting period with $6,364,628 in cash on hand; Tom Foley ended with $17,062 in cash on hand; John McKinney finished with $18,300 in cash on hand; and former State Representative Jonathan Pelto raised $7,235 and ended June with $7,177 in cash on hand.

The Connecticut primary election will be held on August 12.

Florida

Governor Rick Scott (R) is seeking re-election to a second term. He is contested by Yinka Adeshina (R) and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder (R) for the Republican Party nomination. Former Governor Charlie Crist (D) and former State Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich (D) are competing for the Democratic Party nomination.

Real Clear Politics, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the Rothenberg Political Report, the Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight all view this race as a toss-up. This is also indicated by polling data for the past few months as Governor Scott and former Governor Crist poll close to one another and oscillate back and forth between leads. Four polls published in July are perfect examples of this – two conducted by SurveyUSA, one by Quinnipiac University and the YouGov online survey mentioned above.

On July 9, SurveyUSA reported 45% of respondents supported Governor Rick Scott and 43% preferred Charlie Crist; thirteen days later, the trend reversed in another SurveyUSA poll and Charlie Crist moved up to a six-point advantage at 46% versus 40%. A day later, Quinnipiac University published its results and indicated Charlie Crist held a five-point advantage at 45% versus 40%. Finally, the data by YouGov run against these findings: Governor Scott polled at 43% and Charlie Crist at 38% with respondents who intend to vote for the candidates. The five-point advantage remains in place when respondents who lean toward a candidate are factored in, as 48% of respondents support Governor Scott and 43% back former Governor Charlie Crist. Both SurveyUSA polls have a margin of error of +/- 4.2%; Quinnipiac University’s survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.8%; and the YouGov poll does not have a margin of error since it was conducted online.

In the reporting period of July 12 through July 18, Governor Rick Scott raised $200,696 and his independent political committee Let’s Get to Work raised $21,000. Charlie Crist raised $192,446 and his independent political committee Charlie Crist for Florida raised $221,600. Finally, Nan Rich raised $12,097, while her independent political committee Citizens for a Progressive Florida PC did not report funds and filed for a waiver.

The Florida primary election will be held on August 26.

Hawaii

Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) is seeking re-election to a second term. He is challenged by State Senator David Ige (D) and Van Tanabe (D) for the Democratic Party nomination. Former Lieutenant Governor James “Duke” Aiona (R), Charles Collins (R) and Stuart Gregory are seeking the Republican Party nomination. In addition, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (I), a 2010 Democratic primary candidate, is running for governor as an independent. If Governor Abercrombie and former Lieutenant Governor Aiona win their respective party nominations, the race will be a rematch from the 2010 gubernatorial election.

The average of the ratings for this race is leaning Democrat, although Governor Abercrombie may not win the Democratic nomination. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the Rothenberg Political Report and the Cook Political Report view this race as leaning Democrat, while Real Clear Politics rates it as a toss-up.

A slightly different picture emerged from the June Honolulu Civil Beat Poll, where Duke Aiona polled either favorably or competitively in the two general election scenarios. State Senator David Ige held a clear advantage over Governor Abercrombie at 48% versus 37% in the Democratic primary election. In the two likely general election scenarios, former Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona held a six-point advantage over Governor Abercrombie (33% versus 27%) and tied with State Senator Ige (31%). In both scenarios more than a fifth of respondents were undecided and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann attracted more than 15% of support. The poll has an overall margin of error of +/- 3%, while the subset of Democratic primary voters has a margin of error of +/- 3.6%. Finally, the YouGov online survey questioned respondents about a rematch between former Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona and Governor Abercrombie. The poll reported 37% of respondents supported Duke Aiona, while 34% backed Governor Abercrombie. When the respondents who lean toward a candidate are factored in, both candidates receive a three percent boost in support. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Governor Neil Abercrombie raised the most funds in the first half of the year and held the largest amount of cash on hand in the mid-year (January 1 – June 30) campaign finance reports. He also spent more ($2,051,369) than the sum of his opponents’ fundraising totals. Governor Abercrombie raised $885,601 and ended the period with $1,042,582 in cash on hand; State Senator David Ige raised $242,724 and concluded with $92,004 in cash on hand; former Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona raised $360,902 and finished with $203,489 in cash on hand; and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann raised $159,000 and ended with $167,842 in cash on hand.

The Hawaii primary election will be held on August 9.

Kansas

Governor Sam Brownback (R) is seeking re-election to a second term. He is contested by Jennifer Winn (R) for the Republican Party nomination. State House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) is uncontested for the Democratic Party nomination.

The overall outlook for this race is leaning Republican, though it might be closer to a toss-up. FiveThirtyEight, the Rothenberg Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball forecast this race in favor of the Republican Party. The Cook Political Report and Real Clear Politics disagree, rating this contest as a toss-up. In addition, a large number of current and former Republican officials recently crossed party lines and endorsed Paul Davis.

Furthermore, recent polls reflect a change in public sentiment, as Paul Davis and his running mate Jill Docking (D) are ahead of Governor Brownback and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer (R) in the polls. Two SurveyUSA polls, conducted for KSN-TV in June and July, reported a six- and an eight-point advantage respectively for the Davis-Docking ticket. In June, Davis and Docking polled at 47% versus Brownback and Colyer’s 41%, while in July the gap widened to 48% versus 40% respectively. The margin of error for the June poll is +/- 3.1% and the margin of error for the July poll is +/- 2.9%. The recent YouGov online survey runs against these figures, as the data places Governor Sam Brownback in a solid lead. The poll reported 47% of respondents preferred Governor Brownback, compared to 37% for State House Minority Leader Davis. When the respondents who lean toward a candidate are factored in, Governor Brownback receives a five percent boost in support, while Paul Davis receives a three percent boost in support.

Campaign finance reports, which cover January 1 through July 24, were recently due. State Representative Paul Davis raised $1,121,980 and ended the period with $1,324,702 in cash on hand. Jennifer Winn raised $13,596 and ended the period with $338 in cash on hand. Governor Sam Brownback raised $1,244,282 and ended the period with $2,365,373 in cash on hand.

The Kansas primary election will be held on August 5.

Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder (R) is seeking re-election to a second term. He is challenged by former Congressman Mark Schauer (D). Both individuals are uncontested for their respective party nominations.

The race ratings for the Michigan gubernatorial race vary. The Cook Political Report and Real Clear Politics view this race as a toss-up, while the Rothenberg Political Report leaves open the possibility of a toss-up with slight favorability toward the Republican Party. Sabato’s Crystal Ball describes the outcome as leaning Republican, while FiveThirtyEight forecast the contest with odds heavily in favor of the Republican Party.

The polling data for July shows Governor Snyder has a close lead over former Congressman Mark Schauer. Mark Schauer tied with Governor Snyder at 40% in Public Policy Polling’s (PPP) survey conducted at the end of June and published on July 1. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.1%. The mid-July polls released by Vanguard Public Affairs / Denno Research and NBC News / Marist showed Governor Snyder with varying leads. Vanguard Public Affairs revealed 45% of respondents supported Governor Snyder and 35% backed Mark Schauer, with a margin of error of +/- 4%. The NBC News / Marist poll uncovered a much smaller advantage, as 46% of registered voters preferred Governor Snyder and 44% picked former Congressman Schauer, with a margin of error of +/- 3.3%. Epic-MRA’s poll, conducted for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV and published on July 17, indicated a three-point advantage for Governor Rick Snyder at 46% versus 43%. This poll has a margin of error of +/- 4%. Lastly, YouGov’s online survey showed 42% of respondents back Governor Snyder, compared to 39% of respondents who support Mark Schauer. If respondents who lean toward a candidate are factored in, both candidates receive a four percent boost in support.

The campaign finance reports for the first half of the year were due last week. Governor Rick Snyder holds the advantage in funds; he raised $3.3 million and possesses more than $4.6 million in cash on hand. Mark Schauer raised $1.8 million and received $990,000 in public financing; in addition, he possesses more than $2.4 million in cash on hand.

The Michigan primary election will be held on August 5.

Wisconsin

Governor Scott Walker (R) is seeking re-election to a second term. He is challenged by State Representative Brett Hulsey (D) and former Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce Mary Burke (D) who are seeking the Democratic Party nomination. Governor Walker is uncontested for the Republican Party nomination.

The ratings for the Wisconsin gubernatorial race vary. The Cook Political Report and Real Clear Politics view this race as a toss-up, while the Rothenberg Political Report rates it as leaning Republican. Sabato’s Crystal Ball describes the outcome as likely Republican, while FiveThirtyEight forecast the race with odds heavily in favor of the Republican Party. Despite the majority of these predictions, the data in the latest poll from Marquette University Law School indicates a competitive race. Governor Walker held a single-point advantage to Mary Burke at 47% versus 46%, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. However, when the results of the poll were narrowed to likely voters in the general election, the results flipped to a single-point advantage in favor of Mary Burke at 47% versus 46%, with a margin of error of +/- 4.3%. The poll did not question respondents about State Representative Brett Hulsey.

In the YouGov online survey, 46% of respondents picked Governor Walker, while 43% chose Mary Burke. If respondents who lean toward a candidate are accounted for, Governor Walker receives a one percent boost in support and Mary Burke receives a three percent boost in support, leaving Governor Walker with a one-point advantage.

Campaign finance reports were due for the campaigns on July 21 and covered January 1 through June 30. Governor Scott Walker held the cash advantage for the general election, while Mary Burke held the cash advantage for the Democratic primary election. State Representative Brett Hulsey raised $2,488 and concluded the period with $946 in cash on hand; Mary Burke raised $3,649,307 and concluded the period with $2,556,644 in cash on hand; and Governor Scott Walker raised $8,292,465 and concluded the period with $7,596,484 in cash on hand.

The Wisconsin primary election will be held on August 12.

###

Nick Blazer is Manager of Social Media Services and the 2014 Elections Project.

111(d)ominates NARUC in Dallas

July 23, 2014

By John Howell, Esq., Vice President

111(d)ominatesHow things have changed in six months. The National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) Summer Committee Meetings were held last week in Dallas with the Environmental Protection Agency’s 111(d) proposed guidelines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fueled power plants dominating the meetings. By comparison, no single issue dominated the Winter Committee Meetings last February. Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”), Integration of the Electric Grid, Demand Response, Cybersecurity, and Net Neutrality – among several other topics – each played a prominent role in shaping the Winter Meetings’ discussions. In Dallas, it was an entirely different atmosphere. From the start of the meetings with the Staff Subcommittee on Electricity taking up a discussion on “Compliance Strategies for 111 (d) and Impacts on System Reliability” to the final General Session dedicated to “111(d) in Big D: Compliance Options, Regional Approaches, and Where We Go From Here”, it was impossible to step into a room, a hallway, or even the sports bar and not discuss 111(d).

There were several other important issues being addressed at the NARUC Summer Meetings, including an issue that desperately needs resolution after many (too many) years of discussion. Why are we still dealing with large scale E911 (wireless) systems issues and when will Public Safety finally get the next generation E911 system they deserve? The Telecommunications Committee held a meeting to discuss “The Vulnerabilities and Opportunities of Next-Generation 911 Networks” and focused on Washington State where, this past spring, there was a large-scale outage resulting in thousands of emergency calls left unanswered. Due to the nature and location of this outage, several other states felt the impact as well. This outage joins what is nothing short of a debacle in New York City concerning the myriad problems with the City’s “upgraded” 911 system, and several prominent stories concerning the misrouting of calls including those in my backyard of Washington, D.C. As a former attorney at a major wireless company, focused on the nation’s E911 system, I can tell you these issues should not be rearing their head. It is far past the time where public safety should have a reliable E911 system and far past the time for discussions around these problems….although I praise NARUC for continuing to beat the drum for public safety.

The electric grid, distributed generation, and demand response were topics that shared some of the spotlight at NARUC. Meeting topics included: “The Integrated Grid: A Deep Dive”, “Sharknado: Are Claims About the Impending Demise of a Centralized Grid Greatly Exaggerated” and “The D.C. Circuit Kills Demand Response Compensation, Now What?”. The most informative and lively meeting I attended on this subject was not actually a NARUC meeting, however. The Institute for Electric Innovation hosted a briefing on “The Power Grid’s Evolution into an Energy Services Platform.” The panel, consisting of senior utility, solar, and industry representatives along with a Commission chairman, held a non-scripted discussion that was both refreshingly honest and informative. Two common themes permeated the discussion. First, the centralized electric grid is here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future – but it must evolve and adapt to the increased availability of alternative sources of energy including solar and wind. Second, consumers must be better educated about the value of the electric grid. As one presenter put it, “it’s not as simple as putting solar panels on your roof and believing that’s all you will need and are no longer dependent on the grid.”

One of the most surprising things I heard at NARUC came out of a fairly innocuous meeting discussing hydraulic fracturing. Several commissioners in attendance prefaced their comments and/or questions with the statement that they are pro-fracking and either wish their respective states had shale gas plays or, if they did have shale gas plays, that they encourage greater fracking operations. Fracking is an issue we are following closely and it is one of the truly divisive topics in the regulatory arena. As such, I expected the commissioners to be reticent to speak strongly one way or the other on the subject due to its incendiary nature; instead, I heard resounding support for the industry.

But 111(d) “(d)ominated.” Meetings were standing room only and regulators were engaged more so than on any other topic. During the final General Session that concluded the meetings, the Honorable Jon McKinney, Commissioner, West Virginia, set forth the concerns that many, if not all, of the states share in a Top 10 List cut right out of the pages of a Late Night with David Letterman script. Two entries on the Commissioner’s list particularly struck me and, I think, really frame the debate that has started and will continue for months to come. In making a point about the danger of making assumptions, Commissioner McKinney opined in his #3 on the list that the EPA “is assuming the legality of regulating under 111(d).” Additionally, while the entire “Top 10 List” was clearly a tongue-in-cheek approach to some very serious concerns, #1 on this list is, perhaps, the most significant point the Commissioner made: “The EPA is underestimating higher resulting electricity rates.” For me, that is the ultimate issue. What will be the impact to consumers as a result of the EPA’s 111(d) guidelines?

***

John Howell is Vice President of Regulatory Services at Stateside Associates. With substantial policy and legal experience, Mr. Howell guides Stateside Associates’ regulatory counsel and provides clients with hands on Regulatory Issue Management support from strategic planning, regulatory advocacy, and working with groups of state and local officials.

Are Cities Grabbing Your State Issues?

July 16, 2014

By Heather Williams, Vice President and William Higgins, Manager, Local Government Services

blog - localgovernmentsLocal government is growing, and fast.

No, we’re not referring to the number of newly chartered cities or the nearly ninety-thousand city, county, township and special district governments that establish codes and regulations. Rather, we are noting the rapid growth of Groups in the local space and the implications they are already having on public policy. In the last two years we have seen two major local political Groups, Community Leaders of America (CLA) and Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO) begin to flourish; and with the creation of the American City County Exchange (ACCE), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) becomes the newest Group to enter into the local space.

ACCE was created to advance limited government, free-market and federalist principles in local government. It achieves this through model policies, conferences and online collaboration, operating within the organizational structure of ALEC. ACCE’s Director Jon Russell, who also currently serves as a Town Council Member in Culpepper, Virginia, summed up the need for a Group such as ACCE stating “As a conservative, as somebody who believes in more of a limited government and free-market solutions to some of the problems that exist in government, I found myself frustrated in my council experience because there weren’t resources available to me.”

The establishment of ACCE, along with the interest both CLA and DMO have in creating platforms to share policy ideas across their memberships is a significant development. As local officials continue to address a broad range of issues, knowing and understanding how they are sharing policy ideas, and what engagement opportunities exist becomes increasingly important.

ALEC’s entry into the local Groups space is just one more indicator that state issues are becoming local issues.

What’s the connection? Until ALEC’s entry into local Groups, most policy directives approved by local Groups were directed at the Federal Government. National Association of Counties (NACo)National League of Cities (NLC) and U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) do not create model policies or create policies intended to be used by local governments. Unlike the aforementioned Groups, ACCE’s membership of local elected officials will draft, approve, and share policies, which are intended to be used as models. ACCE will also provide new engagement opportunities for private sector members with an interest in local government policy.

We monitor hundreds of issues for our clients across thousands of local jurisdictions, and we see firsthand the increasing impact that local government is having. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for industry to look past the content of local government agendas and minutes, and the issues being discussed at local Groups meetings.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray had this to say about the need for local government to action: “The people who work for a living have basically seen no increase in their incomes since the 1970s. With the federal government fairly stuck, and as we see states more and more adopting that same dysfunction, cities are the place to lead right now.”

Local officials like Murray and Russell continue to express their frustration for the lack of progress being made within both federal and state governments. While there are examples of this happening all over the country, here are a few examples of the issues that local governments and the Groups of local officials are acting on.

The City of Boulder, Colorado, is currently in the process of forcefully acquiring Xcel Energy’s local distribution network through ballot measures and eminent domain. Boulder’s government wishes to create a municipalized utility specifically for the purpose of reducing the community’s carbon footprint.

In 2014, Beverly Hills became the first city in California to ban fracking outright, and Los Angeles became the largest city in the country to prohibit fracking via a moratorium.

Despite the lawsuits facing the 2012 Alameda County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance and the 2013 Kauai County bill 2491, relating to pesticides and genetically modified organisms, localities across the country continue to discuss and take action on these issues either directly or indirectly. On June 24, the Santa Cruz, California Board of Supervisors approved the adoption of an ordinance requiring the establishment of a sharps waste management program. Most recently, on July 10, Berkeley, California’s Community Health Commission discussed the creation of a local GMO labeling ordinance.

A recent example of activity at the Groups level occurred at the USCM Annual Meeting, which took place June 20-23. USCM President Sacramento, California Mayor Kevin Johnson and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Cities Opportunity Task Force, which will bring together mayors from across the nation to leverage the power of municipal governments to advance a national, common equity agenda. Additionally, at NACo’s Annual Conference which took place July 11-14, a proposed resolution was considered and approved amid much controversy asking Congress to address the minimum wage.  And, at the upcoming NLC Summer Policy Forum, taking place July 24-26 in St. Paul, Minnesota a joint NLC/NACo briefing on U.S. EPA Waters of the US Proposed Rule will take place.

Local officials are looking for platforms to share policy ideas with like-minded peers and the Groups are responding, and there is no doubt that we will see an increase in an already wide array of issues. Now more than ever, it is important that we as state government relations professionals arm ourselves with the resources necessary to remain aware of the discussions taking place in local governments, and take advantage of all opportunities to engage local officials on policy issues.

***

Heather Williams is Vice President at Stateside Associates. She works to help clients manage state and local government issues. She also manages client relationships with key Groups, including her “alma mater,” the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), where she served as National Finance Director.

Will Higgins is Manager, Local Government Services at Stateside Associates. Prior to joining Stateside Associates as a Legislative Associate, Mr. Higgins worked for the Florida House of Representatives, as well as for a United States Senator. He also worked for several public affairs and communications firms supporting campaigns at the local, state and national levels.


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