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Apologies over the lack of updates during the past few days.  Finals are coming up and sometimes, I guess I have to study non-political items.

But nonetheless, the past few days have really been pretty jampacked with potential news bits.  There’s the Saxby Chambliss – Grover Norquist situation but also we have seen that the 2014 races are starting to slowly shape up.  Also, to a smaller degree, we are getting slightly more news on 2016 as candidates begin to play coy with the media.

Senate 2014
West Virginia Senate Race begins to shape

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, announced her intentions to seek the seat currently held by longtime Democratic incumbent Jay Rockefeller.  Capito, who has been touted as a statewide prospect for the Republican Party over the past couple years, has drawn the ire of the right-wing of the Republican Party before.  However, Capito is easily the most formidable challenger to Rockefeller (if Rockefeller decides to run again) and a Charleston Daily Mail poll had Capito leading Rockefeller by four points.  This is a big pick-up opportunity for the Republican Party but….

As per usual, the Republican Party might’ve smiled that Rep. Capito decided to take the plunge but guess what?  The possibility of a right-wing challenge still exists.  Capito is a pro-choice Republican and even though West Virginia has quickly turned red over the past couple elections; only one Representative from the state voted for the Paul Ryan Budget.

Enter David McKinley.  Buried in this post by the Roll Call is this line from McKinley regarding Capito’s very early entrance.

I think all options ought to be out there,” he said. “It’s very early for someone to start a campaign at this point.”

And McKinley offered what could be construed as a veiled criticism of Capito.

“I’m a little surprised that that race has kicked off so early. I would think that it would be in everyone’s best interest to let the people absorb the impact of this past election,” he said.

Seems that trying to discourage McKinley from making a plunge in this race might be the first test of new NRSC chairman Jerry Moran.  While either candidate would have a very good chance of swinging the state, it’s no secret that Rep. Capito is their best bet.  Keep your eyes peeled on this potential primary.

While Capito can start formally campaigning the ball is really in Jay Rockefeller’s hands.  If Rockefeller decides to run, the race can lean towards a toss-up.  If Rockefeller decides to retire, as some expect, then the Republican Party will likely have a pretty good advantage.

But in the case that Rockefeller retires, the West Virginia Democratic Party does have some type of bench.  There’s Governor Earl Ray Tomblin who has won two elections in 2010 & 2012 already and might be tired of campaigning.  There is also former Senator Carte Goodwin who was appointed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin to temporarily replace the late Robert Byrd.  Also earning some speculation is Mike Callaghan, former West Virginia Democratic Party chair & Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis.

Georgia Continues To Make Noise

Ah that’s a shame.  Just read that article with this thought in your head though.  That the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and a failed candidate to receive his party nomination for Senate in 2002 was at one point, Mitt Romney’s top challenger.  Let that sink in.

Erick Erickson, a CNN analyst and the founder of RedState.com (a conservative hotbed) is apparently considering a run for Senate.  While I see this as mostly bluster, given how Erickson quit his job as a member of the Macon City Council for a radio show, it does show that there are many cracks to the coalition of voters that Saxby Chambliss should want.

While Cain and Erickson aren’t considered legitimate contenders (considering the low possibility that they actually make the leap into the race); Rep. Tom Price should be the one Republican Saxby Chambliss fears in a primary.

Price denounced those looking forward to 2014 as being “completely premature” but he really didn’t appear to say no, right?

Democratic Rep. John Barrow, who has been called “the last Blue Dog” given his ability to constantly survive Republican challenges in a red district shot down the idea that he might run for Senate in 2014.

If Barrow is true to his word, then speculation will turn to Max Cleland and a host of former Representatives including Jim Marshall who was defeated in the 2010 mid-terms to possibly take on either a worn down Chambliss or a conservative firebrand such as Karen Handel or Erick Erickson.

South Dakota Republicans Get Their Guy

Former Republican Governor Mike Rounds has announced he will indeed run for the Senate seat currently held by longtime Democrat Tim Johnson.  Johnson, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2006 but continues to be an important voice in the Senate, may or may not run in 2014 but appears to be willing to fight.  As per the link provided:

Johnson, 65, released a statement Thursday saying he intends to “put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead,” and that he will formally announce next year whether he’ll seek a fourth term.

Rounds on the other hand was wildly popular as a Governor of a red state.  But he might be most well-known nationally for his attempt to ban all abortions in the state; a referendum that was struck down by the people.  Expect that issue to come up multiple times before 2014 is all said and done.

New Hampshire ’14 Starting To Make Noise

Here’s a brand new nugget from the Washington Post.  Outgoing Rep. Frank Guinta, a Republican from New Hampshire, is considering a challenge to incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.  Shaheen, who was elected in the Democratic wave of 2008, could be seen as vulnerable thanks to her lackluster fundraising totals.  However she has stated that she will indeed run for re-election.

While New Hampshire might be the “reddest” of all New England states, it’ll take a good effort from the Republicans to swing it back to their column.  Guinta, last seen being defeated by Carol Shea-Porter, will likely not be that guy.

Iowa ’14 Continuing To Be Interesting

Rep. Steve King, the consummate neoconservative, is still considering a challenge to longtime Democratic incumbent Senator Tom Harkin.  King, who would likely cost the Iowa GOP any shot at winning, is apparently not too worried about the ’14 race.

Normally, considering the whole “we are really a year away from any real campaigning happening” meme; that would be an OK assessment.  But now that we have two announced challengers in West Virginia and South Dakota; this appears to be an election cycle that’s starting a lot earlier than previously anticipated.  King might be playing coy but I definitely could imagine Jerry Moran pleading for him not to run.  Also note the little shot at Gov. Terry Branstad who not only wants to do away with the Ames Straw Poll but also sort-of but totally endorsed fellow Rep. Tom Latham to make a statewide run.

So let’s hope he does.

Enough about GOP primaries, how about a Democratic one in New Jersey?

Here’s the results of a quick poll done by Public Policy Polling about the New Jersey Senate race in 2014.  Incumbent Frank Lautenberg, who is 88 years old, has said before that he has intentions to run again in 2014.  Yet, rising Democratic prospect Cory Booker appears to have the seat if he wants it.

New Jersey is a safe Democratic state so the winner of the primary would likely be the overwhelming favorite for the general election.  I, like most people, don’t buy that Booker is seriously interested in challenging Chris Christie for Governor in 2013.  Booker has his eyes on the Presidency and losing to a popular Republican would not sit well with him.  Mark my words, he wants something he can coast to victory at while fundraising for other candidates.

President 2016

Interesting little piece on San Antonio Democratic Mayor Julian Castro and his political future.  Castro, the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, apparently just signed a book deal to write an autobiography.  One of the main things you need to watch when talking about potential Presidential candidates are book deals.  Remember No Apologies?

While I fully believe Julian Castro will be a Presidential hopeful one day, I’m not buying 2016 yet.  I could see this as more of a stepping stone to run for the Governorship or possibly the Senate race in 2014 against John Cornyn.

Trust me, Rick Santorum will run in 2016.  He is making all the right moves when it comes to re-laying the groundwork to make another bid.  He’s sending out emails, taking trips to Capitol Hill and planning lecture trips.  The religious right took a nice liking to Santorum in 2012 and he does have that coalition in his backpocket.  Plus, the GOP does love re-tread candidates right?

More to come tonight!