Candidates Mulling Newly Open Arizona Senate Race and Polling Gap Closing in Virginia Governor's Race

November 1, 2017

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways:

  • Roy Moore continues to polling lead in Alabama Senate race
  • State Senator Tom Campbell leads in North Dakota GOP primary polling
  • Peter Tedeschi (R) to challenge Rep. Bill Keating
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-5) will retire at the end of his current termFormer U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo to run for Colorado Governor


A new Axis Research poll (conducted for the Senate Leadership Fund; 10/24-26; 503 AL likely special election voters) projects Republican nominee Roy Moore, the former state Supreme Court Chief Justice, opening up a large 56-39% lead over former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones (D).  The sample looks to contain a Republican skew, however, so the advantage might not be as large as this margin suggests.  Still, it appears that Judge Moore is comfortably ahead as the candidates head toward a December 12th special election date.

A number of potential candidates are reported to be considering jumping into the open Arizona Senate race now that Sen. Jeff Flake (R) won't seek re-election.  Among them are Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson), former US Representative and 2002 gubernatorial nominee Matt Salmon (R-Mesa), Arizona University Regent Jay Heiler, and three individuals only recently being mentioned: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott), who originally said he would run for re-election but is now re-considering his options, former Rep. John Shadegg (R-Scottsdale) who retired in 2011, and ex-one-term Rep. Ben Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle. 

Kelli Ward, the former state Senator who challenged John McCain in 2016 and was opposing Sen. Flake this year, remains in the race.  Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) is not likely to run for the Senate, reportedly being more interested in seeking the Governorship when that position opens in 2022.  So far, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) is the lone Democratic contender.

The 1892 polling firm, a company that has conducted several surveys for North Dakota political campaigns, released their study for state Sen. Tom Campbell (R-Grafton), an announced GOP US Senate primary candidate.  The poll (10/11-12; 500 ND registered voters; 400 ND likely Republican primary voters) gives Sen. Campbell a 32-24% lead over former at-large US Rep. Rick Berg in a hypothetical GOP primary.  Mr. Berg has not announced his Senate candidacy, and more than likely will not run.  The general election numbers are highly surprising, however, and will have to be confirmed in future surveys.  The results: Campbell leading Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), 44-41%.  Currently, the Senator is favored for re-election, but polls such as this suggest that a highly competitive campaign is on the North Dakota political horizon.


Peter Tedeschi (R), chairman of the Tedeschi Food Shops, which owns 181 stores throughout New England, announced that he will challenge four-term Massachusetts Rep. Bill Keating (D-Bourne/Cape Cod) next year in a contest that could become competitive. Usually a reliably Democratic seat, the 9th District can swing Republican in statewide contests.  Gov. Charlie Baker (R) will have to run well here to win re-election, thus ensuring a strong Republican turnout operation within the CD boundaries.  Mr. Keating has averaged an underwhelming 52.7% average victory margin in his four congressional races, weak for a Massachusetts Democrat.  This race could become one to watch.

House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his northeast Texas congressional district next year.  Mr. Hensarling's chairmanship tenure is also scheduled to end at the conclusion of the current Congress.  The seat is strongly Republican - Mr. Hensarling has averaged over 73% of the vote in seven re-election campaigns, for example - so the GOP will be heavily favored to keep the seat.  The Hensarling retirement brings the total number of regular election open seats to 31, of which 21 are Republican-held.  A vacant seat in Utah will be filled next week in a special election.


Former five-term Colorado Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo announced early this week that he will enter the 2018 open Governor's race.  Mr. Tancredo was last elected to the House in 2006, and served his final term while running an unsuccessful long shot 2008 presidential campaign.  He would return to Colorado state politics in 2010 to run for Governor as the Constitution Party nominee when the Republican general election candidate was forced to withdraw, and then ran again four years later after returning to the GOP.  Currently, the Republican gubernatorial field is already large, led by state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Arapahoe region District Attorney George Brauchler.  Democrats are favored to hold the open position.  Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appears a sure bet for re-election next year, but Democrats are still attempting to recruit a viable challenger.  With no recruitment luck so far, they appear to be turning to businessman Andrew White, the son of recently deceased former Gov. Mark White (D) who came to office when defeating Republican Gov. Bill Clements in 1982.  Governor White subsequently lost a re-match with Clements four years later.  Regardless of whom the Democrats might field, Gov. Abbott is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.  Currently, his campaign bank account exceeds $40 million signaling that the Governor is ready to actively defend his position.

Five new polls have been released in the Virginia Governor's race as the candidates enter their last week of campaigning before the November 7th general election.  The polls range from Republican Ed Gillespie leading by eight points (Hampton University) to Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam being ahead 17 percentage points (Quinnipiac University).  The preponderance of analysts believes, however, that Mr. Northam has only a slight advantage as voting begins.

A new Suffolk University poll (9/19-23; 500 NJ likely voters) tested the 2017 general election gubernatorial candidates.  This poll, like others before it, shows former US Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy (D) continuing to lead Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) by substantial margins.  According to their latest data, Mr. Murphy's advantage is 44-25%.  In the only potential opening Guadagno may have, the Democratic nominee's trust factor appears low and the top issue is high taxes - levies that Murphy has already said he would support raising.