The Battle for America 2010: State-by-State Roundup, 9-15-10 (Texas added)

ILLINOIS

Key Race: U.S. Senate, Kirk (R) vs. Giannoulias (D)

Bill Baar reporting:

Last week found Alexi Giannoulias throwing a protectionist punch at Mark Kirk over jobs to China. A fan at Illinois’ Capital Fax blog said of Alexi’s jab: "Blaming China is kind of like complaining about the bartender who over-served you and let you run a tab. Who’s the problem?"

Kirk opened with an appeal as the "Lame Duck Killer" to Illinois’ ticked-with-Kirk conservatives. He told them to please remember they’ll be voting twice for U.S. senator: once to immediately fill the court-ordered Roland Burris vacancy, and the other to be sworn in January 2011. Put Kirk in that Senate-Duck blind and he’ll bag those Lame-Ducks before winter’s migration.

No punches landed though, or appeals much heard: both candidates are still polling well under 50%.

Kirk’s best hope may be coattails from the once too-conservative-for-Illinois-voters state Senator Bill Brady. Brady’s race against the reformer, and now hapless, Governor Pat Quinn is becoming part of Sean Trende’s miracle in the Rust Belt:

"Even in Illinois, probably the bluest state in the region, Rasmussen Reports now has Republican Bill Brady, a conservative Republican, leading incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn 50 percent to 37 percent."

A Brady-wave might surf Kirk over these inconclusive bouts with Giannoulias.  Who would have thought a social conservative could have done that for Kirk in Illinois?

MARYLAND

Key Race: GOP Gubernatorial Primary, Bob Ehrlich vs. Brian Murphy

Michael Swartz reporting:

The more things change, the more they stay the same – at least in Maryland. Unlike neighboring Delaware, the Tea Party hasn't made inroads on statewide election results.

All congressional incumbents won their primaries easily, as did longtime Senator Barbara Mikulski. The only question remaining among statewide races seems to be who will face Mikulski -- the battle of 11 contestants for the GOP U.S. Senate bid is coming down to either Jim Rutledge or Eric Wargotz. Both tried to outconservative the other, and early on it's a seesaw battle both have led at times. Wargotz has more notoriety for the “political insidersaurus” commercial, but Rutledge counters with more grassroots support.

But even Sarah Palin couldn't help upstart candidate for governor Brian Murphy, who was soundly defeated by former Governor Bob Ehrlich by about a 4:1 margin.

Leading the GOP charge for Congress will be Andy Harris in the First District against vulnerable first-term Congressman Frank Kratovil. Harris has easily dispatched challenger Rob Fisher and takes on Kratovil, who was the lone Democratic incumbent congressman to not draw a primary opponent.

MISSOURI

Key Race: U.S. House, MO-4

Ex Notitia Vera reporting:

Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton (D) has glided into his 4th District D.C. seat since 2000 with an average 67% of the vote.  Skelton’s district includes two military bases (Whiteman AFB and Fort Leonard Wood), and he has wisely paid close attention to them, evidenced by the VFW’s recent endorsement.  But within Skelton’s district is also a huge swath of the passionately conservative southwestern Missouri quadrant.

The voters in this chunk of geography are in a disposition well beyond their normal fervent conservativism. In the primaries, they summarily rejected two respected (establishment) state senators to replace Congressman Roy Blunt (7th District) in favor of Billy Long (R), a recognized businessman but political newbie.

This sentiment is rapidly creeping district wide and Skelton’s Republican opponent, Vicky Hartzler, endorsed by Sarah Palin, is mining it for votes. With success. According to an 8/17 WeAskAmerica poll, Hartzler has snuck up to within 3% of Skelton (45%-42%).  The internals show Hartzler with surprising support among Dems (15%) and significant support from indies (41%).  “Independents are no different than Republicans -- and many Democrats, I might add,” Hartzler points out. “They’re tired of Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, and Skelton has voted 94% of the time with her. That’s got to stop.”

Apparently the wavering independents are making Skelton’s campaign edgy. Here’s their website header: “Ike Skelton stands up for our men & women in uniform & is an independent voice for the people of rural Missouri.” Like Dems nationally, Skelton appears to be running from his party; nowhere on his website does he say which one he belongs to.

Ex Notitia Vera is a Tea Party leader in the state of Missouri.