Down-the-ballot: Filing deadline passes in SD and MO

Early in the cycle, a lot of the discussion around down-the-ballot races surrounds recruitment and retirement. So it is in important occasion whenever the filing deadline passes in a state with important races. Perhaps in no state were we waiting for that day more than in South Dakota.

For months, it was unclear whether Democratic Senator Tim Johnson would run again, and it took him many weeks of repeating he would for people to take him seriously. The wave of sympathy that surrounded him after his sickness at the end of 2006 made it very hard for Republicans to talk about challenging him whereas Johnson was one of their main targets when the cycle started. As it became apparent that Gov. Rounds would not run against Johnson, the question became whether South Dakota Republicans would find any legitimate candidate.

The filing deadline now passed, we can say that South Dakota looks very good for Democrats. The strongest of the 3 Republican candidates who filed is state Rep. Joel Dykstra, at best a second-tier candidate. The surest sign that the GOP sees almost no hope in this race is that the NRSC is now looking elsewhere to claim that a second seat is in play this cycle, most particularly New Jersey, where Republicans are trying to secure the strongest possible recruit to face Senator Lautenberg. We will know more about that race when the filing deadline closes in 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, the gubernatorial race filing deadline closed with two major Republicans in the race: Congressman Kenny Hulshof and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. Attorney General Jay Nixon, the Democrat, has been running for years and he has to be considered the favorite now that Gov. Blunt unexpectedly retired. A Rasmussen poll released earlier this week confirms the Democrats' early advantage to pick up the governor's mansion:

  • Nixon leads Steeleman 46% to 39%, and he is ahead of Hulshof 48% to 37%.
  • A month ago, Nixon's leads were a bit bigger, 11% and 18% respectively.
Hulshof's departure from her congressional seat (MO-09) makes the district a pick-up opportunity for Democrats, with many candidates vying for their party's nomination. The Republican primary is also very crowded, as the GOP starts favored in this district which leans red. MO-06 (Rep. Graves versus the Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes) will also be contested.


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