Voters To Decide Midterms

By John Celock

Voters across the country head to the polls today in order to decide control of most of the nation’s governorships, along with control of the U.S. Senate, ending the 2014 campaign.

With Republicans likely to keep control of the House, the main battles have emerged for control of the Senate along with the nation’s statehouses. The gubernatorial battles, along with control of the nation’s state legislatures have remained at the forefront for much of the campaign.

Some of the races to keep an eye on tonight include.

New Hampshire Senate

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) attempts to make a comeback challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in the Granite State. Brown has faced charged of carpet bagging after his recent move to New Hampshire. He is seeking to reverse a trend of former senators seeking seats in other states. The race has remained competitive all year, with Republicans investing in Brown hoping he’ll pull off a win similar to his 2010 special election victory in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Governor

In Massachusetts, state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) is seeking redemption from her 2010 Senate loss to Brown. The race has become competitive with Republican Charlie Baker, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial race, gaining on Coakley. Much of the focus has been on economic issues along with the management of the state’s child welfare agency. Coakley is seeking to become the state’s first elected woman governor.

Kansas Governor

Will Gov. Sam Brownback (R) hold on to his office in one of the country’s most competitive races? Democratic nominee Paul Davis has maintained a lead or even with Brownback in polls all year as voters debate whether to keep Brownback’s deep tax cuts in place. Much of the race has centered on the issues of the impact of Brownback’s tax cuts along with education spending. Brownback has defended the cuts, saying they will stimulate the economy, while Davis has said they will bankrupt the state. In the area of education spending, Brownback and his allies have said they have invested a record amount in education. Davis and Democrats have argued that the GOP has cut education spending and attacked a new tenure reform law that Republicans passed along with an education-spending bill.

Davis is expected to do well in eastern Kansas, a largely suburban part of the state, dominated by moderate voters. Brownback is seeking to run up the score in the rural western and central parts of the state, where he is playing up his water plan and background in agriculture policy.

Kansas Senate

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R) has emerged as the surprised endangered incumbent of 2014. Expected to cruise to victory, Roberts was hampered in February when reports emerged that he rented out of his Dodge City home and slept primarily with a friend in the city. While Kansas politicians said that Roberts is a presence around the state and not just in Dodge City, Roberts had not shaken the perception that he primarily lives in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington. Roberts dispatched tea party favorite Milton Wolf in the GOP primary, but the race took more turns.

Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the race in September as independent Greg Orman emerged as Roberts top challenger. With the state Supreme Court saying that Taylor could leave the ballot, the race become competitive, with Roberts replacing his campaign staff in an effort to salvage his hopes for a fourth term. Orman has not said which party he’ll caucus with in the Senate, and Roberts has painted him as a closet Democrat, noting his ties to Democratic donors.

Wisconsin Governor

Gov. Scott Walker (R) has been a top foe for labor unions and progressives since his 2011 anti-union policies. Surviving a 2012 recall attempt – the first time a governor has done so in American history – Walker now battles Democrat Mary Burke in a race that could either set up a 2016 presidential race or end his political career. Burke has remained competitive with Walker during recent months. A Walker victory would be another defeat for organized labor, who have tried to oust him from the governor’s mansion.

Maine Governor

Gov. Paul LePage (R) has quickly made a name for himself with controversial statements and actions. Elected narrowly in a five-way race in 2010, LePage looked like he would have a chance to win this year’s three-way contest until independent Eliot Cutler encouraged his supporters to vote for Democrat Mike Michaud. Michaud, a congressman, is a top candidate for Democrats nationally, and the GOP has responded in kind making LePage a top effort for their support. Michaud would become the nation’s first openly gay elected governor if he wins.

Ohio State Treasurer

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) has been a top Democratic target since his unsuccessful 2012 campaign against U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). Facing state Rep. Connie Pillich (D) in this year’s treasurer race, Mandel has battled Democrats seeking to derail his political career. The race has military tones with Air Force veteran Pillich facing off against Marine veteran Mandel. Mandel, 37, has been viewed as a potential future gubernatorial or Senate candidate for the GOP and a loss this year would likely end his political ambitions. With Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald’s hopes tanking in declining poll numbers, Democrats have put more efforts behind Pillich’s campaign in an effort to derail Mandel.

Kansas Secretary of State

Long a target of progressives nationally, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) has made a name for his self in his battle against illegal immigration. The author of Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigrant law, Kobach has made election security, including voter identification and proof of citizenship for voter registration centerpieces of his tenure as secretary of state. Kobach is facing off against Democrat Jean Schodorf, a former Republican and state senator, who is battling Kobach’s push on election security, along with saying that Kobach is not serving full time due to his immigration work. Kobach, viewed as a future gubernatorial or Senate candidate, is defending his record and says that his immigration work is done at home in his spare time.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner

Democrat Ryan Taylor is attempting to gain his party a foothold among North Dakota’s 13 statewide constitutional offices. A former state Senate minority leader and rancher who lost a 2012 bid for governor, Taylor is now seeking to unseat state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring (R), saying that changes are needed to how the state Agriculture Department is run. Currently Democrats hold only one statewide office in North Dakota, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who has been campaigning alongside Taylor in the campaign’s final days.