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Kurita Poll Suggests She’s as Strong as Ford

Attempting to counter the conventional wisdom that she has little chance in the open-seat Senate race, state Sen. Rosalind Kurita (D) on Wednesday released selected samples of a poll conducted for her campaign.

In a general election matchup against Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, the Republican candidate with the largest war chest at this point, Kurita trailed 38 percent to 37 percent.

Rep. Harold Ford Jr., the odds-on Democratic nominee, held a 39 percent to 37 percent lead over Corker.

“Despite the fact that Harold Ford Jr. has significantly greater name recognition than Rosalind Kurita, and has essentially been running for several years, both Kurita and Ford perform the same against possible Republican candidates,” writes pollster Bob Meadow.

Meadow’s firm, Decision Research, conducted the poll Feb. 22-26 for Kurita. It tested 400 Democratic primary voters and a separate sample of 400 general election voters. The two samples each had a 4.9 percent margin of error.

What is left out of Meadow’s memo is at least as important as what is in it, however.

There is no initial head-to-head primary ballot between Ford and Kurita, which presumably would show Ford with a large lead because of his name-identification edge.

The memo only released an “informed ballot” matchup between Ford and Kurita, which supposedly gave those surveyed positive information about both candidates.

Kurita led 44 percent to 37 percent on that ballot — though it is a notoriously unreliable predictor of the state of the race because voters are never exposed to solely positive information on either candidate, nor does the campaign exist in a vacuum.

Aside from Corker on the Republican side, former Reps. Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant are running, as is state Rep. Beth Harwell.
— Chris Cillizza

Gutknecht to Reveal Senate Plans Friday

Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) will answer the question about his Senate aspirations Friday during a news conference back in the 1st district.

Gutknecht had given himself until early March to decide whether he would pursue the GOP nomination for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Mark Dayton (D) next year.

He will discuss his plans at 9 a.m. in his district office in Rochester.

Rep. Mark Kennedy and former Sen. Rod Grams, who lost to Dayton in 2000, have already entered the hunt for the Republican nod. Earlier this week, Kennedy announced that he has garnered support from 85 percent of Minnesota’s state Senators.

Three Democrats, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, child safety advocate Patty Wetterling and Minneapolis attorney Mike Ciresi, are seriously exploring the race, while Rep. Betty McCollum, University of Minnesota general counsel Mark Rotenberg, state Rep. Tom Rukavina and former state Sen. Jerry Janezich could also be in the Democratic mix.

— Nicole Duran

Weiner Trails in Latest Poll on Mayor’s Race

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) continues to lag behind in a new poll on the 2005 New York City mayoral race. But all the runners-up in the four-way Democratic contest are bunched closer together than they had been before — a piece of good news for the 40-year-old Congressman.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Weiner tied for third in the Democratic primary with City Council Speaker Gifford Miller. Each had 12 percent of the vote. Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer led the Democratic field with 40 percent, and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields had 14 percent.

If no Democrat gets 40 percent in the September primary, the top two finishers advance to a runoff two weeks later. So despite his numbers, Weiner remains in the hunt.

The poll of 909 Democrats was conducted Feb. 22-March 1 and had a 3.3 percent margin of error.

Weiner’s showing was also less than sterling in a hypothetical general election matchup with Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In that poll, Bloomberg beat Weiner 41 percent to 36 percent.

The mayor led Miller by 2 points and Fields by 3 points. But Ferrer beat Bloomberg in a head-to-head matchup, 47 percent to 39 percent. The broader poll of 1,435 registered voters carried a 2.6 percent error margin.
— Josh Kurtz

Cummings: NAACP Hasn’t Interviewed Me

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D), once considered a leading candidate to replace Kweisi Mfume as president of the NAACP, now seems far more likely to remain in Congress.

Although a screening firm hired by the Baltimore-based civil rights organization has interviewed more than 200 potential candidates to succeed Mfume, Cummings told The Baltimore Sun last week that he was not one of them. The NAACP search for a new leader could still take several months more, and Cummings could still be interviewed for the job.

The Congressman held a fundraiser in downtown Baltimore last week for his 2006 re-election, headlined by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Cummings’ political future is a topic of intense interest among ambitious Baltimore politicians. A vacancy in the 7th district would likely produce as many candidates as it did the last time the seat was open: when Cummings bested more than a dozen other Democrats in a special election to replace Mfume in 1996.
— J.K.

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