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Reading the Tea Leaves (Part 1)
A little prognostication fun: 2014 Senate and Congressional races

by Frank Corder
Qualifying for 2014's Senate and Congressional races is quickly approaching and eyes are shifting toward 2015 as we head over the mid-term hump.

YallPolitics has been pretty good at reading the tea leaves through the years so just for fun we thought a little prognostication would be in order to help spur on the conversation.

In this Part 1 we'll look at 2014. Part 2 will focus on 2015's state election so check back soon.

U.S. Senate

Every political writer in the state has offered up a piece on whether Thad Cochran will seek reelection or not in 2014.

It would make headlines if Cochran drew an in-party challenger but whoever took on such an ill-fated task would be a political pariah in establishment GOP circles for a good while. To some, tenure, leverage, and power in D.C. mean a lot more than hardline party platform allegiance.

Mississippi Democrats may send a sacrificial lamb up against Cochran but it will be for naught.

The only way this race becomes interesting is if Cochran decides not to run, Attorney General Jim Hood jumps in to carry the Democratic torch, and the slate of Republican wannabes pick apart each other in a hard fought primary.

Republicans don't want this, obviously, so expect Cochran to seek reelection, serve a few more years, and then perhaps step down allowing Gov. Phil Bryant to appoint a replacement. It's definitely politically cleaner than the alternative.

There is no question that Cochran has endeared himself to voters in Mississippi through the years and no one will decide when the time's up but Thad.

Congress

Mississippi is almost guaranteed to maintain its current Congressional makeup of three Republicans and one Democrat in 2014.

Representatives Alan Nunnelee (MS-01), Benny Thompson (MS-02), and Gregg Harper (MS-03) will all win reelection with ease. No credible names have surfaced in MS-01 to take on Nunnelee and no names at all in MS-02 or MS-03 could unseat Thompson and Harper barring a scandalous revelation which isn't likely.

Rep. Steven Palazzo in the 4th District may be the only one of the four Congressmen to face viable in-party or Democratic challengers.

Names are swirling around the district on both sides of the aisle but nothing official has been set as of yet. But with only a few months until qualifying, fundraising is about to kick into high gear.

Palazzo also has to stay conscious of the Gene Taylor rumors, something anyone holding the 4th seat will have to keep in their rearview mirror until Taylor ends the speculation once and for all. One day you hear Taylor's switching to the GOP and running, and the next you hear he's happy with his lush job, spending time with family, and wouldn't consider running again.

But the Taylor rumors and other talk point to one big elephant in the room: The more you dig, the more it seems that voters in MS-04 may have not fully committed to Palazzo for the long haul just yet; he may still need one more election cycle to close the deal long term. The question is: Is there anyone else that could steal away the hearts of the voters and seal the deal? It would be a challenge, no doubt, but if there's ever a chance, it would have to happen in 2014 in what is looking to be a downward trending year for Democrats nationally.



Posted August 19, 2013 - 5:33 pm

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