| • MO-Sen: Ed Martin, who lost narrowly in MO-03, has kept spamming me (and presumably everybody else who writes about politics) with press releases vaguely hinting at voter fraud. It's seeming like maybe there's something more there to it than just garden-variety sore-loserism; there's growing buzz that he's trying to stay top-of-mind for a possible run for the GOP Senate nomination. Now, you might be saying, that's a whole lot of hubris for a guy who couldn't even win a House seat to go up against Sarah Steelman and possibly Jim Talent, but Martin might be able to grab the tea party mantle considering that the local 'baggers are quite adamant that they aren't as enamored with her as the national-level ones are. Martin is apparently also considering another run for the House; part of his decision will be what happens with redistricting, as MO-03 may be on the chopping block, between St. Louis-area depopulation and Republican legislative control.
• MT-Sen: Trying to decipher Rep. Denny Rehberg's intentions, about a possible run against freshman Dem Jon Tester? David Catanese is actually picking through his Christmas card to read the tea leaves. Rehberg tells his supporters (and extended family members) that he's "not taking anything off the table" in terms of his next step, which is interesting, as it may mean he's thinking about the open seat gubernatorial race too.
• NE-Sen: Now here's a blast from the past: ex-Gov. Kay Orr is so old-school that she was actually defeated for Governor by Ben Nelson, way back in 1990. Despite 20 years out of the political scene, her name is being floated as a possibility for the GOP Senate primary for the right to take on Nelson in 2012. Orr herself says she's undecided, but sounds leaning against it. The Fix also seems to think that state Treasurer (and another long-ago loser to Nelson, although at least this time in a Senate race) Don Stenberg is likely to run, which would force a primary against AG Jon Bruning.
• PA-Sen: There are two different overviews of the Pennsylvania situation today; one is from Alex Roarty at National Journal (and unfortunately is behind a paywall, so I'll give you the gist). The one new name that surfaces in it is GOP Rep. Tim Murphy (from PA-18 in the Pittsburgh-suburbs); while he isn't pushing forward on it, he's shown more behind-the-scenes interest in it than Charlie Dent or Jim Gerlach, both of whom have gotten more touting but seem content with their cushy new committee posts. He also mentions that state Sen. Kim Ward is now leaning against, and confirms that ex-Gov. Mark Schweiker is at the top of the GOP's wish list but probably a pipe dream. A Philadelphia Magazine article tries to handicap the GOP field, with absolutely nobody on the first tier, Gerlach alone on the second tier, and state Sen. Jake Corman (and Ward) comprising the third tier.
• VA-Sen: Newsmax has an interview with new right-wing hero Ken Cuccinelli, who despite his new HCR-related celebrity is taking the opportunity to make clear that he isn't running for Senate in 2012 (which would remove George Allen's main impediment for the GOP nomination). He wouldn't rule out running for Governor in 2013, though. (I wouldn't link to Newsmax if you paid me to, so you'll have to take my word for it.)
• IN-Gov: Rep. Joe Donnelly is another option for Dems for Indiana Governor, although a run by Donnelly would require him giving up his seat. What if the GOP decides to get really aggressive in gerrymandering and build a nightmare seat for him (for instance, creating a dumbbell-shaped district linking Gary and his town of South Bend, forcing him to run against Lake County-based Pete Visclosky or else to move to a mostly rural red district)? South Bend's Dem party chair is now saying that Donnelly would look at a statewide race in the event that the House map is too unfavorable.
• FL-22: I think I'm going to greatly enjoy Allen West's two years in the House, if only because he has the skill of digging his own hole deeper every time he opens his mouth. Fresh off the outrageous suggestion that the government should "censor" mainstream media outlets that publish information obtained via WikiLeaks (and apparently having had someone explain First Amendment jurisprudence carefully to him), now he's claiming that he was misinterpreted, and that he actually said "censure" instead.
• IL-17: Now here's a fool's errand: declaring your intention to run for a district that's about to vaporize. Soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Phil Hare has already expressed his interest in a rematch with Bobby Schilling, but he may have some company. Both former Rock Island mayor Mark Schweibert and state Rep. Mike Boland said they're interested in running in the Dem primary, too. (Hare, former aide to Lane Evans, was picked over Schweibert by local party heads to be the 2006 nominee after Evans dropped out of the race post-primary.) The 17th seems like the likeliest district on the Illinois chopping block, though, seeing as how most of the state's population loss has been Downstate and there's not much point for the Dem-held legislature to preserve a Democratic vote sink if it's not even going to elect a Democrat.
• KS-??: Despite his various Sherman-esque statements when he first announced he wouldn't run for a full term as Governor, outgoing Dem Gov. Mark Parkinson is saying in an exit interview that he won't rule out running for something in the future. (In the meantime, he's heading to DC to rule the nursing home trade association.) It's unclear what he'd run for, though... KS-03 is certainly a possibility, as it's the most Dem-friendly part of the state and Parkinson is an Olathe resident.
• NY-10: This may be taking tea leaf reading a step too far here, but the subtext to Ed Towns' surprising decision not to seek the ranking member position on the Oversight committee (and back Carolyn Maloney for it) may be that he's about to wind down his entirely unremarkable decades-long House tenure. Towns will be 78 in 2012.
• KY-AG: It looks like Jack Conway is getting some GOP opposition after all, although not from as serious a threat as outgoing SoS Trey Grayson. Todd P'Pool, the state attorney for
planet Vulcan Hopkins County (population 46K) has announced that he will challenge Conway in a battle to the death for the right to mate with T'Pring the 2011 election. Cue the epic fight music!
• OR-St. Sen.: Who woulda thunk that the Oregon state Senate would be one of the last question marks to get resolved this year? The GOP-funded recount in SD-3, where Dem Alan Bates narrowly won, and the retaliatory Dem-funded recount in the race where Martha Schrader narrowly lost (she had been appointed to fill the seat vacated by her husband, now-Rep. Kurt Schrader), are over, with the numbers barely budging at all. The Dems retain a 16-14 majority.
• TX-St. House: Two more party switchers to report, this time in the Texas state House, where Dems had actually entertained the notion of flipping the body a while ago and instead are now facing the wrong end of a supermajority. Aaron Pena and Allan Ritter have both announced that they're joining the GOP, despite their blue districts (in fact, Pena's Hidalgo County district went over 70% for Obama), apparently for the same rationale that the Georgia party-switchers are giving: deep in the minority, it's the only way for them to have any effectiveness in the capitol.
• Mayors: There's a new Chicago mayoral poll out, where again the main question seems to be whether Rahm Emanuel can win outright without a runoff. That's not looking likely, given the crowded field, although he still has a substantial lead in the new Tribune/WGN poll, at 32%. Gery Chico and Danny Davis are at 9, James Meeks is at 7, Carol Mosely Braun is at 6, Miguel del Valle is at 3, and Roland Burris is at 2, leaving 30 undecided. Emanuel leads among both blacks (with 19%) and Hispanics (27%).
One other mayoral race (or "situation," really) that's heating up is in San Francisco, where there's a regularly scheduled 2011 election but also a looming vacancy with Gavin Newsom about to become Lt. Governor. The Board of Supervisors will have to choose an interim mayor to serve out those 11 months, and they'll have to choose between one of their own who may be considering a November run, or an elder-statesman placekeeper. However, the Board is split any number of ways, and if there's nobody who gets 6 of its 11 votes, the Board's President, David Chiu, becomes acting mayor. The only person who seems in position to pick up at least six votes would be state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.
• Census: All manner of data analysis is pouring forth, in the wake of yesterday's massive data dump of the Census Bureau's five-year ACS estimates (which is where you're going to find a lot of the information that used to be on the "long form"). Perhaps most amazingly of all is a new mapping tool from the New York Times, which lets you zoom in or out from the state level to the block level anywhere in the country to look at race and foreign-born status. (Set aside a few hours to explore this one.) Also worth reading are new articles on changes in racial segregation (in major decline in certain metro areas, especially Atlanta and Miami, which can have major VRA implications in terms of it being harder to cobble together districts that have a majority of any particular group) and in rural populations (declining rapidly, as you might imagine).