• AK-Sen: You might have seen mention at other sites of a Tea Party Express "poll" of the GOP Senate primary in Alaska that had Joe Miller within 9 points of Lisa Murkowski. Mother Jones has been digging around, trying to find the poll, and can find no confirmation of its existence or even word of who took the poll, from either the Miller campaign or TPE.
• CO-Sen: Jane Norton's closing argument wasn't about how great she was, but rather about her "concerns" with Ken Buck. Her interview with Politico this morning alluded to his "issues with spending and ethics."
• IL-Sen: If all else fails, try tying your opponent to Saddam Hussein. That's what Mark Kirk's attempting, with an ad that accuses Broadway Bank of having made a 2006 loan to an Iraqi businessman with some sort of Hussein connections. Alexi Giannoulias pointed out that was after he'd already left the bank, but I think a better argument would be that Saddam Hussein was played in South Park Bigger Longer & Uncut by Matt Stone, who was in Baseketball with Greg Grunberg, who was in Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon.
• LA-Sen: Charlie Melancon is out with his very first TV ad, as he and GOP candidate Chet Traylor try to put the squeeze on David Vitter from both directions. The ad (NWOTSOTB for $115K) launches a direct hit on how Vitter "hasn't been honest."
• PA-Sen: Pat Toomey is out with yet another TV ad, a negative ad against opponent Joe Sestak. Their only word on the size of the buy is "significant." The Toomey campaign has been on the air with at least five different ads for a month now, without seeming to budge the poll numbers at all. Sestak hasn't hit the TV airwaves yet, and seems to, as was the case with his successful primary bid, marshalling his resources for a large salvo closer to the election.
• KS-Gov: Wow, check out the opponent Sam Brownback dispatched in the GOP gubernatorial primary, if you're in the mood for serious nutjobbery. Joan Heffington alleges "CIA infiltration of western Kansas" and has faced sanctions for practicing law without a license. At any rate, having garnered 15% in the GOP primary, she's now saying she's a GDI (God-driven independent) and shouldn't have gotten suckered into that whole Republican racket in the first place, and as such is launching a write-in candidacy for November.
• MI-Gov: You may remember state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, who pulled the plug on her gubernatorial candidacy on the day of the filing deadline, saying she didn't want to split the progressive vote (and thus giving a big boost to Lansing mayor and eventual primary winner Virg Bernero). Probably figuring that Bernero owes her big-time and also that he'd like some diversity on the ticket, Smith is now floating her own name for the Lt. Governor slot.
• NY-Gov: GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has gone ahead and pulled the trigger on creating his own ballot line, the Taxpayers Party. It still remains a completely open question as to whether he plans to run on it if he loses the GOP primary, though. (He originally said he wouldn't be a spoiler in the race against Andrew Cuomo, but then changed to an "options open" position.)
• IL-10: Dan Seals got apparently re-endorsed by the Illinois Federation of Teachers today. (He also had their backing in the Dem primary against Julie Hamos.)
• IL-11: Rep. Debbie Halvorson didn't start out near the top of anyone's list of vulnerable Democrats, but she's starting to earn her position there. Republican opponent Adam Kinzinger has issued a second internal poll (the first one was in March) giving him a lead over Halvorson. The poll from POS gives him a 51-40 edge. (The article, however, helpfully points out that POS saw Halvorson with only a 2-point lead over the hapless Marty Ozinga six weeks before the election in 2008, a race which she went on to win by 24. Update: In 2008, we wrote about that POS poll here.)
• IN-02: Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, no stranger to occasional use of conservative framing, goes an extra step in his new TV ad hating on those immigrants, using a photo of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama when saying how he stands apart from "the Washington crowd." John Boehner's lurking in the photo's background, too, so at least it's bipartisan.
• KS-01: Wow, SurveyUSA sure likes polling KS-01, probably one of the likeliest races in the country to stay red. (Or at least KWCH-TV sure likes paying them to poll it.) They find Republican state Sen. Tim Huelskamp, who just won the primary, leading Dem Alan Jilka 65-23. (Jilka is a former mayor of Salina, which may actually make him a pretty big 'get' as far as this hopeless district goes.)
• NH-02: When is a lobbyist not a lobbyist? It turns out that Katrina Swett, who has denied (gasp) lobbying, in fact filled out the required federal paperwork in 1997 to register as a lobbyist, although now her defense is that she never actually got around to lobbying once she registered. Swett has previously been attacking Dem primary foe Ann McLane Kuster for her own previous lobbying work.
• TX-17: Rep. Chet Edwards got a key endorsement in this dark-red, largely rural Texas district: he got the backing of the NRA. It may seem odd to see so many conservaDems getting NRA backing, but the NRA's policy is where there are two equally pro-gun candidates, the incumbent gets the nod.
• WV-01: Alan Mollohan 2.0? The man is actually talking like he's eyeing a 2012 comeback, having filed FEC paperwork setting up a 2012 candidacy (although it's unclear whether that was just to have a fundraising receptacle for donors' funds to repay a personal loan to his committee). He also just issued a long memo to supporters, bashing, well, everyone, ranging from Republican House members who pursued ethics complaints against him while they were in charge, to Mike Oliverio, who he says defeated him in this year's Dem primary using those discredited charges.
• Census: Next time a Republican complains to you about the ineffective, bloated government, point him in the direction of the Census, which just came in $1.6 billion under budget (out of a total $14.7 billion appropriated) as it wraps up its main phase. A solid 72% initial response rate helped save money on the inevitable follow-up process.
• Passages: Sadly, today we bid farewell to Ted Stevens, the long-serving Republican Senator from Alaska and chronicler of the inner workings of the series of tubes. Stevens died last night in a plane crash near the town of Dillingham, at the age of 86. Stevens was the survivor of a previous 1978 plane crash, which killed his first wife. We offer our best wishes to his friends and family.
• IA-Sen: Roxanne Conlin (D) 35%, Chuck Grassley (R-inc) 55%
• IN-Sen: Brad Ellsworth (D) 29%, Dan Coats (R) 50%
• NH-Gov: John Lynch (D-inc) 50%, John Stephen (R) 39%
The Democratic field in Michigan's gubernatorial race is down to two:
State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith ended her bid for the Democratic nomination for governor this morning, leaving only two candidates in a primary that has been topsy-turvy almost since it began.
Smith, 69, from Salem Township in Washtenaw County, did not make a formal endorsement of either of her rivals, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero or state House Speaker Andy Dillon.
But she said in a statement that she shared a "concern of splitting the progressive vote and ending up with a candidate that does not represent core Democratic values."
With Smith routinely polling in the single digits, there wasn't much of a route to victory for her. But what she was accomplishing was siphoning enough liberal votes away from fellow progressive Virg Bernero to leave centrist Andy Dillon in the lead (and her statement shows she recognized that problem). Tomorrow is the deadline for filing signatures for the August primary, so the field is looking pretty locked-in now... and with Smith out (and with the Geoffrey Feiger boomlet thankfully vanishing), it looks like Bernero has the progressive end of the party to himself now, giving him much better odds of grabbing the nomination.
• AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: The signature by Gov. Jan Brewer (which may have helped her survive the GOP primary, but may also hurt her in the general) of Arizona's new aggressive anti-immigrant law was the key motivating factor in a new Democratic candidate getting into the Senate race: civil rights activist Randy Parraz. He'll face Rodney Glassman in the Democratic primary. (Why not the, y'know, Arizona Governor's race instead? Apparently Glassman looks like easier primary opposition than AG Terry Goddard in the governor's race... and at any rate, John McCain and J.D. Hayworth have both been beating the war drums on immigration.) And here's an interesting take on the immigration law: ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo just came out in opposition to it, saying, "I do not want people here, there in Arizona, pulled over because you look like should be pulled over." If even Tom Tancredo thinks you're doing it wrong... you're probably doing it wrong.
• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon's campaign doesn't seem to be doing anything illegal here, but there's still no good way to spin this: the campaign has been offering students an extra $5 bounty (on top of a flat hourly rate) for every Republican registered during a Univ. of Connecticut voter registration drive. It's a practice that the DOJ has frowned upon.
• IL-Sen: In the wake of the seizure of the Broadway Bank, Alexi Giannoulias wasted no time in getting an explanatory ad on the air, laying it out in easy-to-grasp points: one, he hadn't worked there in years and when he left it was fine, two, the broader economy took the bank down, and three, speaking of that economic downturn, don't vote for unemployment-benefits-denying Mark Kirk.
• MD-Sen: OK, maybe all those Barb Mikulski retirement rumors will finally go away. She just had her campaign's official kickoff event on Friday. She has 24 times the cash of her likeliest Republican opponent, Queen Anne's Co. Commissioner Eric Wargotz.
• NC-Sen: Elon University's out with another poll; they still aren't doing head-to-heads, but have some assorted other numbers that Richard Burr would probably rather not see. His approvals (among flat-out everybody, not even RVs) are 28/37 and 26% say he "deserves re-election" with 44% saying "time for a new person."
• NV-Sen: A poll for the Nevada News Bureau performed by PMI finds Sue Lowden leading the pack in the GOP Senate primary, at 41. Danny Tarkanian is at 24, Sharron Angle is at 17, and "someone else" is at 18. The poll was taken on the 22nd, shortly after Lowden laid out her support for trading chickens in exchange for poultices and tinctures.
• NY-Sen-B: Long-time Rockland Co. Exec Scott Vanderhoef has decided not to pursue a run against Kirsten Gillibrand, after having spent a month in exploratory mode, saying the money's just not there. Vanderhoef probably found he didn't have the name rec outside of Rockland Co. to have an advantage against the odds and ends in the GOP primary, let alone in the general.
• UT-Sen: Another poll of GOP delegates for the convention in Utah isn't as bad for Bob Bennett as the one leaked to Dave Weigel last week, but it still looks pretty bad for him. Mike Lee leads the way among first-choice votes at 31%, followed by Bennett at 22% (and then Tim Bridgewater at 17% and Cherilyn Eagar at 10%). 41% of delegates say they will "absolutely not" vote for Bennett, so even if Bennett picks up the other 59%, he still can't nail down the nomination at the convention (as there's a 60% threshold).
• WA-Sen: Everyone seemed a little taken by surprise by Friday's SurveyUSA poll of the Washington Senate race, which has non-candidate (for now) Dino Rossi leading Patty Murray 52-42 (and leading the various no-name GOPers actively in the race by 2 or 3 points). Even the Rossi camp is downplaying it, saying that their internal polling places Murray in the lead - which is an odd strategy for someone who got gifted an outlying poll, unless either he's trying to rope-a-dope Murray into complacency or privately cursing the results saying "aw crap, now I have to run for Senate." One of the no-namers, motivational speaker Chris Widener, got out of the race on Friday, which may also portend a Rossi run (or just having taken a stark look at his own finances). Murray's camp may have gotten advance warning of the SurveyUSA poll, as on Friday they leaked their own internal from Fairbank Maslin giving Murray a 49-41 lead over Rossi, very consistent with R2K's recent poll.
• IL-Gov: Oh, goody. Scott Lee Cohen, having bailed out/gotten booted off the Democratic ticket as Lt. Governor nominee after his criminal record became news, still has a political issue that needs scratching. He's announcing that he's going to run an independent bid for Governor instead. Considering how thoroughly his dirty laundry has been aired, he seems likely to poll in the low single digits; I have no idea whether his candidacy (which now appeals mostly only to the steroid-addled pawnbroker demographic) is more harmful to Pat Quinn, Bill Brady, or just the world's general sense of decency.
• MI-Gov: When I heard a few weeks ago that Geoffrey Fieger (the trial lawyer best known for defending Jack Kevorkian and second-best-known for his awful turn as 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee) was pondering another gubernatorial run, I laughed it off. The new EPIC-MRA poll makes it seem a bit more serious, though... which, in turn, if he won the primary, would pretty much foreclose any Democratic shot at winning the general. They only polled the Democratic primary and find, thanks to name rec within the Detroit metro area, Fieger is actually comfortably in the lead at 28%. Andy Dillon is at 20, Virg Bernero is at 13, Alma Wheeler Smith is at 8, other is at 2, and 29% are undecided. Fieger hasn't moved much to act on his interest, though, and has only three weeks to collect the necessary 15,000 signatures to qualify.
• FL-24: Karen Diebel earned the backing of Tom Tancredo in the GOP primary in the 24th, focusing on (with Tancredo, what else?) in the immigration issue. It seems less of a pro-Diebel endorsement than more of a slap against her GOP opponent Craig Miller, though; in a 2006 Miami Herald op-ed, Miller (who was at that point chairman of the National Restaurant Association) came out pretty solidly on the "cheap labor" side of the Republican split on immigration.
• GA-12: Democrats looking for an upgrade from ex-state Sen. Regina Thomas (who raised $10K last quarter and has $4K CoH) for a primary challenge to recalcitrant Blue Dog John Barrow are going to have to keep looking. State Sen. Lester Jackson decided to take a pass, and will stay neutral in the Barrow/Thomas race. He'll focus instead of supporting the Senate bid of Labor Comm. Michael Thurmond (another rumored, but no-longer, challenger to Barrow).
• LA-03: Bobby Jindal just appointed Scott Angelle, the state's Sec. of Natural Resources, to the vacant position of Lt. Governor. Why is this filed under LA-03? Angelle was rumored to be one of the top contenders to run for the 3rd (although it was unclear whether he was going to do it as a Dem or a GOPer... Angelle was a Dem in the legislature, but appointed by GOP Gov. Jindal to his cabinet). With Angelle saying he'll return to his job at Natural Resources after a permanent replacement is elected, that means that former state House speaker Hunt Downer is pretty well locked-in as the GOP nominee in the 3rd, and the Dems aren't likely to get an upgrade from attorney Ravi Sangisetty, making this open seat a very likely GOP pickup. (H/t GOPVOTER.)
• NY-01: Randy Altschuler got the endorsement from the Suffolk County Conservative Party on Friday, which guarantees him a place on the ballot if he wants it. He'll still need to overcome Chris Cox and George Demos in the competitive three-way moneybags duel in the GOP primary (where the county GOP recently switched its endorsement from Altschuler to Cox). It's unclear whether he'd keep the Conservative line if he lost the GOP primary, as that would create a NY-23 type situation and pretty much assure Rep. Tim Bishop's safety. (Unlike the patchwork of counties in the upstate districts, all of the 1st is within Suffolk.)
• NY-29: The GOP would really, really like to have a special election in the 29th, despite David Paterson's apparent intention to play out the clock until November (and prevent a possible GOP pickup, given the difference in strength between the likely candidates). Several GOP party chairs within the district are preparing a lawsuit that would force a special election; the state GOP plans to assist.
• OH-02: Bad news for Jean Schmidt: although she got the Hamilton Co. GOP's endorsement in the previous two elections, she's going to have to proceed without it this year. They're staying neutral as she faces several primary challengers, most notably Warren Co. Commissioner Mike Kilburn.
• PA-12: In battling independent expenditures in the 12th, the GOP went large, as the NRCC plunked down $235K on media buys. The DCCC also spent $16K on media buys.
• SC-04: The dean at Bob Jones University (the crown jewel in the buckle of the Bible Belt, in Greenville in the 4th), Robert Taylor, has announced he's supporting Trey Gowdy in the GOP primary instead of incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis. The occasionally-moderate Inglis (more stylistically than in actual voting substance, though) faces at least three right-wing competitors in the primary, but could run into trouble if he doesn't clear 50% and gets forced into a runoff with one of them.
• WV-01: There are dueling internal polls in the 1st, in the Democratic primary. State Sen. Mike Oliverio was first to release a poll, saying he led Rep. Alan Mollohan 41-33. (One caveat: Oliverio's pollster is Orion Strategies, owned by Curtis Wilkerson, who also just happens to be Oliverio's campaign manager.) Mollohan struck back with a poll from Frederick Polls giving him a 45-36 lead over Oliverio, with the primary fast approaching on May 11.
• MA-AG: Despite it now being widely known that Martha Coakley has a glass jaw (or what's something more fragile than glass? what do they make those fake bottles out of that they use in bar fights in the movies?), she may actually get re-elected Attorney General without facing any GOP opposition whatsoever this fall. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that the GOP's entire bench in Massachusetts just got elected to the Senate.
• Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting look at the changes in registration in Pennsylvania over the last decade. The Democratic Party grew substantially in the state's east, gaining 550,000 registrations up to 4.3 million voters. The GOP shrank by 103,000 registrations down to 3.1 million votes. The Dems lost 20,000 voters in the state's southwest, though; in 2002, 27.8% of the state's Dems were in the Pittsburgh area, but that's down to 23.8%. Contrast that with the Philadelphia metro area: in its five counties, the number of Republicans dropped 13.5%, from a million to 873,000.
• Redistricting: Here's the last redistricting resource you'll ever need: a handy map showing congressional and legislative redistricting procedures for all 50 states. There's also an accompanying document (pdf) which goes into remarkable detail about the various processes, and even contains an appendix of some of the ugliest current gerrymanders.
• FL-Sen: Remember the good ol' days of 2009, when Charlie Crist's huge cash advantage would make him inevitable even if insurgent Marco Rubio somehow caught on with the teabagger set? Yeah, I'm having trouble remembering too. Rubio just brought in $3.6 million this quarter, the best of any candidate reporting so far. (Crist has yet to report, and even if he loses the quarter may yet lead in total cash.) Rubio may be getting himself into some trouble, though, with the all-important senior demographic in Florida, though, as his recent comments about changing Social Security (by, among others, raising the eligibility age) may not sit well with the state's 3.5 million beneficiaries.
• IL-Sen: Looks like the biggest fundraising news today is coming from the GOP side of the aisle: Mark Kirk had a strong quarter, too, as he pulled in $2.2 million, leaving him with $3 million in the bank.
• NY-Sen: With all the state's second-tier Republican talent interested in taking on Kirsten Gillibrand, where they might at least have some hope of an upset, no one's signing up for the truly quixotic task of taking on Chuck Schumer in the other Senate race. That may change, as political consultant Jay Townsend is talking about stepping out from behind the curtain and trying his hand as a candidate. Townsend is currently working for Nan Hayworth's campaign in NY-19.
• WI-Sen: A new Republican is stepping forward to run in the primary for the right to take on Russ Feingold... and, no, it's not Tommy Thompson. Dick Leinenkugel, a former state Commerce secretary (an appointed position), plans to enter the race soon regardless of whether or not Thompson gets in. (Cillizza says, as far as Thompson goes, he'll decide by early May and "most informed speculation seems to suggest he will take a pass.") If Leinenkugel's name is somehow evocative of hungover collegiate Sunday mornings, he's from the family that owns the similarly-named brewery.
• GA-Gov: A sudden late entrant to the already-crowded Republican field in the Georgia governor's race is bringing a lot of his own money with him. Ray Boyd is a wealthy real estate executive, and he kicked off his campaign by writing himself a $2 million check. He promises to reach out to the state's teabaggers for support. The newest Insider Advantage poll of the GOP primary field doesn't include Boyd; it finds Insurance Comm. John Oxendine with a solid lead at 26. Ex-Sos Karen Handel is at 18, ex-Rep. Nathan Deal is at 9, state Sen. Eric Johnson is at 5, and "Other" racks up 11, with 31% still undecided.
• MD-Gov: Ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich officially kicked off his campaign to get back his old job from Martin O'Malley in November. The DNC, however, is trying to tie Ehrlich today to his former #2 man, who's gone on to rather overshadow Ehrlich for the last few news cycles: ex-LG and current RNC boss Michael Steele.
• MI-Gov: There's another EPIC-MRA poll of the Michigan governor's race, suggesting they're going to be polling pretty frequently. This time, they find the likeliest matchup, Democratic state House speaker Andy Dillon vs. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, goes to Hoekstra, 40-33 (one month ago Hoekstra led 41-37). Mike Cox beats Dillon 43-34 and Rick Snyder beats Dillon 42-30, while Lansing mayor Virg Bernero loses to Hoekstra 42-29, to Cox 44-30, and to Snyder 42-26. Dillon leads the Dem primary 22-15 (with 11 for Alma Wheeler Smith), while Hoekstra leads the GOP primary at 27, with Cox at 21, Snyder at 15, Mike Bouchard at 13, and Tom George at 3.
• NV-Gov: Here's some strategic thinking from the camp of Reid the Younger. The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs (headed by Rory Reid's consultant Dan Hart) is running ads bolstering incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons and attacking GOP primary rival Brian Sandoval (who'll provide a much more difficult opponent for Reid than the thoroughly-trashed Gibbons).
• RI-Gov: The Association of Democratic City and Town Chairpersons -- the umbrella group for the Dem party chairs of each of the state's 39 municipalities -- issued endorsements for a number of key races. Maybe there's some tension between them and the state party, as they endorsed Treasurer Frank Caprio for the Governor's race (instead of AG Patrick Lynch) and in RI-01, Providence mayor David Cicilline (instead of former state party chair William Lynch, brother of Patrick). They also endorsed Jim Langevin in RI-02, where he faces a primary challenge from a state Rep.
• WY-Gov: Democrats in Wyoming seem to have moved somewhere back behind square one in their search for a gubernatorial candidate. Their seeming best bet in the wake of Gov. Dave Freudenthal's decision not to go for re-election, state Sen. Mike Massie, has decided to run for state superintendent of public instruction instead, where he'll face incumbent GOPer Jim McBride.
• DE-AL: The NRCC has to be happy to get something of an upgrade in the open seat race in Delaware, shaping up to be their likeliest loss in the House. Michelle Rollins, a wealthy philanthropist, has confirmed that she'll run. She hasn't run for office before, but the DCCC already started attacking her several weeks ago, indicating they take her (or at least her wallet) more seriously than the Some Dudes already running. Former Lt. Gov. John Carney is the Democratic candidate, and has had a long head-start on the race.
• MA-09: Progressives looking for a primary challenge to Stephen Lynch (in the wake of his "no" vote on HCR) will have to look somewhere other than Needham town meeting member Harmony Wu; she announced via Facebook that she won't be running.
• MI-01: Seems like Rep. Bart Stupak got his feelings hurt after taking a serious pounding from the left, from the right, and from pretty much all points in between during his last-minute obstruction of the health care reform passage. He's saying that, although he has the signatures prepared for another run, he's not ruling out retirement this year. Assuming he runs again, he faces a primary from the pro-choice left as well as a general election challenge from angry teabaggers on his right. If he does retire, Menhen is already on top of it in the diaries, listing some potential replacement candidates.
• NY-23: Paul Maroun, a Franklin County Legislator who got passed over by local GOP heads in favor of Dede Scozzafava in the special election in the 23rd, had been planning to run in the primary this year, but just decided against it. That leaves only two remaining contenders, Doug Hoffman (who ran on the Conservative Party line last year and is still doing his part to cheese off the local GOP), and self-funding investor Matt Doheny.
• PA-15: Bethlehem mayor John Callahan keeps on being one of the Dems' few bright lights among its challengers this cycle, pulling in $320K this quarter, with $825K CoH. For more numbers, Reid Wilson's out with today's fundraising wrapup at the Hotline, with other numbers worth checking out including everybody in PA-Gov and FL-Gov.
• DNC: Michael Steele rolled out the RNC's gaudy committee fundraising numbers early as a means of distracting the media from, well, everything else that's happening at the RNC. Unfortunately, that kind of backfired, as the DNC put out numbers that topped the RNC's already-high numbers. The DNC pulled in more than $13 million in March (compared to $11 million for the RNC), showing (via the HCR victory) that nothing succeeds like success.
• RNC: Speaking of the RNC's numbers, here's an interesting accounting trick that's just come to light: the RNC had a deal going with the Michigan GOP to give money back and forth to each other, in order to inflate the RNC's fundraising numbers. Not really the day that Michael Steele would have chosen for this news to come out.
• CA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Tom Campbell is getting an endorsement that may boost his cred with the socially conservative right: from the man who couldn't even beat Gray Davis, Bill Simon. Simon hopes socially conservative voters will still take a look at Campbell's fiscal credentials.
• IN-Sen: Retiring Evan Bayh hasn't said anything specific about what he's doing with his gigantic $13 million federal war chest. But a spokesperson gives some hints: "What he has said is that you can expect him to help the Democratic Senate nominee in Indiana and to help like-minded Democrats - people who want to get things done, who are practical and who want to reach out and forge principled compromises."
• KY-Sen: Jack Conway is pointing out an important ideological fracture line, which seems to have gotten little media attention in the Democratic primary in the Bluegrass State. Conway says he supports the health care legislation passed yesterday, while Dan Mongiardo has previously said he'd "throw it out and start over."
• NH-Sen: Speaking of HCR, Kelly Ayotte was quick to abandon her previous flavorless, position-less campaign and get on the "repeal!" bandwagon. With Paul Hodes having been a "yes" in the House, this may become one of the marquee issues in this race, and by extension, the battle for the Senate.
• NY-Sen-B (pdf): Siena has a new poll out of the Empire State which includes a couple head-to-heads in the Senate race. They just won't let up on the George Pataki front, finding that he leads Gillibrand 45-39 in a hypothetical race, while Gillibrand leads actual candidate Bruce Blakeman 48-24. There are a couple other names on the "actual" candidate front they might want to try out instead -- Joe DioGuardi and David Malpass -- and now it looks like one more is poised to get in. Dan Senor apparently has enough Wall Street support behind him to go ahead and launch his bid. One other name who's now saying she won't run, though, is former Lt. Gov. and malfunctioning health insurer spokesbot Betsy McCaughey, who it turns out is backing Malpass.
• MI-Gov (pdf): It turns out there was a lot more meat to that Insider Michigan Politics/Marketing Resource Group poll than what got leaked on Friday. They also looked at the Democratic primary, finding state House speaker Andy Dillon in charge at 21, followed by Lansing mayor Virg Bernero at 9 and state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith at 6. They also did a whole bunch of general election permutations, all of which were won by the GOPers by suspiciously large margins (at least when compared with other recent polls): Mike Bouchard over Dillon 41-26, Mike Cox over Dillon 44-27, Peter Hoekstra over Dillon 43-27, Rick Snyder over Dillon 42-26, Bouchard over Bernero 45-23, Cox over Bernero 45-26, Hoekstra over Bernero 43-27, and Snyder over Bernero 44-24.
• NY-Gov (pdf): Naturally, Siena also has a gubernatorial half to its poll. They find newly-minted Republican Steve Levy's entry to the field to be rather unwelcome: ex-Rep. Rick Lazio is beating him 45-16 in the GOP primary. Either way, Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo (with a 63/22 approval) seems to have little to worry about; in November, Cuomo beats Lazio and Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich 59-21-3, while beating Levy and Redlich 63-16-4.
• OH-Gov: John Kasich is still reaching out to teabagger nation as his core of backers, and consistent with that, he's having Fox gabber Sean Hannity host a Cincinnati fundraiser for him on April 15. I sure hope Kasich gets a bigger cut of the proceeds than Hannity's military charity recipients seem to.
• OR-Gov: The last big union left to endorse in the Democratic gubernatorial primary finally weighed in, and Oregon's AFSCME went with ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber rather than ex-SoS Bill Bradbury, who'd gotten the teachers' union endorsements. The AFSCME also endorsed newly appointed Treasurer Ted Wheeler in his primary bid against state Sen. Rick Metsger, and also, in an unusual step, endorsed two Republican state Reps. in rural eastern Oregon who voted "yes" on raising income taxes, probably figuring that non-wingnut GOPers is probably the best we're going to do in those districts.
• LA-02: Republican Rep. Joe Cao probably ended any hopes of hanging onto his dark-blue (and 21.7% uninsured) seat by voting against health care reform yesterday, but just in order to emphasize the way in which he slammed the door shut on himself, he also compared abortion as a moral evil comparable to slavery. Because that's a comparison just bound to go over well in his black-majority district.
• MA-10: Former Republican state Treasurer (from the 1990s) Joe Malone made it official: he's running in the 10th to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt. He'll still have to get past state Rep. Jeff Perry in the GOP primary, though.
• PA-06: Manan Trivedi and Doug Pike traded union endorsements in their Dem primary battle in the 6th. Trivedi got the backing of the Iron Workers local, while Pike got the nod from the local AFSCME.
• PA-12: Bill Russell seems like he just can't take a hint, despite the GOP uniting behind Tim Burns. Russell says he'll write himself in for the special election between Burns and Democrat Mark Critz, in addition to continuing to contest the same-day GOP primary against Burns. Meanwhile, the pro-life Critz's main opponent remaining, Navy vet Ryan Bucchanieri, got an endorsement that ought to give him a financial boost, from the National Organization for Women.
• WV-01: We've heard rumors that the local Democratic establishment wasn't very enthused about propping up Rep. Alan Mollohan, who faces both a credible primary challenge and a self-funding Republican opponent. Here's some of the first public whiff of that: the state Democratic chair, Nick Casey, says he won't be taking sides in the primary battle between Mollohan and state Sen. Mike Oliverio (although he did predict that Mollohan would be the eventual victor).
• Redistricting: Cillizza has a little more background on the Democrats' efforts to gear up for the 2012 redistricting battles, which we discussed last week in terms of the DLCC's efforts. The DGA is getting in on the act, too, with a Harold Ickes-led effort called Project SuRGe (for "Stop Republican Gerrymandering"), also focused on maximizing Dem control of state legislatures.
• Votes: Lots of slicing and dicing in the media today regarding who voted which way, and why, on yesterday's historic health care reform vote. Nate Silver has a bunch of nice charts up, which show that district lean and Reps' overall ideology was much more determinative than whether the Rep. is considered vulnerable in November in terms of a "yes" or "no" vote. And Some Dude over at Salon has a more concise look at Reps who most mismatched their districts with their votes. Finally, if you want to see the "(some) Dems are still doomed" conventional wisdom in full effect, they've got that in spades over at Politico.
• Passings: Our condolences to the Udall family, which lost family patriarch Stewart Udall over the weekend. Udall, 90, was Congressman from Arizona and then John F. Kennedy's Interior Secretary, and many of our environmental protections that we take for granted today bear his stamp.
• $$$: The fundraising quarter is almost over, and Adam B. is opening up another round of "We've Got Your Backs" over at Daily Kos (and cross-posted here), dedicated to showing some (financial) love to the House Dems in the most difficult districts who did the right thing on health care reform.
• CO-Sen: Gee, tell us what you really think, Jane Norton! The supposed front-runner for the GOP nod just referred to Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme" while appearing at a teabagger forum. I'm sure the 600,000 or so Coloradans who receive Social Security will be glad to hear that.
• FL-Sen: PPP's Tom Jensen has some observations on the Florida race, that also seem generalizable to the national landscape and pretty much every other race. Very few people are changing their minds between the parties, he finds: only 8% of Obama voters plan to vote for Marco Rubio, actually lower than the 11% of McCain voters planning to vote for Kendrick Meek. The difference is in the intensity between the parties, which shapes the likely voter model. Barack Obama won Florida by 3, while PPP's sample went for McCain by 4; that 7-point shift is similar to what they found in New Jersey and Massachusetts as well.
• OH-Sen: We're very short on details, but Chris Cillizza is pointing to a DSCC poll (taken by Mark Mellman) finding Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher leading GOP ex-Rep. Rob Portman 37-36 in the Senate race. (There's no mention of primary numbers or a Jennifer Brunner matchup.) We'll fill in the blanks more if we see a copy of the memo.
• MI-Gov: Michigan-based pollster Denno-Noor takes another look at the primaries in the Michigan governor's race. On the GOP side, Rep. Peter Hoekstra leads at 28% (up from 21 in November), followed by self-proclaimed nerd Rick Snyder at 18 (up from 5). This poll confirms the most recent EPIC-MRA poll's finding of Snyder's advertising-based surge, and the subsequent decline for AG Mike Cox. He's at 12 in this poll, down from 15. Oakland Co. Sheriff Mike Bouchard is at 8, and state Sen. Tom George is at 2. On the Democratic side, they find a lot of uncertainty: state House speaker Andy Dillon leads Lansing mayor Virg Bernero 13-11, with 6% each for state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith and for Dan Kildee, who has since dropped out (although he was in the race while the poll was in the field). Undecided wins, at 56%. There are no trendlines on the Dem side, given the dropout of Lt. Gov. John Cherry since the last poll. (Speaking of Cherry, there are odd rumors out there that unions are asking the woeful Cherry to get back into the race, which doesn't jibe with the UAW's recent decision to back Bernero.)
• NY-Gov: This is what passes for a good news day for David Paterson: the growing likelihood that he won't face any criminal charges over allegations of witness tampering in the domestic violence investigation involving a top aide. On the GOP side, ex-Rep. Rick Lazio rolled out one more endorsement from the party's old war horses as party bosses keep looking elsewhere for a suitable candidate; today, it was Rep. Peter King's turn to give Lazio the thumbs-up.
• PA-Gov: More progress on the endorsements front in the fight for the Democratic nomination. Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato got the endorsement of the state's largest teachers union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Meanwhile, Auditor Jack Wagner continued to dominate in terms of endorsements from county-level party apparatuses, getting the endorsement in Schuylkill County, out in coal country.
• MI-13: This isn't a good day for Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. She and one of her aides just got subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, in the investigation into her son, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. On top of that, state Sen. Hansen Clarke made official his primary challenge to Kilpatrick. She barely survived the Democratic primary in 2008, and that was largely because of a split among several challengers.
• NY-23: Doug Hoffman is making a move... to the 23rd District, where he plans to run again. One knock against Hoffman last year was that he lived in Lake Placid, which is outside the district. He's moving nine miles down the road to Saranac Lake, which falls in the 23rd's lines.
• PA-07: With filing day having passed in Pennsylvania, now it's time to count the signatures, and one candidates who's running into some trouble is a surprise: the squeaky-clean former US Attorney Pat Meehan, the Republican running in the 7th. He's asked the Delaware County DA to investigate his own signatures, after finding about some potentially fraudulent signatures on his lists. Meanwhile, Meehan seems to have dodged a long-rumored primary challenge from former TV news reporter Dawn Stensland, who never filed to run.
• CA-LG: San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom looks like he's going to go ahead and voluntarily demote himself to the no-man's land that is Lt. Governor. He paid his filing fee yesterday, and will have an official kickoff for his campaign either today or tomorrow.
• Demographics: Alan Abramowitz has a very interesting piece on demographic change and how it only bodes ill for Republicans (or at least the current angry-white-guy version of the Republicans) in the long run. That angry white base keeps shrinking as a percentage of the population, with non-whites on track to be 35% of the electorate by 2020.
• Branding: With his presidential run (and its ubiquitous star and blue background) fading in the rear-view mirror, John McCain has launched a completely new logo to go with his new persona. It has a flowing flag instead, on a background that's much... um... whiter.
• AZ-Sen: J.D. Hayworth's new online fundraising ad actually depicts John McCain in blueface. (Click the link for a visual.) The joke, apparently, is an Avatar reference, in that McCain is being nominated for an award for "best conservative actor." Or something like that. At least he's not in blackface.
• NY-Sen-B: The GOP is still intent on mounting some sort of challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand; there's just the small problem of finding a willing sacrifice. They may have found one, although I don't know if he'd present much of an upgrade from Port Commissioner Bruce Blakeman (who's already running and has secured a number of endorsements). Scott Vanderhoef, who just got elected to a fifth term as Executive of suburban Rockland County, is publicly weighing a bid. (If his name sounds vaguely familiar, he was John Faso's running mate in 2006, en route to getting 29% of the vote against Eliot Spitzer.)
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak pulled in a potentially useful endorsement in terms of both fundraising and ground troops, from the National Organization of Women. NOW says it's more a positive endorsement of Sestak than a negative reflection on Specter (although I suspect the specter of Anita Hill still looms large in their memories). Let's hope the timing works out a little better on this one than Sestak's last endorsement -- Tuesday's endorsement from fellow Navy vet Eric Massa.
• SC-Sen: Democrats acted quickly to fill the gap left by the recent dropout of attorney Chad McGowan in the South Carolina Senate race; in fact, it may be something of an upgrade, with the entry of Charleston County Councilor and former judge Victor Rawl. Victory still seems highly unlikely, but it's good to mount a credible challenge against DeMint to keep him pinned down in the Palmetto State in the campaign's closing months instead of letting him roam the country freely.
• CT-Gov: Ned Lamont got an endorsement from a key legislative figure in his battle for the Connecticut Democratic gubernatorial nomination: Senate president Donald Williams. Lamont's main rival for the nod is former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy.
• IL-Gov: It's finally official: state Sen. Bill Brady will be the Republican nominee in the gubernatorial race. Earlier in the day, the state certified Brady as the winner, by a razor-thin margin of 193 votes, over fellow state Sen. Kirk Dillard. And only moments ago, Dillard conceded, saying that he wouldn't seek a recount and offered his support to Brady. (Dillard had previously said he'd contest it only if he was within 100 votes, give or take a few.) While I'd prefer to see a long, drawn-out nightmare for the Illinois GOP, this is still a pretty good outcome: the conservative, downstate Brady isn't as good a matchup against Pat Quinn as Dillard would be. In fact, PPP's Tom Jensen is already seeing some parallels between Brady and another guy who stumbled across the finish line after the presumptive frontrunners nuked each other: Creigh Deeds.
• MA-Gov: Here's more evidence that former Democratic treasurer Tim Cahill is trying to move onto center-right turf as he forges ahead in his indie bid against incumbent Dem governor Deval Patrick. He's bringing aboard several key members of John McCain's 2008 campaign, including McCain right-hand-man Mark Salter and former chief strategist John Weaver. In fact, Reid Wilson wonders if Cahill is going to try to run to the right of the leading GOP candidate, Charlie Baker, who's a socially-liberal big-business type.
• MI-Gov: Ex-Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee has ended his campaign for Governor. The decision seems to have been made after the political arm of the UAW decided to throw their support to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Kildee says he wanted to "avoid splitting the support of organized labor and the votes of progressives," who now seem likely to coalesce behind Bernero rather than centrist Andy Dillon (although liberal state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith also remains in the race). (J)
• NY-Gov: Quinnipiac did another snap poll on the status of David Paterson (whose downward spiral seems to be continuing, as today he lawyered up. In this installment, 46% said he should continue his term and 42% said resign; not catastrophic numbers, but ominous trendlines from only 31% saying "resign" in their previous poll, just two days earlier.
• MA-10: Contestants are already lining up in the wake of William Delahunt's not-so-surprising retirement announcement yesterday in this D+5 district (albeit one that was colored decidedly Brown in January). For the GOP, state Rep. Jeffrey Perry is already in, but he's likely to get shoved over by former state Treasurer Joe Malone, who's announcing his bid today. (Malone's statewide status may be hindrance as much as help, as he was at the helm during an embezzlement scandal involving underlings at the Treasurer's office, although he was never accused of any wrongdoing himself.) GOP state Sen. Robert Hedlund has ruled out a bid. On the Dem side, Norfolk Co. District Attorney William Keating has expressed interest, and he may have an advantage because of his high-profile role in the controversy over the Amy Bishop shooting. Other possible Dems include state Sen. Robert O'Leary, wealthy businessman Philip Edmundson, state Reps. James Murphy and Ronald Mariano, former state Rep. Phil Johnston, and state Energy and Environmental Affairs Sec. Ian Bowles. Johnston and Bowles both lost to Delahunt in the 1996 open-seat primary.
• NY-25: This seat is low on the list of Dems' worries this year, and it may get a little easier with the threat of a Republican primary battle looming. The local GOP endorsed pro-life activist candidate Ann Marie Buerkle over the occasionally NRCC-touted Mark Bitz, a political novice but a self-funder. Bitz says he'll consult with his wallet as to whether to mount a primary rather than abide by the endorsement. Buerkle, who briefly was on the Syracuse Common Council, also got the Conservative and Right-to-Life party lines.
• NY-29: This isn't promising for Corning mayor Tom Reed; he's already had to get up and confirm that he's staying in the race, despite some bigger GOP names sniffing around now that it's an open seat race. The biggest is probably Maggie Brooks, the Monroe County Executive, who's "seriously considering" and will make a decision in the next few days. On the Dem side, one other name that's bubbling up is John Tonello, the mayor of Elmira (the district's largest city).
• State legislatures: Politico's David Catanese has an interesting observation, how polling shows that there's something even less popular than Congress or individual incumbent politicians: state legislatures. That's maybe most egregious in New York, where the state Senate gets 16% positive marks according to the most recent Marist poll, although Pennsylvania (where the "Bonusgate" investigation is constantly in the news) isn't much better, where the lege has 29% approval according to Quinnipiac. While this trend might work to our advantage in red states where we're trying to make gains, it could be a pain in the butt in New York, where we need to hold the Senate to control the redistricting trifecta, and even more so in Pennsylvania, where (if we lose the gubernatorial race) we need to hold the narrowly-held House in order to stave off Republican control of the redistricting trifecta.
• Votes: There was some interesting party-line breaking in yesterday's House vote on the jobs bill. It passed pretty narrowly, but that wasn't so much because of worried votes by vulnerable Dems (Tom Perriello and Steve Driehaus voted no, but with Harry Teague, Bobby Bright, and even Walt Minnick voting yes) but rather a bloc of the most liberal members of the Congressional Black Caucus voting no, apparently from the perspective that it doesn't go far enough. Six GOPers got on board, all of the moderate and/or mavericky variety: Joe Cao, Dave Camp, John Duncan, Vern Ehlers, Tim Murphy, and Don Young.
• Blogosphere: I'm pleased to announce that, in addition to my SSP duties, I'll be writing for Salon.com's politics section several times a week, as part of their new feature "The Numerologist." Today I deconstruct National Journal ratings; please check it out (especially if you're curious what my real name is).
EPIC-MRA for Detroit Free Press, WXYZ-TV, WOOD-TV, WJRT-TV, and WILX-TV (2/22-25, likely voters, 1/24-25 in parens):
Andy Dillon (D): 17 (6)
Dan Kildee (D): 12 (5)
Virg Bernero (D): 8 (5)
Alma Wheeler Smith (D): 7 (2)
Someone else: 12 (31)
Undecided: 45 (51)
Peter Hoekstra (R): 27 (22)
Mike Cox (R): 21 (26)
Rick Snyder (R): 12 (3)
Mike Bouchard (R): 10 (13)
Tom George (R): 1 (3)
Someone else: 3 (0)
Undecided: 26 (32)
Andy Dillon (D): 37 (32)
Peter Hoekstra (R): 41 (40)
Undecided: 21 (28)
Andy Dillon (D): 36 (30)
Mike Cox (R): 43 (47)
Undecided: 21 (23)
Dan Kildee (D): 37
Peter Hoekstra (R): 41
Dan Kildee (D): 37
Mike Cox (R): 46
With the official entry into the race by Democratic state House speaker Andy Dillon, it's starting to look like the Michigan gubernatorial race is coming back into focus again. You'll recall that it got completely scrambled over the last few months, with Lt. Gov. John Cherry's unexpected departure from the race and then the somewhat surprising decision by Denise Ilitch not to seek the nomination. The newest poll from EPIC-MRA shows Dillon leading the way in the Democratic primary, although only with 17% of the vote. Dillon has an advantage in being the only centrist (socially conservative and business-friendly) Dem in the field, while former Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee, Lansing mayor Virg Bernero, and state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith divide up the more liberal votes. If there's some winnowing of the field on the left, it seems like one labor-backed candidate could pull ahead of Dillon.
Despite their ideological differences, Dillon and Kildee poll pretty similarly against Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra and AG Mike Cox. Head-to-heads were tested only for the top two candidates from each party. While these numbers still find the Democrats losing (although only by 4 against the right-wing Hoekstra, whose appeal to moderates seems limited), these are better numbers than Cherry -- linked inextricably with the unpopular Jennifer Granholm administration -- was putting up, as he was often down by double digits. On the GOP side, though, it seems like Hoekstra and Cox might want to be watching over their shoulders for wealthy businessman Rick Snyder, whose "one tough nerd" ads (which included a Super Bowl spot) have succeeded in buying him a lot of name rec and vaulting him into contention. The surge by the moderate Snyder seems to come partly at Cox's expense, which allows Hoekstra to push into the lead among the GOPers.
• AZ-Sen: One more endorsement for John McCain, as the GOP establishment circles the wagons around him in the face of a primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth. Today, it was former presidential rival Mitt Romney's turn to boost McCain.
• FL-Sen: Rasmussen follows up with a look at the Senate general election in Florida, and pretty consistent with its last few polls, gives double-digit leads to both Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio over Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek. Crist leads 48-32, while Rubio leads 51-31. It's looking dicier for Crist to make it to the general, though, and that's reflected with an increasing number of staffers seeing the handwriting on the wall and bailing out. Political director Pablo Diaz announced his departure, and new media consultant Sean Doughtie is already out.
• IN-Sen, IN-08: Dem Rep. Baron Hill, still apparently mulling a Senate bid, says that he probably will make a decision "this week". Meanwhile, presumptive Dem nominee Brad Ellsworth has officially removed his name from the 8th CD Democratic primary ballot, leaving state Rep. Trent Van Haaften as the consensus Democratic choice. (J)
• MA-Sen: Unless you were under a rock yesterday, you know that the Senate jobs bill cleared the cloture hurdle with the aid of five Republicans, most notably Scott Brown, who actually seems to be thinking ahead to getting re-elected and, in doing so, has royally pissed-off his nationwide base of teabagging donors. On top of that comes another revelation that ought to further take the bloom off his status as living embodiment of angry-white-guy rage: that truck that signified he was an average blue-collar guy? Turns out he owns it in order to haul his daughter's horse.
• NV-Sen: One more data point in the Nevada Senate race, this one not looking so good for Harry Reid. Research 2000 polls the race again, this time on behalf of the PCCC, and finds Reid trailing Sue Lowden 53-39 and Danny Tarkanian 54-40. The real point of the poll, though, is to try to show him that his support would go up if he successfully got a public option into the health care reform bill, with 31% saying they'd be likelier to vote for him if so (with 15% saying less likely and 51% saying no difference). Bear in mind that this poll, unlike the interesting POS poll from yesterday, doesn't factor in the sudden emergence of a 3rd party Tea Party option.
• CT-Gov: After some brief flirtations with the idea, ex-Rep. Chris Shays has decided not to run for Connecticut governor after all, saying he couldn't make it work financially. Although he didn't address the also-rumored possibility of running again in CT-04, the same logic may apply there too.
• FL-Gov: The seeming dwindling of the Alex Sink campaign continues apace, at least if you go by Rasmussen's trendlines. Republican AG Bill McCollum is up to 13-point lead against the Democratic CFO, 48-35.
• GA-Gov: More Rasmussenny goodness in neighboring Georgia, where they take their second look at the general election in the gubernatorial race. While Democratic ex-Gov. Roy Barnes led several of the GOP contestants in the previous Rasmussen poll, trailing only Insurance Comm. John Oxendine, this time he doesn't fare as well. Barnes loses to Oxendine 45-37, to Rep. Nathan Deal 43-37, to SoS Karen Handel 45-36, and ties state Sen. Eric Johnson 37-37.
• IL-Gov: The GOP primary contestants are still waiting for the last ballots to trickle in today, the last day for counties to submit their numbers to the state. (The state has until March 5 to announce official results.) Estimates last week were that there were fewer than 2,000 votes, mostly provisional votes, to count. State Sen. Kirk Dillard, currently trailing by a little more than 200 votes, doesn't plan to make a decision on whether to concede or keep fighting until after the 5th. On the Democratic side, the search for a Lt. Governor goes on. Pat Quinn had publicly said that his top choice would be current Deputy VA Secretary Tammy Duckworth, but she has taken herself out of consideration today.
• MI-Gov: Looks like Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee is in the gubernatorial race for the Democrats; he's skipping right over the exploratory phase and filing as a candidate for governor. He joins Lansing mayor Virg Bernero and state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, with state House speaker Andy Dillon likely to enter soon.
• PA-Gov: State Sen. Anthony Williams didn't meet his very high $4 million fundraising bar, but he seems to feel heartened enough by the $2 million he has to officially pull the trigger on a gubernatorial run. With Chris Doherty and Tom Knox both out of the Democratic field now, it seems like there's room for one more SE Pennsylvania candidate in the field; Williams, from Philadelphia, will be the only African-American in the race.
• WI-Gov: One more Rasmussen gubernatorial poll to look at, featuring (surprise!) the Republican in the lead. Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker leads Democratic Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett 49-40, while ex-Rep. Mark Neumann has a much smaller lead over Barrett, 44-42. That's actually a smidge better than last month's Rasmussen poll.
• AR-03: State Sen. Cecile Bledsoe got the endorsement of one of her predecessors in the 3rd, ex-Rep. and former DEA Director Asa Hutchinson. A wide cast of characters, including Rogers mayor Steve Womack, is either already in the hunt for the GOP nod or considering it, in this dark-red district.
• AZ-05: Rep. Harry Mitchell can probably consider this to be good news: another divisive Republican primary, which helped him to a comfortable victory in 2008, is brewing this year. Former state Rep. Susan Bitter Smith jumped into the GOP field yesterday, which pits her in a rematch against former Maricopa Co. Treasurer David Schweikert (who won the 2008 primary). Businessman Jim Ward and his ability to self-fund is in the mix too, as something of a wild card.
• AZ-08: State Sen. Jonathan Paton has resigned from the state Senate, in order to focus full-time on running against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the 8th. He leaves behind one piece of legislation underway that's actually a pretty cool idea: instituting "question time," a la the UK's parliament, where the Governor has to show up for a biweekly grilling in front of the legislature. Paton becomes the third Republican state Senator to resign in the span of a few weeks, with Pam Gorman and Jim Waring both having bailed out to pursue the open seat in AZ-03.
• FL-24: Former Ruth's Chris Steakhouses CEO Craig Miller went ahead and got into the GOP field in the 24th, despite already having taken on some damage from preemptive salvos fired by the DCCC over statements opposed to stronger drunk-driving laws. Potentially self-funding Miller has become the NRCC's new fave in the race, after state Rep. Sandy Adams and Winter Park city councilor Karen Diebel have floundered at fundraising.
• FL-25: Joe Garcia, the Democratic 2008 candidate who almost knocked off Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, met with the DCCC's Chris Van Hollen yesterday. This only serves to increase speculation Garcia will try again, now that the 25th is an open seat. The DCCC has also been interested in Miami-Dade Co. state's attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
• KS-03: Republican State Sen. Nick Jordan, who lost in the 3rd to Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore, looks to be on track to succeed the retiring Moore. Jordan's own internal poll from POS shows him ahead of state Rep. Kevin Yoder 27-9, with former state Rep. Patricia Lightner and Charlotte O'Hara both at 5 (leaving about half of the voters undecided). Jordan's poll didn't look at the general, but there's nothing to see there yet, seeing as how the Dems haven't, um, found an interested candidate yet.
• MA-10: In the event of a retirement by Rep. William Delahunt, state Senate majority leader Therese Murray says she won't try to succeed him. On the GOP side, possible candidate ex-Treasurer Joe Malone may come with more liabilities than were initially apparent when he first started touting himself for the race. After Malone's tenure ended in 1999, it was discovered that several of his top aides had stolen over $9 million from the state. Malone himself was never accused of being involved, but reminding voters about it will inevitably lead to questions about his judgment.
• NM-02: Ex-Rep. Steve Pearce has released an internal poll performed on his behalf by the Tarrance Group that gives him a small lead over Democratic Rep. Harry Teague, 48-44. The good news for Teague is that R beats D in a generic ballot test 47-37, showing that the conservative Teague overperforms the Democratic brand despite his vote in favor of cap and trade in this heavily oil-dependent district.
• NY-01: Despite the NRCC's seeming preferences for rich guy Randy Altschuler, he's already in a difficult primary, and now he may be facing a three-way contest with a local elected official too. State Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick says he's exploring the race.
• OH-06, OH-17: Ex-Rep. Jim Traficant didn't meet the filing deadline to file as a Democrat for any race in Ohio, but now he's saying that he's planning to run as an Independent instead (which would require filing by early May). He's still not saying where he's going to run, although neither of the two possibilities look terribly promising: either the strongly-Democratic 17th (which he used to represent), or the swingy 6th, where he'd have to introduce himself to most of the voters
• PA-06, PA-07: Here's a big get for Manan Trivedi, as he seeks the Democratic nomination in the 6th. He got the endorsement of the Chester County Democrats. With Trivedi already strong in Berks County and Doug Pike strong in Montgomery County, suburban/exurban Chester County is somewhat the pivotal county in the district. (They also endorsed Bryan Lentz over his minor primary opposition in the 7th.)
• PA-12: This is another solid break for the Dems in special election in the 12th: Republican businessman Mark Pasquerilla, with deep pockets, seemed to be one of the few GOPers who could make this race competitive. Something of a John Murtha ally, though, he had previously said he wouldn't run if Joyce Murtha got in. She didn't, but Pasquerilla still didn't bite; instead, he's endorsing Murtha's district director, Mark Critz, who announced his candidacy yesterday. This basically moves the GOP back to square one, with the candidates who were already in place for the regularly scheduled election: businessman Tim Burns (who doesn't seem quite as able to self-fund), or veteran/BMW Direct frontman Bill Russell.
• WV-01, WV-03: Worries have been emanating out of West Virginia's governor Joe Manchin about the re-election prospects of Reps. Alan Mollohan and Nick Rahall, who despite their no votes on cap-and-trade often get tagged as not being sufficiently pro-coal. The United Mine Workers have no trouble supporting the duo, though; they endorsed both of them this weekend.
• DSCC: There have been some rumblings about DSCC chair Bob Menendez's lackluster ways, at least by comparison to his manic predecessor, Chuck Schumer. Here's a telling quote:
"Chuck - wow - he would call all the time, three, four times a week, when he needed something, but I don't ever hear from Menendez unless I initiate the contact," said a Washington-based donor who has bundled tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to the committee. "You just don't have the same level of energy from Bob; he just doesn't push you like Chuck would," the source added. "And that makes it a lot easier to say no."
• DCCC: The DCCC is trying to get some mileage out of fanning the flames in some of the most divisive GOP primaries between the GOP establishment and teabagger-powered movement conservatives (which they're cheekily calling "Palin's primaries"). Targets include MS-01, VA-02, VA-05, NH-01, CA-11, and TN-08.
• Polltopia: Mark Blumenthal takes another look at Rasmussen, asking if they've been "flooding the zone" and thus shaping the overall narrative by sheer numeric dominance of the data that get released. (Sound familiar? He gives a shout-out to a diary here by our own spiderdem that first raised the point.) It's quite true that Rasmussen has done many more Senate polls this cycle than last (45 vs. 13 at this point in the cycle), but so too have some of the other new players (especially PPP, 21 vs. 5). (He also notices what we've noticed, that SurveyUSA is polling less this cycle; they poll only when hired to do so, and he speculates that TV stations and newspapers have cut back their polling budgets.) Interestingly, he also points to why Rasmussen is able to do so: a "major growth capital investment" from private equity firm Noson Lawen. (Noson Lawen, and what their potential agenda might be, sounds like an interesting topic for enterprising investigative bloggers...)
Lt. Governor John Cherry had been considered to be a shoo-in for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination until a week ago, when he abruptly ended his bid, citing poor fundraising (and also no doubt motivated by poor general election polling). However, unlike the other dropouts in CO-Gov and CT-Sen, where we had top-tier replacements eagerly waiting in the wings, in Michigan we seem to have a whole bunch of lesser Democrats milling around, bumping into each other and sizing each other up. Let's take a look at the field:
• Andy Dillon is almost certainly in; he's formed an exploratory committee in the wake of Cherry's exit. The termed-out state House speaker may be as close to a front-runner as we have now, although he'd never escaped single-digits when polled in the Democratic primary earlier. It's unlikely that the centrist Dillon, however, will get much of a warm reception from the state's liberal base (he's pro-life) or from organized labor (he's been the bane of their existence lately), so he'd still likely face serious primary opposition.
• Hansen Clarke is definitely in. He's a termed-out state Senator from Detroit who previously lost a Detroit mayoral race. He seems to fall more toward the "some dude" end of the spectrum.
• Alma Wheeler Smith, an African-American state Representative from Ypsilanti, is probably the best-positioned challenger who was in the race since before Cherry's exit. Which isn't to say that she's in a good position at all, as she's made no headway at fundraising, although apparently that's changing a little with Cherry out and liberals getting alarmed about a Dillon candidacy. Other candidates predating Cherry's exit who are still in, but not likely to get anywhere, include MSU trustee (and former MSU football coach) George Perles, who has lots of name rec but is in his mid-70s, and Flint mayor Don Williamson.
Who's a maybe:
• Bart Stupak, the Rep. from the Upper Peninsula, is probably the best-known "maybe," and today he's sounding likelier, saying he's "strongly considering" the race. Stupak is probably best-known these days for his anti-abortion amendment stinking up the House HCR bill, which again could hurt his standing among liberals in the gube primary (although he's not on the outs with labor as much as Dillon). There's a sense, though, this may just be a power play to get more ego-stroking within the House (as he also comments that "A divisive primary would not be good..." for him?). He's been rather loudly underscoring that DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen has been urging him not to run, and saying "It's a gone district, if I'm not in there." (Well, maybe not, as it's R+3 and dominated by the UP, which has a historically pro-labor bent.)
• Virg Bernero, the populist-sounding mayor of Lansing and a former state Senator, was expected to jump into the race soon after Cherry's demise, but hasn't made any sort of official statement yet. Interestingly, Bernero had been floating his name and had opened an exploratory committee several weeks before Cherry's exit, so it's a puzzle whether Cherry getting out made him less, rather than more, likely to run... or if he's just making final arrangements before announcing.
• Denise Ilitch has a famous family name (the Ilitch family owns the Tigers and the Red Wings), and is a University of Michigan regent. She was reportedly meeting with the White House yesterday about a potential bid, indicating she's pretty serious.
• Dan Kildee, the former Genesee County treasurer, has said he's interested. He has some name rec from being the nephew of long-time MI-05 Rep. Dale Kildee, but may be biting off more than he can chew here.
• John Bowman, the state's former Treasurer (and current CEO of mlb.com, baseball's interactive arm), is suddenly saying today that he's interested, too. I have no idea if anyone remembers who he is.
• Debbie Stabenow, the state's junior Senator, won't run. Although if she did, she'd been in a good position to hold the seat (if polling from early last year is to be believed).
• David Bonior, the former House Whip, won't run. The very pro-labor Bonior (who lost the 2002 Dem gubernatorial primary to Jennifer Granholm) could have appealed to both social conservatives and economic liberals.
• Dennis Archer, who managed to retain a lot of popularity despite having had the unenviable job of Detroit mayor, has confirmed that he won't run.
• Robert Ficano, the Wayne County Executive and former sheriff, has said he won't run.
• Gary Peters, current MI-09 Rep. and former Lottery Commissioner, will run for another term in the House.
• John Freeman, a former state Rep. (and current Michigan director for HCAN) who has close relations with organized labor, was running even when Cherry was in the race. He just dropped out, though, despite the potential opening for a firebrand to slip through a Dillon/Stupak battle. He, too, cited weak fundraising.