• AR-Sen: As predicted, labor doesn't look like it's going to kiss and make up with Blanche Lincoln. The SEIU says it won't back Lincoln in November, if nothing else, seeing as how they have races with better odds elsewhere that they need to deal with. PPP's Tom Jensen reinforces that point in a piece entitled "Write Off Lincoln," listing a handful of total sleeper races where the polls have been better for Dems than Arkansas.
• CT-Sen: Campaigns don't usually release internal polls showing them down by 13 points, but when all the public pollsters are showing you down by more than 20 after your blockbuster move failed and it's a last ditch effort to get contributors to not write you off, I suppose it makes sense. A Moore Information poll finds Linda McMahon trailing Richard Blumethal "only" 51-38.
• IL-Sen: Glad to see that the mainstream environmental groups are starting to see the big picture of how Washington works instead of reflexively endorsing moderate Republicans who occasionally pantomime throwing them a bone (see also Reichert, Dave). The Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters, who've backed Mark Kirk in the past in his House races, will be going with Alexi Giannoulias instead this year.
• NH-Sen: This seemed more like a cry for attention than a well-thought-out campaign pre-announcement when it happened last week. So it's not surprising to hear that whistleblower/former state Securities chief Mark Connolly, after floating his name last week, has decided against running against Paul Hodes in the Dem Senate primary. (The same link also has a list of filings for New Hampshire's state Senate... although Blue Hampshire has that data in helpful table form. Most notable: a troubling Dem-held open seat in a R+4 district.)
• SC-Sen: That didn't take long at all, for the Democrats' baffling new Senatorial nominee, Alvin Greene, to slide into Scott Lee Cohen territory. With revelations this morning that he's facing felony obscenity charges, the state party is calling on Greene to drop out of the race. Mother Jones has some more detail on Greene that really plumbs the depths of his sheer unpreparedness for what he's gotten himself into. I have no idea whether he's a GOP plant (who got fronted the $10K filing fee to be a speed bump for Vic Rawl and wound up winning instead) or just a naif who accidentally wandered into the corridors of power, "Being There"-style, but either way, it makes for a great story.
• AL-Gov: It's official; Robert Bentley finished in 2nd place in the GOP gubernatorial primary, earning him a spot in the primary, and, as expected, Tim James will file for a recount. AG Troy King just issued an AG opinion clarifying the whole issue of whether an automatic recount applies here: no, it doesn't apply to primaries, so James is responsible for the cost of the recount himself. James still plans to do it, though, despite the cost of at least $300K.
• MI-Gov: Republican AG Mike Cox got endorsements from two key GOP power brokers: from the state Chamber of Commerce, and also from Dick and Betsy DeVos. I was a little surprised that the Grand Rapids-based Amway cult leaders didn't go with their in-house western Michigan U.S. Rep., Pete Hoekstra, but Hoekstra claims not to be surprised, probably suggestive of some interpersonal tension with the DeVos family.
• MN-Gov: Here's one more place the SEIU won't get involved: the DFL gubernatorial primary in Minnesota. All three contenders seem to be friendly with labor, so the SEIU didn't seem to want to play favorites in a field that's basically a tossup.
• OR-Gov: Now this is odd... while Oregon has a rather New England-influenced politics, there's no track record of quirky moderate independents running and winning there. Nevertheless, prominent local attorney John DiLorenzo is reporting a $150K loan from himself to his exploratory committee, in apparent preparation for a gubernatorial run.
• SC-Gov: I don't think the RGA could tip its hand any further than it did last night, all but endorsing Nikki Haley, who still has to get past a runoff against Gresham Barrett, saying "the voters made a clear choice" and "the outcome is certain." Barrett, for his part, is brushing that off and continuing to fight on.
• VT-Gov: You may remember Anthony Pollina, who ran as a Progressive and then independent in several gubernatorial races, going as far as to finish 2nd in 2008. Good news for Vermont Dems: Pollina isn't making a third-party bid, or even running for governor at all this year; instead, he's running for a state Senate seat. Also, it sounds like the local Dems and Progressives are getting smarter about not canceling each other out, as they plan to avail themselves more of "fusion voting" this year. (H/t terje; the whole comment is well worth a read.)
• AR-01: With the ink barely dry on Chad Causey's victory in the Dem runoff, the Rick Crawford campaign released an internal poll showing them with a lead over Causey. The poll by POS gives the GOP nominee a 40-34 lead. While the district has a strong Dem tradition, Obama's 54% disapproval in the district gives Crawford an opening.
• IN-03: There's a tally of 15 different Republicans seeking the GOP nod for the special election to replace the recently-resigned Mark Souder; the local GOP will meet on Saturday to choose somebody. The most prominent name is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who recently lost the IN-Sen primary, but the list also includes IN-03 primary loser Bob Thomas, two state Reps., Randy Borror and Wes Culver, and even a local TV anchor, Ryan Elijah.
• IN-09: Biden alert! The fundraiser-in-chief has added Baron Hill to his list of beneficiaries, and will be appearing on his behalf in Jeffersonville on June 28.
• PA-12: For his rematch against now-Rep. Mark Critz, Tim Burns is going to try a different campaign manager. Having lost by 9 in the special after seeming to lose the ground war, he parted ways with former chief Tadd Rupp.
• NRSC: John Cornyn admits that the NRSC's wide playing field this November isn't all good news, because their limited resources (currently $17.1 million) will be stretched thin. Somewhere Dino Rossi is thinking "Now he tells me..."
• Polltopia: Maybe the biggest story that people are following today is the quick decision, in the wake of the AR-Sen runoff polls (as well as MA-Sen, PA-12, and the AL-Gov D primary...), by Daily Kos to part ways with hired pollster Research 2000. However, Markos says the decision was more based on 538's aggregate pollster ratings than any one poll. There's no word yet on which pollster will be wearing the orange in the future. Mark Blumenthal has more on the decision, including R2K head Del Ali's response.
• CA-Sen: Good news for Tom Campbell, in the form of the Senate half of M4's poll of the California GOP primary: he leads Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore, 33-28-15. (Of course, with his plans to briefly go dark to conserve funds, that gives Fiorina a chance to play catchup when the margin's not that big.) Bad news for Campbell, though: the NRA has him in its metaphorical crosshairs, sending out a mailer to members attacking Campbell and, while not endorsing, offering kind words for Fiorina and DeVore.
• CT-Sen: This is going to make it a lot easier for Richard Blumenthal to make the case that the "in Vietnam" controversy is something of a cheap shot. A longer-form video release of the appearance (provided, ironically, by the Linda McMahon campaign, undercutting their own hatchet job) where the offending phrase occurred have him correctly referring to having "served in the military, during the Vietnam era" in the very same speech. That's not stopping Vietnam vet Rob Simmons, who, sensing an opening, has rolled out web advertising with "Blumenthal Lied About Vietnam" in very large letters.
Blumenthal is getting more explicit backing from Democratic bigwigs now, as his mea culpa/attempt to get back on the offense seems to have had the desired effect. Rep. Chris Murphy, the likeliest guy to pick up the pieces if Blumenthal had to bail out, offered his unqualified support; so too did Howard Dean. And here's one thing that's actually good about Rasmussen's one-day, no-callback samples: they can strike fast. They polled Connecticut, and while the trendlines aren't appealing, they find Blumenthal still beating McMahon even in the heat of the moment before the story has had time to digest, and beating the other, unmoneyed GOP opponents by pretty wide margins. Markos has some really nice pushback against Rasmussen in general, today, asking why they always poll quickly when there's the potential for a good Republican narrative but not when the narrative doesn't fit (as seen in their failure to poll the Sorta Super-Tuesday primaries).
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist has been trying to woo union support, starting with a speech at the state AFL-CIO convention this weekend. It's another indication that he's trying to move squarely onto Kendrick Meek's turf and monopolize as much of the left-of-center vote as he can, now that he's free from his GOP shackles. Meanwhile, quixotic Democratic candidate Jeff Greene has apparently been seen wooing Ukrainian strippers, in 2005 on his 145-foot yacht while cruising the Black Sea. Not so, claims his campaign spokesperson; he was busy traveling with his rabbi at the time instead.
• KY-Sen: In case you needed one more data point on how thin-skinned Rand Paul and how likely a meltdown from him is at some point before November, here's an anecdote from last night: he refused to take the customary concession call from Trey Grayson, at least according to the Grayson camp.
• NC-Sen: Here's a big score for Elaine Marshall: Third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis gave his backing to Marshall in her runoff against Cal Cunningham. This move isn't so surprising, given that Lewis's supporters, like Rep. Eva Clayton, were already gravitating toward Marshall, but it ought to steer much of Lewis's African-American and youth base in her direction as well.
• NV-Sen: Three items, all of which are very, very bad for Sue Lowden. First, the Club for Growth finally weighed into the Senate primary, and they backed right-winger Sharron Angle (maybe not that surprising, since they backed her in the 2006 primary for NV-02). That ought to give Angle a further shot of adrenaline, though, on top of her Tea Party Express endorsement and polling momentum. Lowden is also still bogged down in controversy over her luxury bus, doubling-down on her claims that use of the $100K vehicle was leased despite also having stated elsewhere that the bus was "donated" (which means it would have needed to be reported as an in-kind contribution). That's nothing, though, compared to the (by my count) quintupling-down on Chickens-for-Checkups, simultaneously trying to fight top Nevada journo Jon Ralston on the fact that, yes, people are bartering for health care while trying to claim that she never actually said anything about Chickencare at all.
• NY-Sen-B: The only GOP big name left who hadn't said anything definitive about participating in the GOP Senate primary for the right to get creamed by Kirsten Gillibrand finally said a public "no." Orange County Executive Ed Diana said he'll stick with his current job, to which he was elected in November to a third term.
• UT-Sen: Looks like that teabaggers' victory in Utah might be short-lived. Bob Bennett seems to be more interested than before in running as a write-in in the general (where, despite the complex dynamics of a write-in campaign, he faces better odds with the broader electorate than with the narrow slice of extremists running the GOP convention). We may know tomorrow what his plans are, as he emphasized "Stay tuned tomorrow."
• WA-Sen: If Dino Rossi really is still interested in running for Senate, this isn't a particularly good way of showing it. Rossi is scheduled to make a blockbuster appearance on May 25... to give opening remarks at a dinnertime seminar for local real estate investors focusing on strategies for profiting off foreclosures. Because nothing says "I'm a man of the people" than knowing all the ins and outs of how to profit off the people's misery.
• AL-Gov: Artur Davis is out with an internal poll, that seems mostly oriented toward countering the sense that he's losing ground among his African-American base. The poll shows Davis leading Democratic primary rival Ron Sparks 46-33. It also shows Davis leading 50-25 among African-Americans (despite the defections of some prominent local black groups), while trailing Sparks 42-41 among whites.
• FL-Gov: Bill McCollum is going to have to start taking moneybags Rick Scott seriously, and he's striking hard, sending out a press release calling him an "embarrassment" and a "fraud," presumably in reference to allegations leveled against Scott's health care firm. Scott's ginormous introductory ad buy is now estimating at $6.3 million.
• KS-Gov: Sam Brownback is drawing some heat for taking things out of context. Now, politicians take things out of context all the time, but his sleight-of-hand in attempting to fight efforts to more tightly regulate the business of car loans to military members may be a fridge too far.
"CNN Money on May 13 reported that 'Raj Date ... agreed that the additional (Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection) regulation might cause some dealers to stop arranging loans," Brownback said in the letter.
But Brownback's letter did not include the rest of Date's comment, which was this, "There will be some dealers who say, 'If I have to play by an honest set [of] rules, then I can't be in this business anymore.' I'm not going to shed any tears for these dealers."
• MA-Gov: You may recall last week's Rasmussen MA-Gov poll where, in an effort to find some sort of good news, they found that, if liberal activist Grace Ross somehow beat incumbent Dem Deval Patrick in the primary, she would lost to GOPer Charlie Baker. Well, it's looking like Ross is in danger of not even making it onto the ballot. The state SoS says she has only a little more than half of the 10,000 signatures she needs; Ross promises an announcement tomorrow morning on her next step. (The upside for Patrick, if Ross qualifies for the primary though, would be $750K in public financing for his campaign, which he wouldn't be entitled to if he were running unopposed.)
• ME-Gov: There's been some ongoing controversy in the sleepy Maine governor's race about how Republican candidate Steve Abbott (former CoS to Susan Collins) wound up with GOP voter lists, but this is a strange turn: the state Republican party chair, Charlie Webster, is now saying that Abbott's camp flat-out "stole" it.
• GA-09: The special election to replace Nathan Deal (where GOPers Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins are in a runoff) seems to have winnowed the Republican field for the regularly-scheduled GOP primary, too. Former state Senate majority leader Bill Stephens has dropped out of contention in that field.
• HI-01: Even if something incredibly dramatic happens between now and Saturday's drop-dead date in the special election in the 1st, things are still pretty much cast in stone. In the all-mail in election, now 43% of all ballots sent out have been returned.
• IN-03: State Sen. Marlin Stutzman (whose name rec is sky-high right now after running fairly well in the GOP Senate primary against Dan Coats) says that he's going to strike while the iron is hot, and get into the race to replace resigning Rep. Mark Souder. Other GOPers confirming that they'll run include state Rep. Randy Borror, Ft. Wayne city councilor Liz Brown, and recent primary loser Phil Troyer. Another recent primary loser, Bob Thomas, is a potential candidate.
• OH-16: After having found an excuse to hide behind the door the last time Barack Obama came to Ohio, Rep. John Boccieri was proudly with him when he visited Youngstown yesterday. Perhaps he can sense a bit of a turning of the tide? Troublingly, though, Senate candidate Lee Fisher wasn't present.
• PA-12: PPP digs through the data from their last pre-election poll in the 12th and finds what may really have done the Republicans in. There's one entity in the district even more unpopular than Barack Obama (who had 30% approval), and that's Congressional Republicans, who were at a miserable 22/60. In nationalizing the election, Tim Burns tied himself to the nation's least favorite people of all.
• PA-19: After having surviving his primary last night despite publicly seeking another job, it looks like Rep. Todd Platts exposed himself to all that danger for no reason at all. Platts announced yesterday that the Obama administration had let him know that he wasn't going to be selected for the Government Accountability Office job he'd been angling for.
• CT-AG: Here's one of the weirdest career crash-and-burns I've seen lately: SoS Susan Bysiewicz went in a few months from likely next Governor to somehow not even eligible to run for the lower-tier job she dropped down to. Connecticut's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that she didn't meet the criteria for legal experience required to become AG, reversing a lower court's decision. Former Democratic state Sen. George Jepsen now has the AG job pretty much to himself. At any rate, with Bysiewicz now combing the "Help Wanted" section, that gives the Connecticut Dems a fallback plan for the Senate if Richard Blumenthal does need to bail out (although Bysiewicz may be seriously damaged at this point too).
• OR-St. House: Here are a couple races with interesting implications that I forgot to watch last night: two Republican state Reps. from the high-desert parts of Oregon (the state's Republican stronghold) committed the unthinkable heresy of not only bipartisanship but supporting tax increases to close the state's budget gap. Both Bob Jenson and Greg Smith survived their primaries, though, after teabaggers, right-to-lifers, and even their state House minority leader turned their wrath against them.
• Arizona: One other election result from last night that most people, us included, seemed to overlook was Proposition 100 in Arizona. In a surprise, at least to those people who think that it's a rabidly anti-tax year (which would be those people who didn't pay any attention to Measures 66 and 67 earlier this year in Oregon), the people of this red state voted by a fairly wide margin for a temporary sales tax increase as part of a package of changes to close the budget gap. It's a victory for Jan Brewer, actually, who backed the plan (perhaps feeling safer to do so, having solidified her position with her support for the "papers please" law).
• 1994: When you have a wave, a lot of dead wood washes up on the beach. Prompted by '94 alum Mark Souder's mini-scandal and resignation, Dana Milbank looks back at the wide array of scoundrels and rogues who were swept in in 1994.
• History: History's only barely on the side of Blanche Lincoln when it comes to runoffs. It turns out that the person who finishes first in a runoff wins 72% of the time, but when that's limited only to runoffs in primaries, the success rate is only 55%... and Lincoln's victory over Bill Halter last night was a particularly close one.
Yesterday's primary elections in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio showed two things: one, despite all the huffing and puffing about it being an anti-incumbent year and there being a massive wave of teabaggers ready to take the system down, establishment candidates still won pretty much everything. And two, the enthusiasm gap between the parties that we've been warned about is definitely out there, and numbers from last night back that up.
Indiana: Indiana was the case study for what went wrong with the anti-establishment candidates -- there were just too many of them. In Republican race after race, the anti-establishment votes were split between too many candidates, letting the incumbents or the anointed challengers slip through; had the teabaggers had the presence of mind to unite behind one person, they could have done some actual damage. In the Senate primary, 90s-leftover Dan Coats won with a tepid 39%, beating state Sen. Marlin Stutzman (standard-bearer of the DeMint wing of the teabaggers) at 29 and ex-Rep. John Hostettler (representing the Paulist wing) at 23. As we've wondered openly before at SSP, I have no idea whether that's better or worse for Democrats, seeing as how Coats has access to actual money but also a dump-truck full of vulnerabilities (starting off with the possibility that the NRA might actually support Brad Ellsworth over the Brady Bill-supporting Coats).
The same dynamic played out in a slew of House races. In IN-03, somnambulistic Rep. Mark Souder won with 48% over two opponents, Bob Thomas at 34% and Phil Troyer at 16%. In the open seat race in IN-04, SoS Todd Rokita only cleared 42%, although there were 13 contestants in the race and his nearest rival, Brandt Hershman, only reached 17%. In IN-05, widely disliked Rep. Dan Burton managed to way underperform his 52% from his last primary: he only got to 30%; luckily for him, his opposition was so chopped up that he still survived, with former state GOP chair Luke Messer coming closest at 28%. In IN-08, the NRCC's pick, surgeon Larry Bucshon, barely survived a horde of teabaggers, most of whom coalesced behind Kristi Risk, whom he beat 33-29. And in IN-09, a three-way duel between ex-Rep. Mike Sodrel, establishment pick attorney Todd Young, and teabagger fave Travis Hankins wound up with Young winning with 34%, with Hankins at 32% and Sodrel at 30% (sparing us Baron Hill vs. Sodrel Round Five). The only dominant performance was Jackie Wolarski in IN-02, who picked up 61% of the vote to Jack Jordan's 28%.
As with Coats, it's unclear to me who we'd rather have faced in those races. In each case, it was a choice between an establishment guy with money but who isn't going to excite the GOP base, vs. an outsider without the connections or, possibly, the campaign chops. Maybe Risk's loss will help with Democrat Trent Van Haaften's outreach to the local teabaggery, and in the 9th, while it's sad Baron Hill won't get to face off against the increasingly laughable Sodrel, Young seems to come with his own set of problems (first and foremost, a big recent donation from Don Blankenship, controversial CEO of coal mining company Massey Energy).
North Carolina: The big story in North Carolina was the Democratic primary in the Senate race. Thanks to a fairly strong performance from third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis, nobody cleared the 40% mark, and we're headed to a June 22 runoff between SoS Elaine Marshall and ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham, which'll be a duel between name rec (Marshall) and money (Cunningham). Marshall finished at 36%, Cunningham at 27%, and Lewis at 17%.
At the House level, in the main race where the GOP is playing offense, the primary is also headed to a runoff. In NC-08, unhinged rich guy Tim D'Annunzio got 37% and ex-sportscaster Harold Johnson got 33%. NC-11 had looked like it was also headed to a runoff, but by night's end businessman Jeff Miller barely cleared the hurdle, with 40.2%. In both those races, the Dem incumbents got mild rebukes from their bases (presumably over their anti-HCR votes), with Larry Kissell getting only 63% and Heath Shuler getting 62%. In NC-06 and NC-10, geriatric Howard Coble (64%) and bombastic Patrick McHenry (63%) also underperformed against fractured opposition. You have to look further downballot to see any bodies falling: five incumbent state legislators lost their primaries (four of them Dems, although some of these look like safe seats).
Ohio: The main event in Ohio was the Senate primary for Democrats, where Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, as expected beat SoS Jennifer Brunner 55-45. Considering how vastly Brunner was outspent, and the trajectory of the last week's polls, it's actually surprising it was that close. Apparently Brunner's hard work on the ground in some of Ohio's reddish areas in the last weeks of the campaign paid off some dividends, as she put up big leads in the Cincinnati area (Hamilton and Clermont Counties). Naturally, it leaves you to wonder what she could have done if she'd had some actual money.
In the House, OH-02 was the scene of two contested primaries. Rep. Jean Schmidt survived her primary challenge with little trouble, beating Warren Co. Commissioner Mike Kilburn 62-22. On the Dem side, Surya Yalamanchili squeaked out a 41-38 win over David Krikorian, with apparently enough people repulsed by both to give 22% to Some Dude J. Parker. Krikorian continued to be a douchebag even in defeat, accusing Yalamanchili of having played "the race card." The establishment candidates in the two other big GOP primaries both prevailed: in OH-16, Jim Renacci got 49% to 40% for Matt Miller (his third straight time breaking 40% but losing the GOP primary here). And state Sen. Bob Gibbs, the NRCC's recruit in OH-18, seems to have beaten Fred Dailey by about 200 votes (at 21% each), although this race appears headed to a recount. (One would be hard-pressed to call Dailey, the 2008 nominee and former state Agriculture Director, an outsider candidate, although at least he was certainly angry this time around.)
In Ohio, there were also some allegedly hot primaries for the GOP in statewide races, where teabagger favorites were taking on establishment picks, that also turned out to be a big bucket of nothing. In the SoS primary, state Sen. Jon Husted beat Sandra O'Brien 67-33, while in the Auditor race, Delaware Co. Prosecutor Dave Yost (who was the teabagger fave when he was in the AG race running against the guy they really hate, Mike DeWine, but became their enemy when he switched over to the Auditor's race against the guy they liked) beat state Rep. Seth Morgan 65-35.
Finally, as I said at the start, there's the matter of turnout disparities. Reid Wilson points to how only 662K voters voted in the OH-Sen Democratic primary, which was lower than the number of Democratic voters (872K) in the Democratic primary in 2006 (where there was no contested D primary in either the Governor or Senate races). That jibes with the broader numbers we've been seeing about enthusiasm gaps (as with Gallup's recent poll showing 43% of Republicans are "very enthused" about voting, while 33% of Democrats are). The falloff was similar in Indiana, where only 204K Dems participated as opposed to 304K in 2006, although it's worth noting that the Dems were playing offense in 2006 and had contested House primaries, while this year there was really bupkus to get Dems to the polls in Indiana. In North Carolina, 425K voted in the Dem primary. Reid compares this to 2004, where more Dems showed up in the primary, but that may not be an apt comparison as that's a presidential year -- regardless, that too may be an ominous number in the context of the Republican Senate primary, where almost as many, 374K, voted to help Richard Burr dispatch no-name opposition.
SurveyUSA for the Mike Downs Center For Indiana Politics (4/22-26, likely voters):
Dan Coats (R): 36
John Hostettler (R): 24
Marlin Stutzman (R): 18
Don Bates (R): 6
Richard Behney (R): 4
A conservative split between Hostettler and a surprisingly potent Stutzman seems to be giving Coats a path to victory, even with an underwhelming level of primary support. In the general, though, Coats starts the race off as the GOP's strongest choice:
Brad Ellsworth (D): 31
Dan Coats (R): 47
Brad Ellsworth (D): 32
John Hostettler (R): 45
The DSCC managed to produce a clean hit on Coats on what seemed like a daily basis immediately after his entry into this race, and I hope they have a few chestnuts ready to go after the primary is done.
Meanwhile, SUSA also took a look at the IN-03 GOP primary, and the results are not pretty for incumbent Mark Souder:
Mark Souder (R-inc): 35
Bob Thomas (R): 29
Phil Troyer (R): 19
Greg Dickman (R): 2
Souder, one of the lesser lights of a state delegation dominated by Republican deadwood, has been somewhat notorious over the past two cycles for dramatically under-performing his district's Republican tilt. It looks like a primary loss is a live possibility at this point, with self-funding auto dealer Bob Thomas nipping on Souder's corn-encrusted heels. Mark this one down on your calendars as another fun primary to watch.
The full polling memo for the Senate race is available below the fold.
In a series of comments here at SSP, I've argued that the IN-03 congressional race is the sleeper race of the 2010 cycle. In this diary, I'll expand on these comments and explain in detail why I think Democratic candidate Dr. Tom Hayhurst has a real shot at pulling the upset of 2010 here in Indiana.
Some caveats: no, I don't expect Hayhurst to win; I'm arguing only that he has a legitimate shot and could win given the right (not entirely unrealistic) set of circumstances. Also, this diary isn't intended as a critique of the SSP front-page team, which recently made the decision not to list IN-03 as a potential pickup on the Big Board. They have excellent reasons for their choice, and their fantastic writing and analysis is what keeps me coming back to SSP more than any other political site on the Net. Finally, though I live in another district in Indiana (IN-09), I've never been to IN-03, nor do I know Hayhurst, Souder, any of the other candidates, or anyone who lives in the district. Thus, my comments in this diary are based solely on my own analysis and on information I've gleaned from the Web.
CT-Sen: Mike Slanker, former political director of the NRSC when John Ensign ran the organization, has been caught up in connection with the investigation of his former boss's attempts to steer lobbying work to his mistress's husband. Slanker is currently running Linda McMahon's media operations as a consultant, but the campaign is mum on whether he'll stay involved with them.
NV-Sen: Republicans are trying to nuke the nascent candidacy of Tea Partier Jon Ashjian. Apparently, Ashjian was still a registered Republican when he filed as the Tea Party candidate, which may run afoul of Nevada election laws.
MN-Gov: State Sen. Tom Bakk, who represents the northeastern part of Minnesota known as the Iron Range, has dropped out of the gubernatorial race, citing what he felt were his slim chances.
CA-19: SurveyUSA, an uncharacteristically quiet pollster this cycle, is offering up a poll of the Republican and Democratic primaries for the open seat of retiring GOP Rep. George Radanovich. For the Republicans, state Sen. Jeff Denham leads the way with 26%, followed closely by ex-Fresno mayor Jim Patterson with 25%. Ex-Rep. "Dirty" Dick Pombo lags behind at 13%, while Fresno city councilor Larry Westerlund gets 7%. For the Democrats, real estate consultant John Estrada leads physician/attorney Loraine Goodwin by 24-14, with retired thespian Les Marsden clocking in at 8%. (JL)
CA-20: I really can't believe we missed this one. Term-limited GOP state Sen. Roy Ashburn had been considering a run against Dem Rep. Jim Costa as recently as December, and it looked like he could have posed a pretty serious challenge. In January, however, he did an abrupt about-face and said he was taking a break from public life. Perhaps it was a portent. A few weeks ago, Ashburn, who had long cultivated an anti-gay voting record, was arrested for drunk driving after leaving a gay nightclub. He subsequently admitted on a radio show that he is gay.
GA-09: Nathan Deal previously said that he'd wait until March 31 to resign from the House, but he only waited about 31 minutes after HCR passed to say sayonara. (JL)
IN-03, IN-Sen: Hah, check out this multidimensional episode of wingnut-on-wingnut violence. GOP Rep. Mark Souder is already on the air with negative radio ads against his opponent, wealthy car dealership owner Bob Thomas. Souder is dousing some haterade on Thomas, who until very recently was an Indianapolis-area resident, for his shallow roots in the district. Thomas, for his part, is blasting Souder for his hypocrisy, citing his endorsement of beltway lobbyist Dan Coats in the state's Senate race. (JL)
MA-10: Who gets hurt by this move? Taking a page from the playbook of Tim Cahill, lobbyist and former four-term state Rep. Maryanne Lewis has "unenrolled" from the Democratic Party in an apparent step to run for the seat of retiring Dem Rep. Bill Delahunt as an independent. State Democrats are on the record as saying that a Lewis candidacy would hurt Republicans more than Democrats, given Lewis' more conservative record in the state legislature. (JL)
MI-07: Republicans have found yet another specimen itching to take on frosh Dem Rep. Mark Schauer. Potterville city councilman Mike Stahly has thrown his hat into the race, where he'll face ex-Rep. Tim Walberg and Rooney clan member Brian Rooney in the GOP primary. Stahly, who is unemployed in his spare time, says that he'll be "the only candidate in the nation" to refuse donations from outside the district. Sounds like a winner! (JL)
ND-AL: North Dakota Republicans have opted to endorse state Rep. Rick Berg over North Dakota Public Service Commission Kevin Cramer as their standard bearer against Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy. Cramer now says that he's "95 percent sure" that he'll run for re-election to the PSC now that Congress isn't an option. (JL) As it happens, Berg's campaign manager resigned last week for abusing a state party email list and then lying about it.
NY-20: David Harper, who recently resigned as an assistant district attorney in Saratoga County, has dropped out of the race for the Republican nod to take on Rep. Scott Murphy this fall. Harper endorsed his opponent, retired Army Col. Chris Gibson, who pretty much seems to be the GOP frontrunner now. None of these guys have filed any FEC reports yet.
NY-24: Well that was monumentally stupid. Despite the risks of being branded as a John Kerry-esque flip-flopper, of losing the Working Families Party line, and of earning himself a union-backed primary challenge, dumb-as-rocks Rep. Mike Arcuri voted "no" on healthcare reform anyway. Even before the vote, labor was busy looking for someone to take Arcuri on in the primary, and they're already talking to epidemiologist and professor Les Roberts, who briefly ran for this seat in 2006 (when it was open) before deferring to Arcuri. Roberts sounds pretty interested. Some other possible names (my own speculation) would include Cortland Mayor Bruce Tytler and Utica attorney Leon Koziol, both of whom also ran in 2006 before bowing out to avoid a contested primary.
PA-12: More good news for Mark Critz - Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr. has decided to drop out of the Democratic primary for the late John Murtha's seat, citing party unity as a pressing concern. Critz will now face Navy veteran Ryan Bucchianeri and attorney Ron Mackell, Jr. as his only competitors in the Democratic primary. (JL)
• NV-Sen, NV-Gov: The filing period in Nevada is now open, and there was one more surprise credible entrant in the Republican field for the Senate race, attracted by the stink lines coming off of Harry Reid. Assemblyman Chad Christensen of suburban Las Vegas, who at one point was minority whip, decided to take the plunge. That takes the number of Republicans jostling to face Reid up to a whopping 10. In other filings news, New York investment banker John Chachas decided to follow through on his planned expensive run despite usually polling with 0%, and on the gubernatorial side, Jim Gibbons put to rest any retirement rumors by filing for re-election.
• NY-Sen-B: It looks like the GOP has managed to find another warm body to take on Kirsten Gillibrand. Ex-Rep. Joe DioGuardi, ousted by voters from Congress over 20 years ago and now a darling of the local teabaggers, says that he'll enter the race. (JL) (Port Authority commissioner Bruce Blakeman is already in the race, and has gotten a lot of county-level endorsements, while the Beltway media is treating former Bush aide Dan Senor as their flavor of the day, seeing as how he's a guy they're all familiar with.)
• UT-Sen: The start of the Utah Republican caucus process is in just two weeks, and Utah's GOP chair is busy telling outside groups to butt out, warning them that they risk a backlash for their negative campaigning. He's referring to Club for Growth, who've been advertising and robocalling to attack incumbent Bob Bennett (although they aren't endorsing a particular opponent).
• MI-Gov: Much has been made of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Dillon's poor relations with organized labor, with the assumption that labor is now getting behind Lansing mayor Virg Bernero instead. However, Dillon managed to nail down at least one union endorsement, from the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council.
• CO-07: He'd gotten Tom Tancredo's endorsement, but that wasn't enough to keep music promoter Jimmy Lakey in the race. Not having gotten much traction against Aurora city councilor Ryan Frazier in the primary, he bailed out.
• IN-03: I'm not sure if that rumored teabagger challenge to Republican Rep. Mark Souder - near-legendary for his lackluster campaigning - from attorney and former Dick Lugar staffer Phil Troyer ever came to pass, but now it sounds like Souder is facing another challenge from the right (or at least from the land of the awake). Auto dealer Bob Thomas (a former head of the national Ford dealers association) is planning a run and expected to advance himself $500K to get things rolling. If he has two insurgent opponents, look for Souder to survive the split... but one well-financed one could give him fits.
• MA-10: I'm not sure that "top aide to Deval Patrick" is the thing you want on your resume right now, but Ted Carr is now considering a run for the open seat in the 10th in the Democratic primary (where he'd join state Sen. Robert O'Leary and Norfolk Co. DA William Keating). Carr is currently the director of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment and is also a selectman in Cohasset.
• NJ-07: Looks like Dems finally have a candidate nailed down in the 7th, although probably not one who's going to put the contest against freshman Rep. Leonard Lance squarely on the map. The Union Co. Dems endorsed educator and former Hill aide Ed Potosnak for the race, and his principal rival, Zenon Christodoulou, vice-chair of the Somerset Co. Democrats, dropped out and endorsed Potosnak.
• NY-29: Here's a big break for Corning mayor Tom Reed, and, in terms of avoiding a toxic split of the kind that's sabotaged many a House special election for them, possibly for Republicans in general. Monroe Co. Executive Maggie Brooks has decided not to run in the special election to replace Eric Massa, whenever that might be held, which leaves Reed (who was running before Massa's resignation) as the consensus choice. On the other hand, Brooks is probably better known than Reed and may also have better fundraising connections (on which front Reed has been lackluster so far), so she might have turned out to be a better bet for the GOP. The Dems still have nobody lined up, although several Assembly members have floated their names.
• PA-06: The Manan Trivedi Express keeps gaining steam, scoring a big endorsement last night from the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. Trivedi can place this endorsement in his back pocket -- right alongside his endorsement from the Chester County Democrats last month. (The MontCo Dems also endorsed local fave Joe Hoeffel for Governor, and declined to endorse for Senate.) Meanwhile, The Hill notes that Trivedi's primary opponent, the moneyed Doug Pike, is taking a "silence is best" approach on the topic of healthcare reform, refusing to respond to multiple requests for comment on the bill. (JL)
• DCCC: Barack Obama's wading into the Congressional electoral fray on May 13, hosting a big-dollar fundraiser in New York hosted by the DCCC.
• CA-LG: State Sen. Dean Florez decided to jump out of the way of the Gavin Newsom juggernaut, ending his own Lt. Governor bid. It looks like the LG race will come down to Newsom vs. Los Angeles city councilor Janice Hahn.
• NY-St. Sen.: Here's one of those polls that helps restore your faith in humanity. Ex-state Sen. Hiram Monserrate does not appear to be on track to win back the Senate seat he got expelled from after being convicted of assault, according to a new Siena poll of the SD-13 special election. Democratic Assemblyman Jose Peralta is polling at 60%, followed by Monserrate (now an independent) at 15, with Republican Robert Beltrani at 9. The election is scheduled for next Tuesday.
• Georgia: I can't think of how to connect this story to national politics, but it's certainly interesting just from the perspective of geographical geekery. Ever wonder about the strange shape of Fulton County, Georgia (which is kind of arrow-shaped, where the pointy part is a cluster of right-leaning mostly-white exurbs far to the north of Atlanta)? It turns out that Fulton County is a conglomerate of three former counties (Milton and Campbell), and now the Republicans in the state House are pushing legislation that would allow historic merged counties to reconstitute themselves. The racial undertone, of course, is that the wealthy exurbs of former Milton County (like Roswell and Alpharetta) would like to split off from mostly-black Fulton County... which would be a big hit on Fulton County's property tax base, so Democrats are opposed. The plan may not succeed though, as it would require two-thirds of the legislature because it requires amending the state constitution.
• Humor: If you missed Scott Rasmussen's appearance on the Colbert Report last night, check it out. The actual interview itself wasn't revelatory, but the self-feeding sausage machine bit that precedes it is amazing.