• AZ-Sen: I keep saying that there's no way Jeff Flake waltzes to the GOP nomination, but the Republican party has yet to prove me right. Fortunately, my deliverance may come in the form of rich guy Wil Cardon, who is supposedly giving the race a "very strong look" - and can self-fund.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov, etc.: Like another failed Republican gubernatorial candidate before her, it looks like we won't have Meg Whitman to kick around anymore. Actually, that's kind of confusing, because of course we did get to kick Dick Nixon around quite a bit more... but not until he kicked all of us around first. Anyhow, uh, where was I? Oh yeah, the former eBay chief says she "doubts" whether she'll run for office again. Let's hope she means it.
• MA-Sen: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, and Deval Patrick still won't run for Senate.
• MT-Sen: For once, I'm hoping a Republican schedules more fundraisers - at least, fundraisers like this. Denny Rehberg just did an event in Denver that was co-hosted by BP's "director of government and public affairs" (i.e., their chief in-house lobbyist)... on the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Good optics!
• ND-Sen: This should scare absolutely no one off, from either party: Republican Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, the only declared candidate to succeed retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, raised all of $32K in Q1. John Hoeven he ain't. While we're on the subject of North Dakota, former Sen. Byron Dorgan, who retired last year, just donated the bulk of his remaining campaign funds - $1 million - to a new charity he founded, the Center for Native American Youth. A worthy cause, I'm sure, but I'll bet Joe Sestak would have really appreciated that extra mil.
• OH-Sen: It's weird how the GOP went from utterly dominating last year's Senate election in Ohio to digging out their barrel-bottom scrapers from the back of the utility shed. Ken Blackwell says he's talking to the NRSC about a possible run... though I guess it's not really clear if the NRSC is talking back. A lulzy quote: "You don't just come out and build the sort of support base that I have overnight." True - you probably need to spend two years running a crappy campaign to do as terribly as he did in the governor's race back in 2006.
• TN-Sen: This is a little odd: Sen. Bob Corker said he "came close" to not seeking re-election this cycle. Too bad we don't have a candidate who could make hay out of Corker's lack of fire in the belly (a phrase he actually uses with respect to some fantasy presidential run, but seems applicable to his day job, too).
• VA-Sen: It's starting to feel like the wingnut candidates are doing everything they can to make life easier for George Allen by piling into the clown car that is the GOP primary field. The latest is rich dude Tim Donner, whom we mentioned last month. Almost all of these weirdos claim to be teabaggers in good standing, so this almost assuredly means we'll see some People's Front of Judea/Judean People's Front nonsense, rather than a united effort to stop Allen. Lame.
• KY-Gov: Republican frontrunner David Williams raised just $450K in Q1 and has $670K on hand. (This compares to Gov. Steve Beshear, whose numbers we mentioned previously: $1.3m/$3.3m.)
• NC-Gov: PPP's monthly home-state poll shows Gov. Bev Perdue inching up against Republican Pat McCrory, trailing 49-38 instead of 50-36. That's very similar to a new SurveyUSA poll which has McCrory up 51-39.
• SC-Gov: The issues are a little too complex for me to try to summarize here in a digest bullet, but the link will take you to an interesting story exposing some pretty naïve political incompetence on the part of supposed GOP wunderkind Gov. Nikki Haley. One thing I'd like to remind folks of is that despite the Republican bloodbath of 2010, Haley didn't perform all that impressively. In fact, she had the second-narrowest win out of all 20 victorious GOP gubernatorial candidates, just 4.3%. Only Rick Scott won more narrowly, and he's Rick Scott. Dem Vincent Sheheen got almost no national attention but should have, given his strong performance in a tough state in an impossible year. If Haley continues to stumble, I think she could prove surprisingly vulnerable in 2014.
• AZ-Sen: There have been vague rumblings that maybe Jon Kyl, the GOP's 68-year-old #2 in the Senate, may not be running for another term... but that seems to be coming into sharper relief all of a sudden. Kyl has refused to publicly discuss his plans, the GOP's state chair is saying Kyl is not likely to run again, and people are starting to notice that he's sitting on only $620K CoH and hasn't engaged in any fundraising yet. (Although it's likely, once he decides, that he could quickly do whatever fundraising was needed to win.)
• CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons sounds torn about another Senate run in 2012, and refuses to rule it out. However, he sounds unenthused, not so much because of his odds in the general as the likelihood of butting heads with the NRSC in the primary, whom he thinks has a fixation on Linda McMahon and her self-funding ability. Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Murphy is busy framing his "no" vote on the tax compromise in populist terms, clearly trying to set up some contrasts with Joe Lieberman.
• NE-Sen: I'd thought AG Jon Bruning was supposed to be some sort of killer-app for the local GOP to go against Ben Nelson, but you wouldn't know it by the way they've kept casting about for more talent. Local insiders are still publicly airing their wish list, adding a couple more prominent names to it: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and state Auditor Mike Foley. One lower-tier option is also floating her own name: state Sen. Deb Fischer, who represents that big empty north-central part of the state and says she'll decide on a run once the legislative session is over.
• OR-Sen: Best wishes for a quick recovery to Ron Wyden, who will be undergoing surgery on Monday for prostate cancer. While it sounds like he'll be back on his feet soon, he'll be unable to vote for anything next week, which could complicate the final rush to wrap up stuff in the lame duck.
• TN-Sen: Bob Corker occasionally gets mentioned, at least in the rightosphere, as the possible recipient of a tea party primary challenge in 2012. The Hill finds that this may be fizzling on the launching pad, for the very simple reason that no one seems to be stepping forward to consider the race.
• WI-Sen: PPP is out with its poll of the 2012 GOP Senate primary, with another one of those let's-test-everyone-and-their-dog fields, but unlike some of the other states they've looked at in the last few weeks, a U.S. Rep. wins, rather than a statewide figure. Paul Ryan (who probably gets enough Fox News attention to trump the disadvantage of representing only 1/8th of the state) is far in the lead at 52. Ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson (who if he didn't run this year surely isn't going to in 2012) is at 14, ex-Rep. Mark Green is at 9, AG JB Van Hollen and new Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch are at 6, new Rep. Sean Duffy is at 5, and already-forgotten 2010 contender Dave Westlake is at 1.
• IN-Gov, IN-09: Baron Hill says he most likely isn't going to be running for anything in 2012, not Governor, and not his old seat in the 9th, saying he's looking into private sector jobs for now, though also leaving the gubernatorial door "slightly open." Interestingly, he seemed more enthused about a run for Governor in 2016 (which may be a tougher road to hoe, if there's an entrenched GOP incumbent then instead of an open seat like 2012), although he also commented that "I don't know if I'll be alive in 2016."
• MO-Gov: In case there was any doubt, Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon confirmed that he'll run for re-election as Governor in 2012. Nixon also said that he's raised $1 million for that race just since November; he'll need it.
• WV-Gov: For what it's worth, two of the state's largest unions would like to see an expedited special election to replace Joe Manchin. Democratic House Speaker (and likely gubernatorial candidate) Rick Thompson agrees with them, saying there's a constitutional conflict of interest in acting Gov./Senate president Earl Ray Tomblin's dual position. In what may not be a surprise, Tomblin disagrees, saying that the law is clear that the special will be held in 2012.
• CA-06: Rep. Lynn Woolsey is seeming like she may be one of the first retirements of the cycle, if the flurry of activity among lower-level Marin County politicos jockeying for position is any indication. The 73-year-old is publicly weighing retirement, and state Assemblyman Jared Huffman has already formed an exploratory committee to run in her stead. State Sen. Noreen Evans, Sonoma Co. Commissioner Shirlee Zane, and Petaluma mayor Pam Torliatt are also listed as possible replacements.
• FL-25: It certainly didn't take newly-elected Rep. David Rivera to get in legal trouble, and it's something completely new, instead of anything having to do with that whole let's-run-that-truck-off-the-road incident. He's under investigation for an alleged $500,000 in secret payments from a greyhound track that he helped out to a marketing firm that's "run" by his septuagenarian mother.
• ID-01: Don't count on a rematch from Walt Minnick (or a run for higher office in Idaho, either): he says he's done with elective politics. An oft-overlooked fact about Minnick: he's a little older than your average freshman, at 68. He wasn't going to be in the seat for much longer or look to move up anyway.
• NY-14: Remember Reshma Saujani, after losing the Dem primary in the 14th, said "I'm definitely running again" and "There's no way I'm going to be ones of those folks who runs, loses, and you never see them again." Well, fast forward a few months, and now she's definitely not running again, although she may be looking toward a run for something in 2013 at the municipal level.
• DCCC: The DCCC held its first real strategy session of the cycle yesterday, and the list of top-tier targets that emerged is pretty predictable (Dan Lungren, Charlie Bass, Charlie Dent, Bob Dold!) except for one: Leonard Lance, who's proved pretty durable so far. They may be counting on Lance's NJ-07, which occupies roughly the middle of the state, to get tossed into the blender in the redistricting process.
• Votes: Here's the vote tally from yesterday's vote in the House on the tax compromise. It was a very unusual breakdown, with Dems breaking 139 yes/112 no and the GOP breaking 138 yes/36 no, with the "no"s coming generally from each party's hard-liners, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of how the TARP vote broke down. (Also, some defeated or retiring Blue Dogs still voted "no," like Allen Boyd, Gene Taylor, and Earl Pomeroy... while Dennis Kucinich was a "yes.")
• History: Here's an interesting story about the end of a little-known but important era in North Dakota politics: the effective end of the Non-Partisan League, a vaguely-socialist/populist farmers' party that cross-endorsed Democrats for many decades, and had an outsized influence on the state (as seen in their state-owned bank and similar enterprises). With Byron Dorgan retired, most NPL stalwarts dead or aging, and agribusiness having replaced the family farm, it looks like the end of the NPL's line.
• Redistricting: Dave Wasserman is out with a preview of next week's reapportionment, and he's rightly treating it like the NCAA playoffs draw, in that there a bunch of states on the bubble of getting or losing seats. Here's how that plays out:
Georgia, Nevada, and Utah are all but certain to gain an additional seat in the House, while Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are all but certain to lose a seat and Ohio is all but certain to lose two seats.... the ten states in contention for the "last five" seats in the House (in order of likelihood to make the cut) are South Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, Washington, Texas, New York, California, Arizona, North Carolina, and Illinois.
He's also been tinkering around with Dave's Redistricting App, and has some maps that you'll want to check out. Maybe most interestingly, there's a solution to the IL-17 problem that actually makes it more Democratic while letting Aaron Schock and Bobby Schilling get much better acquainted with each other (the Fix also takes a look at Illinois today, coming up with similar ideas). Also worth a look: a good 10-district Washington map that gives Dave Reichert a heaping helping of eastern Washington.
• Site news: Due to holiday travel, other time commitments, and hopefully what will be a very slow news week, the Daily Digest will be on hiatus all next week. Don't worry, though: I'll make sure to be around on the 21st for the Census reapportionment data release (hell, maybe I'll even liveblog the news conference), and if there's any important breaking news, someone will get it up on the front page. In the meantime, happy holidays from the whole SSP team!
• Election Results: With 99.1% of precincts reporting (97 remain, apparently mostly in Cook County), both sides of the governor's race remain too close to call. Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn has declared victory, sitting on a 7,000 vote lead (50.4%-49.6%) and with the remaining precincts in Cook County likely to go his way, although Dan Hynes hasn't conceded yet. On the GOP side, we're looking most likely at a recount, as state Sen. Bill Brady leads fellow state Sen. Kirk Dillard currently by a 751-vote margin (20.3%-20.2%), as they both squeaked past the two presumed frontrunners, former state party chair Andy McKenna and former AG Jim Ryan. The fact that the remaining votes are from Cook County, however, may be poised to help the moderate suburbs-based Dillard, though, rather than the conservative downstate Brady, so this race seems likely to get even closer (Nate Silver actually projects a one-vote victory for Brady based on broader Cook County trends). Recount procedures make it sound like a protracted process - an initial vote tally won't happen until March 5, and then the process "could take months to complete" - giving Quinn a big headstart on whoever the GOP victor turns out to be.
As expected, Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk are the Senate nominees, although both won their races with somewhat underwhelming percentages (39% for Giannoulias, and 57% for Kirk, who could have been in more trouble had the teabagging right coalesced behind one person in particular). Conservatives did triumph over establishment candidates in several GOP House primaries, though, as Bob Dold! beat state Rep. Beth Coulson in the 10th, and state Sen. Randy Hultgren beat Ethan Hastert in the 14th.
In Florida, as expected, state Sen. Ted Deutch easily won the special election primary to succeed Rep. Robert Wexler, beating former Broward Co. Commissioner Ben Graber 86-15. It looks like he'll face Republican Ed Lynch (the 2008 nominee), who defeated Joe Budd by only 46 votes (but with only 8,000 total GOP votes, that's outside the margin for an automatic recount). And here's a surprise out of Kentucky: Democrats picked up a state House seat in the dark-red HD 24, which was recently vacated when Republican Jimmy Higdon got promoted to the state Senate in another special election. Terry Mills won, 54-46, based on an overwhelming edge (89-11) on his home turf of Marion County, reminding us that, at the end of the day, all politics is local.
Finally, last night was caucus and straw poll night in Minnesota. Only 80% of precincts have reported yet - I guess they go to bed early in Minnesota - but the straw poll in the Democratic governor's race points to only a lot of chaos at this point. Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak led with 21.8%, followed closely by state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher at 20.2%. However, "uncommitted" is a solid 3rd at 15%, there are five other candidates who managed to break 5% (John Marty, Tom Rukavina, Paul Thissen, Matt Entenza, and Tom Bakk), and ex-Sen. Mark Dayton doesn't even seem to be bothering with the whole process, planning on going straight to the primary, so there's not much clarity on how the field will shake out. The GOP field seems much more clear-cut, where former state House minority leader Marty Seifert beat state Rep. Tom Emmer 50-39, with the rest of the field in the low single digits.
• AZ-Sen: With the imminent entry of ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth into the Republican primary against John McCain, we're already looking at dueling internal polls. McCain offers up a poll from POS, giving him a 59-30 lead over Hayworth. Hayworth has his own poll from McLaughlin, which, not surprisingly, shows him much closer, trailing 49-33.
• FL-Sen: Kendrick Meek, NASCAR dad? Meek plans to call attention to his campaign by shelling out to be the lead sponsor of Mike Wallace's car in an upcoming race at Daytona.
• IN-Sen: With the surprising announcement by ex-Sen. Dan Coats last night that he's interested in a comeback and would start seeking the signatures to qualify for the Indiana GOP nod, the oppo pretty much writes itself. For starters, Coats can't even sign his own petition - he's been a registered voter in Virginia for more than a decade, not Indiana. And what's he been doing for much of that time? Lobbying... for King & Spalding, on behalf of nice people like the Carlyle Group and Bank of America. The Plum Line also points to Coats accusing Bill Clinton of "wagging the dog" when he started going after al-Qaeda in 1998, allegedly to distract the press from his peccadilloes... and we all know how that turned out.
• ND-Sen: Democrats have, well, somebody ready to go if ex-AG Heidi Heitkamp doesn't get into the Senate race to replace retiring Byron Dorgan. State Sen. Tracy Potter, who represents Bismarck, will be announcing his candidacy on Friday. Other potential candidates seem to be holding back, waiting to see what Heitkamp does; she's been strangely silent since initially expressing interest in the seat last month.
• NY-Sen-B: Quinnipiac's first poll of the New York Senate race after the Harold Ford Jr. boomlet began finds, well, pretty much what everyone else has found: Kirsten Gillibrand beats him by a wide margin but doesn't break 50%. Gillibrand beats 36-18, with Jonathan Tasini at 4. Quinnipiac also tests general election matchups against Republican port commissioner Bruce Blakeman (they don't even bother testing ex-Gov. George Pataki, who doesn't seem to be making any moves to get into the race). Gillibrand beats Blakeman 44-27, and Ford beats him 35-26. Gillibrand is slowly gaining some more name rec, up to a 42/28 approval. Blakeman may not have the GOP primary to himself, though, as a strange blast from the past is re-emerging to say he's interested in the race: ex-Rep. Joseph DioGuardi. In case the name doesn't ring a bell, DioGuardi served in the House representing Westchester County from 1984 to 1988, when he was defeated by Nita Lowey.
• NY-Gov: The same Quinnipiac sample looks at the governor's race, finding huge approval gaps between Andrew Cuomo (54/16) and David Paterson (34/49). Cuomo wins the Democratic primary 55-23. Cuomo beats Rick Lazio 57-25, while Lazio manages to get past Paterson 40-39. There's also one other bit of good news for Cuomo (who's seemed gunshy about taking on Paterson, perhaps out of bad memories of his race against Carl McCall). The poll asked if his candidacy would be "racially divisive," and respondents answered "no" by an 80-14 margin, including 73-22 among African-Americans. Marist (pdf) also just released the gubernatorial half of its recent Senate poll, finding generally similar numbers. Cuomo wins the primary 70-23. Cuomo beats Lazio 64-27, while Lazio edges Paterson 46-43.
• TN-Gov: Add one more candidate running for higher office who's publicly copped to being birther-curious: Lt. Gov. (and GOP gubernatorial candidate) Ron Ramsey. Not having made much of an impression in terms of polling (where Rep. Zach Wamp has an edge) or fundraising (where Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam is cleaning up), this seems like the most attention Ramsey has gotten so far.
• TX-Gov: Here's more evidence that the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary may be headed for a runoff: the new Rasmussen poll of the primary doesn't have anyone coming even close to 50%. Incumbent Rick Perry leads at 44, with Kay Bailey Hutchison lagging at 29, and Paulist insurgent Debra Medina all the way up to 14 on the strength of some buzz coming out of her debate performances. KBH may be counting on a runoff as her only way left to salvage this race, but somehow it seems like, in a runoff, Medina votes are a lot likely to gravitate toward the secession-invoking Perry rather than consummate DC insider Hutchison. In the general, all three defeat Democratic ex-Houston mayor Bill White, although, as one would expect, KBH puts up the biggest margin: 49-36. Perry wins 48-39, while Medina wins by only 41-38.
• AR-02: One of the non-Tim Griffin candidates in the Republican field, David Meeks, dropped out of the race today, probably realizing he was in over his head with the kind of attention open seat races get. One other candidate, restaurant owner Scott Wallace remains, and he may well carry the teabagger flag against Beltway creature Griffin. Realizing the best way to win this is by painting Griffin as insider, the DCCC is turning their attention to Griffin's past as GOP behind-the-scenes fixer, calling attention to his efforts at voter suppression. Over in the diaries, ARDem takes a look at the developing Dem field, which currently contains state House speaker Robbie Wills, liberal state Sen. Joyce Elliott, and retiring Vic Snyder's chief of staff, David Boling. It won't contain, however, Little Rock mayor Mike Stodola, or Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie, who had seemed to be laying the groundwork for a run.
• CA-12, CA-AG: False alarm: Rep. Jackie Speier is staying put in the 12th District, where's she been in place for only a couple years. Rumors that she was about to move over to the state AG's race had many of the state legislators on the Peninsula angling to replace her.
• GA-04: In the wake of an internal from Rep. Hank Johnson showing him crushing his three opponents in the Dem primary in this solidly-blue district in Atlanta's suburbs, one of those opponents got out of the way: DeKalb Co. Commissioner Lee May. May is an ally of former DeKalb Co. CEO Vernon Jones, so it's possible that he's getting out of the way primarily so that Jones can get a bigger share of the non-Johnson vote.
• MA-10: With the general sense that this is the most vulnerable district in Massachusetts (as seen with its votes in the Senate special election last month), Republicans are taking more of an interest in challenging Rep. William Delahunt in this usually-ignored seat. Former state treasurer Joe Malone is probably the biggest name to express interest, but at least one other credible contender, state Rep. Jeffrey Perry, is already announcing his candidacy. State Sen. Robert Hedlund is also expressing some interest.
• NJ-07: One big hole in the Dems' recruitment schedule has been the 7th, narrowly won by freshman GOP Rep. Leonard Lance in 2008. They've managed to fill the gap with Ed Potosnak, who's elevated slightly above Some Dude status by the full Rolodex he brings with him after working for a number of years as a Hill staffer for Rep. Mike Honda.
• PA-11: Lackawanna Co. Commissioner Corey O'Brien has a compelling argument for why he should win the primary in the 11th: he says Rep. Paul Kanjorski has "zero" chance of defeating Republican Lou Barletta in their third face-off, citing Kanjorski's low approval ratings. O'Brien has been fundraising well ($180K last quarter, not far from Kanjo's $237K) and recently hit the airwaves with a small cable buy for his first TV spot.
• CA-LG: Is San Francisco mayor (and gubernatorial race dropout) Gavin Newsom actually thinking about a run for the dead-end job that is California's #2? Officially he's not interested, but he hasn't said no, and a new public poll from Tulchin gives him a big lead in a hypothetical LG primary, with Newsom at 33 against the two declared candidates: Los Angeles city councilor Janice Hahn at 17 and state Sen. Dean Florez at 15. Meanwhile, the state Senate this week takes up the issue of filling the current vacancy in the LG's chair (vacated by now-Rep. John Garamendi); there's actually talk of blocking Ahnold appointee state Sen. Abel Maldonado, despite that getting the moderate Republican Maldonado out of his seat would open up his Dem-leaning district for a takeover and help push the Dem edge in the Senate toward the magic 2/3s mark.
• CT-AG: The story of Susan Bysiewicz just gets stranger and stranger; she decided that rather than run for governor, she'd prefer to run for AG, but now the job's current occupant, Richard Blumenthal, says that possibly she can't. An AG opinion interprets state law requiring ten years of legal practice as unclear and urges a declaratory ruling on Bysiewicz's case from a court. Bysiewicz, for her part, said she won't seek the declaratory ruling and is simply plowing ahead with her AG campaign, although it's possible one of the other candidates in the race might force the issue in the courts.
• Polltopia: The skepticism toward those SurveyUSA polls commissioned by Firedoglake continues to grow, this time from political science professor and frequent Pollster.com contributor Alan Abramowitz. His gravest concerns are with the leading questions in the issues portions of the poll on health care reform, but he also points to serious problems with the samples' compositions that we were quick to flag. He observes that the samples deeply underrepresent younger votes, and that the youth subsets are so small that there's no good way to "weight up" younger voters to a more proportionate level.
• Redistricting contest: Attention all redistricting nerds! Our New York redistricting contest deadline is Sunday, midnight Eastern time, so get your maps done. Don't forget that people need to email their .DRF.XML files to jeffmd at swingstateproject dot com.
• AR-Sen, MO-Sen: Here's an interesting alliance between two prominent female Senate candidates, one perhaps our most vulnerable incumbent and the other our likeliest pickup. Blanche Lincoln and Robin Carnahan have formed a joint fundraising committee, the Missouri Arkansas Victory Fund.
• CT-Sen: I had almost forgotten about Merrick Alpert, a young entrepreneur who'd been trying to carve out some space for himself in the Democratic primary against Chris Dodd as the "clean" outsider (and had been polling in the low double digits in primary polls, by virtue of his non-Dodd-ness). With the departure of Dodd and his replacement with the squeaky-clean Richard Blumenthal, it looks like Alpert's going to need to do some message retooling. At any rate, Alpert says he's sticking around in the race no matter what.
• DE-Sen: A politician voting against something, and then take credit for its benefits after it passes anyway? Why, I'm sure that's never happened before. Still, it's not the kind of thing you might expect Rep. Mike Castle to do... but he's doing it anyway, touting $5 million in aid to the Delaware state government that came from the stimulus package he voted against.
• FL-Sen: I'm not sure if Charlie Crist actually thinks this'll work; it seems like a transparent-enough ploy that the teabaggers will see through it like Grandma's underpants. At any rate, he's spinning to the paranoid right as quickly as the newly-rabid John McCain, decrying "Obamacare secrecy" in HCR negotiations, and also engaging in a little revisionist history about his stance on abortion.
• MA-Sen: Everyone's getting Twitter-pated about PPP's early teasings of its poll of this race, which they say is "loseable" for the Democrats; the actual numbers should be out this weekend. Still, you'd think that if there were an actual fire going on here, you'd see the national committees getting involved, and they aren't (yet)... although the RNC has been sending around an e-mail asking for money on state Sen. Scott Brown's behalf. Meanwhile, Martha Coakley has a big fundraiser scheduled for next Tuesday in DC (with all the state's Congressional delegation and other moneybags luminaries like the Podestas) -- although, given how gigantic a cash advantage she already has for blanketing the airwaves, it seems like that day might be better spent actually working on the ground than heading to Washington.
• ND-Sen: It turns out R2K had a perfectly good poll of North Dakota in the field on Tuesday, which got spoiled when Byron Dorgan suddenly retired. Still, it sheds some light on Dorgan's retirement decision, as the final result is Hoeven 54, Dorgan 37 (which may be skewed toward Hoeven because they kept asking polling after Dorgan's announcement, but Dorgan was still losing before the announcement too). That's despite Dorgan's sky-high approvals of 63%... just what happens when the state's natural lean is against you, and someone even more popular than you comes along (just ask Lincoln Chafee). Remember that R2K found a 57-35 lead for Dorgan back in February over Hoeven; the flip was driven in large part by independents, who moved decisively from Dorgan to Hoeven over the year. One other Democratic name is getting floated as a potential Dorgan successor: former Dorgan aide and former state Senator Kristin Hedger.
• NY-Sen-B: Lots of New York's power players are trying to talk Harold Ford Jr. down from the ledge regarding his potential primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand, starting with Gillibrand's mentor Charles Schumer. Rep. Jerry Nadler, who came around late to supporting Gillibrand but is firmly in her column now, also joined in the chorus telling Ford (who's been huddling with advisors from Michael Bloomberg's coterie) to back off. The campaign against Ford almost seems to write itself, starting with his pro-life proclamations and the fact that he's been registered to vote in New York for only six weeks. That's only the tip of the iceberg, though; Campaign Diaries has the definitive takedown of his record.
• NV-Sen: Some more intraparty sniping in Nevada, where Rep. Dean Heller is still complaining that John Ensign continues to tarnish the GOP's brand in the state, which could hurt its chances in the Senate and Governor's races in 2010. Heller said he wouldn't call for Ensign to resign, "at least not on this show."
• PA-Sen: Former Commonwealth Court judge Doris Smith-Ribner ended her longshot bid in the Democratic primary in the Senate race, having made no fundraising progress. She made so little impact I don't see this changing much of anything, although maybe it helps Rep. Joe Sestak a bit via less splitting of the anti-Arlen Specter vote. She's switching over to the Lt. Governor's race, although she faces a longshot bid there too for the Dem nod against former Philadelphia controller Jonathan Saidel.
• UT-Sen: Maybe yesterday's news that Jason Chaffetz wouldn't challenge him was good news for Bob Bennett, but things aren't getting any better for Team Bob. He's now officially a target of the Club for Growth, unhappy with his occasionally moments of across-the-aisle comity. The CfG doesn't have a preferred horse in the race, yet, as they seem torn between Mike Lee, Tim Bridgewater, and Cherilyn Eagar; for now, they're calling all three of them "superior" to Bennett.
• NM-Gov: The New Mexico GOP has only a number of second-stringers running for Governor (with Dona Ana County DA Susana Martinez maybe the most interesting), so they still seem to be casting about. They've gotten a nibble from a local attorney with no electoral experience but a prominent family name: Pete Domenici Jr.
• SD-Gov: One more Republican got into the field in the South Dakota gubernatorial race, bringing the total to five. State Sen. Gordon Howie seems to be laying claim to the teabaggers' mantle in the race, via his presidency of the Tea Party-linked Citizens for Liberty. (I'd rather see him run for the House, where he could someday form the Guys Whose Names Seem To Be Out Of Order Caucus, along with Rodney Tom and Nickie Monica.)
• TX-Gov, TX-Sen: Kay Bailey Hutchison's gubernatorial run has been giving John Cornyn nonstop heartburn since he took over the NRSC, and now he seems to be strategically leaking that he'd prefer that she drop her gubernatorial bid altogether (despite the primary being only two months away) to avoid the prospect of an expensive special election. Note to Cornyn: she'll lose the gubernatorial primary anyway, and you'll have her back shortly. While smart Texans (see White, Bill) seem to be backing away from the Senate-Race-that-probably-won't-exist, one more Republican is floating his name for the hypothetical race. And it's a guy I didn't know even had any political inclinations: ESPN talking head Craig James.
• UT-Gov: Democrats got a good candidate to run in the 2010 gubernatorial special election: Salt Lake County mayor Peter Corroon confirmed that he'll run. Corroon still faces a steep uphill fight, given the state's crimson hue, but Dems have a better opening than usual, given the muddled Republican field in view of possible convention and/or primary challenges to appointed Gov. Gary Herbert.
• CA-19: Neighboring Representatives are taking sides in the Republican primary in the open seat race in the 19th. Kevin McCarthy, who leads NRCC recruitment efforts, is sticking with his initial endorsement of state Sen. Jeff Denham despite ex-Rep. Richard Pombo's entry to the race (although he confesses that he "likes" Pombo too), while Devin Nunes has endorsed his ex-colleague Pombo. Denham also benefits from endorsements from many of the other state GOP House members (Dreier, Royce, Campbell, Issa, and Herger), although Duncan Hunter Jr. switched to "neutral" from Denham after Pombo's entry.
• IN-09: It's on... for the fifth freakin' time. Ex-Rep. Mike Sodrel is launching another run against Democratic Rep. Baron Hill. (Hill has a 3-1 win record in their meetings so far.) The trouble is, unlike previous tries, Sodrel will have to get through a primary this time; attorney Todd Young has already raised substantial money and has many establishment endorsements (including some statewide officials). With Sodrel increasingly buddying up to the teabaggers, this looks like it has the potential to turn into one more skirmish in the establishment/movement battle.
• ND-AL: Republicans suddenly seem more interested in taking on the usually untouchable Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, no doubt heartened by the knowledge that they'd be running downticket from John Hoeven in the Senate race and might benefit from coattails. State Rep. Rick Berg is sounding the loudest, although former Insurance Comm. Jim Poolman also is expressing interest. Public Service Commission member Kevin Cramer (who's lost twice to Pomeroy before) was scoping out a run even before Byron Dorgan's retirement.
• NH-02: With a crowd already formed in the NH-02 Democratic primary, Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli declined to run. She didn't endorse attorney Ann McLane Kuster, state Rep. John DeJoie, or Katrina Swett (who hasn't formally declared yet), though.
• PA-04: There are rumors of a potential primary challenge from the left to Rep. Jason Altmire (despite the R+6 character of his suburban Pittsburgh district). Businesswoman Georgia Berner -- who lost the 2006 primary to Altmire, who went on to defeat GOP Rep. Melissa Hart in the general -- is dissatisfied with Altmire's Blue Doggish record and is considering a rematch.
• VA-05: Some more delicious cat fud in the 5th, where state Sen. Robert Hurt, the Republican establishment's pick in the race, has told the teabaggers to get bent. He'll be skipping two debates sponsored by Tea Party organizations (although he cites the legislative calendar as the reasons for not showing up).
• Polltopia: Nate Silver has a very interesting deconstruction of Rasmussen, one of the best things I've seen written about them yet. He looks at why they keep finding right-wing insurgent candidates (Marco Rubio, Rand Paul) overperforming against Democratic candidates compared to Republican establishment rivals, contrary to other pollsters. What he sees is that between their exclusionary likely voter screen and their one-day polling periods (with no callbacks), they're disproportionately reaching the most informed, motivated, and ideologically-driven voters.
I'm now going to say a sentence I never thought I'd have to say: Let's round up everything that's happened so far in North Dakota today. The big news in the wake of Byron Dorgan's retirement announcement, of course, is perhaps also the least surprising: Republican Gov. John Hoeven wasted no time in throwing his name into the ring for the newly open seat:
Popular Gov. John Hoeven is letting his political allies know that he's preparing to run for the seat of retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.)
North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth told POLITICO that he spoke with Hoeven's senior staff soon after learning of Dorgan's retirement, and they informed him that Hoeven is preparing to jump in the Senate race once he deals with family issues back home.
Hoeven apparently will formally disclose his intentions within "two weeks." Hoeven's quick entry would almost certainly work to exclude any other prominent North Dakota Republicans from considering the race.
Now, who's going to be running for the Democrats? If the Progressive Change Campaign Committee gets its way, it'll still be Dorgan. They've organized a letter-writing campaign of constituents asking Dorgan to reconsider and run again; they've already racked up more than 1,000 notes.
The highest Dem on the totem pole would seem to be the state's at-large Representative since 1992 (when Dorgan got promoted to the Senate), Earl Pomeroy. Pomeroy is officially noncommital right now, but reportedly has let his staff know that he'll be remaining in the House. That may be for the best, as Pomeroy would be an underdog against Hoeven and he'd place that House seat in jeopardy as well. Instead, much of the speculation about possible Dem candidates has turned to former AG Heidi Heitkamp, who in fact ran against Hoeven in his first gubernatorial race in 2000. She held him to a 55-45 margin in that race after being diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-campaign, although she's been out of politics since then. (She's currently a director at Dakota Gasification, a synethetic fuels company.) (UPDATE: A new CQ article confirms that Pomeroy won't run, and also mentions that in addition to the possibility of Heidi Heitkamp running, so too could her brother Joel Heitkamp, a former state Senator and now host of a popular local talk show.)
Speculation has also turned to perhaps the most famous North Dakotan: populist talk show host Ed Schultz, who has been fielding calls requesting that he run (including from the state House minority leader, Merle Boucher). Schultz said he's a "long way" from actively considering it, but didn't explicitly rule it out and did addresss Hoeven's potential vulnerability.
We'll have a clearer sense of this race next week, when R2K polls this race (assumedly with Pomeroy, Heitkamp, and Schultz matchups against Hoeven). R2K will also be tackling Colorado and Connecticut next week as well. (Discussion underway in BruinKid's diary.)
I don't think anybody saw this coming -- North Dakota's long-time Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan is planning to retire. His statement today reads in part:
Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life. I have written two books and have an invitation from a publisher to write two more books. I would like to do some teaching and would also like to work on energy policy in the private sector.
A recent Rasmussen poll had shown Dorgan losing by double-digits to Republican Governor John Hoeven. Hoeven, however, hadn't taken any steps to get into the race; it's unclear whether Dorgan had advance notice of Hoeven starting to move toward entering the race and decided to get out of the way, or the 67-year-old Dorgan, as implied in his statement, legitimately had had enough and was ready to try something other than a fourth term. At any rate, it seems much likelier now that Hoeven gets into the race.
On the Dem side, long-time at large Rep. Earl Pomeroy seems like a possible candidate to try for a promotion. (At 58, he's still within Senate range.) However, the Democratic bench here seems to pretty much begin and end with Pomeroy, and he'd still start at a deep disadvantage against Hoeven, and maybe a lesser disadvantage against another statewide Republican official. (Pomeroy running would also expose us to the likely loss of ND-AL.) With the lack of possibilities beyond Pomeroy, we're moving this race to Lean Republican, with a likelihood that it may move further in the Republicans' favor as things unfold.
You may be feeling a sense of déjà vu. Didn't Rasmussen poll this race as recently as last week? Why yes, they did, but they happened to whiff that poll's release by forgetting to test the name of former state AG Jim Ryan, who at this point is probably the front-runner for the GOP nomination. So here's a do-over, with some unsurprisingly good results for the GOP.
Before now, we had seen exactly two polls of the hypothetical Dorgan v. Hoeven clash of the titans. In February, Research 2000 put out a poll showing Dorgan thumping Hoeven by 57-35 spread, while an NRSC internal poll released from July in the hopes of enticing Hoeven into the race had those numbers flipped at 53-36 in the GOP's favor. I'm inclined to believe that Dorgan would have a difficult time beating Hoeven -- if he ever decided to get off the pot and commit to running -- but I'm not sure if the spread is what Rasmussen thinks it is. I have to suspect that Dorgan is ahead of a sadsack like Duane Sand by a little more than 15 points, for instance.
• AR-Sen: Here's a tea leaf that state Sen. Gilbert Baker may be interested after all in getting into the Senate race: he issued a press release today going after Democratic health care reform and Blanche Lincoln in particular. He'd probably be the favorite to win the GOP nomination if he got in, if only by virtue of the rest of the field being gaffe-prone wackos.
• CT-Sen: Best wishes to Chris Dodd, who has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and will undergo surgery over the August recess. He said he'll be back at work after several weeks of recuperation at home, and that he still plans to run for re-election in 2010.
• IL-Sen: Add one more GOP Twitter fail to the increasingly long-list. Rep. Mark Kirk, who is also a Naval Reservist, tweeted his location (the National Military Command Center) while on duty. The DoD is now investigating, as it's a problem on two fronts: one, the prohibition against using the media to give away your position, and two, the prohibition against, while on military service, updating a website established prior to the beginning of service. Complicating the legal question even further: it may have been a staffer tweeting on Kirk's behalf. Because, y'know, it's so hard to think up 140 characters of content on your own.
• NY-Sen-B: The confusion over the Carolyn Maloney campaign has reached epic proportions. Yesterday, CQ reported that Maloney had no fixed timeline for officially getting into the Senate primary, but that early August seemed likely. But today, Politico's Glenn Thrush is reporting that Maloney is "leaning heavily against" making the race at all, according to several prominent Dems.
• ND-Sen: The NRSC is flogging a new internal poll which claims Gov. John Hoeven has a 53-36 lead over Sen. Byron Dorgan. Both men are very popular, with Hoeven with an 86% approval and Dorgan with a 69% approval. A public poll from R2K in February found the numbers almost exactly reversed, with Dorgan beating Hoeven 57-35... but Hoeven hasn't taken any public steps to get into the race, so we may never find out who's right.
• AK-Gov: Local pollster Hays Research looked at in-state approvals for Alaska's incoming and outgoing governors, and found Sarah Palin leaving in net negative territory: 47/48. Sean Parnell looks bulletproof for the moment, at 67/8, but, having been in office for less than a week, hasn't had the chance to screw anything up yet.
• TX-Gov: A bit more egg on the Kay Bailey Hutchison campaign's face today, as the Austin American-Statesman found that her website had over 2,200 hidden phrases on it designed to steer traffic, including "rick perry gay." (This wasn't mere meta-tagging, but blind keywords invisibly put into the site's code, something of a search engine-optimization no-no.) A spokesperson said they'd remove "rick perry gay," although it sounds like the other 2,199 phrases stay.
• KS-04: Businessman Jim Anderson got into the overflowing GOP field in KS-04 to replace retiring Rep. Todd Tiahrt. He seems like he might get a little lost in the shuffle, in a field that already includes local GOP heavyweights RNC committeman Mike Pompeo and state Sen. Dick Kelsey, along with state Sen. Jean Schodorf, who recently began exploring the race.
• MO-04: Ike Skelton, who's held down the fort for Dems in dark-red central Missouri since time immemorial, has drawn a more serious opponent than usual (not hard, since his usual opponents are nobodies or no one at all). Vicky Hartzler is a former state Rep. who has also written a book called "Running God's Way," apparently a how-to guide to campaigning for Christian right candidates. CQ also mentions several other still-in-office legislators who could also take on the 77-year-old Skelton (especially if he hears the siren song of retirement): state Rep. Tom Self and state Sen. Bill Stouffer.
• DCCC: The DCCC has responded with its own ad offensive on the health care front, a day after the RNC targeted 60 districts. The DCCC's radio buy and robo-call package is a bit more targeted, focusing on 8 GOPers (not coincidentally, maybe their 8 most vulnerable incumbents running in 2010): Michele Bachmann, Joseph Cao, Charlie Dent, Dan Lungren, Thad McCotter, Erik Paulsen, Dave Reichert, and Pat Tiberi.
• Where Are They Now?: Former GOP Rep. Anne Northup found her way into the Obama administration, as a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This initially seems very odd -- she already lost KY-03, so there's no sense in appointing her to facilitate a Dem pickup -- but it's because the Senate GOP leader has a say in picking a Republican for one of the five commissioners, and Mitch McConnell opted to give the job to his long-time protege, who, having lost three races in a row, is probably finished with electoral politics.
• IL-Sen: Here's a fairly big-name entrant to the Illinois Senate: Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson, who just formed an exploratory committee. Jackson had occasionally been rumored to be interested (to the extent that Jan Schakowksy's internal poll included her, where she got 17% when explicitly substituted for Burris) but hadn't taken concrete steps. Jackson has two demographic positives: with Schakowsky out, she'd be the only female in the race (unless, of course, Lisa Madigan gets in, in which case the game would be over anyway), and she'd be the only African-American in the race who isn't Roland Burris. However, she used to be Rod Blagojevich's press secretary prior to taking over at the Urban League, so the Blago stench may be hard to wash off.
• ND-Sen: All had seemed quiet on the midwestern front, especially after that R2K poll that showed him getting flattened by Byron Dorgan (57-35), but Gov. John Hoeven recently showed at least a peep of interest in running for Senate after all... even if it was just a statement that he was still making up his mind and would decide by September. GOP state chair Randy Emineth said that Hoeven "wants to" run against Dorgan, but we'll need to actually hear from Hoeven.
• NH-Sen: The swabbies at ARG! pointed their spyglasses toward the 2010 open Senate seat in New Hampshire, and find that Rep. Paul Hodes would defeat ex-Sen. John Sununu 40-36. No numbers for the much-hyped AG Kelly Ayotte.
• NV-Sen, NV-Gov: In the face of relentless wooing from GOP Senators, Rep. Dean Heller has set a deadline of June 30 to make up his mind about whether he runs for Harry Reid's Senate seat. (Wait a minute... that's today!) Heller's other options include staying in NV-02 or running a primary challenge in the governor's race -- where the younger Reid (Rory, the Clark County Commission chair) seems to be staffing up for the race on the Dem side.
• PA-Sen: Joe Torsella, who briefly was running against post-party-switch Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary before dropping out, has endorsed Specter. Not surprising, since Torsella is a big ally of Gov. Ed Rendell, who has pledged his support to Specter.
• CT-Gov: More indications that Ned Lamont is getting serious about running for Governor (probably against incumbent Jodi Rell) in 2010. Lamont is looking at an early-2010 deadline for deciding, but can get away with a shorter timeframe as he can self-fund and won't need a long ramp-up for fundraising.
• NJ-Gov (pdf): PPP takes their turn at polling the New Jersey Governor's race and find about what everyone else has been finding: Chris Christie leads incumbent Jon Corzine 51-41, with Christie benefiting from a 60-26 lead among independent voters. Good news, relatively speaking, for Corzine, though, is that Christie's negatives are rising quickly as he's starting to get defined in the media, up to 43% favorable and 33% unfavorable.
• SC-Gov: Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has publicly floated the idea that he would stand down from running in 2010 if he got to be Governor now, if Mark Sanford would just go ahead and resign (please?). His potential 2010 rivals are looking at this as statesman-like grandstanding, especially since it looks like Sanford is digging in.
• AK-AL: In case there was any doubt, the indestructible Rep. Don Young has announced that he's running for re-election. Young is 76 and in perpetual danger of indictment, but with the state's political talent gravitating toward the Governor's race, may have an easier path in 2010 than in 2008.
• CA-36: Los Angeles City Councilor Janice Hahn has been telling supporters that she's interested in running for Rep. Jane Harman's seat. She doesn't seem to be thinking primary, though; Hahn, for some reason, believes Harman (still under a bit of a cloud from the wiretap incident) is up for appointment to something, maybe Ambassador to Israel, in the Obama administration.
• FL-12: State Sen. Paula Dockery made clear that she won't be running in the 12th; she endorsed former State Rep. Dennis Ross for the job. She seemed to leave the door open to the Governor's race, saying in her statement that "my passion for public policy is in state government."
• IL-07: With Rep. Danny Davis looking to move over to the Presidency of the Cook County Board, Chicago-area Dems are already eyeing the super-safe open seat. Davis's former chief of staff Richard Boykin (now a lobbyist for Cook County) seems to be the first to make his interest publicly known.
• NH-01 (pdf): Manchester mayor (and NH-01 candidate) Frank Guinta is due for the Bad Samaritan Award, as he watched several of his friends (an alderman and a state Representative) beat up another acquaintance in a barroom brawl, ending with the man's leg being broken in seven places, and then immediately left the scene without reporting it to the police. Guinta said he was unaware of the extent of the man's injuries and contacted police at that point. No charges have been filed in the incident; still, not the kind of free publicity a political candidate likes to get.
• NY-03, NY-Sen-B: Rep. Peter King is sounding even iffier than before about running for Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand, having scored a desired slot on the Intelligence Committee.
• NY-23: Investment banker Matthew Doheny anted up with a lot of cash to jump into the Republican side of the race to replace Rep. John McHugh: $500,000 of his own money. Roll Call reports that he'll need the ostentatious display of cash to get anywhere in the candidate-picking process, as Assemblypersons Dede Scozzafava and Will Barclay are both reaching out behind the scenes to party leaders.
• Redistricting: Regardless of what nonsense happens in the New York Senate this session, it's looking more and more like the GOP's toehold on legislative power will be vanquished in post-2010 redistricting, regardless of who controls the legislative redistricting process. Because of growth in the city and declines upstate, 1.2 seats will need to be shifted from downstate to NYC (and, as an added bonus, an extra one-sixth of a seat will shift to the city if the Census Bureau goes ahead and starts counting prisoners according to where they're actually from rather than where they're incarcerated).
• Fusion Voting: Here's one way in which Oregon suddenly became a lot more like New York: the state legislature decided to allow "fusion voting," in which a candidate can run on multiple party lines on one ballot. This will be a boost to minor parties in Oregon, by letting them form coalitions with the major parties instead of simply playing spoiler.
• Fundraising: It's June 30, and you know what that means... it's the end of the 2nd fundraising quarter. If you want to give some momentum to your favored candidates, today's the last day to do it.
Byron Dorgan (D-inc): 57
John Hoeven (R): 35
Conventional wisdom seems to dictate that in the 2010 North Dakota senate race, Byron Dorgan is safe despite North Dakota's red-state status... unless popular Republican governor John Hoeven runs, in which case we'd have an epic battle. There's been no indication, however, that Hoeven intends to run, and based on R2K's first poll of this race, he may not want to bother.
Despite the fact that he's just as well-known and popular as Dorgan (Hoeven's favorables are 68/27, while Dorgan's are 67/30), Hoeven loses by a substantial margin, losing every part of the state and every demographic category except "Republicans." As Kos speculates, North Dakotans, like other small-staters (consider Alaskans' attachment to Ted Stevens), know well how linked their local economy is to federal appropriations, and seem unwilling to trade in Dorgan's decades of seniority and powerful committee posts.