• CT-Sen: William Tong, a state rep we mentioned once before, is supposedly gearing up to enter the Democratic primary. He was recently in DC "making the rounds," and is reportedly trying to hire staff. I don't really see how he has a chance, given that two big names are already in the race, but maybe he's hoping for a good enough showing to improve his name rec with the political classes for a future run. (Tong's only in his late 30s.)
• NE-Sen: State Sen. Deb Fischer, a sorta dark-horse candidate given that two statewide officials are already running in the GOP primary, is getting encouragement from a one-time statewide office-holder: former Gov. Kay Orr, the first Republican woman to be elected governor in the United States. Interestingly, the man who stopped Orr in her bid for re-election in 1990 is the guy Fischer would take on: Ben Nelson.
• OH-Sen: As promised early last week, Josh Mandel filed paperwork with the FEC to form a Senate campaign committee, but his mouthpiece insists that it's not a formal statement of candidacy, just "a step."
• WI-Sen: GOP ex-Rep. Mark Neumann, on a two-race losing streak, is hoping that the third time's the charm. After offering some recent hints, Neumann's now explicitly saying he's considering a run against Herb Kohl. He hasn't offered any kind of timetable, except to suggest he's kinda-sorta waiting on Rep. Paul Ryan, the guy who inherited his seat in the House. (I seriously doubt Ryan will run, given his prominence in the House GOP leadership.) Neumann was last seen losing the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary to none other than Scott Walker. Before that, he'd been out of politics for a long time, narrowly losing the 1998 Senate race to Russ Feingold. Neumann has some personal wealth he could throw into the race, though of course Kohl has a ton of money (and a history of self-funding).
• NY-26: The cries of "splitters!" from the Judean People's Front/People's Front of Judea battle raging in upstate New York have just grown louder. The leaders of one teabagger group, TEA New York, issued an endorsement to Republican Jane Corwin, furious as they are over Crazy Jack Davis appropriating their good name and branding his ballot line the "Tea Party." Meanwhile, another teabagger org, the Tea Party Coalition, gave their seal of approval to Davis, who denounced TEA NY as a tool of the GOP. Oh, it also helps that the leaders of the TPC are on the Davis payroll. But for the full flavor, I strongly encourage you to read Alan Bedenko's hilarious summation of all this mishugas.
• TX-26: Dianne Costa, a former GOP mayor of Highland Village (pop. 17K) has filed paperwork to run in the 26th CD, currently held by backbencher Michael Burgess. Odds are this is a Schrödinger's Seat situation. (H/t FEC Kenobi)
• Las Vegas Mayor: I'm borderline uncomfortable reporting polls from Strategic National, because their chief, John Yob, established himself as an untrustworthy partisan hack almost right out the gate. But in any event, Jon Ralston obtained a copy (warning: Word file) of a poll they just took in this race, showing Carolyn Goodman ahead of Chris Giunchigliani by a 48-34 spread. It's not clear who if anyone the poll was taken for, but oddly enough, it tests some negative messages against both candidates - not something you usually see in a poll that gets released into the wild. It also features percentages that go into the thousandths, which means you know it's extra-accurate.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: It's sort of redundant to begin a bullet linking to 538 by saying "Nate Silver crunches the numbers," because of course that's what he's just done. Anyhow, click the link for his look at whether the Wackiness in Waukesha points to incompetence or fraud (conclusion: "[I]f you want to allege that there's a conspiracy afoot, the statistical evidence tends to work against you.) Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel also thinks the new numbers are plausible. And for a more amusing tidbit that definitely tilts in favor of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus being a boob, check out this entertaining story from Michigan Liberal.
Meanwhile, despite now facing very challenging odds (or perhaps because of it), JoAnne Kloppenburg has hired Marc Elias, the attorney who led Al Franken's legal efforts in his recount battle. David Prosser is tapping Ben Ginsburg, who, in addition to representing Norm Coleman, played a big role in the Bush Florida recount team.
• Voter Suppression: Huh - why is Jon Husted, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, trying to sound reasonable on the issue of voter ID? In the fact of pending legislation which would require voters to bring a government-issued photo ID with them to the polls, Husted instead is in favor of allowing people to use other forms of identification, like a utility bill or government-issued check. Given how deep VOTER FRAUD!!!!!!!1111 runs in the teabagger bloodstream, this is one issue (like immigration) on which any sensible Republican with higher ambitions would be wise to avoid, yet here Husted is sticking his neck out on it. What gives?
• Colorado: Colorado's new congressional map is now not expected until April 21st, instead of April 14th, as originally planned. Republicans are whining about the delay, which is partly due to the fact that 2010 precinct-level data is still being churned out by the Secretary of State's office. (The SoS claims they usually don't get it out until June 30th... why should it take eight months to do this?) Anyhow, I don't really understand why Republicans would be better off if Dems don't use the 2010 data, unless they think Democrats are dumb enough to redistrict solely based on 2008 numbers. (They aren't.) It doesn't matter, though, since the GOP isn't going to get their way here.
• Connecticut: The redistricting process is (slowly) starting here in CT.
• Florida: This is fiendish: Republicans in the legislature are pushing a constitutional amendment which would split Florida's seven-judge Supreme Court into separate five-member civil and criminal divisions, and which would also shunt the three most senior members into the criminal section. That would give Rick Scott three new appointments, and whaddya know! the four most junior justices are all Charlie Crist appointees, while the longest-serving three were all elevated by Dem Gov. Lawton Chiles. This is appearing in the redistricting roundup because Dems are (rightly) accusing the GOP of trying to pack the court in advance of the inevitable legal battles over redistricting. In order for this measure to appear on the ballot before Nov. 2012, though, it'll require the support of some Dems in the House. Let's hope they aren't stupid enough to fall for this.
Anyhow, the legislature is starting work on redistricting, but it sounds like they are in no hurry to get the job done (the above story might be part of the reason): House Speaker Dean Cannon told members who want to be on the redistricting committee to expect to work hard into next year. Of course, we do things quite a bit fast around here, so if you want to play around with the latest redistricting toy, check out this new online tool for remapping Florida.
• Iowa: Today is the deadline for members of Iowa's advisory commission to issue its recommendations on the state's new set of maps, after which the lege has to give them an up-or-down vote. All signs point to passage, which would make Iowa the first state in the nation to complete its redistricting process.
• Louisiana: Well, after a quick start with a flurry of plans getting subject to scrutiny, things have definitely gone off the rails in Louisiana. Five of the state's six Republican congressmen sent a letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal asking the legislature to delay federal redistricting until next year - and Jindal apparently agrees with the idea. Daily Kingfish describes this as a big setback for Jindal, given that his party controls the entire lege. It is a little surprising to me that one man, Rep. Charles Boustany, apparently has the power (and the allies in the state Senate) to mess with Jindal like this, but perhaps the governor simply thinks he can steamroll Boustany after the November elections, assuming Republicans gain more seats.
• New Jersey: The fallout continues: Three NJ legislators have announced they will move into new districts so that they can run again this fall, and apparently all of them are being welcomed to do so by their own parties. Of course, it's still early, and some people will definitely get squeezed out by the end.
• Ohio: This is actually the same link at the voter suppression story above, but it contains a throw-away line at the end in which SoS Jon Husted says congressional districts need to be re-drawn by Sept. 1st in order for Ohio to hold its primary by March 2012. (Otherwise it would have to get moved - to May, according to the article, but if the process really drags on, who knows how late things could get shifted.)
• Sacramento: You can redistrict the city of Sacramento, California in this online game.
• Virginia: Played for fools - that's what Virginia House Democrats are. GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is praising the Republican gerrymander of the state House, which passed with near-total Dem support in that body, despite representing a deliberate plan to fuck over Democrats, as having "strong bipartisan support." At the same time, he's slamming the Dem state Senate map, which GOPers had the good sense to vote against en masse, as some kind of unholy gerrymander. Duh! Bolling is trying to goad the lege into adopting maps produced by Gov. Bob McDonnell's commission (not gonna happen), but he's also suggesting that McDonnell could "substitute" the commission's maps for whatever the legislature passes. I admit I'm not entirely clear on how that would work - a particularly egregious use of the line item veto, or something along those lines? Seems risky.
Of course, all of this is predicated on bipartisan incumbent-protection agreement which includes the federal map as well. But is this deal unraveling? Dem state Sen. Janet Howell, who created the senate map, says she "doubts" her body's congressional map will match the House's, which was released just last week (the Janis plan). I'm surprised to hear this, because I thought a clear understanding had been worked out between the two houses, but I suppose there is still some negotiation left to be done over the federal map.
• CT-Sen: Connecticut's open seat Senate race was always destined to be a high-dollar affair, and the money chase is well underway. Former SoS Susie Bysiewicz released a first quarter total of a respectable $500K, but Rep. Chris Murphy, her main rival in the Dem primary, just more than doubled up on that, with $1.1 million raised over the course of his first 10 weeks. (Of course, they've both picked their low hanging fruit on their first trip to the orchard, so the challenge will be to keep up that rate.)
• FL-Sen: PPP, who put out general election numbers on the Senate race last week, have the GOP primary numbers... and they find GOP voters saying "Uh, who?" (Y'know, like that guy who used to be the Senator... who somehow is known by only 26% of the sample?) Unfortunately, Connie Mack IV dropped out while the poll was in the field, so, better-known than the other options (perhaps courtesy of his dad, the former Sen. Connie Mack III, who the state's older and more confused voters might think is back) he leads the way at 28, with the actual candidates, ex-Sen. George LeMieux and state Sen. majority leader Mike Haridopolos at 14 and 13, respectively. Additional likely candidate Adam Hasner is back at 5. Don't look for any help on choosing from Marco Rubio: he's just announced that he won't endorse in the primary.
• HI-Sen: There still seem to be fans out there for losing '06 IL-06 candidate and Obama admin member Tammy Duckworth, eager to get her into elected office somewhere someday, and the place du jour seems to be Hawaii, where a Draft Duckworth page has popped up for the open Senate seat.
• MA-Sen: Salem mayor Kim Driscoll has been the occasional subject of Senate speculation for the Dem primary, along with the mayor of pretty much every other mid-sized city in the state. Nevertheless, she pulled her name out of contention yesterday (all part of the Democratic master plan of not having a candidate to deceptively lull the GOP into complacency, I'm sure). Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Scott Brown (last seen praising the Paul Ryan Abolition of Medicare Plan, rolled out his first quarter fundraising numbers: he raised $1.7 million in Q1, leaving him with $8.1 million cash on hand. That's, of course, huge, but the silver lining on that is that it doesn't leave him on track to hit his previously-announced super-gigantic $25 mil fundraising goal for the cycle.
• FL-Gov: With various newly-elected Republican governors in polling freefall, Rick Scott (who can't even get along with his GOP legislature, let alone his constituents) really seems to be leading the way down. Quinnipiac finds his approvals deep in the hole, currently 35/48, down from 35/22 in February (meaning he picked up no new fans in that period, but managed to piss off an additional quarter of the state). Voters says by a 53-37 margin that his budget proposals are unfair to people like them. Voters are also opposed to the legislature's proposal to stop collecting union dues from state workers' paychecks.
• MO-Gov: After spending Monday dragging out his fight with those who buy ink by the barrel (aka the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who broke the story on his fancy-pants hotel habit), Missouri Lt. Gov. and Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Kinder seemed to dial things down a notch yesterday: he says he'll 'voluntarily' reimburse the state $30K for those expenditures, and while not exactly apologizing, says he seeks "to move this nimbus off the horizon." Um, whatever that means.
• AZ-06: After getting mentioned a lot when Jeff Flake announced his Senate run, opening up the Mesa-based 6th, state Senate president Russell Pearce is now sounding unlikely to run according to insiders. (Blowback over his links to the Fiesta Bowl controversy may be the last straw, though, rather than his status as xenophobia's poster child.) A couple other GOP names have risen to the forefront: state House speaker Kirk Adams, who's considering, and former state Sen. majority leader Chuck Gray, who is already in.
• CA-36: One more big union endorsement for Janice Hahn in the primary fight against Debra Bowen to succeed Jane Harman: this one comes from the SEIU.
• CT-05: The open seat vacated by Chris Murphy is likely to draw a crowd, and here's a new Republican contender in this swingy, suburban district: Farmington town council chair and former FBI agent Mike Clark. Clark has a notable profile for helping to take down a fellow Republican while at the FBI: corrupt ex-Gov. John Rowland. He'll face Justin Bernier in the GOP primary, who lost the primary in 2010.
• FL-20: In case Debbie Wasserman Schultz's work load couldn't get any heavier, she just got a new heap of responsibility dumped in her lap: she'll become the new head of the DNC, to replace newly-minted Senate candidate Tim Kaine. She'll, of course, keep her day job as Representative.
• MN-08: The Dem-leaning 8th is as good a place as any to pick up a seat in 2012, but there's the wee problem of trying to find somebody to run there. The latest Dem possibility that drew everyone's interest, Yvonne Prettner Solon, the former Duluth-area state Sen. and newly-elected Lt. Governor, won't run here either.
• NH-St. House: I realize that with 400 members you're going to have a lot of bad apples, but still we're up to 3 GOP frosh having resigned already from the New Hampshire state House. Hot on the heels of a 91-year-old member resigning after advocating (literally) sending 'defectives' to Siberia to starve, Gary Wheaton just resigned for driving with a suspended license after a previous DUI (and then publicly suspected the arresting officer for targeting him because of his vote against collective bargaining). And somewhat less dramatically, Robert Huxley eventually got around to resigning after not getting around to showing up for any votes so far in the session.
• EMILY's List: EMILY's List is out with its first five fundraising targets for the 2012 cycle. Some of them are to be expected, with high-profile GOP freshmen and already-announced female opponents: Allen West (who may face West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel in FL-22), Paul Gosar (who faces a rematch with ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in AZ-01), and Charlie Bass (rematched with Ann McLane Kuster in NH-02). They also targeted Joe Heck in NV-03 and Chip Cravaack in MN-08, who don't have opponents yet but conceivably could match up with Dina Titus and Tarryl Clark, respectively.
• WATN?: Thirtysomething Carte Goodwin seemed to make a good impression during his half-a-year as a fill-in in the Senate (in between Robert Byrd and Joe Manchin), moving him to prime position on the Dems' West Virginia bench, but he says he's not running for anything else anytime soon. Or more accurately, he says the only the only thing he's running for "is the county line." (Uh, with the revenuers in pursuit?)
• CT-Sen: Former SoS Susan Bysiewicz said that she raised over half a mil in Q1. She also continued a theme of attacking Chris Murphy as some kind of skeezy Washington insider, saying "I'm sure the corporate PACs and DC lobbyists are lining up to support other candidates." Murphy is the only other announced candidate.
• FL-Sen: Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times tweeted last Wednesday he expects George LeMieux (R) to announce "next week"... which means this week.
• IN-Sen: Rep. Dan Burton, one of the most disliked Republicans in the state of Indiana, channels his inner Tobias Fünke (the man inside him?) and says, "I'm supporting Dick - there's two Dicks in the race." That'd be Richard "Dick" Lugar and Richard "Dick" Mourdock. Oh Burton, you blowhard!
• KY-Sen: I can't really believe Rand Paul is serious about a presidential bid, but then again, I thought the same thing about Michele Bachmann and was clearly wrong about that. Still, I'm mostly amused by the fact that he met with Iowa Republicans (including Gov. Terry Branstad) in Des Moines this past weekend. Rand might be trying to set himself up for a run in 2016... or he could also be doing a good job of inviting a primary challenge if he seeks re-election.
• MA-Sen: Teabaggers being pissed at Scott Brown are nothing new - though I do find their naivety endearing. (What did they think they were going to get?) What's sad is that one of their self-anointed leaders, some guy named Judson Phillips, can only muster up this in response to Brown's latest outrage (calling to reduce budget cuts): "Perhaps the Massachusetts Tea Party will step up with someone to challenge him in 2012." A resounding call to arms this ain't.
• ME-Sen: Freshman Sen. Pat Toomey says he won't endorse Olympia Snowe in her bid for re-election. Toomey, don't forget, has some residual teabagger cred, given that he was president of the Club for Growth.
• MO-Sen: Citizens United (yes, thatCitizens United) just gave GOP Rep. Todd Akin $10K in the hopes of luring him into the Senate race. I was wrong about Trent Franks, but I really do feel like Akin will get in here.
• MT-Sen: Republicans think they get lots of mileage out of attacking "welfare," but Denny Rehberg took this trope several steps further, declaring that Pell Grants are "turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century."
• NV-Sen: Rep. Shelley Berkley says she's heartened by the internal poll numbers she put out last week (42-38 over Republican Dean Heller), she still hasn't made up her mind, though now says she'll decide "fairly soon," whatever that means.
• NY-Sen: Kirsten Gillibrand set a personal record with her 1Q fundraising, taking in over $3 million.
• KY-Gov: Despite opposing the expansion of gambling in the state - a very big and very contentious issue - State Senate President (and GOP gubernatorial nominee) David Williams lost over $36,000 in casinos from 1999 to 2002, according to court documents related to his divorce.
• MO-Gov: Did GOP Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder just neutralize the whole "Air Claire" business? It turns out that Kinder, widely expected to run for governor, has spent an average of two months a year staying at St. Louis luxury hotels, all at taxpayer expense, including trips for society balls and baseball games.. You really need to read the whole piece to get the full flavor of Kinder's abuse of his office. Kinder also told a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "I'm not talking to you," then hung up the phone. This story's going to get worse, not better.
• UT-Gov, UT-Sen: As we've noted previously, the teabaggers are gunning for Gov. Gary Herbert, thanks to his support for immigration bills that are insufficiently punitive, in their view. Now the name of another potential primary challenger has surfaced: state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom. The linked article also says that David Kirkham, a key teabagger who helped oust Bob Bennett last year, is suggesting that Herbert, rather than Orrin Hatch, may be his compatriots' number one target this cycle. Hatch previously refused to take a position on his home state's legislation, but let's see if he turns on Herbert in the hopes of re-directing the teabaggers.
• WV-Gov: Julie Sobel at the Hotline has a complete wrapup of fundraising numbers for all the major candidates, both Dem and Republican, in the WV gubernatorial race.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: On Twitter, when Sarah Palin announced she was backing David Prosser, I called it the kiss of death. J. Pilmanis said no, she kissed a corpse. We'll find out for sure tomorrow! Anyhow, the ad wars have, of course, gone full-tilt in the final days of the campaign. Here's a roundup of some that we've seen:
Chris Murphy (D): 40
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 38
Fifth CD Rep. Chris Murphy holds a narrow lead over former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary-which won't be held for more than a year, and which could feature additional candidates (a few other people are poking their noses around the race). Murphy has a nine-point lead with men, but Bysiewicz's advantage with women is just three points. She does win African Americans by a large margin, but they only make up 11% of the primary electorate in our sample. The biggest difference between the candidates is in their favorables: Murphy scores an impressive 51-14 among Democrats, while Bysiewicz is at 45-27.
Even though no Republicans have officially declared their candidacies yet, we tested the general election (registered voters) as well:
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 44
Mark Boughton (R): 34
Chris Murphy (D): 52
Mark Boughton (R): 29
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 45
Michael Fedele (R): 35
Chris Murphy (D): 51
Michael Fedele (R): 29
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 45
Scott Frantz (R): 30
Chris Murphy (D): 51
Scott Frantz (R): 27
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 50
Linda McMahon (R): 39
Chris Murphy (D): 54
Linda McMahon (R): 38
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 42
Rob Simmons (R): 39
Chris Murphy (D): 49
Rob Simmons (R): 34
If I were Susan Bysiewicz, I'd be pretty pleased with these numbers-even the most popular Republicans can't crawl their way into the 40s. But if I were Chris Murphy, I'd be even more stoked, and it's not hard to see why: He crushes the nobodies by twenty-plus-point margins, bodyslams Linda McMahon by sixteen and hold even the semi-popular Rob Simmons to a fifteen point spread. Again, the difference lies in the favorables: Statewide, all voters like Murphy by a 40-27 spread. Bysiewicz, on the other hand, is under water at 31-41. It's a testament to how weak Republicans are in Connecticut that they do so poorly against her, with only Simmons making the race even appear to be competitive.
And that's just the nature of the state. Barack Obama's job approval here is a healthy 55-39, while freshman Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal is at 53-32. New Dem Gov. Dan Malloy doesn't fare as well, but his 39-47 rating is almost certainly due to the fact that he's actually trying to pass a responsible budget. You'll also be pleased to know that Joe Lieberman (if you still remember who he is) has sunk all the way to a 29-58 job approval score, and he's negative with Democrats, independents, and Republicans (in order of descending disgust).
I'm an avowed Chris Murphy partisan, but I'm a Democrat first and always, and I'm just glad to see that the Republicans will have an incredibly hard time making this race competitive. 2010 was their high-water mark, and even then, despite Linda McMahon's zillions, they still lost by twelve points. It's difficult to imagine them doing better in 2012.
• AZ-Sen: Arizona Dems could see a big name get into the senate race: 4th CD Rep. Ed Pastor says he's considering the race, but wants to see how Rep. Gabby Giffords's recovery goes before making any decisions. (He also says he hasn't spoken to the DSCC yet.)
• CT-Sen: Chris Murphy just scored a trio of big fat endorsements: state Attorney General George Jepsen, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Comptroller Kevin Lembo all just gave their backing to the 5th CD rep. Notably, Merrill succeeded Murphy's primary opponent, Susan Bysiewicz, as SoS this year.
• NM-Sen: Couple of developments in the open-seat New Mexico race. First, Dave Catanese says that Heather Wilson is starting to staff up for a potential run. Second, Steve Pearce says that he's spoken to Republican Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and says that Sanchez is "thinking about" running. Pearce, who earlier was urging NM Republicans to reach a consensus pick, is sounding more and more like he's interesting in playing the role of fixer rather than running himself - not too surprising, given that he's 63 and just ran tough campaigns two cycles in a row.
• OH-Sen: Actual retail value of a Drew Carey senate run? $0, apparently. The Price Is Right host's publicist says that Carey "does not plan to run for office," despite a movement trying to draft him to run against Sen. Sherrod Brown. Does this remind anyone else of talk about recruiting Jerry Springer on our behalf in the 2005 timeframe? God that was sad.
• VA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rick Boucher tells the National Journal that while he isn't ruling out a senate run, he isn't "giving any active thought" to one, either. Based on the linked NJ item, it sure sounds like Boucher is heading for a second career as a lobbyist. Anyhow, Boucher also says that Tim Kaine is the "obvious Democratic candidate."
• WI-Gov: So now the RNC, like the RGA, is putting up an ad in support of Darth Walker. No Word On The Size Of The Buy (in case you aren't familiar with that phrase, it means "NWOTSOTB"), or whether it's cable or broadcast, but The Hill does say it will run "in Milwaukee and Madison through the end of this week."
• NY-26: Though he met with teabagger David Bellavia for over an hour, Conservative Party chair Mike Long says he "made it very clear" that Republican nominee Jane Corwin has "a leg up on" Bellavia in terms of getting the Con endorsement. Long said his party's executive committee may meet later this week or early next week to make a final decision. With any luck, Bellavia will pursue his plan to petition on to the ballot if he gets passed over.
• Tampa Mayor: The city of Tampa, FL had a mayoral election the other night, and Republican Rose Ferlita (26%) and Dem Bob Buckhorn (24%) will proceed to a run-off. All of the other candidates in the first round were Dems, though former Mayor Dick Greco (who was trying to return to office) was definitely more of a DINO.
• MS-Gov: Four Democrats filed for the gubernatorial race: Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, attorney Bill Luckett (who seems to have some money), and Some Dudes Guy Shaw and William Compton, who also ran in 2007 and took just 12% in the Dem primary. But the rest of the picture is pretty brutal. Not a single Dem will be on the ballot for the positions of lieutenant governor, secretary of state, or auditor. As for the Republicans, five candidates qualified for the gubernatorial race: Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, businessman Dave Dennis, Pearl River County Supervisor Hudson Holiday, Some Dude Ron Williams, and teabagger James Broadwater.
• Special Elections: Unsurprisingly, in Florida's SD-33, Dem Oscar Braynon routed his Republican opposition in his bid to succeed Frederica Wilson (who replaced Kendrick Meek in the House). Dems also lost a very Republican state house district in Maine, HD-11, where the GOP candidate got all of 697 votes to the Democrat's 557.
• WI-St. Sen.: The Wisconsin Democratic Party is launching an effort to recall the eight Republican state senators who are legally subject to the recall process. (As you probably know, WI elects half its senators every two years, so only those who won in 2008 can be recalled right now.) The SEIU has also announced that they are backing the effort.
• CT-Sen: In almost a parody of Republican fat-cattery, not-very-likely GOP senate challenger Scott Frantz loves to race his million-dollar antique yacht down to Bermuda, while at the same time extolling the virtues of companies that patriotically avoid American taxes by moving their operations offshore to the very same island.
• IN-Sen: Treasurer Richard Mourdock is officially kicking off his primary challenge to apostate Sen. Dick Lugar today, and he's announcing that a majority of local Republican party leaders in the state are backing him. The thing is, while Lugar may well get teabagged, Mourdock really isn't a teabagger. The establishment might be trying to get out in front of Lugar's political demise by rallying around the most acceptable alternative, but while Mourdock's no Charlie Crist, even conservative guys like him don't often assuage the true movementarians. We'll see.
• MA-Sen/Gov: Fresh off his victory last fall, Deval Patrick is opening a federal PAC that, the Boston Globe says, "will pay for his expenses as he travels the country as a prominent spokesman for President Obama's reelection campaign." But Patrick insists that he'll finish his second term, and then "return to the privates sector." That was actually the Globe's typo... man, I hope it was a typo. Meanwhile, Scott Brown insists he's running for re-election, not president.
• NV-Sen: Guy Cecil, the executive director of the DSCC, is heading to Nevada this week, reports Politico's Molly Ball, to meet with three potential challengers to Sen. John Ensign: Secretary of State Ross Miller, Treasurer Kate Marshall, and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. (The DS has already met with Rep. Shelley Berkley.)
• RI-Sen: Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian says he'll probably decide by June whether to seek the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Warwick is considered a "moderate" (whatever that means), and could face an impossible primary against a more conservative candidate. Recall that now-Gov. Lincoln Chafee came very close to losing a primary in 2006 against Steve Laffey while he was a sitting senator.
• VA-Sen: Former Dem LG (and current ambassador to Switzerland - and Liechtenstein!) Don Beyer says he's enjoying life abroad too much to contemplate returning home for a senate run. And hell yes he gave a shout out to Liechtenstein!
• WI-Sen: Your state becomes ground zero for the future of organized labor in America, drawing attention from around the country and around the world, and the stakes are huge. What do you do if you are Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl? You basically disappear and issue the most anodyne statement possible, saying that you "hope these matters can be settled in a respectful and balanced way." Eh, maybe we're better off like this - it's not like Kohl would be a big asset in this fight anyway.
• IN-Gov: Mark Bennett of the Terre Haute Tribune Star has an interview with former House Speaker John Gregg, who reiterates he is giving the governor's race "real serious consideration" (as we mentioned yesterday) but hasn't offered any timetable about a decision. The piece is mostly interesting as a backgrounder on Gregg, who has been out of politics for almost a decade.
Meanwhile, Brad Ellsworth says he won't be running for anything at all in 2012 (so that would include IN-Sen as well), but veteran state Sen. Vi Simpson says she is "thinking about" entering the race.
• NY-10: City Hall News has a good, in-depth look at the situation in the 10th CD, where we noted recently that Rep. Ed Towns' son Darryl, thought by some to be interested in his father's seat, is instead taking a job in the Cuomo administration. This could be a resume-burnishing delaying tactic, but with the elder Towns teetering, several big names who aren't heading off to Albany could make the race, including Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and NYC Council Members Charles Barron and Tish James. Jeffries is publicly saying he won't make a decision until Towns does, while the more pugnacious Barron is convinced Jeffries won't primary the incumbent - and says he's "cut from the same cloth" as old Ed. If you're a fan of juicy ethnic, racial, religious, machine, big-city politics, set against the backdrop of redistricting and the VRA, this race is one to watch.
• PA-St. Sen.: How common is this? In the potentially bellwether-ish special election to replace deceased Dem state Sen. Michael O'Pake, Democrat Judy Schwank is going on the air with television ads. Her Republican opponent is reportedly set to follow. NWOTSOTB, but do state legislators commonly advertise on TV in your area?
• WATN?: So Arlen Specter's hung out a shingle. Unlike a lot of dudes in his position who become rainmakers in big DC lobbying firms, the almost quaint name of Specter's new law firm is "Arlen Specter, Attorney-at-Law," and he's practicing in Philly. Meanwhile, Specter's primary conqueror, Joe Sestak, sure is busy - he's been going on a 67-county (that's all of `em) "thank you" tour in the wake of his narrow defeat last year. While the pace is probably less punishing than on the campaign trail, this kind of perambulation is usually the sort of thing most politicians are relieved to give up after they lose - so obviously people are speculating that Sestak wants to get back in some day. Sestak himself says he wants "to stay in public service of some sort," and won't deny rumors that he's interested in a 2014 gubernatorial run., but I just can't see Sestak as gov material.
• Polltopia: You know how in a WWF tag-team match, there are those moments when one dude taps out and his partner comes in, but for a few seconds, they're both kinda in the ring at once, wailing on their hapless opponent at the same time? Just watch here as Stone Cold Mark Blumenthal puts Scott Rasmussen in a headlock and Nate "Superfly" Silva busts out the folding chair. When the bell sounds, we know pretty much what we did before: you can trust the outcomes of a Rasmussen poll and a pro-wrestling match just about equally.
• Redistricting: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has releases his "Redistricting Reform Act of 2011," which would create a non-partisan commission that would draw both state lege and congressional district lines. The members of the commission would still be political appointees, though, with the governor apparently holding the final card. Cuomo has threatened to veto any old-style gerrymanders, but it's not clear to me that this bill has much of a chance, particularly since other reports say Cuomo is willing to trade this for a much bigger priority, like property tax reform.
Meanwhile, Politico has the unsurprising news that many members of Congress have recently started making generous donations to their home-state legislatures, in order to win a little love during the redistricting battles ahead. I do wish they would just post the full chart of their analysis, rather than pick out tidbits. We'd never do that to you!
• Census: Bunch more states a'comin' this week: Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington will all see redistricting data by Feb. 25th.
• Dave's App: Version 2.1 has been released, with all sorts of new features. Dave is also adding new 2010 census data as he is able.
• Special Elections: SSP's own Johnny Longtorso, keeper of the special election flame, files this report:
We've got a whopping nine state legislative races in Connecticut on Tuesday. Eight of the nine are Democrats who resigned to join the Malloy administration, while the ninth (also a Dem) resigned due to a misdemeanor conviction. One race of note is HD-36, where CT-02 loser Janet Peckinpaugh is the Republican nominee. A couple of these races were close in 2010 (HD-99 and 101), so we may see some flips on Tuesday.
Also, in Missouri, there's an open State Senate seat in Kansas City, which should be an easy Dem hold.
And last Saturday, Republican state Rep. Jonathan Perry defeated Democratic businessman Nathan Granger in a special election that decided control of the Louisiana state senate. The chamber had been split 19-19, but now the GOP has the edge. Of course, it would only have been a matter of time before the next Dem party-switcher changed the equation, but this was actually a close, hard-fought race.
Congressman Joe Courtney said Monday he would not run for U.S. Senate in 2012.
In a statement release Monday morning, Courtney said: "I am truly grateful for the tremendous encouragement and enthusiastic support I have received from leaders across Connecticut as I have considered this question. I look forward to working with all of those who reached out to create a strong future for our state. After careful deliberation, however, I have decided to focus on my work as a Congressman and will decline to enter the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.".
So far, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz have announced they will run for the seat now held by Joseph Lieberman, who is not seeking re-election.
This most immediately seems to be a boon to Murphy, as Courtney cuts a more similar profile to him than Bysiewicz and thus would likely have siphoned off more of Murphy's vote than Bysie's.
• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon says that she hasn't "made up my mind yet" but that she is "leaning in [the] direction" of another senate run. As Daniel Kelly, ED of the state Dem party rightly points out, she can swamp the GOP field in the primary with her zillions, but she'd be the same tainted goods in the general as she was last year - and, I would add, this time, she'd be running in a blue state in a presidential year. Good luck, lady!
Meanwhile, another much-lesser-known Republican, state Sen. Scott Frantz, says he won't "rule out" a senate bid, but that he has "no plans to run."
• FL-Sen: Obama alert! Barack Himself (and DSCC chair Patty Murray) will host a March 4th fundraiser for Sen. Bill Nelson in Miami Beach, with proceeds to be split between the Nelson campaign and the DSCC. I draw two things from this bit of news. First, if you're facing a competitive race and want presidential help, it's a good idea to live in a swing state. Second, it's nice to see that Nelson isn't shying away from Obama.
On the GOP side, the St. Petersburg Times has an interesting (and lengthy) profile of likely senate candidate Connie Mack. Mack is a hardcore conservative, but remember - it's not just about how you vote, it's about how you belong. And Mack has taken a few stances that put his tribal membership into some doubt, such as "supporting stem cell research, defending WikiLeaks and denouncing Arizona's tough immigration law as Gestapo-like." Still, with the possible exception of the Arizona law, these are mostly second-order concerns for teabaggers, and Mack would still probably have to be considered the favorite in any primary.
• ME-Sen: If Olympia Snowe is going to get teabagged, we finally have a potential name that's a notch of above Some Dude: wealthy real estate developer Eric Cianchette (a cousin of former Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Cianchette) is reportedly considering the race. But the guy who originally broke the news, Dennis Bailey, says that Cianchette may actually be having second thoughts and considering another race.
• NV-Sen: Ah, the blind quotes are out to get John Ensign. "One Republican lobbyist" says he (and everyone else) is supporting Dean Heller, while "another Republican lobbyist" says he's pushing John Cornyn to have Ensign fitted for some new Ferragamo cement wingtips. On the flipside, one lobbyist with an actual name, Kenneth Kies (who is supporting Ensign), claims "Cornyn's been clear that he doesn't get involved in these things." I guess when you're a Republican lobbyist, you are either very good at believing things which aren't true or at least just saying them out loud.
• FL-Gov: Usually, when the headline is "Criminal Behaves Like Criminal," it's not really news. But when that criminal is the sitting governor of Florida, it is. Zillionaire creepster Rick Scott followed through on a campaign promise to sell one of the state's two planes. The problem is, he used the proceeds from the sale to pay off the lease on the other plane - and, says Republican state Sen. J.D. Alexander, it's up to the legislature, not the governor, to decide how to appropriate state funds. It's kind of amazing how frequently Rick Scott has already gotten on the wrong side of his fellow Republicans during his very short tenure. Actually, when I said "kind of amazing," I meant "totally predictable and expected." Florida is damn near turning into a cat fud factory.
• AZ-08: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Adam Smith are hosting a fundraiser for Rep. Gabby Giffords on March 15th in DC.
• FL-25: When Republicans vetted Rep. David Rivera, they must have used the same crew of CHUDS and mole-people who blessed Bernie Kerik's bid for homeland security chief. Now comes word that in just a few short years, Rivera funneled at least $817,000 to a consultant and "close friend," Esther Nuhfer, through an often-complicated series of arrangements that remind me of a South Florida version of BMW Direct. Ferinstance, Nuhfer's firm raised an astounding $1 million for Rivera's state senate campaign (before he switched over to the FL-25 race)... but he burned through $700K by February of last year, and at least a quarter mil of that went to Nuhfer. Also, this.
• IN-02: Jackie Walorski is now saying she'll decide whether to see a rematch against Joe Donnelly (who himself may not run again) in a "couple of weeks." She also says she has no interest in running for Senate or Secretary of State.
• NY-26: I doubt this matters much, since there won't be a primary here, but Kieran Lalor's conservative Iraq vets PAC is pushing one of their own for the GOP nomination: David Bellavia. Even though Assemblywoman Jane Corwin appears to be the frontrunner, Bellavia will be interviewed by local party leaders.
• OR-01: This is deeply, deeply disturbing. Days before the election last year, David Wu's staff confronted him and "demanded he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment." He refused, and went on to win re-election anyway, but as you know, he faced a staff exodus earlier this year. Read the article for the full (and scary) details - excerpting it won't do it justice. Wu seriously has got to go - and has to get the help he needs. Blue Oregon has more.
• PA-10: Did someone crack out of turn? Last week, Steve Israel said he didn't want to talk up potential recruits for 2012 lest they get pre-redistricted into oblivion in 2011. Former Rep. Chris Carney seems like exactly the sort of person who would fall into that category, yet an unnamed source told Politico's Dave Catanese that Carney was just in Washington to meet with DCCC officials about a potential rematch with Tom Marino. Now the GOP will probably try to find a way to move Carney's house to the District of Guam.
• Philly Mayor: 2007 candidate and richie rich Tom Knox said he might change his mind and run in the Democratic primary once again, rather than as an independent (which is what he previously claimed he would do). He says he's waiting on the results of a poll to decide - I like the honesty! He'd face incumbent Michael Nutter in the primary if he chose that route. Also, Milton Street, bother of Nutter's two-term predecessor John Street, said he's getting in the game, too.
• Nassau Co. Exec: On the list of doomed Republicans, Nassau Co. Executive Ed Mangano ranks pretty high. He ran his super-wealthy county's finances into the ground almost immediately after his upset victory over Dem Tom Suozzi in 2009. Just a few weeks ago, the state took control of the county's finances. Now, Mangano is lashing out against unnamed enemies like sweat-drenched victim of night terrors. He's running a campaign-style ad in which he attacks "opponents." Yeah, "opponents." NWOTSOTB, of course, but he's got quite a few more years to keep digging this Death Valley-depth hole down to Dead Sea levels.
• NRSC: Like a bunch of mathletes tired of being picked last for everything in gym class, it seems that Republican senators have managed to give just about everyone who wants one some kind of title down at the No Homers NRSC clubhouse. My favorite are "low-dollar chairs" Johnny Isakson and Kelly Ayotte.
AZ-Sen: As Dems cast about for a candidate in this newly open race, the last guy who ran for this seat is saying he won't seek it a second time. Former state party chair (and rich guy) Jim Pederson is doing the upstanding thing by flatly declaring he's out: "I don't want to play a cat-and-mouse game with this U.S. Senate race." In an age where would-be candidates drag out the "exploratory" phase with leaks of rumors of hints of tea leafs for months, Pederson's stance is refreshing, even if it does mean a potentially strong contender won't run. (Of lesser note, Rep. Raul Grijalva also says he's not interested.)
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth says it's already raised $100K for the only dude in the race so far, Rep. Jeff Flake, who just announced a few days ago.
CT-Sen: In a move that will surely disappoint Beltway hacks endlessly thirsting to write more stories about Camelot, Ted Kennedy, Jr. says he won't seek Joe Lieberman's open senate seat. He did note that he might consider politics in the future (he's 50).
FL-Sen: Not really a surprise, but Rep. Connie Mack (R) is amping up his fundraising, hiring a veteran NRSC fundraiser who has also worked for Bill McCollum and Mel Martinez, Anne Ekern. Mack is also having a "major" event this Friday, which will supposedly feature "cigars." I assume it will also feature top hats and lighting said stogies with $50 bills.
MA-Sen: By now you've probably caught wind of the Daily Kos effort to draft Elizabeth Warren, the interim director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Note also that David Kravitz of Blue Mass Group, the top progressive blog in the Bay State, recently said he also supports a Warren run.
VA-Sen: It seems that everyone is trying hard to get DNC chair Tim Kaine to run for the senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb, including Barack Obama himself, who apparently talked on the phone with Kaine yesterday. (But don't these guys talk regularly, anyhow?) Webb also said he wants Kaine to replace him. Meanwhile, ex-Rep. Tom Perriello told the Washington Post he'd consider getting in, but only if Kaine - whom Perriello said he wants to see run - doesn't make the race.
LA-Gov: Opulence - I has it. So says Bobby Jindal, who is sitting on a $9.2 million stack of doubloons, after hauling in $3.4 million in 2010. Seeing this, Dem state Sen. President Joel Chaisson is too smart to kiss the mini-giraffe. Though he pulled in a decent-ish $180K and checked the "statewide" box on his campaign finance disclosures, Chaisson says he's just hedging his bets in case Jindal decides to run for president instead.
OH-Gov: The douche is strong in this one: John Kasich was easily one of the schmuckiest candidates of the 2010 cycle, and one of the most obnoxious Republicans alive - which is saying a hell of a lot. Of course, he hasn't changed one bit since his inauguration. Just check out this video of him calling a police officer who had the temerity to ticket him "an idiot" three times in sixty seconds. Listen in particular to his tone of voice at 1:07. What an asshole.
AZ-06: Here's another Republican name in the mix to succeed the running-for-senate Jeff Flake: First-term Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.
CA-36: The endorsements just keep rolling in for Janice Hahn, who has now secured the backing of local Dem Reps. Karen Bass, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Xavier Becerra, the last of whom is a big cheese in House leadership. So far I haven't seen word of any big names coming out for Debra Bowen (but correct me if I'm wrong). Relatedly, for a good look at which sides the various power players might line up on, check out this piece by LA Weekly's Gene Maddaus.
By the way, Jane Harman has now said she'll delay her resignation until Feb. 28th at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown. That gives Brown a better chance to consolidate the CA-36 race with a budget-related special election that's likely to be held in June - but even that date is still up in the air. In any event, if round one goes forward in June, then round two (if needed) would take place in August.
MI-05: The exact words of 81-year-old Rep. Dale Kildee (D), when asked if he's quitting: "They'll have to carry me out of here." Despite having just $12K in the bank, the veteran lawmaker says he's definitely going for another term, and that you can ignore his warchest: "I usually don't start raising money until March, so that doesn't mean anything."
NY-26: Erie County Republican Chair Nick Langworthy says that he and his fellow party leaders for the seven counties which comprise the 26th CD are interviewing candidates this weekend to fill ex-Rep. Chris Lee's seat. Since this is the fourth special election in New York in less than two years, you probably recall that nominees are selected by local party chairs, rather than in a primary. Anyhow, the GOP shortlist:
Amherst Town Supervisor Barry Weinstein; Jack Davis, a Democrat turned Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Tom Reynolds for the same seat; Chris Jacobs, member of the Buffalo school board; the front-runner, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin; Dan Humiston, a businessman and owner of Tanning Bed; and Erie County lawmaker Ed Rath.
You better believe emphasis added! Oh please oh please pick Jack Davis! Anyhow, on the Dem side, it definitely looks like one speculative candidate is out: departing White House deputy press sec'y Bill Burton is starting a consulting firm, according to Politico, which you'd think would rule out a run.
SD-AL: South Dakota's single at-large CD is one seat where we definitely won't have to worry about redistricting, so it makes sense that Steve Israel's reached out ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin about a potential rematch against GOPer Kristi Noem. Herseth Sandlin says they've "traded some emails" and that she's considering the idea - but obviously she hasn't taken the plunge yet, since that would probably have been front-page news here.
At the same press briefing, Israel also made a good point: Dems are holding off on announcing House recruits not just because they don't necessarily know where the lines will be drawn, but because they don't want to give Republicans a chance to redistrict strong candidates into oblivion. RCP does report, though, that "Democratic congressmen on the recruitment team have visited 15 states on recruitment trips and made recruitment calls to candidates in another 15 states."
State Leges: We had a few special elections the other night. In the Los Angeles area, GOPer Sharron Runner took over her husband's seat in SD-17 in a landslide. In SD-28, Dem Ted Lieu avoided a runoff as well. Both were holds. Over in Minnesota's Iron Range, 25-year-old Carly Melin also held a seat for Team Blue. But in a special election primary in South Carolina's HD-64, Alvin Greene (yes, that Alvin Greene) pull just 37 votes out of 3,960 cast. Wonder if he remembered to vote for himself.
And finally, talk about overtime: The last uncalled race of 2010 was decided in court yesterday, with an appeals panel declaring Republican Thomas Kirwan the victor in New York's 100th Assembly District. Interestingly, Kirwan is framing this as a boon to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pointing out that Republicans now have enough votes to prevent Speaker Shelly Silver from over-riding any Cuomo vetoes.
WATN?: Ah, Tom Emmer, man of principle. Two years ago, the former GOP gubernatorial candidate was vigorously fighting Minnesota's ban on expensive satellite radiation clinics, demanding that "market forces" be allowed to work. Now he's a registered lobbyist with only one client... and that client has instructed him to advocated in favor of extending the very same ban. Market forces at work, indeed.
In better news, it's always nice to see one of our guys land on her feet. Dem ex-Rep. Betsy Markey (CO-04) has landed a job with the Dept. of Homeland Security. She'll be the "assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs."
• AZ-Sen, AZ-06: Rep. Jeff Flake, who announced his bid today, had to wait only a few hours before getting a valuable (for the GOP primary, at least) endorsement from the Club for Growth; he's a natural fit for them, given his draconian budgetary views and laissez-faire social views. Even before Flake had announced, his potentially strongest rival for the GOP nod, ex-Rep. John Shadegg had announced that he wasn't going to run. Shadegg's AZ-03 replacement, Rep. Ben Quayle confirmed that he won't be running either. The same goes for another Republican freshman, Rep. David Schweikert (that article also helpfully points out that famous Arizona residents Meghan McCain and Bristol Palin, who've both accomplished so much in the social media sphere in their short lives, are both too young to run for Senate). Former NFL player Kurt Warner has also taken himself out of consideration.
Buried in a Roll Call article on the whip race to replace Jon Kyl are a few more interesting bits: Trent Franks is "not expected" to run, while state Senate president and prime mover behind SB 1070 Russell Pearce is "out," but "plans to run" for AZ-06, being vacated by Flake. There's not much to report on the Dem side today, but there are further reports that ex-Gov., and current DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (who didn't poll well against Kyl according to PPP a few weeks ago, although they didn't test her against Flake) has been calling around to gauge her support.
• CT-Sen: Ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz rolled out her own long list of endorsements from local Dems, in response to a list unveiled several weeks ago by primary rival Chris Murphy. While Murphy's list was heavy on the 5th District, naturally, Bysiewicz's list is heavy on the 2nd District (which is interesting, as it may be an indication that Rep. Joe Courtney has decided against running... or it may be a preventative shot across Courtney's bow). Bysiewicz is from Middletown, which is in the 2nd although kind of on its periphery. In terms of the Republican field, there was a straw poll taken of state Tea Party Patriots members this weekend. Given the sample size of 54 and the self-selecting nature of the nuttiest of the nuttiest, it's barely worth mentioning, but they found Linda McMahon only barely winning with 15 votes, compared to Peter Schiff's 14. Rob Simmons and Tom Foley each got 6, with state Sen. Scott Frantz at 5 and Danbury mayor Mark Boughton at 4.
• FL-Sen, FL-13: Like I've said before, don't count out Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan for the Senate; the owner of numerous car dealerships is sitting on a big campaign account, has wealthy friends, and can self-fund too. And now he's publicly saying he's "not ruling it out."
• MO-Sen: Over the weekend in Joplin was the first public joint appearance between the two announced GOP candidates so far, Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin. While they superficially only attacked Claire McCaskill, Martin sneaked in some anti-Steelman attacks by implication, saying that he'll support "tort reform every time" and "take on the public sector unions." (While Steelman has the support of the DC-based tea party astroturfers, the local teabaggers are skeptical of her insufficient purity on those two issues.)
• NV-Sen: Given behavior lately that might charitably be described as "erratic," I've pretty much given up on trying to figure out Sharron Angle's plans (her travel schedule seems to take her mostly to early presidential states these days, in case you had any doubts about the scope of her delusions of grandeur). But now she's talking about Nevada Senate again, saying that she'd like to talk to John Ensign before deciding whether or not to challenge him in the primary.
• NY-Sen: As she becomes better-known to New Yorkers, Kirsten Gillibrand's numbers keep going up. Siena's newest poll finds her at 57/18 favorables, with a 52% re-elect (including even a plurality among Republicans). Liz Benjamin also notes that two Republican 2010 Gillibrand challengers - Joe DioGuardi (whom Gillibrand flatted) and David Malpass (whom DioGuardi beat in the GOP primary) - are both still considering the race. Ex-LG "Batshit Besty" McCaughey (who once ran for governor on the Liberal Party line) was also down in DC this past weekend, once again relishing her role as healthcare fabricator-in-chief at the loonier-than-thou CPAC conference - and also possibly trying to raise her profile for a potential run (something we noted a couple of weeks ago). Bring it on!
• OH-Sen: Newly elected state Treasurer Josh Mandel got some buzz at some point last month, and here's some more for him: the Plain Dealer, in a longer piece wondering why the Republican field (in what could be a pickup opportunity with the right candidate) isn't taking shape at all, points to him as a possible alternative in the face of disinterest from the A-list. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor seems to be working on building her portfolio (taking over the state Dept. of Insurance), suggesting a plate too full for a Senate bid, while Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve LaTourette are enjoying their newfound majority. Mandel seems to have the best fundraising chops of anyone beyond that initial top tier.
• VA-Sen, VA-01: Here's one more Republican name to add to the list in Virginia, and it's kind of an unexpected one, in that usually low-profile guys with safe red districts in the House tend to stay where they are. The 1st's Rob Wittman is saying he's "considering" the race, along with the requisite "never say never."
• WI-Gov: The AFL-CIO is already weighing into Wisconsin, even though the next gubernatorial election is three and three-quarters years away. In response to Scott Walker's ham-fisted attempt to limit collective bargaining rights for most state employees, the union is taking to the airwaves with TV spots. Obviously, the target isn't the next election but swinging public opinion against the members of the state legislature, who'll have the final say on the matter. (As a more general question, though, I've gotta wonder if we'll see much more of this type of issue advertising in off-years in the future, as we move more and more into "permanent campaign" mode and the ground needs to be seeded for the on-years.)
• WV-Gov: With Saturday's filing deadline come and gone, we have an official list of all the candidates in the gubernatorial special election, and with 14 names total, it's a doozy. Not much in the way of surprises, though; the only person expected to run who, in the end, didn't seems to be Dem state Sen. Brooks McCabe. For the Democrats, it's acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Sen. Jeff Kessler, SoS Natalie Tennant, state Treasurer John Perdue, state House speaker Rick Thompson, and some dude Arne Moltis. For the Republicans, it's ex-SoS Betty Ireland, Putnam Co. Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia, state Sen. Clark Barnes, state Del. Mitch Carmichael, ex-state Del. Larry Faircloth, and some dudes Bill Maloney, Cliff Ellis, and Ralph William Clark. National Journal's Sean Sullivan makes a good observation that in fields this crowded and in a state without runoffs, ballot position (which studies have shown can add 1-3% to a candidate's vote) may actually wind up making the difference here. The positions were determined by random draw; for the Dems, Tomblin is at the top while co-frontrunner Tennant is at the bottom. For the GOP, Ireland is 7 out of 8, while Maloney is listed first.
• CA-36: LA city councilor Janice Hahn keeps rolling out more endorsements in her attempt to get an early lock-down on the Dem nomination in the special election. Three big ones: two very relevant to California (new Assembly speaker John Perez, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein), one, um, not so much (Dick Gephardt).
• NY-10: Gov. Andrew Cuomo just tapped Democratic Assemblyman Darryl Towns to be the state's new Homes and Community Renewal agency. Ordinarily, a special election in the remarkably-blue AD-54 would be too far in the weeds even for us, but you may recognize his name: he's the son of long-time Rep. Ed Towns. The 76-year-old Towns is routinely viewed as a candidate for retirement (and his son a likely replacement), so this move is a puzzle: is it a sign that the elder Towns isn't going anywhere (perhaps permanently fastened to his House seat by all the moss growing there), or perhaps a way for the younger Towns to burnish his credentials a bit and differentiate him a bit from his somnolent dad?
• NY-26: One more name to strike off the Republican list in the 26th (not that I'd known he'd been on the list): Assemblyman Dan Burling said he wouldn't run, and threw his support behind fellow Assembly member Jane Corwin for the nomination.
• Redistricting: This local news piece on redistricting in Indiana exposes the most mind-numbing and tedious part of the process, one that gets easily overlooked: the process of turning census data into precinct data, seeing as how precincts exist in their own little world apart from blocks and tracts. Even though Indiana was one of the earliest to receive their data, this data-cleaning process is expected to take several weeks before the legislature can even begin tackling the numbers. Also, Indiana is one of the states that will allow citizens to get their hands on the data to try making their own maps... but because of licensing issues of some sort, they won't be making the data available online. If you're in-state, you can drop into one of a number of stations they'll be setting up around the state where you can tinker with the data in person, though.
• Site news: DavidNYC here. I'm back from my vacation and I've had the chance to read through all of the comments (every last one) in the post where I announced our impending move to Daily Kos. While many of my replies are "thank yous" for the very kind expressions of support you offered, I also did my best to answer specific questions where I could. Rest assured that this won't be the last I'll have to say on the subject before we make the changeover. I'll also take this opportunity to encourage you to create an account over at Daily Kos if you don't have one already, and to play around with the new site (DK4 just launched this past weeked). (D)