• FL-Sen: Do you remember Craig Miller? I barely do. He's the wealthy former steakhouse exec who was the Republican Plan C in the FL-24 primary last year... and in an amusing bit of synchronicity, came in third, behind now-Rep. Sandy Adams and the batshit nuts Karen Diebel. Hoping to fail upward, Miller is now looking at the Senate race and plans to decide "within the next few weeks." I have no idea what he thinks he niche might be, and it's not clear to me that he has the money to overwhelm the field.
• IN-Sen, IN-Gov: Former Rep. Tim Roemer says he's stepping down as ambassador to India. Could this presage a return to Hoosier politics? I'm skeptical, as Dems already have legit candidates lining up for both marquee statewide races. (And for what it's worth, an unnamed source told The Hill last month that Roemer wasn't likely to run for Senate.)
• MA-Sen: This is just weird. Despite repeatedly saying he isn't interested in running for Senate, Deval Patrick somehow keeps finding himself talking about the subject. This time, he said that he had talked with the President about other jobs, but wouldn't say whether Obama had asked him to run against Scott Brown. Patrick again said he doesn't want to run, and added: "I would say no to the president of the United States."
• ND-Sen: When the Club for Growth takes aim at an otherwise top-tier Republican candidate, you know you have premium-grade cat fud ready to be served. Le Club's target now is freshman Rep. Rick Berg, who went from a seemingly distant possibility to not-running-but-virtual-frontrunner status almost instantly a week ago. They're accusing Berg of being insufficiently pro-dystopia, i.e., not supporting enough cuts to federal government spending. I really hope they can find a dog... er... cat for this fight.
• NV-Sen: Sometimes PPP deliberately polls for the lulz, and sometimes, the lulz find them. In this case, it's the latter: Tom Jensen's band of merry robodialers found Dean Heller beating Sharron Angle in a hypothetical GOP primary by a score of... LOL... 84-8. ("El Exigente, what more could you want?" "Their names.") Meanwhile, on the Dem side, where there does appear to be an actual primary, Rep. Shelley Berkeley leads wealthy attorney Byron Georgiou by a 65-8 margin. Good times.
• PA-Sen: Apparently, there's two things Quinnipiac won't do: a) release sample compositions and b) test incumbents against hypothetical opponents whose names don't start with "Generic." Anyhow, Sen. Bob Casey has inched up to a 46-34 lead against "the Republican candidate." He was 45-35 two months ago.
• UT-Sen: Speaking of the Club for Growth, they just put out their 2010 scorecard, and Orrin Hatch's numbers really demonstrate the Club's power. Despite a lifetime score of 74% (30th among Senators in office last year), Hatch managed to rack up a 97% rating last year, tying him with several other Republicans for third place. What a difference a sword of Damocles makes.
• VA-Sen: Hmm. Ultra-wingnut Del. Bob Marshall's 2008 campaign manager just got hired by George Allen... and the dude didn't even tell his old boss first. Marshall's been looking at a possible Senate run, and I think he's the best hope (albeit not a great hope) we have of knocking off Allen in the GOP primary, but it's not clear what impact this will have on his plans. One positive tea-leaf: In response to the news, Marshall said, "You can tell who the candidates are not by where the consultants go, but where the volunteers go."
• PA-Gov: Uhh... did Gov. Tom Corbett just say that state universities sitting atop the Marcellus Shale should plug their budget gap by allowing exploitation of the natural gas reserves beneath them? Why yes he did. If you aren't familiar with the deeply fraught issue of hydraulic fracturing (also known as "hydrofracking" or just "fracking"), this NYT piece is a good place to start. Fracking is a devastatingly poisonous method of extracting gas, and Pennsylvania is at the epicenter of the fracking debate. Indeed, the EPA is investigating a fracking spill that took place there just last week. UPDATE: Hah, sheez. Corbett literally lifted this idea from an episode of Saved by the Bell! NOT kidding! Click the link!
• WV-Gov: Former Republican SoS Betty Ireland is finally out with her first TV ad, which I think has a weird soundtrack, odd staccato pacing, and (at least in the version her campaign posted to YouTube) crappy audio quality. I think she could definitely lose.
• AZ-06: Yesterday we noted that state House Speaker Kirk Adams was resigning his post. Later that day, he formally announced he was, as expected, running in the GOP primary in the open 6th CD. Retiring Sen. Jon Kyl immediately endorsed Adams, while Rep. Trent Franks endorsed Matt Salmon, who is also running for this post
• NV-02: Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad does a nice job digging up some facts about a 1954 special election to replace Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran, who passed away in September of that year. (If you've ever flown to Vegas, that's the guy the airport is named after.) There was some legal wrangling as to whether a special election was actually required, but once the state Supreme Court ruled yes, the parties selected their nominees by committee, not primary. That could possibly serve as precedent as SoS Ross Miller decides whether state law requires that parties choose their candidates, but Nevada's current statutes were revised only a decade ago, so the McCarran case may not be applicable.
• NY-23: A few weeks ago, the NRCC mocked a batch of miniscule radio ad buys by the DCCC and said: "At what point does a campaign committee blush when launching a 'paid advertising campaign?'" Apparently, that point must lie somewhere below $4,550, which is the amount the NRCC is spending on a tiny TV buy in Rep. Bill Owens' district. (It's some lame Pelosi-related attack.)
I'd also like to give some props to Steve Peoples of Roll Call for basically ignoring the contents of the ad and focusing on exactly what the NRCC is trying to accomplish here. I don't know if he wrote the headline, but it can't be what Republicans were hoping for: "NRCC Takes Turn With Small Ad Buy Targeting Earned Media." And in referring a radio ad against Rep. Mike Ross that we noted the other day, Peoples used the kind of language you might find on SSP, saying that the NRCC "convinced a local paper to write a story about the radio buy but refused at the time to disclose the size of the investment." (It turned out to be $2,550.) If you're going to write up a story like this, this is how it should be written.
• IN-SoS: The GOP-held state legislature has backed off a bit on attempting to rewrite the law in order to get around the Charlie White mess. (If this is the first you're hearing of the whole saga, I would suggest checking out our IN-SoS tag.) The proposed new law would give the governor the power to appoint replacement officers only on a prospective basis, so it won't affect the White situation. However, the legislation will still prevent the GOP from losing their major-party status (which was keyed to the SoS race) if the worst happens.
• NJ-St. Sen.: The legal wrangling over Democrat Carl Lewis's ballot eligibility has heated up quickly. Lewis has filed suits in both state and federal court, and a federal court judge has already ordered LG/SoS/Chris Christie goon Kim Guadagno to explain her decision booting Lewis from the ballot earlier this week. Lewis is still busy campaigning, and if he's ultimately declared eligible, I think all this rigmarole might wind up helping him, given that it's free media.
• Colorado: I'm guessing that Republicans are wishing state Sen. Greg Brophy hadn't cracked out of turn and admitted that proposed GOP maps had been deliberately "skewed to the right." That certainly won't help them when the entire matter winds up in court, which Republican state Rep. Don Coram acknowledged was inevitable anyway. In a bit worthy of Stephen Colbert, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post writes: "Brophy said Republicans got nervous when they heard Democrats were pushing so-called competitive seats, which he said favor Democrats...." Ah, indeed, the facts do have a well-known liberal bias.
Connecticut: According to the Greenwich Time, Dem state House Speaker Christopher Donovan has his eye on Rep. Chris Murphy's open 5th CD, and would very much like to have the blue stronghold of Bridgeport drawn into it. That would remove it from Rep. Jim Himes's district, but if you look at a map, it's rather hard to envision this happening without doing a lot of reshuffling. Of course, anything is possible, but given how minor CT's population deviations are, a serious reconfiguration of the map would seem to be uncalled for.
• Indiana: The Hoosier State is poised to become the fourth to finalize a redistricting map. The Republican-held state legislature has given its approval to a new plan, which now goes to GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature.
• Massachusetts: A seemingly clever bit of politics by Scott Brown, but there's a "but." Brown sent a letter to the state legislature's redistricting committee, advocating for a majority-minority congressional seat to be drawn in the Suffolk County region, and also to press for more maj-min districts in the state lege. Who knows whether the idiots in the legislature will listen to him, but Brown of course is simultaneously pushing for new district lines which will ultimately favor Republicans (by packing minorities) and, more importantly, he gets to look like he's protecting minority interests, all at no cost to himself.
Here's the "but": Brown doesn't seem to know what he's talking about. Rep. Mike Capuano, who would be most affected by Brown's proposal, fired back, saying his 8th CD already is majority-minority. It's about 54.5% "white" according to the Census, but that includes Hispanics who also identify as white, so the non-Hispanic white %age is almost certainly below 50%. (Some 19% of 8th CD residents identify as Hispanic, of any race.) Oops.
• Nevada: I'm not going to get into this one in too much detail (my brain can only hold so much redistricting-related information), but Nevada Republicans are now bitterly split over new maps that GOPers in the state Senate drew for the state Assembly. Why didn't the Assembly draw its own maps? They did, but the morons who drew them were advised not to release them because lawyers thought they didn't comply with the VRA. Meanwhile, Dems in both chambers worked together to release a joint set of plans. However, they still haven't released their congressional map. Anyhow, you can find more details under the "Related Documents" sections at both links.
• Oklahoma: Unsurprisingly, the map that the state House unanimously approved appears ready to sail through the state Senate, too. Shira Toeplitz suggested in her writeup (which is a few days old) that the new plan could be signed into law this week, but it hasn't actually been voted on by the full Senate as of this writing.
• Texas: The cat fud is ready to fly in Texas redistricting, where ruthless Republican leaders are prepared to run roughshod over their own incumbents in the aims of preserving and maximizing their advantage to the greatest extent possible. In other words, they're staying true to the spirit of Tom DeLay. In the abstract sense, it's a ruthlessness I admire, and I wish Dems would adopt it. In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if the final maps pass in spite of a lot of GOP defections - though maybe a few horse heads in a few beds will solve that problem.
• Virginia: I'm glad to see that Republicans in the state Senate are as happy to act like sheep as Democrats in the state House. The Democrats' new map passed yesterday by a 32-5 margin. Reading the linked article really makes me feel like this whole thing has been a grand kabuki, with Gov. Bob McDonnell playing everyone - even members of his own party - like puppets. McDonnell simply had to show he could extract a price from Democrats, and so he has. However, I note that the congressional map is now completely untethered from the legislative maps. If Democrats agree to an 8-3 map now, well, fuck them. Once McDonnell signs the lege plans into law, there's no going back, and there's no reason at all not to force the courts to draw a federal map.
• 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.
Deval Patrick (D): 37
Scott Brown (R-inc): 52
Mike Capuano (D): 26
Scott Brown (R-inc): 52
Tim Murray (D): 23
Scott Brown (R-inc): 51
Joe Kennedy (D): 40
Scott Brown (R-inc): 45
Setti Warren (D): 9
Scott Brown (R-inc): 52
Ed Markey (D): 26
Scott Brown (R-inc): 53
Vicki Kennedy (D): 30
Scott Brown (R-inc): 52
Here's one more splash of cold water for anyone who thinks that Massachusetts, what with its dark blue hue, will be an easy Senate pickup in 2012. Local pollster Suffolk (who correctly predicted that Brown would win by 4 in the Jan. 2011 special election) find him leading by mostly large margins, ranging anywhere from 5 (against former Rep. Joe Kennedy, who hasn't expressed any interest in the race) to 43 (against currently unknown Newton mayor Setti Warren, who seems like the likeliest of these seven to actually run).
They aren't the first pollster to find these kinds of numbers lately, although these are the worst of the batch; for comparison's sake, PPP found Brown leading MA-08 Rep. Mike Capuano by 16 in December, while WNEC in March gave him a 13-point lead. (Today's poll has Capuano, the only Dem sampled in all three polls, down by 26.) That WNEC poll raised some eyebrows for its sample composition (34 D, 12 R, and 47 I, compared with 2008 exit poll numbers of 43 D, 17 R, 40 I), and today's Suffolk poll is in that same territory, with a breakdown of 37 D, 12 R, 48 I.
If there's good news to be found here, it's that the Democrats tested (with the exceptions of Gov. Deval Patrick, and the Kennedys, all of whom have said they won't run) are pretty poorly known, and their share of the vote is only likely to go up once somebody's actually in the race and making the case in the local media against Brown's mostly party-line voting record. In the meantime, though, through personal charisma (he has 58/22 favorables) and skill at building his brand as a moderate through frequent ritual invocations of his independence (based on the 56/24 'yes' response to the question of whether he has kept his promise to be an independent voice), Brown's starting in unexpectedly strong position. Add in the more-appealing possibility of another open seat in 2013 (if, as some expect, John Kerry resigns to become the next Secretary of State), and it's no wonder the DSCC is having recruitment problems with this seat.
• FL-Sen: A group of Holocaust survivors - now very elderly, of course - plan to protest Sen. Bill Nelson's fundraiser with Barack Obama this week. The survivors say that Nelson promised to push legislation which would allow them to directly sue insurance companies who have withheld payments on life insurance policies sold before World War II. Nelson claims he only promised to hold a hearing on such a bill (which has been introduced in the House in the past).
• MA-Sen: I really have to believe Deval Patrick just shot his mouth off in that National Journal interview, and has probably earned himself a few glares from would-be Democratic challengers to Sen. Scott Brown the next time they see him. Now Alan Khazei, whom Patrick said was "for sure" in the race, is - like Newton Mayor Setti Warren - saying that he's merely "looking at it carefully" but hasn't made a decision yet. Meanwhile, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll tells the Boston Phoenix that she is at least several weeks away from a decision, and that a Warren entry wouldn't impact her.
And speaking of another Warren, some top Republicans have been saying kinder things about Elizabeth Warren's chances of becoming the permanent director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. Of course, House Financial Services chair Spencer Bachus doesn't get a vote, but he thinks that "the Senate may approve" a Warren nomination (if one were to be made). If this came to pass, it would almost certainly remove Warren from any possibility of running for the senate.
• ND-Sen, ND-AL: Freshman Rep. Rick Berg hasn't ruled out a run for Kent Conrad's now-open senate seat, and Eric Cantor seems to think he might make the leap. The House's no. 2 Republican said of Berg: " "I'm trying to convince him to make sure he stays in the House right now."
• NM-Sen: From the horse's mouth - which is where I prefer to get my news: Dem state Auditor Hector Balderas confirmed reports that he is looking at Jeff Bingaman's open senate seat, saying he's been talking to the DSCC and is "strongly considering entering" the race.
• VA-Sen: Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (god that is a mouthful) sounds like he's dialing himself out of any possible senate run. He says he's going to seek re-election to his current post this fall, and will "possibly" make a decision on whether to seek Jim Webb's open seat "early next year." He's seriously going to enter a competitive primary against Felix Allen no earlier than January of 2012? Shah.
• NC-Gov: Tom Jensen tells me something I always love to hear: an establishment Republican might have tea-related problems. In particular, PPP's latest poll has 43% of GOPers saying they'd prefer someone more conservative than former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, while 29% firmly support him. Of course, I think probably 20% of Republicans would say they want someone more conservative than Republican Jesus. But McCrory does have something of a libruhl track record (like I've said, it's hard to be a super-conservative mayor), including support for socialist, freedom-destroying light rail for his hometown. Tom points out that McCrory won his 2008 primary with less than 50% of the vote "against a weak field" - but this time around, no one's really emerged from the woodwork to challenge him. Yet.
• WI-Gov: Tom also has the rest of the goods on PPP's WI-Gov poll, which consistently shows small pro-labor margins on a variety of unions vs. Walker questions (and larger margins on questions of general collective bargaining rights). On the question of recall, it's an exact 48-48 split.
• AZ-06: We missed the news a couple of weeks ago that former GOP state senate majority leader Chuck Gray said he was entering the race to succeed Jeff Flake (who of course is running to succeed Jon Kyl). One other Republican name considering the race is the current Speaker of the state House, Kirk Adams.
• CA-36: AFSCME's California political arm, called "California PEOPLE," is endorsing Janice Hahn, making them the latest in a string of labor unions to do so. Meanwhile, Debra Bowen tweeted that she could fit into her daughter's jeans.
• IL-01: Roll Call takes a detailed look at the personal finances of Rep. Bobby Rush, who has been the defendant in nearly two dozen mostly debt-related lawsuits since the 1980s - and who has somewhat questionably left off all of these cases and debts from the financial disclosure forms he's obligated to file as a member of Congress. While this isn't the first time the media has examined Rush's finances, this strikes me as the sort of thing that could make the incumbent vulnerable to a primary challenge, especially since his district will have to take on a bunch of new territory to compensate for population loss.
• NY-10: The New York Observer offers an interesting profile of Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who hasn't ruled out a primary challenge to Rep. Ed Towns (D), and who apparently has been ramping up his political activity of late.
• OR-01: Steny Hoyer (still the no. 2 Dem in the House) says it's "premature" to talk about a David Wu resignation. But surely he wants this problem to go away, right? Also of note, The Hill observes that Wu only had $7,500 in campaign cash at the start of the year, versus $61K in debt. Can't imagine he's finding a lot of willing donors these days.
• PA-04: PA state Dem chair Jim Burn says he thinks Rep. Jason Altmire could face a primary challenge from the left next year, but admits he hasn't heard of any actual, you know, names being circulated. Anyhow, who even knows what this district will look like.
• Las Vegas Mayor: Jon Ralston has obtained a poll taken for a group of realtors showing Carolyn Goodman (I) at 30%, Larry Brown (D) at 17%, and Chris Giuchigliani (D) at 11%, with other candidates in the single digits. Note that this poll asked a TON of issue-y questions before finally getting to the horserace in Q15. Also, as Ralston pointed out on the Tweeter, this poll was taken a few weeks ago, before the TV air wars were joined.
Census: Couple of cool census-related mapping widgets. The Journal Star of Nebraska lets you drill down to see population change by county for each state where data's been released so far. The Chicago Tribune offers a Google Maps-based interface which lets you drill down to see individual census blocks across the entire state of Illinois.
• Crossroads: Announcing fundraising goals is easy, which is why I usually don't remark on them. But when Crossroads GPS/American Crossroads, the satanic spawn of Karl Rove, says it plans to raise $120 million to destroy America, I pay attention - and I worry, because they probably really, really mean it.
Votes: There've been a couple of interesting votes with Republican outliers in the House recently. One was the stopgap spending bill that cut $4 billion in spending over the next two weeks; six Republicans defected on that one, including freshman teabagger Justin Amash, Michele Bachmann, and a few other true believers. (Walter Jones was probably the exception there.) On the flipside, seven GOPers voted against denying funding for Planned Parenthood - click the link for the list.
On the same topic, Politico has an interesting-looking vote study out on the GOP freshman, seeing how often they vote together as a group. Unfortunately, as per usual with the likes of Politico and similar organizations, I can't see that they've posted the full list anywhere - they just offer a few tidbits. (Why go to all that trouble if you don't even want to share all your numbers?) Anyhow, the aforementioned Justin Amash, who I guess really wants to take teabagging to new heights, has voted against his class more often than anyone else, 30% of the time. But the next three guys on the list are all semi-moderate New Yorkers - Chris Gibson, Mike Grimm, and Richard Hanna.
• WATN?: Sometimes I just need to channel my inner Holden Caulfield and declare: what a phony. After flatly saying the one thing he wouldn't be doing after retiring from the senate was lobbying, ex-Sen. Chris Dodd just took a job as... a lobbyist, for everyone's second-favorite intellectual property goliath, the MPAA. (I'm gonna assume the RIAA is still first.) Anyhow, check out the amusing Twitter hashtag #ChrisDoddMovies for some lulz.
• Polltopia: Go tell PPP where to poll. Don't let the Paultards win!
• Redistricting: A Columbia Law School class is trying to create "an internet depository for nonpartisan congressional maps for the entire country." I thought the SSP diaries section already was one! Anyhow, click the link if you are interested in submitting your work.
• NJ-12: I have seen the last, best hope of mankind, and his name is Rush Holt. In a major blow against Skynet Watson, the rocket scientist-turned-congressman defeated the Jeopardy-playing robot by a score of $8,600 to $6,200. The losing contestant, Rep. Jim Himes, was seen being turned into fuel to power the Matrix.
• FL-Sen: Mike Haridopolos is starting to look like one of those guys who just seems to track muck wherever he goes - or has been. How do you like this for both ridiculous and corrupt? He received an astounding (a) $152K (b) in taxpayer money to (c) write a book that (d) no one would ever read - and that (e) never got published because (f) the manuscript was too shitty to print. Getting that much (a) to do (c) is remarkable in any environment, but particularly when (a) is in the form of (b), and (d) ensures that the whole venture will be a major money-loser. (E) and (f) are really just the punch line - which makes Haridopolos the joke (and Florida taxpayers the serious losers here).
• MA-Sen: I get the sense that Deval Patrick's decision to blab to the National Journal about the candidates he's talked to who might run for senate must either have been deliberately planned or really unappreciated. Patrick said that 2010 special election candidate Alan Khazei and Newton Mayor Setti Warren told him they are "in, for sure" - leading Warren to tell Wicked Local Newton that he's merely considering the race and has no timetable for an announcement. Was Patrick fluffing Warren in a helpful way, or was he just cracking out of turn?
• MT-Sen, MT-Gov: Was this even a thing? Dave Catanese asked Gov. Brian Schweitzer if he and Sen. Jon Tester might trade places - the term-limited Schweitzer running for senate and the flat-topped Tester running for governor. Schweitzer said nuh-uh.
• TN-Sen: I won't call it a "must-read," but a strong "should-read" piece in the Tennesean gives some good background on Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who may be one of the strongest (only?) Dem options to take on Sen. Bob Corker in 2012. Dean has a Phil Bredesen-like "moderate" background, has been largely successful as mayor, and also has a very wealthy wife. But the article notes that Dean first has to win re-election as mayor this August (though he's the favorite) - and more importantly, he hasn't express any particular interest in running for senate. Maybe a run against freshman Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014 might be a better choice.
• VT-Sen: Republican state Auditor Tom Salmon says he'll decide on whether to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders this week. He has a conference planned for noon Thursday.
• IN-Gov: Mike Pence, a very likely gubernatorial candidate, offered quite a bit less than a full-throttled defense of Gov. Scott Walker's attempts at union busting, perhaps in an effort to avoid a rift with the man he's hoping to replace, Gov. Mitch Daniels. But given that Daniels' decision not to follow Walker's lead engendered a ton of teabagger vitriol, I'm wondering if Pence's move to go soft here might cause him trouble in a potential GOP primary.
• ME-Gov: Speaking of Scott Walker, Gov. Paul LePage, elected with 38% of the vote, says that he, too, will pursue his lifelong dream of destroying collective bargaining rights. LePage may run into static from the GOP legislature, though, before he has the chance to fully transform himself into Kochbot 2.0.
• MS-Gov: It's always a little tricky when someone is referred to as a businessman of some sort, but I'm going to guess that newly-announced Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Williams, "owner of Pascagoula-based Hazmat Services Inc.," is a lot closer to the Some Dude end of the spectrum than the zillionaire kapitalist side.
• WI-Gov: Speaking of Scott Walker yet again, the RGA has a new ad coming out in support of said governor, but of course, NWOTSOTB. Meanwhile, a fellow who says he did "micro-targeting" for Obama in 2008, Ken Strasma of Strategic Telemetry, has a poll out which he says supports the idea that Walker could be vulnerable to a recall. And through the use of un-revealed "micro-targeting models," Strasma also thinks that there would be more than enough people willing to sign a petition in each of the eight Republican state senate districts where senators are currently exposed to the legal possibility of a recall.
• WA-Gov: Show of hands - does anyone here think Gov. Christine Gregoire will actually seek a third term? Hey, maybe we're all wrong, but the very fact that she's even been entertaining the idea has already been a big enough surprise. Anyhow, Gregoire says she'll decide by "early summer."
Meanwhile, Democratic King County Executive Dow Constantine, whose name proverbially "came up" last December (see SSP Amazing Daily Digest, Issue #44) as Rep. Jay Inslee was seen to be holding his fire, sounds largely like a "no." Constantine said he might "at some point be interested in an opportunity," but "I have on my plate a few matters in King County government and I'm going to remain focused on that this year." Of course, with Gregoire now fogging in the control tower, everyone else is probably going to be put in a holding pattern.
• CA-36: This may not be a huge surprise, but Janice Hahn said that now ex-Rep. Jane Harman was querying her about her future political plans when she was a guest of Harman's at the State of the Union address in January (going so far as to ask Hahn whether she'd be interested in running for CA-36), then tipped Hahn about her resignation announcement hours before she made it. This helps explain Hahn's particularly energetic burst out of the gates, but it doesn't explain - or excuse - Debra Bowen's anemic start. Two weeks after announcing, Bowen's website is still nothing more than a splash page with a big "Contribute" button, and I haven't seen a single announcement of any high-profile endorsements. Does a sitting Secretary of State really have that few friends in high places?
• FL-25: When you've lost Eric Cantor... the no. 2 Republican in the House was in Miami for a fundraiser, but already-doomed Rep. David Rivera was pointedly asked to stay away. Worse, Cantor said he has "concerns" about Rivera, and worse still, he was seen meeting with former state Rep. Renier Diaz de la Portilla, a possible replacement for Rivera. (Diaz de la Portilla, who served just one term in the state House a decade ago, is the brother of former state Sen. Alex, who was touted as a possible FL-25 candidate last cycle, and current state Sen. Miguel.)
• NY-13: Rep. Mike Grimm is obviously doing the sensible thing here, working with Democrats (and somewhat less-insane-than-usual Republicans) to secure funding for government programs that actually matter to New Yorkers. Money for cops = popular! Of course, "the sensible thing" has pissed off local teabaggers, which could prove a problem for Grimm as he seeks re-election.
• NY-25: The namejacking anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List is running an ad thanking Ann Marie Buerkle for her vote to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Kudos to Dave Catanese, who says the size of the buy (which includes online ads) is $75,000, and that the ad itself is expected to run 182 times. It sounds like SBA is also planning to spend another $125K running radio ads in a number of other GOP-held districts: IL-08, IL-14, NH-01, PA-07, and PA-08.
• OR-01: Another GOP name has surfaced as a possible challenger to David Wu: State Sen. Bruce Starr says he's considering a run. I think it would be more interesting to get a sense of which Dems are likely to succeed Wu, though, since odds seem slim that a Republican will hold this seat. But of course, most Democrats aren't saying much, and that includes DCCC chair Steve Israel. When your own party's re-election chief says "no comment" about your future, you're long past the point where you should be stepping aside.
• Census: The good folks at the Census Bureau will have redistricting data this week for DE, KS, NE, NC, and WY. In other census news, be very glad that Robert Groves is the director of the bureau and the guy he replaced is long-gone. Steve Murdock told the Houston Chronicle that "it's basically over for Anglos" in Texas and that it's a "terrible situation." Wow.
• Crossroads GPS: Karl Rove's dark money front organization says it's already spent a million bucks on House race ads this year, which the DCCC "has been unable to come close to matching," according to The Hill. The article makes reference to the David Brock-Kathleen Kennedy Towsend (oy) group that's supposed to be the Dem answer to Crossroads, but has anyone heard a peep from "American Bridge" yet?
• Las Vegas Mayor: Diarist atdleft has a good roundup of ads currently in rotation in the Las Vegas mayoral race. If you haven't been following this one, current mayor Oscar Goodman is term-limited out, and a field including two Dems (Larry Brown and Chris Giunchigliani), one Republican (Victor Chaltiel), and one independent (Goodman's wife Carol) is vying to replace him. There's a top-two primary on April 5th and a run-off (if no one gets 50%) on June 7th.
• Teabaggers: Even though 84 Republican freshman joined the House this January, just 11 have joined Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus - and the caucus is now actually smaller than it was when it first started. Anyhow, at least a few of these (click the link for the article) are probably sitting in blue enough territory that this decision will cause heartburn for them on the campaign trail. (But see the classic rock-and-hard-place conundrum faced by Mike Grimm in the NY-13 bullet above.)
• Twitter: The Fix compiled a list of their favorite Twitterers in all fifty states. I haven't checked it out yet, though, so I don't even have an opinion. But enjoy!
• 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.
• IN-Sen: Richard Lugar and local leaders in the tea party movement had a sitdown at an Indianapolis hotel last month. I'm not sure if it was actually intended by Lugar to try to deter a GOP primary challenge, but it seemed to have none of the desired effect if so; the net result seemed to have been cordial but with a sense of "game on," with the main question left being who the challenger will be.
• WI-Sen: With this his first day out of the Senate, Russ Feingold will be, instead of heading for the K Street gravy train, taking a position at Marquette University's law school. When asked about his 2012 plans in the event of a Herb Kohl retirement, Feingold simply said that he hopes Kohl runs again and would support him if so.
• IN-Gov: Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel looks poised to become the first entrant in the Indiana gubernatorial race. He's announced that he won't seek another term as mayor of Evansville (which would require running for re-election this year), and says that he'll take a "good, hard look at" the governor's race and make a decision sooner rather than later." Meanwhile, after the Beltway collectively decided yesterday that Mike Pence was going to run for Gov. on the GOP side, there's yet more conflicting evidence today, as seen in his plans to appear with other GOP presidential hopefuls at a conference in Georgia, just across the border from pivotal South Carolina.
• MA-Gov: Deval Patrick is vowing today that he'll serve out his full second term (something that a Massachusetts governor hasn't done in decades, not since Mike Dukakis), but won't seek a third term in 2014. That would seem to (at least for now) put the kibosh on any speculation that he might look to challenge Scott Brown in 2012.
• MN-06: The news that produced spit-takes all across America this morning: Michele Bachmann is floating her name for president in 2012. Obviously a failed vanity presidential bid is no deterrent to a return engagement in the House if you hit the ejector seat early enough (just ask still-Rep. Ron Paul), but this bit of laughable presidential weirdness could have some major downballot implications if it truly leads to an open seat (especially if Tarryl Clark is indeed looking to run again).
• WI-07: It looks like we might already have a serious contender in the on-deck circle in the 7th, which at D+3 is one of the bluest districts that the GOP picked up thanks to David Obey's retirement. Former state Sen. Kevin Shibilski was one of the short-list of candidates to run in Obey's stead (state Sen. Julie Lassa eventually became the consensus pick), and is now saying he's seriously interested in a 2012 run. Shibilski owns two resorts and apparently has serious self-funding capacity. Shibilski still sounds a little wary, though, preferring to wait and see whether new Rep. Sean Duffy stays a boilerplate Republican or turns into the sort of moderate who's been able, in the past, to hold down a rural Wisconsin seat (a la Steve Gunderson, or Mel Laird, if you want to go way back to Obey's predecessor). (H/t alphaaqua.)
• IA-St. Sen.: The year's barely started and the Dems have already lost their first special election! I don't think anybody had particularly high hopes for last night's fight, though: it was a GOP-leaning seat in Iowa's rural southwestern corner, held to replace Kim Reynolds, who just became Iowa's Lt. Governor. Montgomery County auditor Joni Ernst held the seat for the GOP, beating Dem nominee Ruth Smith, with 67% of the vote. The Dems still control the state Senate 26-23, with one more formerly-GOP-held special election pending.
• NV-St. Sen.: This is big news by Nevada standards: state Sen. Bill Raggio, the state GOP senate leader for decades but deposed recently from his perch in a tea party-ish palace coup (in the wake of his endorsement of Harry Reid), has announced that he's resigning later this month rather than completing his term. This may have Sharron Angle's antennae twitching, as you might remember she tried and failed to primary out Raggio in his Reno-area seat in 2008, and she might be interested in trying that again, adding the state Sen. to the list of her myriad other possibilities like another NV-Sen run or an NV-02 run if Dean Heller vacates (although it's worth noting this won't lead to a fast special election, as Nevada, like several other western states, fills legislative vacancies temporarily via appointment).
• NY-St. Sen.: This seems like strange posturing that will probably vaporize once the Democrats are back in the majority in the state Senate, but four of New York's Senate Democrats just broke off from the Dem caucus and formed their own little club, the Independent Democrat Caucus (meaning the breakdown is either 32-30 or 32-26-4, depending on how you want to view it). Interestingly, it's not the usual most-uncooperative Dems (Ruben Diaz, anyone?), but a clutch of reform-minded Dems (led by the barely-re-elected David Valesky, and also including the newly-elected David Carlucci) who apparently didn't want to get boxed into voting for John Sampson as Dem leader.
• PA-St. Sen.: The special election to replace long-time Democratic state Sen. Michael O'Pake in the light-blue SD-11 has been set for March 15. As I've mentioned before, this could turn into an interesting bellwether on where Pennsylvania's southeastern suburbs are headed.
• Votes: Today's attention-getting vote was the number of defections against Nancy Pelosi in the Speaker vote: 19 Democrats voted for someone else (or present). Heath Shuler led the way with 11, while other votes included Steny Hoyer, John Lewis, and even neighbors Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa voting for each other.
• Redistricting: Two news stories concern the independent commissions that will be in charge of redistricting in two states gaining seats, Arizona and Washington. In Arizona, they're already litigating the issue of who even gets on the commission in the first place; new state Sen. president and all-around jackass Russell Pearce is suing on the basis that three of the people nominated to serve are technically ineligible. (Interestingly, two of the three are Republicans, although maybe the problem is they weren't hardliners enough for Pearce's tastes.) Meanwhile, in Washington, Skeletor has re-emerged from a decade of suspended animation: evil genius and ex-Sen. Slade Gorton will be one of the two designated Republicans on the commission. Luckily, the lead Dem going up against Gorton will be Tim Ceis, the former Seattle deputy mayor who's well-known for his own elbow-throwing abilities.
Finally, the Fix has its latest installment in its state-by-state redistricting look, and I agree with both their conclusions about Ohio: that, mostly because of geography, Betty Sutton is the likeliest Dem to get squeezed rather than Dennis Kucinich (since she faces pressure from other Dems from the north, west, and east), and that, because of depopulation in the state's Appalachian southeast and the fact that they're both obscure freshmen, Bob Gibbs and Bill Johnson are the GOPers likeliest to get pitted against each other for the state's other lost seat.
Vicki Kennedy (D): 22
Barney Frank (D): 17
Mike Capuano (D): 15
Deval Patrick (D): 13
Stephen Lynch (D): 7
Ed Markey (D): 7
Tom Menino (D): 3
Tim Murray (D): 1
Perhaps the better question to ask here is who didn't PPP poll in asking Dems who they want to take on Republican incumbent Scott Brown. Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki leads at 22, followed by the one and only Congressman Barney Frank at 17 and Boston/Cambridge Congressman (and special election primary second-place finisher) Mike Capuano at 15. Recently re-elected Governor Deval Patrick is fourth at 13, followed by two more Congressmen, Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey at 7 apiece. Boston mayor Tom Menino gets 3, while recently re-elected Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray gets 1.
The general election half of this poll has Scotty leading all the Dems, but many of our challengers remain relatively unknown quantities, with even 44% of Dems having no opinion of Capuano, 45% having no opinion of Lynch, and 36% having no opinion of Markey.
This field is still wide open...let's just be happy Martha Coakley isn't seeking redemption.
Mike Capuano (D): 36
Scott Brown (R-inc): 52
Stephen Lynch (D): 30
Scott Brown (R-inc): 49
Ed Markey (D): 39
Scott Brown (R-inc): 49
Vicki Kennedy (D): 41
Scott Brown (R-inc): 48
Deval Patrick (D): 42
Scott Brown (R-inc): 49
PPP's first look at 2012 in Massachusetts shows that Democrats who've been treating this like an easy pickup are in for a rude awakening, with Scott Brown leading a spate of five Dems by margins ranging from 7 to 16. Some of these prospective Dem candidates can point to the problem of being little-known outside their House districts at this point (Mike Capuano is 47% unknown at 26/27, Stephen Lynch is 50% unknown at 23/26), but even the ones with a statewide profile (Deval Patrick and Vicki Kennedy) still trail Brown.
Despite the overall very-blue hue of Massachusetts, Brown seems able to hold his own through a mix of personal likeability (53/29 approval) and ideological positioning (53% say he's just right, while 33% too conservative, while voters say, regarding the whole GOP, that it's 52% too conservative and 32% just right). These numbers might change a bit once a) there's a defined Democratic candidate getting all of the attention, and b) said candidate calls attention to some of Brown's not-so-moderate moments, like his unemployment benefits blocking today. (Another consideration: the state's Democratic city machines, which seemed to slumber through the special election, will be working in full effect in a presidential year.) However, with nearly 50% of the vote today, Brown's starting in a strong position for now.
As for the possibility of just-re-elected Deval Patrick getting in, that seems like kind of an odd throw-in by PPP, but don't totally discount it. While he's publicly saying he's not interested (repeating that today, in fact), he says he's "staying involved" in the race. There are reports that he's working back channels about that race, though perhaps more so about trying to facilitate a non-brutal Dem primary.
• AK-Sen: When Norm Coleman... the man who has pretty much set all current standards for pointlessly dragging out an election for partisan purposes... is telling you to pack it in, believe me, it's time to pack it in. The ex-Sen. from Minnesota is the latest GOPer to tell Joe Miller to stop the madness. (What's his angle? He may have designs on behind-the-scenes Beltway leadership, possibly RNC chair, and with that in mind would probably like to discourage nonsensical R-on-R courtroom violence.)
• IL-Sen: The 59-41 Dem edge in the Senate drops to 58-42 for the rest of the lame duck session today, as Rep. Mark Kirk gets sworn in as the newest member. (Illinois, of course, was the only of the special election seats that flipped to the GOP.)
• IN-Sen: This NYT story doesn't really have any new specifics about Richard Lugar's upcoming teabagging that you don't already know, but it has a spectacular quote from former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, another Republican who occupied the same pretty-conservative-but-not-a-jerk-about-it space as Lugar:
If Dick Lugar... having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.
• MA-Sen: The Boston Globe takes a look back at Deval Patrick's reelection town-by-town, and also wonders what it may mean for Scott Brown's first re-election battle in 2012. Patrick, for instance, won back many of the larger blue-collar (and usually Democratic) communities like Lowell and Quincy that Brown won. The question for 2012, though, is: how much of Brown's initial success was unique to Brown (more charismatic than your garden-variety blue-blood Republican like Charlie Baker), and, by contrast, how much of that was unique to the turnout model produced by the special election?
• MD-Sen: Republicans may already be settling on a favorite for the Maryland Senate race in 2012, and they're considering the same strategy as 2006, running an African-American against Ben Cardin. (In '06, recall, Michael Steele, well, still lost badly, but made the race more competitive than Maryland is used to.) There's a lot of buzz surrounding Charles Lollar, who just ran against Steny Hoyer in MD-05 and apparently wowed a lot of people on the stump. Of course, he also lost 64-35, but, well, you've gotta start somewhere. (Eric Wargotz, who just lost to Barb Mikulski, is also reportedly interested in trying again.)
• MO-Sen: The Beltway seems abuzz about a potential Claire McCaskill/Jim Talent rematch (thanks to McCaskill tweeting about her random airport meet-up with Talent, no doubt), but the missing part of the story seems to be that Talent, if he runs, could be walking right into a juicy establishment/tea party battle. Ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who lost a feisty gubernatorial primary in 2008 and threatened a 2010 primary run against Roy Blunt, has been turning up the volume on a potential run too. Ed Martin, last seen losing narrowly in MO-03, has also become the subject of some speculation. One unlikely run at this point, though, is former Ambassador to Luxembourg (which is code for "very wealthy donor") Ann Wagner, who has been linked to the Senate race but just announced a bid for RNC chair instead this morning.
• NJ-Sen: When did Bob Menendez's numbers start to look like Richard Burr's? A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson (favorables only, no head-to-heads) finds vast indifference about the Garden State's junior Senator. At least he's above water, with 31/25 faves, but 29% are unsure and 15% have never heard of him.
• NM-Sen: Jeff Bingaman, assuming he runs again, is already facing his first GOP opponent, although one from the Some Dude end of the spectrum. William English ran (apparently in the GOP primary) for the open NM-02 seat in 2002, although he seems best known for saying controversial things in his local newspaper, perhaps most notably that Barack Obama "literally amounts to an African dictator."
• TX-Sen: Yet more names are surfacing on the GOP side for possible primary challenges to Kay Bailey Hutchison: today, it's Houston-area state Sen. Dan Patrick.
• VA-Sen: Corey Stewart is the Prince William County Supervisor and a likely candidate in the GOP Senate primary, if his latest pronouncements are any indication. He's started firing shots across the bow of presumptive favorite George Allen's comeback, saying he had a "mediocre" Senate record and that his base has moved on.
• MN-Gov: The recount of the 2.1 million ballots in the Minnesota gubernatorial race officially kicks off today. You probably already know the candidates, but the Star-Tribune today profiles the really key players at this juncture: the lawyers. One of them, interestingly, is Eric Magnuson, who you may remember from the 2008-09 recount as state supreme court chief justice and head of the canvassing board; having left the court, now he's on Tom Emmer's team.
• WV-Gov: It's still not clear when the election will even occur (to set a permanent replacement for Joe Manchin), but acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin isn't going to get a free pass in the Dem primary, facing likely opposition from two of the people most actively involved in establishing when that election will happen. Both SoS Natalie Tennant and state House speaker Rick Thompson are eyeing the race, with Thompson "planning" to run and Tennant "seriously considering."
• CA-20: Look for a likely rematch in the 20th, which turned into one of the nation's closest races this year. Andy Vidak "promises" he'll try again vs. Jim Costa in 2012, although if he couldn't make it this year, the odds of him getting over the hump in a presidential year model seem even slimmer. (Unless, of course, the boundaries of the 20th get changed by the citizens' commission, but the VRA is likely to keep compelling a Hispanic-majority Fresno-to-Bakersfield district.)
• CA-45: Further south, Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet is another potential rematch. The Democrat already filed for a 2012 campaign, although he says he hasn't ruled another race in or out and is establishing the committee to settle up some unpaid bills from his 2010 race.
• CT-05: And here's one more: Justin Bernier, who was initially the GOP's preferred candidate in the primary in the 5th but got shoved over after Sam Caligiuri dropped down from the Senate race, is saying he's considering another run in 2012 (motivated in part by the likelihood of an open seat with Chris Murphy's likely Senate run).
• PA-11: Don't assume that Corey O'Brien is going to be the Dem nominee in the effort to take back the 11th in 2012, as there's a long list of possible contenders on the bench in this bluish seat. At the top is Scranton mayor (and, briefly, gubernatorial candidate) Chris Doherty, but other names you might see are Wilkes-Barre mayor Tom Leighton, former Pittston mayor (and Paul Kanjorski crony) Michael Lombardo, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Wilkes-Barre solicitor William Vinsko, and new state Sen. John Yudichak.
• California: Finally, those of you not living on the West Coast may be unaware that there are parts of the country where the Republicans are the ones in "what did we do wrong?" soul-searching mode. The WaPo looks at the epicenter of that, in California (where they didn't pick up any House seats, lost all the statewide races, and even lost ground in the state legislature), where local GOPers are flummoxed by the state's changing demographics.
(General h/t to Brian Valco, bearer of many of today's links.)