• AZ-Sen: As the dust settles from Jon Kyl's retirement, the biggest name on the Dem side may also be the biggest question mark: Rep. Gabby Giffords, who it turns out had been telling her staff that she'd planned to run for Senate in 2012 if an open seat arose, but whose recovery timetable is entirely unclear at this point. Local Dems are saying she has "the right of first refusal," but it may be a while till we get a decision out of her, so the Dem field is very much up in the air. One other major Dem is publicly expressing his interest, though: Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, who's termed-out of his job this year. (The same article also finds former Arizona Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez declining a run; not sure why he was being asked in the first place.) On the GOP side, Gov. Jan Brewer acted quickly to quash any speculation that she might run. However, J.D. Hayworth, last seen getting creamed by John McCain in the 2010 primary, says he's interested in another run, while another unappetizing leftover, ex-Gov. Fife Symington, says he won't rule it out (as well as floating the name of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner). If you want to see all the many potential names in one place, here's The Hill's mega-rundown.
• FL-Sen: Scratch one more of the state's myriad GOP House members from the list of possible Senate candidates. FL-16's sophomore Rep. Tom Rooney says the Senate may be an eventual goal someday, but he'd rather focus on building up his credentials in the House first.
• ME-Sen: It seems like his extended period of talking to himself is over, as local tea party leader Andrew Ian Dodge announced (at CPAC, instead of in Maine) that he will in fact challenge Olympia Snowe in the GOP primary. I'm not sure if Snowe is really shaking in her boots, though, if this is the best that the teabaggers can find: Dodge, though able to self-fund, is a bit of an iconoclast (and one might charitably describe his appearance as "scruffy"), and doesn't really seem to fit in with any of the various subconstituencies within the tea party umbrella. He's uninterested in social issues (he's pro-gay and indifferent to abortion) and more of a fiscal hawk, but doesn't have much common cause with the Paulists either, breaking with them on foreign policy. If he loses social con votes to the other teabagger in the race, little-known Scott D'Amboise, that split basically ensures Snowe another nomination. Further complicating matters, Dodge is allied with Tea Party Patriots, archenemy to the DC-based astroturf-flavored Tea Party Express. For what it's worth, TPX officially declared that Snowe is one of their top targets for 2012 (um, was there any doubt about that before yesterday?), but there's no word on who they plan to back in the race, and I can't imagine it being Doge.
• MI-Sen: Former state party chair Saul Anuzis may be getting cold feet about a Senate run all of a sudden, if his new comments are any indication: he said he'd rather see someone else run. One name he dropped as a preferred alternative to himself is (no surprise) ex-Rep. Peter Hoekstra, but another is perhaps the one potential candidate with even less name rec than Anuzis (and also the likeliest person to run, it seems): wealthy businessman Tim Leuliette.
• NM-Sen: In case Jeff Bingaman does (contrary to current expectations) resign, don't look for a Bill Richardson run to succeed him. The ex-Gov. leaves office under a cloud according to PPP, with a 34/55 approval, and 50% saying they'd never vote for him for anything again. Everyone else in New Mexico is pretty popular; Tom Udall is at 56/31 and new Gov. Susana Martinez is at 53/29.
• UT-Sen: Looks like Orrin Hatch, who's in full cozy-up-to-the-tea-party mode this week, can't count on any help from his new colleague Mike Lee; Lee just confirmed that he'll remain neutral in any primary that Hatch might face. Hatch, for his part, at CPAC today, just said that he's sorry for his bailout vote, but that the bailout helped prevent a depression. So... he's sorry about having helped prevent a depression?!? Let me sit and ponder that one for a bit.
• VA-Sen: Here's some good news: ex-Rep. Glenn Nye says he has "absolutely no interest" and has made "zero calls" about the Senate race on the Dem side. (That contradicts yesterday's reports that he was calling around; the "absolutely no interest" part may be true though, inasmuch as that's what he got on the other end of the line.) However, Rep. Gerry Connolly isn't doing anything to downplay his name; he isn't ruling it in or out, but is pitching himself as "viable." (Woooooo! Viable!!! The audacity of viability! We have nothing to fear but inviability itself! Mr. Gorbachev, this wall is not viable!) Connolly blanches at the pricetag though, saying this will likely be a $25 million race.
• MT-Gov, MT-Sen: Well, this pretty much makes it clear that Denny Rehberg will have a stroll to the Senate nomination. Military/security-complex businessman Neil Livingstone was one of the two initial non-Rehberg names associated with the GOP side of the Senate race; with Steve Daines now in the House race, Livingstone now has decided to announce for the gubernatorial race instead. He doesn't face anyone of Rehberg size there, although ex-Rep. Rick Hill is still a pretty imposing obstacle.
• WV-Gov: With tomorrow's filing deadline for the gubernatorial special election fast approaching, it's worth noting how few people (of the many, many possibles) have actually signed up. All we have so far are Natalie Tennant, Earl Ray Tomblin, Rick Thompson, and a Some Dude candidate (Arne Moltis) on the Dem side, and Clark Barnes on the GOP side. Betty Ireland was planning to file today, though, and there will probably be a rush tomorrow.
• NY-26: Kathy Konst isn't the only Dem who seems to be moving forward with seeking the nomination in the upcoming special election; Erie Co. Clerk Kathleen Hochul is interested, too. (She lives slightly outside the district's boundaries in Hamburg.) Meanwhile, lots of GOPers took their names out of contention: ex-Rep. Tom Reynolds, Assemblyman Jim Hayes, state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, and state Sen. Joe Robach. (With George Maziarz also apparently a no, that's pretty much all the GOP state Senators who'd been floated, lessening the likelihood of more 31-31 fun.)
• Mayors: There are mayoral polls in both Chicago and Philadelphia, neither one offering a surprise. In the Windy City, Rahm Emanuel finds himself just shy of clearing the runoff hurdle in a poll from Chicago Tribune/WGN; he's at 49, with 19 for Gery Chico, 10 for Carol Mosely Braun, and 8 for Miguel del Valle. (Last month's Tribune poll had Emanuel at 44 and CMB at 21.) In the Hey, Up Yours City, incumbent Michael Nutter wins easily despite some ambivalent approvals, according to Franklin & Marshall. His approval is 50/32 (60/24 among whites but only 42/41 among African-Americans, who, despite the fact that he's African-American himself, tend to be his weakest constituency); despite that, 53% say he doesn't deserve to be re-elected. Nutter beats Tom Knox 46-28 in a general election matchup (which is odd because Knox isn't a Republican, although I guess he could become one to avoid another primary loss to Nutter, which is what happened in 2007). Nutter's only announced opponent so far is former state legislator Milton Street, the brother of ex-mayor John Street; Street has a bit of a liability, though, in that he's currently on supervised release after spending 20 months in federal prison for tax evasion.
• Dark money: The billionaire Koch brothers have, over the last year, suddenly gone from anonymous rich guys who like to fund right-wing think tanks to, with their efforts to move more into funding activism and advertising, public enemies #1 on the dark money front. They've set a new target for the 2012 cycle that shows just what we're up against money-wise: they plan to contribute and raise $88 million for funding micro-targeting efforts as well as ads. It's not clear whether that would all happen under the aegis of their Americans for Prosperity, or if that money would get spread around the dark money universe, but Politico's article makes it sound that the secretive Kochs aren't closely allied with, if not directly in competition with, other groups like American Crossroads.
• AR-Sen: The SEIU is turning their amps up to 11 in a final effort to beat Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary. They're ponying up another $1 million for a new TV ad blitz, focusing on Lincoln's support for NAFTA, CAFTA, and sundry other free-trade deals.
• FL-Sen: Looks like the "Help wanted" sign is going out at Charlie Crists's office. As expected, much of his top-tier staff evacuated en masse; he lost communications director Andrea Saul, spokesperson Amanda Hennenberg, and campaign counsel Ben Ginsberg (all Beltway types left over from when Crist was the NRSC's prize pony, who just headed back to the GOP's mothership). Also former Crist marionette George LeMieux severed his strings: the seat-warming Senator says he won't support Crist's independent bid.
• NV-Sen: Imagine that... a Democrat actually taking to the airwaves to explain the benefits of the broadly-misunderstood (or just plain not-understood-at-all) health care reform bill and not just ceding the discursive arena to right-wing radio and astroturfers? Better late than never, I guess. Harry Reid is forging ahead with that, launching three different new TV ads featuring stories from actual Nevadans actually benefiting from HCR.
• OH-Sen (pdf): There's one more poll of the Democratic Senate primary in Ohio, from Suffolk this time. They find an even bigger edge for Lee Fisher over Jennifer Brunner than did PPP; in fact, Suffolk has Fisher doubling up on her, 55-27. Voters may be thinking strategically: they also find that respondents feel Fisher has a better chance of beating Rob Portman than does Brunner, by a lop-sided 55-15 margin. Brunner voters report that, if Fisher wins the election, 74% will vote for Fisher and 8% for Portman.
• AZ-Gov: PPP has one more installment in its Arizona sample today: the Republican primary in the gubernatorial race. As other pollsters have found, once-wobbly incumbent Jan Brewer has strengthened her primary position (while destabilized her general election position) by signing off on Arizona's new racial profiling law. Brewer leads the pack at 38, over fractured opposition led by NRA board member Owen Buz Mills at 19, state Treasurer Dean Martin at 16, and former university regent John Munger at 3. (In PPP's last poll here, from September, Brewer was losing a head-to-head against Martin 37-26.) PPP also did a fantasy-baseball poll that included Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who, as he does every four years, has been expressing interest in the race but not moving forward in it. Arpaio wins that version of the primary, taking 33%, with 25 for Brewer, 15 for Martin, 11 for Mills, and 1 for Munger.
• MN-Gov: With the Republican endorsing convention in Minnesota already underway, most media accounts are focusing on Sarah Palin's last-minute endorsement of state Rep. Tom Emmer, but there's a more important endorsement at work here in terms of potentially moving some delegates: Norm Coleman is now also backing Emmer and privately making calls to delegates on Emmer's behalf. The GOPers have already endorsed in some of the downballot races, maybe most notably the Auditor's race, where they endorsed former Auditor Pat Anderson (who had been running for Governor for a while, until she decided to drop down and try to get her old job back instead).
• UT-Gov: Mason-Dixon, on behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune, took another look at the general election in the Utah governor's race, which is definitely looking like a heavy lift for Salt Lake County mayor Peter Corroon. The Democrat trails GOP incumbent Gary Herbert 61-30, an even better showing than Herbert's 55-30 result in January.
• FL-16: Whew. After making some noises about a possible comeback attempt, ex-Rep. Tim Mahoney decided on filing day that he wouldn't run to get his seat back. He still took a parting shot at Rep. Tom Rooney, saying he's part of the GOP's move to the "radical right." Some Dudes Jim Horn and Ed Tautiva are all the Dems have on the ballot in this R+5 district, unless something changes in the next few hours.
• HI-01: The Republicans continue to very subtly funnel money into the 1st, somewhat mirroring their stealth strategy on how they got similarly-blue MA-Sen off the ground. Rather than the NRCC charging in with both barrels blazing, instead there's a push for individual House GOP members to contribute directly to Charles Djou; about 40 have done so already.
• IN-02: The National Rifle Association slammed GOP candidate Jackie Walorski. No, that's not because the right-wing Walorski suddenly had a change of heart on the gun issue; instead, it was because she was claiming the NRA's endorsement. That was only for her 2008 legislative bid, the NRA said, and she has not been endorsed yet for this year for the different office.
• IN-03: Looks like Rep. Mark Souder isn't going to be in the House much longer, regardless of how next week's primary plays out. Brian Howey says Souder has been telling him that he'd already been contemplating retirement in 2012, and the stress of trying to win his unexpectedly-tough primary election has "sealed it" for him.
• PA-04: Here's a last-minute sign of life for Keith Rothfus, who'd been the leading GOP contender here up until the moment when former US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced (although Rothfus beat Buchanan at fundraising last quarter). He got the endorsement today of Glen Meakem, a wealthy businessman and part-time talk radio host who's something of a behind-the-scenes power in Republican circles in western Pennsylvania and who had briefly considered a Senate bid last year.
• SC-04: Rep. Bob Inglis's main threat this year is in the GOP primary, not the general, and he launched two different ads reminding voters that he's actually pretty conservative. One ad touts his NRA endorsement, while the other runs down the litany of things he opposed (health care reform, stimulus, cap-and-trade, auto industry bailout).
• NY-St. Sen.: A long-time Republican stalwart in the New York state Senate is retiring: Dale Volker (in office since 1975). Democrats looking to pad their narrow majority in the Senate may need to look elsewhere, though; this district in the Buffalo suburbs and surrounding rural counties is one of the most conservative in the state, with a 79K-to-65K GOP registration advantage, and won 54-40 by John McCain.
• Arizona: Arizona has been doing all kinds of weird things lately, and here's one more to add to the list. One of the few states to not have a Lt. Governor (the SoS is 2nd in line of succession, which is how Jan Brewer became Governor), Arizona is planning to have a Lt. Governor... but only because they would eliminate the SoS position and give all those duties to the LG. What's even weirder is that they'd start doing what Illinois just decided to stop doing because the results were so uniformly terrible: the Governor and LG candidates will run separately in the primary, but be joined together on one ticket via shotgun wedding for the general election. The idea cleared the legislature, but because it's a constitutional amendment, the idea has to pass a voter referendum before it becomes law.
• Puerto Rico: The House approved allowing Puerto Rico to hold a plebiscite on its grey-area status (the last one was in 1998, where they decided to remain a commonwealth). It'll be a two-step vote, where the first vote will ask whether it should remain a commonwealth or not. If the answer is "no," the second vote will ask whether it should become independent, a U.S. state, still remain a commonwealth, or enter some other sovereign-but-connected-to-the-U.S. status. If it voted for statehood, Congress would still have to approve making it a state. Of course, this has to pass the Senate as well before the vote could happen, so it may get kicked down the road for a while.
• OFA: Nathan Gonzales has a thorough look at the Obama campaign's state directors, and how they're part of OFA's pivot to focus on turning out the same voters for the 2010 midterms. Here's a handy table of what all the directors are up to these days.
• History: Rhodes Cook has an interesting column that's been getting linked all over the place in the last couple days: a much more apt comparison for what the Democrats are getting themselves this year, rather than 1994, is 1966. The parallels are that the Democrats were facing some inevitable snap-back after overperforming in the 1964 election (winning nearly 2/3s majorities in each chamber), and the GOP quickly got back up off the mat after the Dems pushed the limits in passing a variety of Great Society legislation (most notably Medicare). Of course, the Democrats still took a bath, losing 47 in the House and 3 in the Senate, so it's still not really something the Democrats should aspire towards.
AR-Sen: The odious U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running ads on behalf of Blanche Lincoln, though they are refusing to say how much they are spending on their buy. As Salon says, with friends like these....
FL-Sen: Reid Wilson does some counting and finds that Arlen Specter has given back a rather amazing $1 million this election cycle, following his party switch. (Part of this was fueled by an aggressive campaign by the Club for Growth, which won FEC permission to contact Specter's donors and push them to ask for refunds.) If Charlie Crist bails on the GOP, there's no telling how much it might cost him financially, but the Specter precedent suggests it could be a hell of a lot.
IL-Sen: Even Mark Kirk is smart enough to skip an IL GOP fundraiser headlined by Sarah Palin.
IN-Sen: With the GOP primary just days away, Dan Coats has floated himself a $200K lifeline. I wonder if it will be enough.
NV-Sen: Fuck it - Sue Lowden knows that when you're at the bottom of a 2,000-foot deep mineshaft, you should keep fucking digging until you've reached China. That's why she is still advocating the barter system. While this prolonged episode of inspired insanity is not helping her win any elections, it is helping her become one of the most awesome candidates of 2010. Meanwhile, GOP primary opponent Danny Tarkanian is shish-kebobbing Lowden for her "poultry-based healthcare plan."
OH-Sen: Quinnipiac should have a poll out of the Dem senate primary this morning.
PA-Sen: Michael J. Fox has cut an ad for Arlen Specter, citing his support for medical research. Fox had previously done an ad for Specter in 2004 as well.
FL-Gov: Mocking gun ownership? And pissing law enforcement off in the process? It sounds like a deranged GOP fantasy of something they think Dems would love to do, but in fact, the Republican Party of Florida is the guilty party here. They put out a shitty web video mocking CFO Alex Sink, who authorized the purchase of "advanced weaponry" for law enforcement officers who operate out of her agency. The state PBA blistered AG Bill McCollum (who posted the video on his website) for this offense, noting with irony that he's the state's chief law enforcement officer.
GA-Gov: Ex-Rep. Nathan Deal has come out in favor of Arizona's draconian new immigration law, apparently the first Republican gubernatorial candidate in Georgia to do so. While Deal trails badly in the polls and isn't very likely to win the GOP nod, in my opinion, he might succeed in driving the Republican field to the right on this issue.
NY-Gov: Steve Levy, the Dem-turned-Republican who is hoping to get buzz-sawed by Andrew Cuomo in the fall, is apparently "likely" to get the endorsement of the Queens Republican Party. In order to get a spot on the GOP ballot line, he needs the support of 51% of the state's county-level parties (which are weighted by size), because he's still a registered Democrat. He claims to be at around 45%, but it's not clear if Queens is already included in that tally. If Levy pulls it off, this will be an extraordinary humiliation for Rick Lazio, a man I thought was incapable of being humiliated further.
ID-01: Some Very Wacky Dude dropped out of the GOP primary the other day. On his way out, Michael Chadwick attacked another candidate, Vaughn Ward, for representing "powerful special interest groups in New York City and Washington, D.C." He also called Ward a "protégé and surrogate of the military-industrial-intelligence establishment" who will "vote to build up and sustain the Permanent War Machine." I hadn't realized this, but another Republican, Allan Salzberg, also bailed last week.
MI-01: Is it crowded in here, or is it just me? State Rep. Matt Gillard, a Democrat, is the latest to enter the race. He joins two other state Reps, Joel Sheltrown and Gary McDowell, as well as Connie Saltonstall, in the Dem primary field.
NY-14: Reshma Saujani may want to re-think her pro-bankster platform as she attempts to unseat Rep. Carolyn Maloney: A new Marist poll shows that even Manhattanites consider Wall Street to be "more of the problem" rather than "more of the solution" by a 49-31 margin.
NY-15: As Liz Benjamin observes, Assembly Adam Clayton Powell IV hasn't gotten a whole lot of establishment backing in his attempt to unseat Rep. Charlie Rangel, but a few of his colleagues on the Assembly are hosting a fundraiser for him. Seems pretty minor to me, though.
NY-29: Republicans are citing a case from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in their attempt to force Gov. David Paterson to hold a special election to fill Eric Massa's seat. The 6th Cir. ruled (PDF) that Art. I, § 2, ¶ 4 of the Constitution required then-Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio to hold a special election to fill Jim Traficant's seat after he was expelled from Congress. However, there's an old New York State Court of Appeals case, People v. Voorhis, 119 N.E. 106 (1918), which held otherwise - and if this goes before the federal courts in NY, the Second Circuit may very well rule differently from the Sixth.
Calendar: Be sure to bookmark SSP's handy list of key primary & special elections in the very merry month of May.
Democratic St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft is dropping his bid for Congress against freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, a Craft confidant says.
"I'm depressed," said local AFL-CIO President and Democratic activist Pat Emmert, a Craft backer who said Craft informed her of his decision this afternoon.
Efforts to reach Craft today have been unsuccessful.
In all honestly, this doesn't come as a surprise. Craft's candidacy received an initial flurry of buzz from the DCCC, but he mostly fell off the radar ever since. He also had some pretty significant fundraising difficulties, only raking in $42K in the fourth quarter of 2009. At this point, it's hard to blame Craft for preferring to keep his powder dry, as this wasn't shaping up to be much of a horserace.
• NY-23: There was a brief moment of collective "Holy crap!" earlier today when people realized that the race in the 23rd wasn't quite over. The Bill Owens lead over Doug Hoffman shrank considerably (down to 3,176 votes currently, compared to 5,335 at the end of election night) after recanvassing, including discovery of some errors in Hoffman-leaning Oswego County. There remain 5,600 absentee votes to be counted, so for the election results to actually change, Hoffman would need to win about 80% of those votes (many of which were sent in while Dede Scozzafava was still in the race). Hoffman's camp is admitting that the results of the race aren't about to change, but they say they might not have conceded so quickly on Election Night if they'd known it was going to be so close -- meaning that the big story here is that they could have stopped Bill Owens from being sworn in and providing one of the decisive votes on health care reform in the House.
• FL-Sen: Every day now seems to bring a little more bad news for Charlie Crist, and today's bit is that members of the Florida state GOP are demanding an "emergency closed door meeting" with the state chair, Jim Greer. The meeting-demanders seem to be Marco Rubio supporters, and they're particularly exercised about Crist's relationship with sketchy financial backer Scott Rothstein.
• IL-Sen: Rep. Mark Kirk's pronounced turn to the right has been unsubtle enough that even NARAL is noticing, and calling him out on it. They're no longer considering him "pro-choice" after his Stupak amendment vote, and say they'll be working toward his defeat next year.
• ME-Sen: We weren't the only ones to take notice of Olympia Snowe's terrible approvals among Republicans according to PPP. The Family Research Council is now saying that if a conservative candidate shows up to run against Snowe in 2012, the FRC will back them.
• NC-Sen (pdf): PPP's newest poll of North Carolina finds more of what they've been finding all year: people are lukewarm about Richard Burr (with an approval of 40/31) and he only narrowly leads a Generic Dem (44-40). However, Burr does better against named Democrats, including Rep. Bob Etheridge (45-35), SoS Elaine Marshall (45-34), and former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker (45-33).
• NV-Sen: There's yet another hapless-seeming Republican entering the GOP Senate field: former Nevada Board of Education member Greg Dagani. Dagani is probably best known for resigning from the Board of Education after getting caught making out with his wife during a public meeting. Wait... his wife, and not a staffer (or someone he met in Argentina and/or the men's room)? Are we sure he's a Republican?
• UT-Sen: Here's a little more information on the two new guys scoping out the GOP field in the wake of AG Mark Shurtleff's departure, suggesting that they both have the potential to be formidable opponents to Bob Bennett. In fact, these two might do better at gaining the favor of the teabaggers, in that Shurtleff (who was running to the conservative Bennett's right) was somehow considered not conservative enough in some circles (mostly owing to his immigration stance). Wealthy businessman Fred Lampropoulos was a gubernatorial candidate in 2004, almost forcing Jon Huntsman to a primary. And while lawyer Mike Lee hasn't run for office before, he's the son of Mormon leader and former BYU president Rex Lee, which means a lot in Utah (although Bennett's family's role in the Mormon church also looms large).
• CO-Gov: Is Scott McInnis about to get Scozzafavaed? The law of unintended consequences seems to point that direction. After ex-Rep. McInnis's establishment moneybags supporters thought they were being smart by hounding state Senate minority leader Josh Penry out of the GOP primary, that just seemed to tick off the anti-establishment base. And now a much higher-profile (and much less palatable in the general) candidate with a national following to draw on is emerging to take Penry's place. Yes, it's ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo, who's saying that he'll file to create an exploratory committee in the next few days.
• MN-Gov: Another Republican fell by the wayside in the overstuffed Minnesota gubernatorial race. State Sen. Mike Jungbauer dropped out, citing fundraising troubles and a weak showing in a recent straw poll.
• WI-Gov: People have treated Republican Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker as a strong contender in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race, but he seems to have a certain tone-deafness about him: he met with Sarah Palin during her Wisconsin visit to try to secure an endorsement from her... in a state where Barack Obama won 56-42.
• DE-AL: Republicans managed to lure somebody into the open seat race to replace Rep. Mike Castle, despite that this race may be the Republicans' likeliest House loss in 2010. Fred Cullis, who owns an industrial sales company, said he'd be an "independent voice" for Delaware a la Castle.
• FL-08: I don't know if this is an indicator of the NRCC having settled on Bruce O'Donoghue as its consensus pick, or a case of Rep. Alan Grayson having yet more success with his voodoo doll, but yet another prospective Republican challenger is turning tail and running. First-term state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle made public his decision not to run.
• FL-16: St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft has previously sounded some moderate notes as he takes on freshman Republican Rep. Tom Rooney in this R+5 district, but he's not playing it safe on health care. He came out yesterday saying that he'd have voted for the House health care reform bill and against the Stupak amendment.
• PA-17: Republican state Senator David Argall batted down rumors that he'd challenge long-time Rep. Tim Holden in this GOP-leaning Harrisburg-based seat, saying he was "99% sure" he wouldn't run. Blue Dog Holden seems on track to receive his usual free pass.
• Nassau Co. Exec: Republican Ed Mangano's lead over incumbent Dem Tom Suozzi expanded to 497 in the recount of the Nassau County Executive race on Long Island. Suozzi also waxed philosophical in an interesting interview with Ben Smith, pointing to a public exhaustion with civic engagement and a return to "self-interest" on tax issues.
• Mayors: Endorsements from the 3rd place finishers were handed out in the runoff elections in both the Atlanta and Houston mayoral races. In Houston, city controller Annise Parker got the endorsement of city councilor Peter Brown, who surprisingly finished behind Parker and former city attorney Gene Locke. (Locke is African-American, Parker is white and a lesbian, and Brown is a straight white guy.) And in Atlanta, city councilor Lisa Borders endorsed state Senator Kasim Reed, consolidating the African-American vote against white city councilor Mary Norwood, who finished first.
• Vote By Mail: Washingtonians are getting pretty tired of watching their elections drag on (the Seattle mayoral race this time). There's a renewed move afoot in Washington to change election laws to match the mail-in ballot law in better-organized Oregon, where ballots must be received by Election Day instead of postmarked by Election Day. The movement is getting a boost with Gov. Chris Gregoire's support.
• MA-Sen: AG Martha Coakley wasted no time in announcing her candidacy for the special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat; unlike the myriad members of the House delegation, she's not waiting to see if a Kennedy gets in. Meanwhile, people are definitely talking about a candidacy by Curt Schilling, retired from the Boston Red Sox. If Schilling runs, he's ineligible to do so as a Republican, though; he's registered as an independent, and he doesn't have enough time under Massachusetts to change his registration to be able to run as an R. (Schilling himself acknowledges he may not be the best candidate, although he clearly is enjoying the spotlight.)
• NC-Sen: Former state Sen. and Iraq vet Cal Cunningham seems to be acting more like a candidate, and he got a big boost from a recent speech to a Democratic group in Charlotte which has gone viral, as they kids say these days. He lit Burr up with zinger after zinger, effectively summing up the anonymous Burr this way: "In 15 years on Capitol Hill you can't name one thing that Richard Burr has done to make your life better, and I can't either."
• NV-Sen: Feeling confident after seeing several polls giving her an edge over Harry Reid, Nevada GOP chair Sue Lowden is resigning her post, presumably with an eye toward a Senate run. Since there are already announced candidates (former SoS candidate Danny Tarkanian), she's resigning as of Sep. 30 to avoid a conflict of interest.
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): Franklin & Marshall is out with a poll of the Pennsylvania races, although the undecideds are bizarrely large. Case in point, Arlen Specter leads Joe Sestak 37-11 in the Dem primary (with 46% don't know and 6% other). Specter bests Pat Toomey in the general, 37-29, while Toomey beats Sestak, 26-22. (As an amusing aside, Sestak and Toomey had a Specter-free debate at Muhlenberg College last night and then adjourned to a local pub together for a round of beers and further private trash-talking of Specter.) F&M also polled the GOP gubernatorial primary, where Tom Corbett leads Jim Gerlach 15-6 (with 73% don't know!). Outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell has quickly plunged from most popular figure in the state to least popular, with a favorable of 32/53.
• MN-Gov: Former Dem state House leader Matt Entenza recently hired Friend of SSP Dana Houle to manage his campaign for governor. Congrats to Dana, and best wishes to Entenza, who made a wise choice. (D)
• NV-Gov: You know your political career is over when other members of your own party are using your name as a cudgel against their opposition. Minor GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Montandon issued a press release attacking John Ensign over his alleged recruiting of recently-retired federal judge Brian Sandoval into the gubernatorial primary. (Although presumably the intent was to besmirch his opponent Sandoval, by linking him to Ensign.)
• VA-Gov: One more poll to mention in Virginia, not as favorable as the PPP poll from Tuesday. Rasmussen's latest look at the race gives Bob McDonnell a 51-42 lead over Creigh Deeds with leaners (49-39 without), not much changed from the early August sample of 47-38. The entire one-day sample was on Sep. 1, after news of McDonnell's anti-fornicator manifesto had broken. Speaking of said master's thesis, Deeds is already on the air with radio spots (wisely airing only in northern Virginia) attacking McDonnell over the thesis. In another sign of Dems' renewed confidence in this race, the DNC is pouring a truckload of cash into the race: $5 million.
• CA-50: Dave Roberts, a city councilor and former mayor in Solana Beach, confirmed today that he'll be a candidate in the 50th against GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray. Roberts, an openly gay veteran, has sounded more conservative notes than the other Dems in the primary, 2006 candidate Francine Busby and attorney Tracy Emblem; he recently changed his registration from Independent to Democratic. (UPDATE: The Roberts camp informs us that he is not a veteran.)
• FL-16: The DCCC sounds happy with its recruit to go against freshman Tom Rooney, 36-year-old St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft. He also has a compelling backstory, as seen in this recent interview.
• NH-01: Here's a poll of the hotly contested race in the 1st, courtesy of Populus Research (the same guys who polled NH-Sen a few weeks ago and found no undecideds) on behalf of the conservative site Now Hampshire. Carol Shea-Porter leads GOP mayor of Manchester Frank Guinta, 46.3%-43.4% (I'm not sure what's up with the extra significant digits when the MoE is still 4%, but who am I to nitpick?). Guinta previously released an NRCC internal poll in April that had him down 43-34.
• NY-23: Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava seems to have one Achilles heel in the NY-23 open seat special election: her brother Thomas (in the fine tradition of Billy Carter, Roger Clinton, and Neil Bush). Turns out she owns $1 million in preferred stock (and a 3% voting stake) in her brother's troubled company, Seaway Valley Capital Corporation, a holding company whose subsidiaries owe $192,000 in back taxes. She maintains she's a mere "passive investor," although she is COO of an affiliated company, Seaway Capital Partners.
• KY-State Sen.: It looks like Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is going to continue his stealth plan to dismantle the GOP's majority in the Kentucky state Senate, one seat at a time. Still riding high off of Democrat Robin Webb's recent win of a GOP-held state Senate seat, Republican Senate President David Williams is pre-emptively whining in the press about Beshear's efforts to see that GOP Senate Majority Leader Dan Kelly gets nominated to a vacant circuit judgeship. This move has been rumored for some time, and back in July, the names of two Democrats were floated for a potential special election in Kelly's seat in central Kentucky's Bourbon territory: former state Rep. Jodie Haydon of Bardstown or Nicky Rapier, the son of the late House leader Kenny Rapier. (J)
It's been a pretty good day for the DCCC so far today, and it just got a bit better: St. Lucie Co. Commissioner Chris Craft, who has been the party's top choice to challenge frosh GOP Rep. Tom Rooney after state Sen. Dave Aronberg declined the race, has announced that he will run. From the Palm Beach Post:
"I'm running for Congress because we need a representative who has shared the struggles of hardworking Floridians and can relate to the people of this district," said Craft, who pledged to work with Republicans and Democrats as a "moderate voice" in Washington.
Craft, 36, was recruited by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after the party failed to woo state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, to challenge Rooney. Aronberg instead launched a bid for attorney general in June.
Rooney's going to be a pretty challenging incumbent to beat, given his slam-dunk 60-40 win over disgraced Democrat Tim Mahoney and the district's overall slight Republican lean (it's supported Republican presidential nominees by anywhere between 5 and 8 points in the last three cycles). However, it's always a good idea to keep a frosh Republican on his toes -- especially with redistricting looming around the corner.
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist got an endorsement today from one of the guys who was considered to be one of the likeliest GOP nominees up until the point when, well, Crist got into the race: Rep. Vern Buchanan. (If you're keeping score among Florida's Reps., the Diaz-Balarts and Cornelius McGillicudy IV have endorsed Crist, while Jeff Miller has endorsed Rubio.)
• IL-Sen: Rep. Mark Kirk has drawn another seemingly-minor challenger in the GOP primary. John Arrington, an African-American former city councilor from Chicago's southern suburb of Harvey, will run. He also sought the party's nomination for the same seat in 2004 after GOP primary winner Jack Ryan dropped out, although the state party gave the nomination to the much more fun Alan Keyes.
• NC-Sen, NC-07: As most people expected, Rep. Mike McIntyre announced that he will run for re-election instead of for the Senate seat held by Richard Burr. Which is just as well, as McIntyre is pretty conservative and also needed to hold down his reddish district. SoS Elaine Marshall is probably the biggest name left who's sounding interested in the Senate race.
• OH-Sen: George Voinovich had one of his occasional moments of independence the other day, telling the Columbus Dispatch that too many conservative southerners (specifically citing Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn) are dragging down the party's brand nationwide. "They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr,'" he said. "People hear them and say, 'These people, they're southerners. The party's being taken over by southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?'" (I'm not quite sure what "errrr, errrr" means -- maybe it's supposed to be some sort of Frankenstein's Monster noise -- but otherwise it's spot on.)
• CT-Gov: State senator Gary LeBeau, from East Hartford, seems to be the first Democrat to actually announce his candidacy for Governor. He's been a Senator since 1996. Potential candidates he may face in the primary include Stamford mayor Daniel Malloy, SoS Susan Bysiewicz (both of whom have outpaced incumbent Governor Jodi Rell at fundraising so far), former state House speaker James Amman, and former Senate candidate Ned Lamont.
• MI-Gov: Although Lt. Gov. John Cherry seems on track to the Dem nomination, he got another primary opponent, former state Rep. John Freeman. Freeman's hook is strong ties with organized labor, but Cherry is also friendly with labor. State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith is also in the race, and former MSU football coach George Perles is all but in.
• MN-Gov: Will he or won't he? After the news broke last night that Norm Coleman wasn't planning to run for Governor, that has been updated today to reflect that he won't really decide until some point in spring 2010... which seems intended to give his personal brand some time to, uh, recover his interminable contesting of the Senate election, but still sounds very odd, as the party's endorsing convention is in late April, giving him almost no time to ramp up.
• SD-Gov: If there's one job that's even more thankless than being state Senate minority leader in South Dakota, it's being the Democrats' gubernatorial candidate in South Dakota. Kudos to Scott Heideprem for doing both. Likely GOP contenders include Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard and state Senate majority leader Dave Knudsen.
• TX-Gov: Kay Bailey Hutchison is already shaking up her campaign staff, confronted with polls that show her faltering in the gubernatorial primary as incumbent Rick Perry consolidates the hard-core base with his ranting against the feds. Campaign manager Rick Wiley is out, replaced by Terry Sullivan.
• CA-26: Rep. David Dreier has reimbursed himself an unusually high $200,000 out of his congressional campaign funds this decade, without the proper level of itemization required by the FEC, and watchdog groups are starting to wonder why. He says these are mostly mundane food expenses and that he'll provide additional documentation if the FEC makes him. Hopefully he's not making the same mistake a lot of small-time crooks make: when you launder money, you don't put it in the Dreier afterwards.
• FL-16: With state Sen. Dave Aronberg running for AG, our next best bet is probably St. Lucie Co. Commissioner Chris Craft, and he's "leaning" toward jumping into the race against freshman GOPer Tom Rooney in the next few weeks.
• LA-02: The first Democrat to announce a run against improbable GOP Rep. Joseph Cao is state Rep. Juan LaFonta. LaFonta had been rumored to be thinking about avoiding the Dem primary and running as an Independent, but won't. State Rep. Cedric Richmond, who lost last year's primary, and State Sen. Cheryl Grey Evans also sound likely to get in.
• MN-06: State Sen. Tarryl Clark made her run official, filing the paperwork for her candidacy ysterday. She'll face off against 06 candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg and former IP member Maureen Reed in the primary.
• MS-01: This has been expected since state Sen. Merle Flowers said he wouldn't run, but state Sen. Alan Nunnelee made it official yesterday, filing to run against Rep. Travis Childers. Nunnelee's opening salvo against Blue Dog Childers was that he votes with Nancy Pelosi "100 percent." Which is true, if by 100%, you actually mean 61%.
• TX-32: Here's a profile of Grier Raggio, the locally-prominent attorney who's running for the Democrats in the 32nd. The district still is Republican-leaning, but demographics are poised to move it quickly in our direction.
• FL-St. House: Term limits look like they'll cut a sizable swath through the GOP delegation in Florida's state House, with Republicans facing 25 open seats in 2010 -- many of which are narrowly GOP-leaning and in Dem-trending central Florida -- compared with only three for Democrats. Dems are starting out in a very deep hole in the state House, so an outright takeover isn't likely, but it may bring them closer to balance.
• PA-Sen: Seems like Joe Sestak cleared his Senate run with his family, as now he only has to run it by the Almighty: "It would take an act of God for me to not get in now," he said on Saturday. Meanwhile, the state's political establishment, led by Ed Rendell, feted Arlen Specter at the state party's quarterly meeting on Friday (with Sestak in attendance).
• FL-Sen: From sitting Senator to punchline in a few short years: Bob Smith's announcement that he's running for Senate again seemed to generate mostly just shrugs and giggles. Of course, part of the problem is that he's running in Florida instead of New Hampshire, where he looks to be barely a blip on the radar screen in the titanic Crist/Rubio faceoff. This may benefit Charlie Crist a bit by shaving off some of the die-hard conservative vote from Marco Rubio, but Smith in his announcement didn't even seem to have any ammunition to use against Rubio, saying only that he offers "strong political leadership" in contrast to Rubio's "wheeling and dealing." Meanwhile, Crist got hammered in a St. Petersburg Times editorial for his role in gutting Florida's growth management act, which damages his environmental credentials for the general.
• NY-Sen-B: Kirsten Gillibrand snagged two more endorsements from her former colleagues in New York's House delegation: Nydia Velazquez and Ed Towns. Rep. Carolyn Maloney continues to staff up for a potential challenge, though, and words comes that she's looking to hire Joe Trippi as strategist, and Mark Penn's polling firm (now there's an odd combination).
• IN-Sen: Indiana Republicans have located a challenger for Evan Bayh: 32-year-old state Senator Marlin Stutzman. While Stutzman probably doesn't have Bayh shaking in his boots, it seems like a way for him to grow his statewide profile for future endeavors.
• CA-Gov: Another California governor's poll bubbled up last week, from Probolsky Research for Capitol Weekly. They look only at the primary fields: former Governor Jerry Brown continues to lead the field at 24, while SF mayor Gavin Newsom is at 16 and LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is at 15. On the GOP side, "undecided" is running away with it, with 64%. Among the human candidates, here's a surprise: moderate ex-Rep. Tom Campbell leads at 13, leading the two more-highly-touted and richer candidates, ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman (10) and Insurance Comm. Steve Poizner (8).
• IA-03: Rep. Leonard Boswell may face a rematch with the guy he barely beat in the 1996 open seat race to take office: former state GOP chair Michael Mahaffey. IA-03 is a very different configuration now, though; it used to be a mostly rural district then, but now is centered on Des Moines (although Boswell still manages to find ways to get elected by narrow margins).
• TX-23: Rep. Ciro Rodriguez may face a primary challenge in 2010, from lawyer and Iraq vet Miguel Ortiz. Rodriguez and Ortiz are both from San Antonio, so Ortiz doesn't have the advantage of a geographical hook.
• FL-AG: State Senator (and former U.S. Senate candidate) Dan Gelber confirmed that he's running for Attorney General (against friend and fellow Senator Dave Aronberg). Gelber had also been considered for Lt. Gov., seemingly leaving Dems back at square one to fill that slot.
• FL-16: Speaking of Aronberg, with him out, St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft seems to be DCCC's person of interest to take on freshman Rep. Tom Rooney. They've also talked to Craft's fellow Commissioner, Doug Coward.
• VA-Legislature: Here's another interesting look at our best chances of taking control of the Virginia House of Delegates in 2009, this time from our own diaries courtesy of Johnny Longtorso.
Casting himself as a consumer advocate and a protege of popular former Democratic attorney general Bob Butterworth, state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, announced today he'll run for attorney general in 2010. [...]
Aronberg, who could face a tough Democratic primary for the job, highlighted his work as an assistant attorney general under Butterworth, who left office in 2002 because of term limits.
"I learned from the best... We need to return to the days of Bob Butterworth, of an Attorney General who stands up for consumers," Aronberg said.
Aronberg is the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the office that Republican Bill McCollum is vacating in order to pursue his gubernatorial ambitions, but he may not have the field to himself: fellow state Sen. Dan Gelber and ex-state Sen. Rod Smith have also expressed interest in the job. While no one wants to see a contested primary here, it may be unavoidable. Opportunities to move up at the statewide level in Florida don't grow on orange trees.
This also means that the DCCC will have to go back to the well for a challenger to frosh GOP Rep. Tom Rooney in the 16th CD. Aronberg was their top choice, but the committee's recruiters have also been talking to St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft as an alternative.