Busy night in Texas last night, although both sides in the gubernatorial race turned out being pretty anticlimactic. Incumbent Republican Rick Perry just barely managed to cleared the 50% hurdle and avoid a runoff; he got 51 to Kay Bailey Hutchison's 30 and Debra Medina's 19. Medina's 19 is higher than anyone would have imagined a few months ago, but it also may reflect there's a ceiling on what teabaggers can accomplish, and she may have reached that; that's confirmed with the range of teabagger challenges to Republican incumbents in the House and the state legislature. Challenges to Ron Paul (81%) and Pete Sessions (84%) barely made a ripple, and while self-funding teabagger Steve Clark racked up 30% in TX-04, that's mostly by virtue of running against the mummified remains of Ralph Hall rather than a vigorous opponent. In what seems like the two most competitive House races in November, the Republicans are headed to runoffs: Quico Canseco vs. Will Hurd in TX-23, and Bill Flores vs. Rob Curnock in TX-17. (Considering how uncontroversial incumbent Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo surprisingly lost a one-on-one to an underfunded unknown with an Anglo surname, I wonder if Canseco and Flores should be worried going into the runoffs.)
Bill White doesn't get the advantage of a facing a runoff-addled Rick Perry in the general, but he's coming into it with a head of steam, racking up 76% in the Dem primary to 13% for Farouk Shami. He's likely to get a boost from Latino turnout as he's backed up by two Latino ticket-mates who won last night: Lt. Governor candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson and Land Commissioner candidate Hector Uribe (who ended at 52% after trailing most of the night). (He'll also be backed up by a non-annoying Ag Commissioner candidate, in the form of Hank Gilbert, who narrowly defeated Kinky Friedman.)
Further down the ballot, in what many considered the most important race of the night, in the GOP primary for District 9 of the state Board of Education, incumbent wingnut Don McLeroy lost narrowly to moderate Thomas Ratliff. Moderate Geraldine Miller lost in a surprise to George Clayton, though (although he says he wants books to be "agenda-free"). The balance of power between creationists and "moderates" (by Texas standards) on the SBOE may yet come down to a runoff in one other race, between Marsha Farney and Brian Russell.
Two other states had special elections in their state House of Representatives, with the Dems and GOP each holding seats they'd previously occupied. It was a nail-biter in Virginia's HD-41 in suburban Fairfax County, where Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn prevailed by 42 votes over Republican Kerry Bolognese to keep the seat vacated by now-state Sen. Dave Marsden. (Theoretically, that was close enough for a recount, but the GOP won't request one and Filler-Corn is being seated today.) In Connecticut, Republican Laura Hoydick defeated Democrat Janice Anderson to keep in GOP hands the seat vacated by Stratford's new mayor John Harkins; the two will face off again in November.
While we're sitting around waiting for the main event to start, let's hear your predictions on tonight's primaries in the Lone Star State. Can one-time sure-thing Kay Bailey Hutchison somehow pull off the upset and beat Rick Perry? OK, OK, you can stop the laughing now... can KBH somehow keep Rick Perry from clearing 50% and avoiding a runoff? Will enough teabaggers show up at the polls for an impressive showing for Debra Medina (and for primary challenges to Ralph Hall and Pete Sessions), or are their 15 minutes of fame/2 minutes of hate coming to a close? Will the long-anticipated matchup of Ciro Rodriguez and Quico Canseco finally come to pass, or will Canseco's run of primary bad luck continue? And can Bill White clear 50% himself, or will hair care guru Farouk Shami force him into a resource-draining runoff? To prep yourself for answering all these questions, check out DavidNYC's preview from last night.
Polls close at 7 pm CT in most parts of the state and will start reporting then, although El Paso (on Mountain Time) closes an hour later. And in the meantime, don't forget there are state House special elections on tap in Virginia and Connecticut.
PPP (pdf) (2/19-21, likely voters, 2/4-7 in parentheses)
Rick Perry (R-inc): 40 (39)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R): 31 (28)
Debra Medina (R): 20 (24)
Undecided: 9 (10)
Rick Perry (R-inc): 52
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R): 35
Rick Perry (R-inc): 55
Debra Medina (R): 36
Bill White (D): 59 (49)
Farouk Shami (D): 12 (19)
Undecided: 18 (24)
PPP has another look at the primary fields in the Texas governor's race, with election day fast-approaching on March 2. Most notably, they find that Debra Medina's surge, which they were the first to show a few weeks ago, seems to have peaked and eased off. A lot of that, one would expect, is probably a result of her 9/11 truther inclinations having come out via a sandbagging from Glenn Beck, of all places. There's a corresponding gain for Kay Bailey Hutchison, suggesting that there was a chunk of not-voting-for-Perry-under-any-circumstances voters who liked Medina's freshness but switched to the insidery KBH once Medina's kookiness came to the surface. Although the race looks to be headed to a runoff anyway, Rick Perry looks poised to win against either opponent. (Chris Cillizza has a thoughtful piece today on what went wrong with the once-promising KBH campaign. Shorter version: KBH's lack of an overriding reason to fire Perry (other than "it's my turn") and her focus on genteel general election themes in a primary with a red-meat-hungry base.)
Waiting in the wings for Perry is Democratic former Houston mayor Bill White, who looks to be building support (as Farouk Shami's novelty wears off). White is clearly gearing up for an expensive general, and has been going nuts on the fundraising front, just releasing numbers indicating that he raised $2.2 million in the most recent reporting period (ending Feb. 20), leaving him with $5.4 million CoH.
• AZ-Sen: This is good news! For J.D. Hayworth! The right-wing anti-immigrant vote in the GOP primary isn't going to be split. Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox ended his bid and endorsed Hayworth, not having gotten much traction on the polling front even before Hayworth's entry. In a close race, though, Simcox's few percentage points could make all the difference for Hayworth. Bad news, for the GOP, though, is that Hayworth and John McCain are planning to go all Mutually Assured Destruction on each other in the primary, with Hayworth threatening that if McCain brings up Abramoff, he'll bring up the Keating 5. Dems really need a marquee candidate here to be poised to seize the smoldering ruins.
• CO-Sen: Andrew Romanoff is rolling out more endorsements, as he seems to be finally getting his primary challenge to Michael Bennet into gear in the wake of recent polling showing him outperforming Bennet in the general election. He's claiming the endorsement of more than two-thirds of the Democrats in the state House, including current majority leader Paul Weissman, as well as state Senate majority leader John Morse and former House speaker Ruben Valdez. Romanoff, of course, is a former House speaker himself, so he's got an 'in' with the legislative types.
• NV-Sen: I wonder if this is the break that'll save Harry Reid's butt in November? (Especially if Sue Lowden winds up winning the GOP nomination, as she's public enemy number 1 to the state's Paulists.) The "Tea Party" has filed a "Certificate of Existence" (where can I get one of those, for whenever people doubt that I exist?) in Nevada, and will have its own candidate on the ballot in November. Jon Ashjian will reportedly be their candidate; the question still remains just how big a bite he takes out of the Republican column, though. In addition, there will also be a Reform Party candidate on the ballot and as many as five independents.
• NY-Sen-B: Mort Zuckerman? Really? Maybe he's taking a page from friend Michael Bloomberg and realizing that, with enough money, any political office is within reach for a restless billionaire. The 72-year-old Daily News publisher and real estate baron is considering a race against Kirsten Gillibrand, although there's no indication of which party label he'd use. He's known as a Democrat, but it seems likely he'd pursue either an independent or Republican bid to avoid the Democratic primary (where Harold Ford Jr. already seems to be occupying the turf Zuckerman would need in order to win).
• CT-Gov: Here's the top facepalm news of the day: Ned Lamont has hired a campaign manager as he officially kicks off his gubernatorial campaign, and he hired Joe Abbey, last seen... wait for it... helming Creigh Deeds' campaign.
• FL-Gov: This doesn't sound very promising either, as the St. Petersburg Times looks at the growing sense of torpor surrounding the Alex Sink campaign. Sink has had little trouble fundraising and a so-so GOP opponent, but operatives are starting to worry she's walking a Martha Coakley-ish line on focusing on insider connections and with a lack of interest in mixing it up with voters or even developing a resonant message.
• PA-Gov: The GOP state party endorsements came with a lot less drama than the Democrats', seeing as how they've had their candidates locked down for most of a year. AG Tom Corbett easily got the endorsement for governor over state Rep. Sam Rohrer, which was widely expected although it still piqued Rohrer's handful of right-wing supporters. The most drama was actually for the #2 slot; Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley managed to win the Lt. Governor endorsement on the second ballot out of a crowded field. On the Democratic side, Philadelphia-based state Sen. Anthony Williams is still expressing some interest in the race, although he's set a very high bar for entry for himself. He's sitting $1 million already, and he says if he can get that figure up to $4 million in the next few weeks, he'll jump in.
• TX-Gov (pdf): There's yet another poll out of the Texas gubernatorial primaries, from a coalition of newspapers, most prominently the Austin American-Statesman. It's right in line with the other polls out recently, with Rick Perry at 45, Kay Bailey Hutchison at 29, and Debra Medina at 7. (They don't poll runoff matchups, or the Dem primary.) Houston mayor Bill White continues to make this a competitive race for the Dems in the general: he trails Perry 43-37, and Hutchison 42-34. Meanwhile, Debra Medina (who recently seemed to blunt any late momentum by revealing her truly kooky side) may have some good company, in the form of Democratic candidate Farouk Shami: he came out with some statements putting him in truther-curious territory as well. Shami is also about to announce the invention of a blow dryer that actually grows hair. (Why aim low, for merely Governor, if that's true? If it's really true, he's about to become a trillionaire.)
• AZ-03: I'm not sure if this is the family name you really want, when running for office, but a new candidate is in the GOP field in the open seat race in the 3rd: Ben Quayle. The 33-year-old attorney, who hasn't run for office before, is the son of former VP and frequent punchline Dan Quayle.
• FL-24: With the former CEO of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chain, Craig Miller, planning to run in the 24th, Democrats are spotlighting his opposition to tougher laws on drunk driving. (As a restauranteur, he would have a financial interest in getting that extra drink into his guests.) "Once 0.08 becomes law, why not 0.05 or 0.02?" he asked in a 2000 interview.
• MA-10: The William Delahunt retirement rumors aren't going away, and now Glenn Thrush points to a Delahunt-out/Joe Kennedy III-in/Delahunt-endorses-Kennedy master-plan in the works. Kennedy, a Barnstable County prosecuting attorney, isn't the only Kennedy of his generation who's a possible House candidate; Politico helpfully provides a scorecard of various other Kennedys who might run for higher office in the future. At any rate, even if Joe III doesn't wind up in the next Congress, it's likely Congress won't stay Kennedy-free for very long.
• OK-05: There's one less Oklahoma Republican in the primary for the open seat in dark-red OK-05. Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud cited non-life-threatening health concerns in dropping out of the race, although he plans to keep serving in his current job. Six different GOPers are in the field (perhaps most notably, former state Rep. Kevin Calvey), but no Dem has gotten in yet.
• PA-03: One other dropout from a crowded GOP field, this time for the right to take on Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper in the 3rd. Tom Trevorrow, an ophthalmologist who made a splashy entrance recently with a big serving of self-funding and some expensive consultant hires, ended his bid just as quickly, citing his father's illness.
• RI-01: A couple big names have already gotten into the race to replace retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the biggest possibly being Providence's mayor David Cicilline (who surprised many by turning down a gubernatorial run this year). Cicilline would be the fourth openly-gay member of Congress, if elected. He'll have to get past William Lynch in the primary, though; Lynch, the brother of AG and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Lynch, just resigned as the state's Democratic party chair in order to run. Pretty much every prominent Democrat around is also listed as a possible candidate: Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts (who also decided against a gubernatorial run), ex-Rep. Bob Weygand (of RI-02, who lost the 2000 Senate race to Lincoln Chafee), ex-LG Charles Fogarty, and even state Rep. Betsy Dennigan, who's currently running a primary against Rep. James Langevin over in RI-02. (Rhode Island seems like Hawaii, where the boundaries between the two districts seem like they're of little practical importance.) On the GOP side, state Rep. John Loughlin is already in, while former Cranston mayor and Senate candidate Steven Laffey and state party chair Giovanni Cicione are also mentioned.
• TN-08: Everyone has pretty well coalesced around state Sen. (and until recently, gubernatorial candidate) Roy Herron to try to hold retiring Rep. John Tanner's seat. Democratic state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh just announced that he wouldn't run, and in a somewhat encouraging sign, said that his own polling showed that he wouldn't have trouble getting past the various Republicans seeking the seat in the R+3 (but historically Democratic) district. Instead, he didn't see a way past Herron in the primary.
• VA-05: PPP has some follow-up on its previous general election poll of VA-05, looking at the GOP primary, which has the potential to be one of the biggest flashpoints in the establishment/teabagger schism. For now, chalk this one up to the establishment: state Sen. Robert Hurt leads at 22 (leading among both moderates and conservatives), with Albemarle Co. Commissioner Ken Boyd at 12. The various members of the teabagging rabble all poll in the low single digits. With 51% still undecided, though, this is still anyone's game once the ad wars begin.
• CA-LG: So, Arnold Schwarzenegger dialed down his banana-republic dictator act from last week, deciding to resubmit Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado for appointment as Lt. Governor, rather than deciding to swear him in despite not getting enough votes in the Assembly to confirm him. The legislature has another 90 days to decide what to do with him.
Take these polls with a grain of salt, considering that they were taken before Debra Medina was nailed for expressing 9/11 truther-esque sentiments in an interview with Glenn Beck. If Perry can scoop up enough votes from her hide, he could avoid a runoff, but that's a big if.
Bill White (D): 42
Rick Perry (R-inc): 48
Bill White (D): 38
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R): 45
Bill White (D): 38
Debra Medina (R): 44
PPP (which had surprising Republican primary numbers yesterday, showing Kay Bailey Hutchison imperiled as far as even making it to a runoff) has some pretty encouraging numbers for Democratic candidate Bill White in the general election. White's losing, but by a 6 or 7 point margin, a good showing in a generally conservative state like Texas. (On the down side, there aren't a lot of undecideds here, especially in the Rick Perry matchup, so you have to wonder where the last few votes that would get him over the top might come from.)
Interestingly, unlike a lot of other polls which have shown Hutchison, who passes for a "moderate" by Texas standards, outperforming in the general, PPP finds everyone performing about the same vis-a-vis White, not just the very conservative Rick Perry but even the around-the-bend conservative Debra Medina. Perry's approvals, a woeful 33/50, seem to be holding him back; KBH is at least in positive territory at 40/37, while Medina and White benefit from not being as well-known, at 32/13 and 34/17 respectively.
In other news, White just got the endorsement of the Texas League of Conservation Voters, while his primary opponent, Farouk Shami got a noteworthy endorsement of his own: from the Mexican American Democrats, who liked how his personal story represents "what the American Dream is all about." I don't think either of those endorsements can compete with the one Rick Perry just pulled in, though: the mighty Home Scholers.
Rick Perry (R-inc): 39
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R): 28
Debra Medina (R): 24
(Medina supporters only: who is your second choice?)
Rick Perry (R-inc): 43
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R): 39
Bill White (D): 49
Farouk Shami (D): 19
I don't think anyone was expecting this: PPP takes a look at the primary races in the Texas governor's race, and finds Debra Medina, the Paulist candidate who was something of a nobody before the debates, making a huge impact in the race. Not only is her presence almost certainly going to force a runoff now -- with Rick Perry unlikely to top 50% -- but it's now at least conceivable that she and not Kay Bailey Hutchison could be the one who makes it to the runoff with Perry. There must be a major freakout going on at KBH HQ today; this is all a bit reminiscent of what must have happened last month with the Martha Coakley camp, when the nice lady who'd been coasting for a while finally looked in the rear view mirror and realized that object was closer than it appeared.
What I find baffling, though, is how Medina supporters will split if she doesn't make it into the runoff. You'd think that Medina's right-wing followers would all pile into the Perry camp, given a choice between Perry's anti-Washington posturing and KBH's decades of insiderness. Nope: it's almost an even split, with a narrow edge to Perry... suggesting that Medina is tapping into a lot of generalized anti-Perry sentiment too, or maybe just that the voters have a really superficial understanding of the differences between the candidates. (Of course, now maybe the more interesting question we should be asking is: how would KBH supporters split if she didn't make it into the runoff?)
Finally, there's the little matter of the Democratic primary. Houston mayor Bill White isn't currently making it over the 50% mark against hair product magnate Farouk Shami, but he's almost there, with a sizable number of undecideds left to break.
• AR-Sen: We're up to eight Republicans packed into the GOP Senate field in Arkansas, none of whom are exactly top-tier but many of whom seem to have the capability to win both the primary and the general against Blanche Lincoln. The new guy is Stanley Reed, and although he hasn't held elective office before, he seems to have the insider connections to make a serious go of it: he is former president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, and before that was chair of the Univ. of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
• CA-Sen/Gov: Here's an interesting rumor, courtesy of Chris Cillizza: moderate ex-Rep. Tom Campbell, probably the GOP's greatest threat in the general but an underfunded third-wheel in the gubernatorial primary, is considering moving over to the Senate race. Perhaps the news that Insurance Comm. Steve Poizner was planning to spend $15 million of his own moolah on his stalled gubernatorial bid was the last straw? It vaguely makes sense for Campbell (who has already run for Senate twice before, most recently in 2000), as he'd face off against underwhelming Carly Fiorina (who has lots of her own money, but no inclination to use it) and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who has nothing but the wrath of the teabaggers powering him.
• IL-Sen: The Chicago Tribune has released polls of the primary fields in the Illinois Senate race, revealing no surprises but also still a lot of people left to make up their minds. The Democratic field finds Alexi Giannoulias in the lead at 31, with Cheryle Jackson within kind-of striking distance at 17, David Hoffman at 9, and free-spending attorney Jacob Meister at 1 (with 38% undecided). For the GOP, the most notable number may be that Patrick Hughes, who's gotten all the buzz as the guy behind whom all the right-wingers are coalescing, is actually getting nowhere at all. Hughes is at 3, tied with virtually unknown Kathleen Thomas (a former school board member from Springfield). Mark Kirk is at 41, but with 47% undecided, he still has a lot of selling to do. Speaking of which, the DSCC has a new website devoted solely to the man and his nonstop campaign-trail flip-flops: Two-Faced Kirk.
• IL-Gov: The same Chicago Tribune sample also looked at the gubernatorial primary fields. Incumbent Pat Quinn seems to be having little trouble on his path to the Dem nomination, beating Comptroller Dan Hynes 49-23. (Hynes may be second-guessing himself for getting into this race instead of the Senate field.) On the GOP side, it looks like former AG Jim Ryan (and 2002 loser) is in pole position despite his late entry to the race, thanks to being the only figure with statewide name rec. He's at 26, with state party chair Andy McKenna at 12, downstate state Sen. Bill Brady at 10, suburban state Sen. Kirk Dillard at 9, businessman Adam Andrzejewski at 6, and DuPage Co. Board President Bob Schillerstrom at 2.
• PA-Gov: Rasmussen's poll from last week of PA-Sen had a governor question too, and it shows all of the Dems getting thumped by Republican AG Tom Corbett. That probably has a lot to do with name recognition (Corbett gets his face in the news every day with Bonusgate, which is good for a bizarrely-high favorable of 59/18, while Auditor Jack Wagner is the only Dem with a statewide profile), but the Dems are starting out in a hole here once campaigning starts in earnest. Wagner fares best against Corbett, losing 43-30, while Corbett beats Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato 44-28, ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel 48-26, and Scranton mayor Chris Doherty 46-23.
• NY-Gov (pdf): Breaking! David Paterson is still in deep trouble. He's at 23/76 approval, and 19/65 re-elects. He loses the Democratic primary to Andrew Cuomo 67-23 (and opinion is certainly solidifying behind Cuomo: 50% want him to run for Governor, while 31% want him to run again for AG). The good news is that Paterson still beats hapless ex-Rep. Rick Lazio in the general, 42-40, while Cuomo beats Lazio 68-22. Siena doesn't look at Rudy Giuliani at all, making his disappearance from the governor's race pretty apparent. Siena also takes a look at the Comptroller's race (although without any William Thompson or Eliot Spitzer permutations), and find Dem Thomas DiNapoli beating GOPer John Faso, 40-24.
• RI-Gov: One state where the gubernatorial race looks less and less likely to go the Republicans' way is Rhode Island, where their only announced candidate, businessman Rory Smith, quietly backed out of the race on Friday afternoon, citing his "limited political experience and political network." Maybe state Rep. Joe Trillo could get coaxed back into the race for the GOP -- or they could just throw their backing behind former Sen. and former Republican Lincoln Chafee's independent bid (although based on his recent comments about the state party, it doesn't sound like he'd want anything to do with their backing).
• SC-Gov (pdf): One more gubernatorial poll, leftover from last week. PPP polled South Carolina, and found numbers very similar to Rasmussen's numbers from last week. Basically, Democrats need to hope for a matchup between Jim Rex (the Superintendent of Education, and only statewide Dem officeholder) and hard-partying, car-racing, plane-crashing Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer; Rex wins that matchup, 37-36. Dems lose every other permutation. Bauer manages to beat state Sen. Vincent Sheheen 38-33, and Robert Ford 37-33. AG Henry McMaster beats Rex 40-31, Sheheen 41-27, and Ford 42-27. And Rep. Gresham Barrett beats Rex 40-33, Sheheen 41-26, and Ford 42-28. (By way of comparison, Rasmussen finds Rex beating Bauer 36-35 and losing his other matchups.) PPP didn't poll the primaries, but based on favorables, McMaster may be the likeliest GOP nominee, at 30/20, compared with Barrett, little-known outside his district at 14/17, and Bauer, toxic at 22/43. PPP also ran a generic D ballot against GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, who has no-name opposition so far, finding DeMint winning 47-38.
• TX-Gov: As expected, Kinky Friedman ended his Democratic gubernatorial primary bid today. Friedman declined to endorse either Bill White (whose entry probably precipitated Friedman's exit) or Farouk Shami, despite some connections to Shami. What may not have been expected was that Friedman dropped down to the Agriculture Commissioner race, where he'll join fellow gubernatorial race refugee Hank Gilbert. While Friedman doesn't seem to have an agricultural background, he does have as an advisor and backer former Ag Comm. and populist pundit Jim Hightower.
• ID-01: I hadn't heard any rumblings about this happening, but in case anyone was wondering, Larry Grant (the former software exec who barely lost the 2006 ID-01 race to Bill Sali) said he wouldn't primary Democratic freshman Rep. Walt Minnick in 2010. Minnick has raised some hackles for being the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus (not that that shouldn't be a surprise in an R+18 district, but he's been taking that to extremes lately, leading the way to scrap the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency). Grant also denied that he'd be running in 2010 as a moderate Republican (conceivably to Minnick's left?), although he seemed to suggest that he could prevail against that field of wannabes, accusing Vaughn Ward of being a "Sarah Palin Republican" and Raul Labrador a "Bill Sali Republican." (I wonder what that would make Bill Sali, if he decided to jump in?)
• IL-10: In the Democratic primary clash in the open 10th, state Rep. Julie Hamos scored a big labor endorsement today, from the AFSCME.
• IL-14: Ethan Hastert a moderate? Either the apple falls far from the tree, or the Main Street Partnership is having to greatly expand their definition of "moderate" is order to stay relevant in a GOP intent on purging itself into oblivion. At any rate, the Main Streeters' PAC gave to Hastert (making clear where the ideological fault lines lie in his primary against state Sen. Randy Hultgren), along with OH-15's Steve Stivers, OH-16's Jim Renacci, and NH-02's Charlie Bass.
• KS-03: The specter of Republican civil war in the open seat race in Kansas's 3rd is abating, as state Sen. (and 2008 loser) Nick Jordan has the respect of both the moderate and conservative wings of the state's party. Maybe most significantly, state Sen. Jeff Colyer, from the fire-breathing camp, said today that he won't challenge Jordan in the primary. Moderate state Rep. Kevin Yoder is still exploring the race, though.
• PA-10: Sophomore Democratic Rep. Chris Carney has been one of the juiciest targets with only token Republican opposition, but the GOP may have found an elected official willing to take him on: state Rep. Michael Peifer, who represents a rural portion of the district.
• SC-01: Another Dem is in the hunt in the 1st, for the right to go up against Rep. Henry Brown (assuming he survives his primary). Retired Navy officer and accountant Dick Withington is getting in; his only political experience is losing a state Rep. race in 2004.
• TN-03: The open seat in the 3rd should be attracting at least some Democratic interest, but following the withdrawal of establishment candidate Paula Flowers last month, now even the race's Some Dude bailed out: businessman (and 2006 loser) Brent Benedict got out, citing family health concerns. A few other potentially-credible Democrats are now looking at the race, though, including Chattanooga city councilor Andrae McGary and Hamilton County Democratic party chair Jeff Brown.
• TX-10: Democratic businessman Jack McDonald has gotten lots of buzz for solid fundraising for a potential run against GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, who looks increasingly shaky in the demographically-changing 10th. Last week, he removed the "exploratory" part of his campaign account, making it official, although clearly he's been acting like a candidate all year.
• VA-05: The Virginia GOP decided on a primary, rather than a convention, to pick the person who takes on endangered freshman Rep. Tom Perriello in the 5th. In a weird way, the primary is better news for the party's establishment, as the conventions tend to be dominated by the extremists who pick pure but unelectable candidates (recall last year's Senate flap, where the decision to have a convention drove out moderate Rep. Tom Davis and left them with ex-Gov. Jim Gilmore). With their top contender, state Sen. Rob Hurt, coming from the sane wing of the party, that increases his odds of getting through to the general -- but the downside is that this may drive dissatisfied teabaggers to the third-party right-wing candidacy of Bradley Rees in the general.
• WA-03: A journeyman Democrat is considering the open seat race in the 3rd, potentially setting up a primary with early entrant state Rep. Deb Wallace. Denny Heck was a state Rep. in the 80s, lost a Superintendent of Education race, became Gov. Booth Gardner's chief of staff, and then founded TVW, the state's local equivalent of C-SPAN. The article also mentions a couple other Dems interested in the race not previously mentioned, including state Sen. Brian Hatfield.
• Mayors: In a runoff election that had an undercurrent of homophobia thanks to the involvement of outside groups, city controller Annise Parker won on Saturday, making Houston by far the largest city to ever elect an openly LGBT mayor. She defeated former city attorney Gene Locke 53-47.
• Redistricting: The Texas Tribune takes a look at the many moving parts in legislative redistricting post-2010 in Texas. Factors include whether the Dems will be able to pick up the state House next year (sounding less likely), and which state officials are on the Legislative Redistricting Board (which takes over if the legislature can't agree, which seems likely anyway since there's a 2/3s requirement for the maps to clear the Senate and the GOP is short of 2/3s there).
• Demographics: Governing Magazine has an interesting piece on Gwinnett County, Georgia, which is as good an example as any of how suburbs, even in some of the reddest states, are becoming bluer as they become more diverse thanks to immigration. Gwinnett County has fallen below 50% non-Hispanic white, and it gave Obama 44% of the vote last year.
• Polltopia: PPP is asking for help yet again on which congressional district to poll next. This time, it'll be a GOP-held district: Michele Bachmann's MN-06, Lee Terry's NE-02, or Pat Tiberi's OH-12.
• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon is in Washington DC this week to meet with Republican bigwigs about her bid for the Senate in Connecticut, meeting with Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, Orrin Hatch, and the knuckle-draggers at FreedomWorks. McMahon's visit is accompanied, however, by stories in The Hill and Politico that focus on professional wrestling's dangerous conditions, and lack of health insurance or union representation -- and are replete with quotes from former wrestlers decrying McMahon and her company.
• KS-Sen: The previous few rounds of polling for Rep. Todd Tiahrt in the Kansas GOP Senate primary haven't looked so hot, but the newest offering from SurveyUSA finds him back in the thick of things. Rep. Jerry Moran now leads Tiahrt 37-34, compared with a 43-27 gap in early October. Crosstabs suggest Tiahrt has pulled back into a tie in Kansas's northeast (the Kansas City suburbs) -- with Moran dominating the rural west and Tiahrt dominating the Wichita area, the KC suburbs are the decisive region.
• OR-Gov: State Republican leaders are still casting their nets about, despite former NBA player Chris Dudley bringing a lot of money to the table. With some troubled that Dudley "has not delivered any ideas at all" (and with their best-known candidate, Bill Sizemore, having gotten arraigned for tax evasion yesterday) many have now set their sights on state House minority leader Bruce Hanna, a conservative from the state's rural southwest; Hanna says he's "listening with interest" to their entreaties.
In the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up department, Jerry Wilson, founder of exercise machine maker Soloflex, was originally going to run for Governor under the banner of Oregon's Naderite Progressive Party, but somewhere along the way decided it would be better to run for one of the major party noms so he'd have a better chance, and inexplicably decided to run for a Republican. Wilson just found out that he missed the deadline by several months to change his party registration to be able to do so (he's a Democrat), so now he's decided to run as a Democrat. (The pro-marijuana Wilson might want to, y'know, lay off it a little while he's trying to put together a political campaign.) Also on the Dem side, the state's AFL-CIO announced that it won't be endorsing in the race until at least March, which has to be seen as a victory of sorts for ex-SoS Bill Bradbury in that they don't view ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber as having the nomination locked down and are waiting to see how things shake out.
• TX-Gov: With heavyweight Houston mayor Bill White having settled into the Democratic field in the Governor's race, the remaining candidates are assessing their options. Kinky Friedman was expected to drop out today, but announced that he'll take at least a few more days to meet with supporters, and with White and Farouk Shami, before pulling the plug. (Shami was a big donor to Friedman last time.) The independently wealthy Shami sounds like he's staying in, although he's now suffering the usual fate of celebrity business candidates: the revelation of his paltry voting record (including no vote in the 2008 general, and no votes in any Democratic primary elections, with at least one in a Republican primary instead). And on the GOP side, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, faced with the realization that the Senate election may not be happening any time soon, just filed for re-election to another term as LG.
• FL-02: That was fast. (And not very good message discipline, either.) After confirming yesterday that he was considering a move over to Florida's statewide CFO race, Democratic state Sen. Al Lawson backtracked today and said he's sticking with his longshot primary challenge to Rep. Allen Boyd instead.
• ID-01: An intramural fight is breaking out among Idaho Republican legislators, as state Rep. Raul Labrador seeks the Republican nomination to take on Rep. Walt Minnick next year. State Sen. Mike Jorgenson is demanding Labrador drop out, attacking him for his work as a -- gasp -- immigration lawyer; the two have previously clashed over immigration policy in the legislature, including Jorgenson's proposal to bar illegal immigrants from receiving state benefits. There's no clue given where Labrador's opponent, Vaughn Ward, stands on immigration issues, but it's interesting to see the same cheap-labor/close-the-borders fissures opening up here that erupted in, say, the UT-03 primary last year.
• IL-14: One more dropout in the GOP field in the 14th, as young Mark Vargas, a former Defense Dept. employee in Iraq, got out of the race. Unlike other recent dropout Bill Purcell, though, Vargas endorsed Ethan Hastert on his way out the door. Jeff Danklefsen is the only minor player left on the playing field between Hastert and state Sen. Randy Hultgren.
• NJ-03: The 5'9" John Adler is certainly vulnerable to wedgies and wet willies from the 6'7" Jon Runyan, but now he's vulnerable to the dreaded Rear Admiral as well. Maurice "Mo" Hill, a Toms River Township Councilor, dentist, and retired Navy rear admiral, says he'll likely run in the GOP primary against Runyan, despite local party leaders' hopes to avoid a contested primary like the one that sank their hopes last year. Hill says he'll move forward if he gets the backing of his local Ocean County party, regardless of how the other counties' organizations go.
• PA-06: Chester County Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello bailed out on his run in the GOP field in the 6th, finding all the oxygen in the race gobbled up by self-funding moderate Steven Welch and well-known conservative state Rep. Curt Schroder. Schroder, meanwhile, nailed down the endorsements of two more Republican legislators in the area: Berks County state Sen. Mike Folmer and newly-elected state Montgomery County Sen. Bob Mensch.
• SC-01: Another Republican is getting into the primary against vulnerable Rep. Henry Brown in the Charleston-area 1st (joining "Tumpy" Campbell): attorney, Navy vet, and former Mt. Pleasant city councilor Mark Fava. Could this have the effect of splitting the anti-Brown vote, though? On the Dem side, restauranteur Robert "Bob" Dobbs was joined several weeks ago by commercial pilot and Air Force vet Robert Burton.
• TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron isn't getting a completely free shot in his primary to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner in rural western Tennessee: he'll face off against 34-year-old Luther Mercer II, an educator and son of a Madison County Commissioner. Meanwhile, eager to generate more Tanners, the GOP has unveiled its target list of aging House Democrats in red districts to push to retire (mostly just via press release attacks for now -- perhaps there will also be a sustained attempt to blanket their offices with brochures for oceanfront Florida condominiums as well). Recall, though, that Tanner said the prospect of a good fight was the one thing that was potentially keeping him from retiring, suggesting this has the potential to backfire in some cases.
• Mayors: Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu had said this summer that he wouldn't seek to become the next mayor of New Orleans. When most other big-names like city council president Arnie Fielkow and state Rep. Karen Carter Peterson subsequently declined, Landrieu apparently sensed a mayoralty for the taking. Now he's apparently changed his mind, and says he'll launch a mayoral campaign next week. (Landrieu narrowly lost the mayor's race to Ray Nagin in 2006.)
• WATN?: 80-year-old former New York state Sen. majority leader Joe Bruno, who turned Albany into his personal fiefdom for decades, just got convicted of two felony corruption charges. And former Rep. Chip Pickering, one of the C Street House residents who bailed from a promising career after an embarrassing affair, is staying classy. He was last seen getting into a physical altercation at his young son's soccer game -- with an opposing team's soccer coach already wearing a neck brace.
• AR-Sen: PPP's Tom Jensen has some interesting crosstabs from their AR-02 poll, which shed some light on Blanche Lincoln's unique set of problems. Lincoln generates only lukewarm enthusiasm from her base: Barack Obama gets a 78% approval among Dems in the district, Rep. Vic Snyder is at 75%, and Mark Pryor is at 61%, but Lincoln is at only 43%, with 30% of Dems thinking she's too conservative (although that may be coming to a head right now with her obstructionist role in the health care debate, which may not be much of an issue one year from now). Moving to the left, though, will cause her to lose votes with independents, though, among whom 49% think she's too liberal.
• CT-Sen, CT-05: Local GOP party poohbahs are sounding eager to push state Sen. Sam Caligiuri out of the Senate race, where he's rather, uh, underutilized, and into the 5th, for a race against Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy; Caligiuri says he'll consider it. Problem is, Justin Bernier is already running there, and has had some fundraising success and gotten NRCC "Young Gun" status; as you might expect, Bernier is crying foul.
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist has been trying to hide from his previous stimulus support, but Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson has the goods on him, dragging out an old interview from spring in which Crist says "absolutely" he would have voted for the stimulus had he been in the Senate at the time. Here's one bit of good news for Crist, though; Marco Rubio's once-perfect A rating from the National Rifle Association is about to drop, thanks to Rubio's compromise (from back when he was House speaker) on the take-your-gun-to-work law that recently became law.
• IL-Sen: Former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman has an internal poll of his own now, and while it doesn't give numbers for the Dem primary matchup between Hoffman and frontrunner Alexi Giannoulias, it does point to some vulnerabilities for Giannoulias. The poll claims that without message-testing, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk leads Giannoulias 40-37 and leads Hoffman 40-30, but once positives and negatives are read, Kirk beats Giannoulias 47-30 and Hoffman beats Kirk 42-36. The negatives involve the Giannoulias family bank, which apparently has been connected to Tony Rezko. Meanwhile, Kirk took an embarrassing hit from the conservative Chicago Tribune editorial board, whose response to Kirk's flip-flopping and fearmongering on trying terrorists in New York boiled down to "Give us a break." Wondering why Kirk is so transparently turning into a right-winger? Kirk's looking increasingly nervous about erstwhile opponent Patrick Hughes, who is currently seeking out a Jim DeMint endorsement.
• KY-Sen, NH-Sen: The NRSC is claiming it's not getting involved in primary fights with fundraising, but you can't make party leadership's intentions any clearer than when Mitch McConnell hosts a fundraiser in New York on Dec. 7 for Trey Grayson and Kelly Ayotte. With both candidates facing mounting anti-establishment challenges, it seems like the bad publicity back home generated by these appearances -- more grist for the movement conservative mill -- might outweigh the financial benefit.
• NJ-Sen: Now that recently unemployed TV pundit Lou Dobbs has some time on his hands, he told Bill O'Reilly he's considering a run for the Senate in New Jersey. There isn't a seat available until 2012 (when Dobbs will be 67) -- he'd be going up against Bob Menendez that year. Dobbs vs. Menendez? Hmmm, you can't get any more weighed down with symbolism than that.
• SC-Sen: The county GOP in Berkeley County (in the Charleston suburbs) was prepared to have its own censure vote against Lindsey Graham, but they called off the vote after Graham's chief of staff promised to meet with them first.
• CA-Gov (pdf): Lots of people have taken notice that the Republican field in the governor's race isn't a diverse bunch: three sorta-moderates from Silicon Valley. San Jose State University took a poll of those who would seemingly know the candidates the best: Republican likely voters in "Silicon Valley" (Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, plus small parts of Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties). Perhaps thanks to Tom Campbell's tenure in the House representing much of this area, he has a wide lead, at 39%, compared with 11 for Meg Whitman and 7 for Steve Poizner.
• MI-Gov, MI-08: In case there was any doubt that Rep. Mike Rogers (the Michigan one) was going to run for re-election to his House seat and not for governor, we found a statement from way back in February to that effect. (H/t to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, a blog devoted to all things MI-08.)
• MN-Gov: Rasmussen looks at the still-coalescing primary fields in the Minnesota governor's races, and seems to be finding very name-recognition-driven results right now. On the Democratic side, most of the votes are going to former Senator Mark Dayton and Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak; both poll at 30, trailed by state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher at 8 and former state legislator Matt Entenza at 6. On the Republican side, ex-Sen. Norm Coleman dominates, with 50%; however, he's not in the race, at least not yet, and is probably the only name that people know. Among the rest of the rabble, former House minority leader Marty Seifert is doing the best, at 11, with 5 for Laura Brod and 1 for Tom Emmer.
• OR-Gov: Most people have already mentally ruled out Rep. Peter DeFazio from the governor's race, but he just said that he's still somewhat interested, and that he won't be making up his mind on it until... next March? He doesn't seem too concerned about the delay, as Oregon law would let him transfer over his federal dollars and he alludes to private polling showing him in a dead heat with John Kitzhaber. While I still doubt he'll follow through, that raises the question of who might fill a vacancy in OR-04; it's looking less and less like it would be Springfield's Republican mayor Sid Leiken, who was just fined $2,250 by the state for the phantom poll that may or may not have been conducted by Leiken's mom.
• TX-Gov: Little-known fact: Kay Bailey Hutchison, despite the seeming overall malaise in her campaign, has a big edge in endorsements from Texas House Republicans. She has the endorsements of 10 of 20 (including Kay Granger, Kenny Marchant, and Michael Burgess), perhaps indicative of Rick Perry's increasingly strident anti-Washington rhetoric. (Not that that will help much when the actual electorate is in an increasingly anti-establishment mood.) A couple other Dems are looking at the race: hair care magnate Farouk Shami (who's willing to bring his own money to the race) is officially launching his campaign on Thursday, while El Paso-based outgoing state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh is publicly weighing a run.
• FL-19: West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel, who would have been maybe the highest-profile possible primary challenger to state Sen. Ted Deutch in the upcoming special election in the 19th, has decided not to run. Deutch has been endorsed by outgoing Robert Wexler and has an increasingly clear path to the nomination. Meanwhile, the only GOPer looking interested in running in the dark-blue district is Ed Lynch, who lost to Wexler last year.
• IL-06: Here's a little more information about Benjamin Lowe, who's the only Dem running in the 6th against Peter Roskam. While he's something of a political unknown, it turns out he's well-connected in the religious left community as well as the green jobs movement. He's a graduate of evangelical Wheaton College (which is in the district) and has been active in the last few years in organizing students at other evangelical colleges on issues of environmental stewardship.
• NY-13: I don't know if anything can top last year's NY-13 race for political trainwrecks, but the Staten Island GOP may have gotten switched onto that same track again. Michael Allegretti, a 31-year old who caught attention for raising $200K for the race already, is a lawyer who also owns a share of the family business, Bayside Fuel and Oil -- which employed Gambino family capo Joe "Joe Butch" Corrao for several decades. Over $40K of Allegretti's contributions came from family members working for Bayside. To add to the made-for-TV drama: Allegretti's potential Republican primary opponent, Michael Grimm, was on the FBI squad charged with investigating said crime family.
• NY-19: Republican Greg Ball -- who puts the "Ass" in Assemblyman -- is out with an internal poll putting him within single digits of Rep. John Hall. Hall leads the Hall/Ball matchup, 48-43 -- although for some reason the poll was taken only in the portion of the district that's east of the Hudson River. Hall still has strong favorables, at 57/25, while Ball is at 40/28.
• NY-23: Recounting in NY-23 is still on track to see Rep. Bill Owens remain in the House; Doug Hoffman is down 2,951 votes with 6,123 left, so about the best he can hope for is to lose by about 2,000. The Hoffman saga just got weirder when yesterday Hoffman, goaded along by his patron Glenn Beck, unconceded on national TV -- yet today, his spokesperson un-un-conceded, not that any of that is legally binding, of course.
• NRCC: If the Republicans are going to make a serious dent in the Democratic edge in the House next year, they're going to have to refill the NRCC's coffers, which are still lagging the DCCC. Party leadership smacked down members in a closed-door session, trying to get them to pony up their $15K dues. The Hill also has an interesting profile of CA-22's Kevin McCarthy, an up-and-comer who's the NRCC recruitment chair now and likely to head the NRCC at some point in the near future. Turns out that McCarthy is quite the student of Rahm Emanuel.
• Mayors: SurveyUSA polls the runoff in the Atlanta mayor's race, and they have quite the reversal of fortune for Mary Norwood, who led all polls before November and finished first in the election. State Sen. Kasim Reed, who finished 2nd, now leads Norwood, 49-46. Reed leads 69-25 among African-American voters, indicating that he picked up almost all of 3rd-place finisher Lisa Borders' support.
• Special elections: Two legislative specials are on tap tonight. The big one is California's AD-72, a Republican-leaning seat in the OC left vacant by the resignation of Mike Duvall (who resigned in disgrace after bragging about his affair with a lobbyist). It seems to be mostly a contest between two GOPers, Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby and activist Linda Ackerman (who's been making much of Norby's four divorces). Since this is California, assuming one of the Republicans doesn't finish over 50%, it'll move on to another round where the top Republican faces off against Dem John MacMurray. Also, in Mississippi, there's a contest in Biloxi-based HD-117, to replace Republican state Rep. Michael Janus; candidates aren't identified by party on the special election ballot, but the contestants are Patrick Collins (who ran against Janus several times) and Scott DeLano.
• Redistricting: You might want to check out the website called "Redistricting the Nation," presented by GIS software company Avencia but full of fun widgets. Most interestingly, you can evaluate the compactness of any congressional district by four different criteria, and see the worst offenders in each category.