The main event of last night was the Republican gubernatorial primary, which ended surprisingly quickly, with a convincing victory by Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam. Haslam, the ostensible 'moderate' in the race, benefited from not only his lots of his own money, but also from having the moderate side to himself and a conservative pile-up in opposition (and the fact that Tennessee has no runoffs). He defeated Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey 47-29-22. (In one more parallel to the Michigan governor primary, Wamp, who said in his concession speech that "The best candidate doesn't always win," can now compete with Rep. Peter Hoekstra as to which one can be the douchiest loser.) Haslam is certainly favored against Dem Mike McWherter in November.
In the House races, there were extremely close GOP primaries in the TN-03 and TN-06 open seats In the 3rd, the somewhat less objectionable Chuck Fleischmann beat former state party chair Robin Smith 30-28. In the 6th, Diane Black won with 31, over fellow state Sen. Jim Tracy and crazed Islamophobe Lou Ann Zelenik (with both at 30). Black faces Dem Brett Carter, who won a similarly close race.
Two other GOP primaries were less close. In TN-08, for the right to face Roy Herron to succeed retiring John Tanner, Stephen Fincher won a surprisingly convincing victory over two self-funders, Ron Kirkland and George Flinn, 48-24-24. And in potential sleeper race TN-04, to face Lincoln Davis, Scott DesJarlais beat Jack Bailey 37-27.
The very last race card may have been played in TN-09. In the third straight slime-covered Dem primary here that was all about race, embarrassing former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton came up woefully short in his quest (predicated almost entirely on Herenton being black and Cohen being white, in a black-majority district) to unseat Rep. Steve Cohen, by a 79-21 margin. Somehow I don't think this'll be the last primary Cohen ever sees, but hopefully they'll be about something other than race in the future.
Finally, the 15 minutes of fame for Basil Marceaux -- whose flag has 49 stars because he'll be dead in the cold cold ground before he recognizes Missourah -- seem to be up, as the viral video hero got 0% in the Republican TN-Gov primary and 1% in the TN-03 primary.
• TN-Gov (R): Bill Haslam hopes to bulls-eye a Wamp rat tonight (and Ron Ramsey for good measure). The Knoxville mayor is generally regarded as the frontrunner in the Republican gubernatorial field, in both polling and fundraising (much of which came out of his own pocket). Rep. Zach Wamp and Ramsey (the Lt. Governor) are further back in the polls, and trying to out-conservative each other in their messaging. In fact, this is starting to look like a replay of the Michigan GOP primary earlier this week, with the self-funding 'moderate' (to the extent that Haslam apparently once signed off on a tax increase, and isn't as demagogic as the others) benefiting from a brawl between multiple conservatives.. and also in that while polling has shown Dem nominee Mike McWherter competitive against the conservative candidates, he matches up much less well against Haslam. There's also a wild card in the form of viral video star Basil Marceaux, whose late-surging candidacy may make some inroads among the anti-traffic-stop, pro-immuning crowd. (C)
• TN-03 (R): Like Peter Hoekstra in MI-02, the joy of watching one of the House's most execrable members (Zach Wamp, in this case) give up his seat for a gubernatorial primary faceplant is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that he'll be replaced by someone just as nasty. There are 11 GOPers in this primary, but it's really only a two-person race, between Club for Growth-backed former GOP state party chair Robin Smith and attorney, radio talk show host, and Mike Huckabee ally Chuck Fleischmann. (Smith, you might recall, was the GOP chair during the 2008 campaign, who released the infamous "Anti-Semites for Obama" press release that had him in African tribal garb. (C)
• TN-04 (R): We don't have much intel on the Republican primary here, where the main contestants are attorney Jack Bailey, and physician Scott DesJarlais, but it's worth keeping an eye on, as the victor will go on to face Rep. Lincoln Davis. Davis isn't high on anyone's target list, but in a big enough wave could get swept away just by virtue of his R+13 district. Bailey has a bit of a fundraising edge, probably thanks to connections from his former work as a Hill staffer. (C)
• TN-06 (R): Let the fur fly in this Middle Tennessee district currently held by outgoing Democrat Bart Gordon. The field counts eight Republicans, with three serious contenders in former Rutherford County GOP chair Lou Ann Zelenik, state Senator Jim Tracy from the southern part of the district, and state Senator Diane Black, who represents two northern counties in the district. The mad dash, of course, is for the right, whether its immigration or misuse of government resources. Black released an internal that had her leading at 41% and Zelenik and Tracy mired in the twenties at 22 and 20, respectively. Look for sharp geographic distinctions here tonight, with each candidate having a different base in this rural-exurban district. (JMD)
• TN-08 (R): For the open seat of outgoing Dem John Tanner, five Republicans have jumped into the fray. The three frontrunners -- agribusinessman Steve Fincher, Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, and doctor Ron Kirkland -- have been busy bashing each other to bits. All sorts of accusations have been thrown around -- Flinn's been attacked for owning a hip-hop station in Memphis, while Fincher's caught flak for voting in the Democratic primary for local offices in May, and Kirkland's on the defensive for steering contributions to Democrats in the past. All three are have significant warchests to play with (Fincher $421k cash-on-hand, Flinn $275k with the ability to self-fund, Kirkland $223k). So who's going to emerge from this bare-knucle brawl? Fincher's the NRCC's preferred candidate, and a recent poll had him leading with 32 to Kirkland's 23 and Flinn's 21. This race is largely in the air (not that presumptive Dem. nominee Roy Herron's complaining), though unfortunately, we'll know the winner of this fight tonight, as Tennessee has no runoffs. (JMD)
• TN-09 (D): Two years ago, Nikki Tinker's campaign against incumbent Dem. Steve Cohen was infuriating; this time, former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's campaign is just laughable. Whether it's claiming he'll beat Cohen 3:1, losing the CBC's endorsement to Cohen, or having less than 1/47th of Cohen's cash-on-hand, Herenton's campaign really makes you wonder. Let the mockery begin. (JMD)
UPDATE: Polls close at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT (the state is in both time zones, but apparently closing times are coordinated). As always, if you have predictions, let us know in the comments.
CO-Sen: This story is from late last month, but it's very much worth reading. While an assistant U.S. Attorney a decade ago, Ken Buck was formally reprimanded for "bad-mouthing a felony case to defense lawyers representing Aurora gun dealers." In fact, he revealed confidential information - an unthinkable breach of attorney ethics - which may well have undermined the entire prosecution: Only one of the three defendants was convicted, and only of a misdemeanor. Buck's opponent, former LG Jane Norton, has been making an issue of this in radio ads. The craziest thing is that the convicted gun dealer, Greg Golyansky, showed up at a debate yesterday between the two candidates, and when the subject of Buck's reprimand came up, he jumped out of his seat and started screaming expletives at Norton. Oh, and Golyansky just happens to be a Buck donor. Weird, huh?
One unrelated note on the Dem side: Sen. Michael Bennett raised $1.26 million in the second quarter. No word on his cash-on-hand, though.
CT-Sen: The other day I wondered what Rob Simmons' plan was - after all, several reasonably high-profile folks were announcing their support for him, even though he wasn't actually, you know, running for office. It's starting to look like he might have a super-genius plan after all: running for office. Simmons spoke with Rick Green of the Hartford Courant, who concludes that "it's looking more and more like he will revive his dormant campaign for Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate." As Green says, stay tuned.
IL-Sen: When your integrity and honesty are called into question, stonewalling is pretty much exactly opposite the approach you want to take. Yet that's what Mark Kirk is doing, pulling a John Kasich when it comes to his military records. He says he won't release any more such records, claiming that he's already released "absolutely the most sensitive part" of his personnel record. But if that's the case, then why should he care about releasing the less-sensitive stuff?
NV-Sen: Handsome Harry Reid raised $2.4 million in Q2, according to Jon Ralston, and has $8.9 million cash-on-hand.
CO-Gov: After getting a day-long purple nurple, Scott McInnis is finally apologizing for the plagiarized articles he "wrote" for the Hasan Family Foundation, but he's still blaming the researcher who worked for him - and that guy says that McInnis was responsible. Big Mac still apparently hasn't said anything about the purloined Rocky Mountain News op-ed he pretended to pen in 1994, either - and as we relayed yesterday, his continued candidacy is looking very much in doubt.
SC-Gov: Nikki Haley outraised Dem Vincent Sheheen in the second quarter, $543K to $366K. But Haley's coffers were drained more quickly, thanks to her runoff, meaning Sheheen has more cash-on-hand, $262K to $183K. What's more, Sheheen's outraised the latest GOP belle of the ball for the cycle, $1.7 mil to $1.4 mil.
IA-03: The Des Moines Register says that Bill Clinton will be coming to town to do a $250-a-head fundraiser for Rep. Leonard Boswell later this month. The paper also mentions that the Big Dog will be swinging through Minnesota and Michigan on the same trip to help out other House candidates. Any word on who those might be?
MO-03: Republican Ed Martin, who has been semi-touted as a legit threat to Rep. Russ Carnahan, has been busy showing he's a good fit for the district... if that district were, say, Alabama's 1st CD. Get a load of this:
And that's one of the things that's most destructive about the growth of government is this taking away that freedom, the freedom, the ultimate freedom, to find your salvation, to get your salvation, and to find Christ for me and you, and I think that's one of the things we have to be very, very aware of that the Obama Administration and Congressman Carnahan are doing to us.
PA-11: Tarrance Group (R) for Lou Barletta (7/12-13, likely voters):
Paul Kanjorski (D-inc): 37
Lou Barletta (R): 56
Barletta also has his first ad up, airing on broadcast and cable in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre market, but NWOTSOTB. His campaign says he's raised over $500K to date, which would mean he took in over $200K in the last quarter, based on his last FEC report.
SD-AL: Props to Nathan Gonzales for digging up this bit of info: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's initial ad buy - for the spot where she touts her vote against healthcare reform - is just $10,000. As Nathan says, this makes it little more than a video press release.
TN-08: George Flinn, who had mostly avoided the firefight between Ron Kirkland and Steve Fincher in the GOP primary, is now wading in with negative TV ads and mailers accusing his opponents of being too close to Democrats. Flinn was likely goaded into this move by recent attacks from Kirkland's brother, Rob, who has hit Flinn for his ownership of a Memphis hip-hop station. NWOTSOTB, of course, but the primary is soon (Aug. 5), and Flinn has put a lot of his own money into his campaign.
Polltopia: Mark Blumenthal takes an in-depth look at SurveyUSA's recent experiments with combined landline-and-cellphone sampling. So far, we've seen little variation in the topline numbers in the two races SUSA has looked at in this manner so far: NC-Sen and WA-Sen. But Blumenthal goes deeper, looking at both how the pollster has approached this problem on a technical level, and what it means for the costs of polling. The whole post is worth a read.
CO-Sen: Ken Buck raised $417K in Q2 and had $664K cash-on-hand - more than rival Jane Norton does, despite the fact that she outraised him.
KY-Sen: Rand Paul campaign chair David Adams is leaving - or being asked to leave. You never know with these things. Anyhow, Adams supposedly prefers state to federal politics (especially funny in the context of this campaign) and is going to manage some unspecified gubernatorial candidate. As CNN notes, though, Adams had actually been Paul's campaign manager, but was recently demoted after Rand's disastrous set of post-primary interviews.
NV-Sen: In an interview with Ralph Reed, Sharron Angle informs the world that "God has been in this" - her campaign - "from the beginning." I think Harry Reid would agree, since it's a damn near miracle that we landed an opponent so awful!
WA-Sen: Dino Rossi says he raised $1.4 million since launching his campaign six weeks ago, but no word on his cash-on-hand. That's not too shabby, and it might look impressive compared to Patty Murray's $1.6 million haul for the entire quarter. But that first batch of cash is always the easiest to raise - the proverbial low-hanging fruit. Can he sustain that momentum?
WI-Sen: King of the Loons Jim DeMint has endorsed Ron Johnson - a rare instance, as Dave Catanese points out, where the establishment choice has also been DeMinted.
WV-Sen: Gov. Joe Manchin says he'll name a temporary replacement for Robert Byrd by 5pm on Friday. Manchin also released the text of proposed legislation to change WV's succession laws. The new law would allow a special election this November, with primaries (if necessary) to be held on August 31st.
AZ-Gov: It's pretty amazing how much becoming the standard-bearer for xenophobia has dramatically altered Jan Brewer's entire candidacy. She was an accidental governor, elevated to the post by Janet Napolitano's appointment to the Department of Homeland Security. She also looked like electoral roadkill, losing ugly fights with an even further-right state legislature and drawing several high-profile opponents. But along came SB 1070, Arizona's infamous new immigration law. Brewer's full-throated support for the legislation, and her hysterical ranting about undocumented immigrants, have made her the conservative belle du jour. Just a few days ago, one of her major challengers, state Treasurer Dean Martin, bailed on the race. And now, the other big name running against her - wealthy NRA board member Buz Mills - is also dropping out. So at this point, it's pretty much game on between Brewer and Dem AG Terry Goddard.
GA-Gov: Magellan Strategies (7/8, likely Republican primary voters, no trendlines):
Karen Handel: 32
Nathan Deal: 18
John Oxendine: 18
Eric Johnson: 12
Ray McBerry: 3
Jeff Chapman: 3
Otis Putnam: 0
MI-07: Former Rep. Joe Schwarz, who held this seat for one term, has endorsed Brian Rooney in the GOP primary, over the man who primaried him out in 2006, Club for Growth cabana boy Tim Walberg. It's not clear how much a Schwarz endorsement helps in a Republican race, though, considering he also backed now-Rep. Mark Schauer (D) in 2008. And this bit of support is entirely conditional - not only does Schwarz say he'll definitely support Schauer if Walberg wins the primary, but he might even do so if Rooney wins, saying he'll re-evaluate things later.
MN-06: Both Michele Bachmann's chief-of-staff and (of more relevance to her campaign) her finance director have parted ways with the polarizing congresswoman. It's often tricky to tell whether a departure is a sign of turmoil, an indicator that a campaign is getting an upgrade, or really just nothing doing. But in this case, the fact that no replacements are being announced suggests that this isn't part of an orderly transition. What's more, why would Bachmann's fundraiser leave right after announcing such an enormous quarterly haul? It's especially telling that the fundraiser, Zandra Wolcott, wouldn't say if she left or was pushed.
NM-01: A healthy quarter for Martin Heinrich: $376K raised, $1.3 million cash-on-hand.
PA-07: Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates for Pat Meehan (6/16-17, likely voters, no trendlines):
Bryan Lentz (D): 26
Pat Meehan (R): 47
Meehan favorables: 33-12. Lentz favorables: 12-7. A Lentz spokesperson attacked the poll as "skewed" but offered no specific critiques.
SD-AL: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is out with her first ad of the campaign season, a bio spot which touts her vote against a "trillion-dollar health care plan."
TN-08: The hip-hop wars are raging again! But it's no longer Tupac vs. Biggie - this time it's Republican Rob Kirkland versus radio station owner George Flinn on the mean streets of Memphis, TN. You may recall the odd situation here where Rob has been spending a fortune on allegedly "independent" expenditures on behalf of his brother Ron, who is the actual candidate in this race. Anyhow, Rob's latest broadside is against Flinn's ownership of a local hip-hop station, which (according to a Kirkland tv ad) "promotes gang violence, drug abuse, and insults women." Another mailer attacks Flinn for "filthy gangster rap into our district." Hey, guess what? Tipper Gore called, she wants her 1992-era harangue back.
DSCC: Seriously, who in hell allowed this to happen? Pretty much every Democratic senate candidate under the sun participated in a trial lawyers fundraiser... in Vancouver, CANADA. WTF? Could the optics be any worse? A fundraiser in a foreign country? And I don't want to get all GOP-talking-point on you, but the fact that it's the trial lawyers doesn't really help. I'm filing this one under "DSCC" because you can't possibly pull off an event of this magnitude without the DS knowing - and someone there should have had the brains to stop it. Or at least change the fucking venue to, you know, the United States of America. Maybe? Jeez.
Iowa: Jonathan Martin has an interesting piece at Politico about Christie Vilsack, who says she is "really interested" in running for office, perhaps as soon as 2012. It sounds like the House is her most likely target, but it's hard to say where she might run. She and her family have ties all over the state, and Iowa is likely to lose a congressional district after the census. Though Martin doesn't mention it, it's not inconceivable that Sen. Tom Harkin will retire in 2014 (when he'll be 75), which would create a big opening.
• CO-Sen: Both Democratic candidates are hitting the TV airwaves, with Michael Bennet trying once again to introduce himself to his constituents with a feel-good bio spot, and Andrew Romanoff's first ad playing up the anti-corruption, anti-Washington angle he's been working. Over on the Republican side, where Ken Buck seems to be putting some distance between himself and Jane Norton, Buck got some useful backing from the Dick Army: he snagged a FreedomWorks endorsement. Norton's 2005 support for TABOR-limiting Referendum C seems to have been a dealbreaker for the teabaggers.
• KY-Sen: PPP, fresh off its Rand Paul/Jack Conway poll yesterday, also has some approval numbers out for Mitch McConnell. It's more evidence that the most dangerous job in America is party leader in the Senate. McConnell's numbers are dwindling, and his backing of Trey Grayson over Paul in the GOP primary seems to have accelerated that: he's down to 34/48, after having had favorables in the 40s in their previous polls, with almost all of his decline coming from Republicans. 49% of all respondents would like to see him lose his leadership role, with only 38% saying continue.
• NH-Sen: Big money for Kelly Ayotte this quarter: she raised $720K last quarter, her biggest quarter so far. No word on her CoH.
• NV-Sen: With their empty coffers suddenly replenished, the Karl Rove-led 527 American Crossroads decided to keep their anti-Harry Reid attack ad on the air in Nevada for the fourth straight week. They've spent nearly half a million airing the same ad.
• NY-Sen-B: Although the terrible disarray in the state GOP can't be helping matters, New York's unique ballot access laws just seem to encourage self-destructive behavior by the local Republicans. With Republican/Conservative/Independence Party splits threatening to result in multiple viable right-of-center candidates in races ranging from NY-01 to NY-23, now cat fud is about to start flying in the Senate race. David Malpass, seeming a long shot in the Republican field, has said that he's going to seek the ballot line on the as-yet-to-be-named teabagger's ballot line that gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is trying to create, most likely to be called the Taxpayer's line. Malpass, as you'll recall, is lagging in GOP primary polls against Joe DioGuardi, who already has the Conservative line but is trying to petition onto the GOP ballot, and Bruce Blakeman, who's assured a spot on the GOP ballot. This may even spill over into the who-cares other Senate race, where Gary Berntsen wants in on the Taxpayer's line (and where rival Jay Townsend already has the Conservative line).
• WA-Sen: The Washington Farm Bureau, which endorsed Dino Rossi in his two failed gubernatorial bids, has decided not to endorse anybody in the Senate race. Goldy wonders whether this is a matter of lots of Clint Didier supporters at the Farm Bureau... Didier, after all, is a farmer... or if the Farm Bureau secretly likes Patty Murray's skill at appropriations.
• WV-Sen: Gov. Joe Manchin held a press conference today to announce his plans on the vacant Senate seat, and it seems like the institutional pressure on him to fill the seat soon (preferably with himself) seems to be working. Manchin stopped short of calling on the state legislature to have a special session to move up the election to Nov. 2010, but he did tell his AG to start laying the legal groundwork for such a move. Manchin again said that he wouldn't appoint himself to the seat on a temporary basis, but confirmed that he would be "highly" interested in running for the seat whenever the special election occurs. (He didn't give any inkling on who he might appoint.) At any rate, it seems like Manchin feels confident that, despite the national downdraft for Dems this year, his own personal popularity, combined with the shortened election schedule working to his advantage, would facilitate his election in November; if he didn't, he wouldn't be going along so readily with the moved-up election.
• CO-Gov: Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper had better hope the contributions keep coming in: he's sitting on only $66K CoH right now (although he raised $500K in June alone), but he just reserved $1.2 million in ad time. The plan is to lock the ad space in now, when it's still cheap to reserve far in advance. On the Republican side of the aisle, insurgent candidate Dan Maes is in some trouble: he's being hit with the largest fine ever handed down to a Colorado candidate for campaign finance donations. It was for a series of small-ball failures rather than one huge blunder, ranging from improper reimbursements to himself for mileage, to failure to list occupations for many donors.
• OK-Gov: As I remarked yesterday, it's a remarkable transformation for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who in a few months went from DOA in her own primary, to competing with Sarah Palin in terms of traversing the country handing out GOP primary endorsements like so much poisoned candy. (What's something Arizona-specific that we can call her clutch of endorsees? Mama Rattlesnakes?) Brewer waded into another gubernatorial race, giving her backing to Rep. Mary Fallin in Oklahoma.
• PA-Gov: Democratic nominee Dan Onorato seems to be kicking his fundraising operations into higher gear after having won the primary; he pulled in $1 million in contributions in the last month. He's sitting on $2.5 million CoH.
• TX-Gov: The plot (to get the Green Party on the ballot in Texas) keeps thickening. New e-mails have surfaced among Green leaders revealing the name of Anthony Holm, a GOP consultant linked to big-time GOP donor Bob Perry (the man behind the Swift Boat Vets), saying that he wanted to pay for 40% of the costs of petitions to get the Greens on the ballot. Holm denies any involvement.
• MN-06: It looks like the 6th, held by lightning rod Michele Bachmann, is going to be the nation's most expensive House race this year. Democratic challenger Tarryl Clark posted big numbers this morning, raising $910K this quarter, claiming $2 million raised so far this cycle. (No mention of her CoH.) Then later this morning, Bachmann topped that, raising $1.7 million last quarter, giving her $4.1 million CoH, which would be plenty even for a Senate race.
• TN-06: State Sen. Diane Black has a GOP primary lead in an internal poll taken for her by OnMessage. She's at 41, leading former Rutherford County GOP chair Lou Ann Zelenik at 22 and state Sen. Jim Tracy at 20. Black (or whoever else wins) should have an easy time picking up this R+13 Dem-held open seat, vacated by retiring Rep. Bart Gordon.
• TN-08: Here's one more GOP primary internal poll out of Tennessee, from the Stephen Fincher camp. His poll, conducted by the Tarrance Group, gives Fincher the lead at 32, followed by Ron Kirkland at 23 and George Flinn at 21. Attacks on Fincher by the other two seem to have taken their toll, as Fincher's previous internal poll from early April gave him a 40-17-7 lead. As with the poll in the 6th, there's no word on general election matchups.
• WI-07: Republican Sean Duffy, bolstered by David Obey's retirement (and a Sarah Palin endorsement), had a big quarter, raising $470K. He's at $670K CoH.
• Legislatures: If you read one thing today, this should be it: Stateline.org's Louis Jacobson handicaps all the state legislative chambers that promise to be competitive this year. As you might expect, the news isn't very good for Democrats, considering not just the nature of the year but how many chambers they currently hold. He projects one currently Democratic-controlled chamber as Lean R (the Indiana House), and has 11 nominally Dem-held chambers as Tossups (both Alabama chambers, Iowa House, Montana House, both New Hampshire chambers, New York Senate, Ohio House, Pennsylvania House, and both Wisconsin chambers). The only nominally GOP-held chamber that's a Tossup is the Alaska Senate, which is in fact controlled by a coalition of sane Republicans and Democrats.
• NRCC: The NRCC seems to like slapping lots of different names on different groups so that they look busy, and now they've even come up with a program for primary victors who are running in safe Republican seats: "Vanguard!" There's no word on what exactly they plan to do for these shoo-ins, or if it's just an impressive-sounding title so that the likes of Jeff Duncan and Todd Rokita don't feel left out.
• Fundraising: The Fix has a couple other fundraising tidbits that we haven't seen before: Craig Miller in FL-24 raised $270K for 2Q with $332K CoH. And Charlie Bass in NH-02 raised $170K and has $360K CoH.
• AZ-Sen: J.D. Hayworth is still trying to spin away his shilling for free-grant-money seminars, saying that, in his defense, those grants really do exist. No, they don't, say the folks at Grants.gov, who would be the ones to know. Meanwhile, the Hayworth camp is attacking John McCain for his association with Republican bundler and convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, a guy McCain has claimed not to know. The Hayworth camp unveiled video of McCain and Rothstein together at a fundraiser, while the McCain camp answers that he can't be responsible for remembering every single donor he met over the course of a presidential bid.
• KS-Sen: Here's an interesting split in the endorsements of the various right-wingers jetting around the country playing kingmaker. You might recall that Sarah Palin recently added Todd Tiahrt to her list of Mama Grizzlies in the Kansas GOP Senate primary; today comes news that Jim DeMint will be stumping on behalf of rival Jerry Moran.
• LA-Sen: Charlie Melancon seems to finally realize he's been handed a prime opportunity to go on the offensive, in David Vitter's hiring and later defending of his repeatedly in-trouble-with-the-law aide Brent Furer. Melancon is now publicly asking why he "protected" Furer for two years.
• NH-Sen: You've gotta wonder about the sanity of a candidate, lagging in the polls and trying to capture Tea Party support, who looks at Dale Peterson and Rick Barber's viral video notoriety and thinks "Hey, that could be me!" Jim Bender, the distant fourth-wheel in the New Hampshire GOP primary, is out with a bizarre new ad that involves a crazed-looking, frosting-covered Uncle Sam actor devouring cake slices decorated like banks and cars.
• MA-Gov: Tim Cahill, currently lying in the middle of the street with RGA tire tracks all over his back, is trying to get back up on his feet. He's out with a second TV ad (his first one was back in January), a positive spot focusing on his time as state Treasurer.
• MD-Gov (pdf): Republican pollster Magellan just keeps churning out gubernatorial polls; while most of them have seemed right on the mark, this one's a little surprising. They find Republican Bob Ehrlich leading Dem incumbent Martin O'Malley 46-43. While O'Malley's approvals are plausible for a current incumbent (41/45), the fact that they have Ehrlich, who got bounced out of office in 2006, at 51/32, is perplexing. O'Malley did get one piece of welcome news today, though: you might remember that he was facing a quixotic but not entirely trivial primary challenge from the right from former state Del. George Owings. Owings dropped out of the race today, citing health problems.
• NE-Gov: Via press release, we've just learned that businessman Mark Lakers, the Democratic nominee, is dropping out of the gubernatorial race. He cites fundraising woes and family unhappiness in his decision. Apparently, there's a replacement candidate ready to be substituted by the state Dems (the uneventful primary was held May 11), although no word yet on who that is. We'll update with a link once we know more.
• NM-Gov: Fundraising numbers in New Mexico are out, courtesy of Heath Haussamen. It was a strong reporting period for GOPer Susana Martinez, who raised $611K, compared with Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who banked $188K. You might think the disparity has to do with Martinez facing a major primary while Denish was uncontested, but Denish actually spent more than Martinez in that same period. Denish still has a huge cash on hand disparity: $2.2 million, compared with $300K for Martinez. (Expect to see a whole lotta RGA money flowing Martinez's way, though.)
• WI-Gov: Here's a surprising endorsement for Milwaukee mayor and Democratic candidate Tom Barrett: he got the backing of NYC mayor and well-known independent Michael Bloomberg. Apparently the two know each other from the big-city mayors community, and Bloomberg is a fan of Barrett's attempts to stop gun violence.
• TN-08: The state GOP chairman had to step in, weary-parent-style, to the squabble between Stephen Fincher and Ron Kirkland, saying that he loves them an equal amount. Actually, Chris Devaney said that they're both, as far as he knows, bona fide Republicans. (No mention of the primary field's red-headed step-child, George Flinn?) Today the battle between Fincher and Kirkland has already moved on to TARP, each trying to hang it around each other's necks despite neither one having voted for it. For fans who want more of this decidedly drama-filled primary, Reid Wilson had a thorough history of the race yesterday, focusing on why the NRCC has buddied up with Fincher so much.
• MI-St. Sen.: We always like to see state-based bloggers handicapping their state legislative races, as that's too far down in the weeds for even us know-it-alls at SSP to make educated guesses. Michigan Liberal's pbratt looks at the Michigan Senate - one of the few places where we're on the offensive this cycle, thanks to a whole lot of open seats - and foresees Dems falling just short, with 20-18 Republican control of the chamber after November.
• DGA: Also via press release, we've just gotten fundraising numbers from the DGA. While they aren't in the same league as the RGA (who've doubled up on the DGA in terms of both this quarter and cash on hand), it shows they're revving up for a huge gubernatorial year, too, with $9.1 million in the second quarter and $22 million CoH.
• AR-Sen: The Bill Halter campaign is looking for last minute phonebanking help to seal the deal. And you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov (pdf): The Senate GOP primary portion of the Field Poll came out over the weekend, and it's right in line with the various other pollsters finding a last-minute Carly Fiorina surge into a double-digit lead. She leads Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore 37-22-19. (Campbell led 28-22-9 in the previous Field poll in March.) Also, it looks like Campbell's last-minute ad pitch, centered around his electability, may fall on deaf ears: 42% of primary voters think that Fiorina has the best chance of beating Barbara Boxer, while 22% think that Campbell does (and 12% think that Chuck DeVore does -- which is also about the same percentage of Californians who believe there is a 1,000 foot high pyramid in Greenland). There are also primary polls out from Republican pollster Magellan (who don't have a horse in this race), who find things even worse for Campbell: they have Fiorina leading Campbell and DeVore 54-19-16. They also give a big edge to fellow rich person Meg Whitman in the gubernatorial race; she leads Steve Poizner 64-22. The unfortunate moral of the story here: have a lot of money.
• DE-Sen: New Castle Co. Exec Chris Coons is pre-emptively getting ahead of Republican charges that he raised taxes, by, instead of hiding under the bed like conventional wisdom dictates, saying 'guilty as charged' and explaining how it helped. The county wound up with a AAA bond rating and a eight-digit surplus. Coons also previewed one of his lines of attack against Mike Castle: Castle's role in deregulating the banking sector.
• FL-Sen: As Charlie Crist rebuilds his team from scratch, he's rolling out a new media team that's heavy on the Democratic ties. Most prominently, Chuck Schumer's former chief of staff, Josh Isay, will be Crist's lead media person. Isay's firm SKD Knickerbocker may be best-known for helping out other moderate independents, like Joe Lieberman and Michael Bloomberg. One of the fires that Isay will have to put out as soon as he gets in the building, though, is what to do about the Jim Greer situation. Greer's lawyer is saying that Crist gave the initial OK on Greer's fundraising workaround which avoided usual party channels (which Greer allegedly turned into a scheme for filling his own pockets).
• IL-Sen: Rep. Mark Kirk's very, very bad week last week just seems to be spilling over into this week. There are allegations popping up that he fibbed on getting shot at in Afghanistan too, and also evidence that he made a lot of stuff up while talking off the cuff about the Somalia situation last year. Taking a page from Richard Blumenthal, late last week he finally dropped the playing offense against the charges and instead went to the Chicago Tribune's e-board to say "I'm sorry" -- but that apology comes after letting the story fester all week.
• NH-Sen: After a year and a half of having the Democratic primary to himself, there are hints that Rep. Paul Hodes might get some late-in-the-game company. Mark Connolly, the former head of the state's Securities Division who resigned to become a whistleblower in the wake of the Financial Resources Mortgage coverup (the same one that'll have Kelly Ayotte testifying before the state legislature soon), expressed some interest and said "he's angry enough to do it." (Looks like a common theme this year.) Speaking of Ayotte, it sounds like she doesn't know how to read a poll: she says she won't take drilling for oil off New Hampshire's tiny coastline "off the table."
• WA-Sen: You might remember from last week that the Univ. of Washington engaged in some methodologically weird stuff by adding an extra week's worth of samples on the end of their already-released poll and re-releasing the numbers (which were nevertheless unchanged, at Patty Murray 44, Dino Rossi 40). Well, now they're re-releasing the poll yet again with even more samples, with changed toplines and with specific numbers for that tiny extra sample for the days May 24-28 (following Rossi's official announcement). The number that's getting all the press is that Rossi led Murray 42-39 in that batch, although that's only based on 221 likely voters with a margin of error of 6.6%, so its usefulness is, well, questionable. Their full numbers are now 42-40 for Murray for the entire RV sample and 46-40 for Murray for the entire LV sample (i.e. those who voted in 2006), and she leads Generic R 44-39 among RVs (and 46-41 in the May 24-28 sample), but this poll has gotten so methodologically convoluted I'm not really sure it's worth much of anything at this point.
Murray got some good news today in the form of an endorsement, and it's not from a human but a corporation: Boeing. While she's received plenty of Boeing money in the past, I'm not aware of Boeing ever having explicitly endorsed her or anyone else before (although anyone with a pulse knows that Murray has taken over for Scoop Jackson as the "Senator from Boeing"). Frankly, in the state of Washington, this is a bigger endorsement than any human politician's endorsement would be, considering the way Boeing's tendrils reach so much of the state. Finally, the field of miscellaneous Republicans kept shrinking today, as chiropractor Sean Salazar (probably the first guy to try to grab the teabagger mantle here, although he got shoved over by Clint Didier) bailed out of the race and backed Rossi.
• WI-Sen: Here's a strange vulnerability for Ron Johnson in the Wisconsin Senate race: his fixation on opposing bipartisan Wisconsin state legislation making it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers. That'll require some explanation, and I assume it'll be something other than his current explanation, that such legislation would only lead to more victims of sexual abuse by making organizations likelier to sweep it under the carpet.
• IA-Gov: After endorsing a variety of misspelled odds-and-ends last week ("Cecil Bledsoe," "Angela McGowen," and Joe Miller), Sarah Palin went with a big gun this weekend, and it was one who doesn't match her carefully cultivated teabagging/religious right image at all: establishment retread Terry Branstad in Iowa. Is she counting on getting repaid by Branstad in the 2012 caucuses, if she decides to give up the grifting lifestyle and take the huge pay cut associated with running for President? (Branstad also has the backing of Mitt Romney, who seems more of a kindred spirit for him.)
• MI-Gov: The Schwarz is not with us after all. Joe Schwarz, the moderate ex-Rep. who got bounced from MI-07 in 2006 in the GOP primary by Tim Walberg, has decided against pursuing the independent bid in the Governor's race that he'd been threatening. On the surface, the loss of a center-right indie looks like bad news for the Dems, but depending on which two candidates match up in November, Schwarz could just have easily pulled more left-of-center votes... and in all likelihood, he wasn't going to rack up more than a few percent anyway.
• NY-Gov: In their standoff with Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo, the Working Families Party seems to have blinked first. They went ahead and nominated placeholders in the Governor, Lt. Gov, and AG slots, presumably to allow coordination with the Dem choices later. Cuomo had been leaning hard on the WFP to do so. The person most affected by this is state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, a Cuomo foe who had been considered the most likely WFP candidate for AG; instead, the WFP may wind up going with Nassau Co. DA Kathleen Rice, who's Cuomo's preferred AG for his informal "ticket."
• TX-Gov: The Greens are actually going to be on the ballot in Texas this year, for the gubernatorial race? I'm as surprised as you are, but it's less surprising when you find out who's behind it: Arizona Republican consultant Tim Mooney, who set up the petition drive to get them on the ballot (and who's also a veteran of the 2004 efforts to get Ralph Nader on as many states' ballots as possible). GOP incumbent Rick Perry faces a tough race from Dem former Houston mayor Bill White, and he can have a little breathing room if the Greens siphon off a few lefties.
• AR-01: Chad Causey has an interesting argument for Democratic runoff voters in the 1st not to vote for ex-state Sen. Tim Wooldridge: he's likely to bolt for the Republican Party at his earliest convenience. Causey's evidence for the flight risk posed by Wooldridge includes his very conservative voting record in the state legislature, starting with his pro-public hanging legislation. Wooldridge, for his part, said he'd never switch. The Wooldridge camp is also offering up an internal poll (no word on the pollster) claiming a 48-24 lead over Causey in the runoff.
• CA-19: SurveyUSA has one last poll of the race in the 19th's GOP primary, which they've polled exhaustively (and found almost exactly the same thing each time). However, this time it's a little more interesting: there seems to be some late movement to former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson, who now leads state Sen. Jeff Denham 34-30. Ex-Rep. Richard Pombo is back at 17, with Larry Westerlund at 8. On the Dem side, it's a 26-26 tie between Loraine Goodwin and Les Marsden.
• MN-06: What started out as a thorny three-way primary (when Elwyn Tinklenberg was in the race) has turned into a walk for Democratic state Sen. Tarryl Clark. Maureen Reed, a physician and former Independence Party Lt. Gov. candidate, ended her bid and endorsed Clark against Rep. Michele Bachmann. Reed had done surprisingly well at fundraising, but didn't have the institutional advantages that Clark did, especially once Clark got the DFL endorsement. Clark still has an uphill fight against Bachmann, who's insulated against likely future foot-in-mouth incidents by the district's reddish lean as well as a huge war chest.
• TN-08: A Hill piece on the possibility of another NRCC-touted candidate (in the form of Stephen Fincher) going down in flames actually has some nice dirt on all three Republicans contesting the primary in the 8th. Fincher, of course, is widely noted for his hypocrisy on attacking the federal government while receiving millions in farm subsidies, but it's also been revealed that he has voted in three Democratic primaries in the last eight years, "used virtually the same TV ad as a candidate for Alabama Agriculture Commisioner" (I have to assume it was an ad from one of the "thugs," since if he'd riiiiiiipped off Dale Peterson's ad, the whole blogosphere would already know about it by now), and perhaps most pathetically, misspelled "Tennessee" in a mailer. His challengers, Ron Kirkland and George Flinn, have their own troubles; Kirkland contributed to outgoing Democratic Rep. John Tanner in 2000 and 2004, while Flinn tried to cover up a lawsuit by a contractor who wasn't paid for remodeling work.
Note: This digest was written entirely by DavidNYC.
AR-Sen: SEIU has a new ad out hitting Lincoln for her TARP vote and for her disloyalty during the health care debate. Props to CQ's Matthew Murray for trying to nail down the size of the buy from SEIU, which would only say that the run is "comprehensive." SEIU has gone pretty large in this race from day one, so they probably aren't going cheap on us now.
CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina, in a move which will no doubt endear her to the teabaggers but embarrass her in the eyes of the state of California, has taken to decrying concerns about climate change as "worrying about the weather" in a new ad.
CO-Sen: I Do. Not. Care. about this stupid non-story. Why are journalists so damn breathless about crap like this? It's like they've never heard of politics.
NV-Sen: According to an analysis by the WaPo, Chicken Lady may have spent $100K on her primary out of funds that were designated for the general election only. Lowden bought $220K worth of ad time, but had only about $100K of primary money (mostly a loan from herself) on hand, so that extra hundred grand had to come from somewhere. God, you know, I just can't decide whom I'd rather face more: this crazy lady, or the other crazy lady. Harry Reid, you are one lucky dude. Just pray Danny Tarkanian doesn't pull an Alice Kryzan/Creigh Deeds.
NV-Gov: A district court judge enjoined a shadowy conservative group, Alliance for America's Future, from running ads until it registers with the Secretary of State, saying that voters have the right to know who is behind political advertising. The group, which has ties to Dick Cheney, had planned to spend $250K on behalf of GOPer Brian Sandoval.
AR-02: In the AR-02 runoff, state House Speaker Robbie Wills, a white male, has been arguing that he's "more electable" than state Senate Majority Leader Joyce Elliott, who is black and a woman. The chair of the Arkansas NAACP sees that a "code word for racism." Wills responded by saying that Elliott has "extreme views" which are out of step with the district. I hope this primary doesn't get much uglier, because words like that will be used by Republicans against whomever our nominee is.
CA-19: Dick Pombo is trying to win a GOP primary by reminding voters that he's a longtime creature of Washington, DC. No wonder he lost.
ID-01: Dear Vaughn Ward: socks before shoes. Also, hire publicists to get your side of the story out before election day, not after. Actually, no - we love you, don't change a thing!
MI-08: This is unfortunate. Kande Ngalamulume, the only Democrat running against GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, is dropping out of the race, just three weeks after formally announcing his candidacy. Though Ngalamulume hadn't filed any FEC reports, Obama actually won this district 53-46 (a major swing from Bush's 54-45 win over Kerry), and even being able to pin Rogers down just a bit would have been helpful. Michigan's filing deadline was May 11th, and I'm not sure if local Dems can nominate a replacement.
NH-02: Some Teabagger Andrew Hemingway says he won't get into the GOP primary in NH-02. Meh.
NY-13: It's always confusing in NY-13, but here's the deal: The state Conservative Party has given its backing to GOPer Michael Grimm, who was also endorsed by the Brooklyn wing of the party - even though the Staten Island Cons recently got behind Dem Rep. Mike McMahon. (Party chair Mike Long wasn't going to let McMahon get their nod, though.) To make things even more complicated, the SI Republican Party endorsed Grimm's primary opponent, Michael Allegretti, as we mentioned last week, and the Brooklyn GOP did as well the week before. But Grimm has at least one big player on his side: Rudy Giuliani, who did a fundraiser for him earlier this week. Anyhow, I'm sure you can sniff the cat fud: Grimm has already locked up the Conservative line, but Allegretti could definitely win the Republican primary. There's already a lot of bad blood between the two Republican Mikes, which means we could see something of an NY-23 redux here.
NY-18: Biden Alert! The VPOTUS squeezed in a fundraiser yesterday for... Nita Lowey? She has over $1.1 million on hand, and I'm not aware of any meaningful Republican challenger in this race. (Obama/Kerry: 62/58.) So what gives?
OK-02: This is interesting: Democratic state Sen. Jim Wilson says he's going to launch a primary challenge to conservative Rep. Dan Boren. Wilson specifically cited Boren's opposition to the healthcare reform bill in launching his campaign. The primary here is pretty soon, July 27th, though there's also a run-off on August 24th. However, as of now, there are only two candidates in the race.
TN-08: The internal warfare continues in the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner. Though the NRCC is still touting agribusiness kingpin Stephen Fincher, ex-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is doing a fundraiser for Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn. An establishment divided against itself... yields to a teabagger?
WI-07: Hah! We mentioned the other day that establishment efforts to clear the primary field for Dem Julie Lassa hit a snag when Some Dude Joe Reasbeck said he was going to run. Well, turns out he's run for office before: as a write-in (wait, there's more) in Texas (heh, there's still more) as a Republican (not done yet), earning 89 votes. Hold on, hold on - more! Who was he running against? Well, only the most famous write-in candidate of all time, Snelly Gibbr! Shit like this is why I love politics.
• AZ-Sen: CQ has an interesting tidbit about Rodney Glassman, the young Tucson city councilor who's the top Democrat in the Senate race right now. The general sense has been that it would be good to have someone with some self-funding capacity to be able to jump in and make a race of it in case the bombastic J.D. Hayworth somehow takes out John McCain in the GOP primary... and it turns out that Glassman has been that guy all along. He's been capping contributions to his campaign at $20 for now, but the Dems' state chair says Glassman can step in with his own money in case things heat up.
• IA-Sen: Rasmussen takes a pretty dim view of the odds for Roxanne Conlin (or any other Democrat) against Chuck Grassley in 2010. They see Conlin, a wealthy attorney last seen losing the 1982 gubernatorial race, losing to Grassley 59-31. The other less-known Dems, both veterans of the state legislature, fare only slightly worse: Bob Krause loses 59-26, and Tom Fiegen loses 61-25.
• IL-Sen: One last component from Rasmussen's poll of the Illinois primary fields dribbled in late yesterday: a look at the Republican Senate field. Like other pollsters, they find Rep. Mark Kirk way ahead of his nearest competitor in the GOP primary, real estate developer Patrick Hughes. Unlike others, though, they at least see Hughes in the double-digits, losing 53-18 (with 12 for "some other candidate").
• NC-Sen: Rasmussen also examines North Carolina, and while they find Republican incumbent Richard Burr with a significant lead, he's not quite in the safety zone. Burr leads Democratic SoS Elaine Marshall 47-37, and he leads former state Sen. Cal Cunningham 50-34. Rasmussen also finds Burr's knowns to be much, much higher than anyone else has found them: he has an approval of 56/32, with only 12% not sure (whereas most pollsters find his unknowns to be well into the 30s).
• NY-Sen-B: After rumors of his renewed interest in challenging Kirsten Gillibrand in a Democratic Senate primary, Rep. Steve Israel sounds like he's backing off. His chief of staff says "definitively that he's not running," although there's no comment from Israel himself. Israel, however, did commission another poll in recent weeks to take the race's temperature, so it's clear his interest was briefly re-piqued.
• AK-Gov: Former state House speaker John Harris had been a rumored candidate to oppose appointed Gov. Sean Parnell in the GOP gubernatorial primary, but has made clear that he won't run and will run for re-election to the House instead. Another former speaker, Ralph Samuels, was also in the race, leaving Harris little room to grab whatever anti-Parnell vote might be out there. (A PPP poll finds the uncontroversial Parnell with a 58/19 approval, so it'd be an uphill run anyway.)
• FL-Gov: Rasmussen has new numbers out for the Governor's race in Florida, and they're very similar to what Quinnipiac released yesterday. Republican AG Bill McCollum leads Democratic CFO Alex Sink 46-35. (Presumably, this means they'll have Senate numbers shortly.)
• MI-Gov: We're getting strange signals out of the Virg Bernero camp. The Lansing mayor sent out an e-mail soliciting interns for his gubernatorial run (which would be a strange way of announcing your run, which he hasn't done so far, although he does have an exploratory committee up). It was quickly followed up with word that Bernero hasn't decided whether or not to run, and it should have said interns sought for his exploratory committee only.
• NY-Gov: Here's a sign of how unenthused the state GOP is with the idea of ex-Rep. Rick Lazio as their standard-bearer for the Governor's race: they're actually sitting down with Suffolk Co. Exec Steven Levy, who has recently expressed some interest in the race, to discuss the possibility of him running as a Republican. Levy, of course, is a Democrat, although a rather conservative one (particularly on immigration issues) and one who received a Republican cross-endorsement during his barely-contested 2007 re-election. The crux of the matter may be that Levy has a $4 million warchest available, while Lazio is sitting on $637K. State party chair Ed Cox offered this stirring endorsement of Lazio on Wednesday: "At the moment, he is the candidate."
• WI-Gov: One final Rasmussen poll to look at today: it's the other half of their Wisconsin sample, the one that found 68-year-old ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson leading Russ Feingold in a hypothetical match. They find Republican ex-Rep. Mark Neumann leading Democratic Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett 42-38, while Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker leads Barrett 48-38 (again, a much more Republican-favorable view of the race than other pollsters have seen it).
• AR-01: Dems won't be getting their most-desired candidate to succeed Marion Berry in the 1st: AG Dustin McDaniel already announced that he won't run. Possible Dem candidates sniffing out the race, though, including state Rep. Keith Ingram, state Sen. Robert Thompson, and former state party chair Jason Willett. CQ also mentions former state Rep. Chris Thyer, former state Sen. Tim Woolridge, and Berry's CoS, Chad Causey.
• AR-02: In the 2nd, Democratic state House speaker Robbie Wills seems to be getting into the race to succeed Vic Snyder. State Sen. Shane Broadway has also expressed interest, but says that he'll head for the Lt. Governor race if LG Bill Halter gets into the field in the 2nd. State Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie is already putting campaign infrastructure into place, and a potential wild card people are eyeing is Little Rock's mayor, Mark Stodola.
• CA-19: Smackdown in the Central Valley! Retiring Republican Rep. George Radanovich lashed out at CA-11 ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, seeking to replace him, saying that he should have "run in his own district." Radanovich backs state Sen. Jeff Denham in the GOP primary, and was seeking to quash Pombo claims that Radanovich wouldn't have endorsed Denham had he known Pombo was going to run. In other news, Rep. Tom McClintock at some point endorsed Pombo, finally making it clear that McClintock, used to running for something new every two years, wasn't going to reflexively abandon his district and run in the 19th instead.
• GA-04: A primary is the only way to dislodge Rep. Hank Johnson in this safely blue district, and it looks like Johnson is poised to keep his seat even though he's drawn several prominent opponents (at least some of whom would be coming at him from the right), former DeKalb Co. CEO Vernon Jones and DeKalb Co. Commissioners Connie Stokes and Lee May. Johnson has an internal poll from Lake Associates out showing him with 47% of the vote, leading Jones at 19, Stokes at 12, and May at 5.
• KY-06: Just days after attorney Andy Barr was named to the bottom tier of the NRCC's "Young Guns" program, another Republican has jumped into the fray to take on Rep. Ben Chandler in this Republican-leaning district. Mike Templeman retired last year as CEO of Energy Coal Resources, and is touting his business experience.
• NH-02: Ex-Rep. Charlie Bass is touting an internal poll that has him in commanding position, at least as far as the GOP primary is concerned. He leads the 2008 Republican candidate, talk radio host Jennifer Horn, by a 42-19 margin (with 4 for state Rep. Bob Giuda). No numbers for the general election in this Dem-leaning district, however.
• NY-01: Rep. Tim Bishop is pushing back against, well, everything: he said, as far as retirement rumors go, he's "sure as hell" not going to back down from a fight now. He also announced strong fundraising (a $378K quarter) in the face of wealthy opposition, Randy Altschuler and George Demos. (There are also rumors that Chris Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon and son of new state GOP chair Ed Cox, may get into the race.) Bishop's camp also alluded to (although didn't specifically release) an internal poll showing him over the 50% mark against his Republican opponents, in contrast to other recent polls.
• PA-03: I wouldn't have expected freshman Kathy Dahlkemper's 3rd to be only 4th or 5th among Pennsylvania Democratic seats in terms of vulnerability this year, but them's the breaks. The GOP hasn't found a top-tier recruit here yet, but another Republican got into the race: Mike Kelly, a car dealer from the suburban Pittsburgh part of the district. It sounds like he'll be able to partly fund his own way, which will help him compete against fellow businessman Paul Huber.
• PA-10: Former US Attorney Tom Marino finally announced his long-rumored bid against Rep. Chris Carney this week. While Marino seems imposing on paper, there are a number of problems here for him: for starters, Carney quickly used the December efforts of GOPers to recruit him to party-switch to boost his own bipartisan bona fides. Marino also faces questions over his relationship with Louis DeNaples, a developer who was the target of probes over links to organized crime, and particularly a casino license granted to him (where Marino was a reference on DeNaples' gaming application). And a number of state legislators - at least in the far western part of the district where Malcolm Derk is from - are lining up behind Derk instead of Marino in the GOP primary. With chiropractor David Madeira, who's been reaching out to the teabaggers, also in the race, even the primary won't be an easy ride for Marino.
• PA-15: One more internal poll, this one not looking so good for Democrats. Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, in his first competitive race, well, ever, against Bethlehem mayor John Callahan, has a big edge in his own poll conducted by the Tarrance Group. The poll gives Dent a 53-27 lead, with 8 going to teabagging independent Jack Towne. The moderate Dent pulls in one-quarter of all Democratic voters.
• TN-08: He's in like Flinn. George Flinn, that is: the official entry of the Shelby Co. Commissioner, who's also a radiologist and radio station owner in his spare time, expanded the Republican field in the 8th. With two money-bags candidates already in the picture, physician Ron Kirkland and most prominently farmer Stephen Fincher, Republicans look poised to bleed each other badly in an expensive primary while state Sen. Roy Herron looks to have the Democratic field mostly to himself in this open seat race.
• VA-05: Another primary that's getting out of control for the GOP is the one in the 5th, where there's a backlog of die-hards each claiming to be the "true conservative" as opposed to establishment fave state Sen. Robert Hurt. Real estate investor Lawrence Verga seems to have had the most success at gaining the attention of the teabaggers (although Verga's spotty voting record can't help his image much), but now rival real estate developer Jim McKelvey just slammed down half a million dollars on the table to up the ante. Even more delicious in terms of cat fud: McKelvey is also making threats that he'll run as an independent if things don't go his way in the primary. With right-winger Bradley Rees already running as a Tea Party-powered indie, there could be enough fracturing on the right to let vulnerable Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello have a shot at survival.
• VA-09: Here's a seat that would have been a bear to defend in the event of a retirement, but where we got the final word that the incumbent is staying put. Rep. Rick Boucher confirmed he'll go for a 15th term in the Fightin' 9th in southwestern Virginia. He's still not out of the woods, as Republican state House majority leader Morgan Griffith may get in the race, although for now Boucher doesn't have an opponent.
• WA-03: This caught me, and seemingly a lot of other people, by surprise: Gov. Chris Gregoire weighed into the Democratic primary in the 3rd with an endorsement, and she bypassed the two sitting state legislators in the field to go for ex-state Rep. Denny Heck, suggesting that rumors that he's got a lot of behind-the-scenes establishment support are quite true. Heck, who subsequently founded a public affairs cable channel and did a lot of successful for-profit investing as well, can spend a lot of his own money on the race, which is probably why he's getting the establishment backing despite having been out of office for decades.
• WV-01: After a rather protracted four-year investigation, the Justice Dept. ended its investigation of Rep. Alan Mollohan over earmark steering, removing the ethical cloud from over his head. Mollohan had been on retirement watch lists, in the face of several decent Republican challengers, but he recently filed for re-election and now his opponents have less ammo to use against him.
• OH-SoS: Progressives have been dismayed that socially conservative state Rep. Jennifer Garrison is the only Democratic option in the Secretary of State primary anymore, but that sounds like it's about to change. Franklin Co. Clerk of Courts (and former Columbus city councilor) Maryellen O'Shaugnessy is rumored to be about to enter the race, and it also sounds like she'll have the backing of the state party's power brokers, starting at the top with Gov. Ted Strickland (who can't afford to have progressives stay home in 2010, as he needs them to save his own bacon in what promises to be a tight gubernatorial race).
• Census: New York state Senate Democrats are proposing changes in the way that prison inmates are counted. They'd like for them to be considered residents of the district where their last known address was, not where they're currently incarcerated. It's actually a very important issue, considering that there are more than 58,000 state prisoners in New York, most of whom are from cities but are currently in rural Upstate, and it could tip the balance significantly in redistricting the state Senate. In other Census news, Robert Groves talked extensively to Pew about increasing participation, tracking turnout, and overcoming language barriers.
• Humor: Finally, here's a cartoon that SSP fans are uniquely positioned to enjoy.