• FL-Sen: George LeMieux is unsurprisingly trying to distance himself from the label "Charlie Crist Republican," but all I can say is... good luck with that. The Miami Herald has a lengthy look at just how close the two men were, and while Crist himself won't say a word against LeMieux, other former staffers are more than happy to detail just how tight their working relationship was.
• MA-Sen: Hey, Richie Neal: Shut the fuck up. Seriously. What is it with Democratic congressmen from Massachusetts who love to crack out of turn? First Barney Frank, and now this crap. And yeah, you'll have to click the link if you want to know what I'm worked up about.
• TX-Sen: Over at Burnt Orange Report, Karl-Thomas Musselman, a long-time friend of SSP, has a good piece about Democrats' flawed strategies in Texas statewide races over the last decade, and how Team Blue should approach things differently going forward.
• IA-Gov: In a way, this might be the roughest "do-over" poll of all. Former Dem Gov. Chet Culver lost by double digits last fall, the worst performance of any incumbent governor, yet even he now beats Terry Branstad 48-46 in a hypothetical PPP rematch.
• PA-Gov: GOP Gov. Tom Corbett's disapproval rating has soared in the past couple of months. He was at 39-11 in February, and is now at 39-37, according to Quinnipiac. I guess this means not a single new person in the state of PA grew to approve of Corbett in two months!
• AZ-06, AZ-Sen: It's getting hard to keep track of what Republican Russell Pearce's plans are. The author of Arizona's notorious immigration law supposedly was out of the running for the open Senate seat, was heavily talked up for the open 6th CD, then was talked down for it, and is now saying he's leaving both doors open. He says he wants to stay on through the end of the 2012 legislative session, though, and Arizona has a resign-to-run law, so who knows.
On the other hand, House Speaker Kirk Adams just announced that he will resign from the legislature, which can only mean he's gearing up for a run in the 6th. (We've mentioned his name a couple of times before as a possibility.) It's going to be a crowded GOP primary, as the field already includes ex-Rep. Matt Salmon (who used to hold this seat, more or less) and former state Senate majority leader Chuck Gray.
• IA-04: These are statewide numbers, but still interesting: Steve King is the least-popular member of Iowa's congressional delegation, with 27-34 favorables. Christie Vilsack, meanwhile, is at 38-23. Certainly these scores within the new fourth district would look different, but unless there is some wild base of support for King in northwest Iowa, I can't see how you wouldn't prefer to have Vilsack's numbers.
• NC-11: Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell says he'll challenge Rep. Health Shuler in the Democratic primary next year. Shuler, thanks to his vote against healthcare reform, took just 61% in a primary last year against Aixa Wilson, who did not even file any FEC reports.
• ND-AL: With a Rick Berg run for Senate looking likely, people are starting to look at filling his at-large House seat. On the Republican side, state House Majority Leader Al Carlson said he's considering a race. Other possible names, according to the linked piece, are state Sen. Tony Grindberg and Tax Commissioner Cory Fong. I wonder if PSC Commish Brian Kalk might slide down from the Senate race, too.
• NV-02: Oh well, I can't always be right! Sharron Angle shot down an unsourced rumor in the LVRJ that she'd run as an independent in the special election to replace Dean Heller if she isn't chosen as the GOP nominee. (She won't be.)
• NY-13: Now it's Mike Grimm's turn to tell his side of the story about his instantly notorious nightclub incident from 1999. Meanwhile, NYC Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio is calling on the NYPD and DoJ to release their records from their investigations of the matter. Not really sure why DeBlas, of all people, is inserting himself into this one, except perhaps to try to take a GOP scalp as he eyes the 2013 mayoral race.
• OR-01: Here's another interesting bit of sub-text to the whole David Wu saga: Nike. The sneaker company has apparently never forgiven Wu for his vote against a bill that would have expanded trade with China back in 2000, and Nike's chairman endorsed Republican Rob Cornilles last year. (The company also donated to him via their PAC.) It'll probably be easier to get rid of Wu in the Democratic primary, though, so Nike may decide to get involved yet again.
• AZ-Sen: Board of Regents member Fred Du Val, who I don't think we'd discussed before, said he won't seek the Democratic nomination to replace Jon Kyl. The article also mentions another possible Dem name that I hadn't previously seen, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke.
• FL-Sen: This article makes George LeMieux's candidacy appear exactly as lame as you'd expect. Not only is he lamely courting teabaggers, but a recent "Tax Day" rally drew "less than 100." Sounds like a lot less.
• MA-Sen: Apologies for the paywalled-link-not something I'd ordinarily do, but this story isn't available elsewhere. Anyhow, bigwigs constantly talking about him to the media has just got to be frustrating for Newton Mayor Setti Warren. First it was Gov. Deval Patrick, blabbing to the press that he was sure Warren was going to run. (Warren had to publicly back away from Patrick's remarks.) Now, it's the opposite: Rep. Barney Frank for some reason thought it would be a good idea to tell the National Journal: "I think it's a mistake for him to run, I've told him that." Well, if Frank's told Warren this, then why the fuck does he also have to tell the NJ and turn it into a public spectacle? And it's not just one off-hand remark - Frank made multiple statements talking down Warren's chances. Sheesh, just let Warren do what he wants to do. Jeez.
• ME-Sen: Dem House Minority Leader Emily Cain says she won't challenge Olympia Snowe next year. (Cain, just 30 years old, can certainly bide her time.) The same piece mentions another possible Democratic name, businessman Donato Tramuto, who may also be interested in a 2014 gubernatorial bid.
• MO-Sen: As Eli Yokley of PoliticMo observes, Todd Akin's visit with a bunch of teabaggers in Joplin, Missouri took him three hundred miles outside of his congressional district, as sure a sign as any that he's interested in taking on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Akin says he'll decide "in the near future." Interestingly, at the end of this article, he also whined about Democrats "beating up" Republicans over wanting to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it. That kvetching means our attacks are already working-and when you have to start explaining yourself in full-length paragraphs (as Akin tries to do), you're on the defensive and flailing.
• NM-Sen: Auditor Hector Balderas said on Friday that he'll decide whether to seek the Dem nod to replace the retiring Jeff Bingaman "within the next two weeks."
• TX-Sen: It appears that Democrats may have landed an interesting recruit in this race: Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq. Sanchez said he wouldn't "confirm or deny" the reports, but former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Dem, decided to crack out of turn, saying he spoke with Sanchez and that it sounded "like he's close to being a candidate." One black mark: Sanchez was in command of US forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, and he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram it was "pretty fair" to say the event ended his military career (though of course neither he nor any high-ranking officers were ever held responsible).
In other TX-Sen news, another one of Ron Paul's offspring, Fort Worth physician Robert Paul, says he has "thought about running" for Senate... but that's pretty much all he's said.
• NH-Gov: Mark Connolly is an interesting figure in New Hampshire politics: He's the former director of the state's Bureau of Securities Regulation, until he resigned last year to publicly blow the whistle on the state's mishandling of an investigation into a ponzi scheme run by an entity called Financial Resource Management. (You may recall that this scandal also tainted Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who had been NH AG at the time, but not enough to derail her Senate bid.) In any event, Connolly says he thinks Gov. John Lynch should seek a fifth-term and he'd support him if he does-but if Lynch declined to run, Connolly "would consider" doing so himself. (Note that Connolly also briefly considered a Senate run himself last cycle, but was wise enough to stand aside.)
• WA-Gov: I'm not really understanding Rob McKenna's path to victory. He's spent most of his career trying to convince people he's a "moderate," non-insane Republican, but then he signed on to the multi-state suit by mostly red-state Republican AGs to try to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional. He's since continued in that surprising vein: He just attended a teabagger "Tax Day" rally and seems to think he needs to court the wingnuts in order to be successful. Is he worried about a primary? Or is he concerned he can't win without teabaggers pushing for him at full throttle? Either way, it seems like he's screwing himself.
• FL-22: Kinda interesting: Former Gov. Charlie Crist just gave $1000 to Democrat "no not that" Patrick Murphy's campaign to oust Allen West. (They share a consultant in common.) Really, I can't believe Crist just didn't switch parties when he had the chance.
• OR-01: Carla Axtman, writing at the you-should-bookmark-`em-if-you-haven't-yet Blue Oregon, goes as far down into the weeds as it's possible to go without spontaneously commencing photosynthesis. In a look at the possible Dem field shaping up to primary Rep. David Wu, she mentions a couple of candidates we hadn't previously seen named before: state Rep. Brad Witt and Clatsop County Commissioner Dirk Rohne, a recent R-to-D switcher.
• NYC-Mayor: Kill me now: Dick Grasso, the d-bag ex-director of the New York Stock Exchange, says that if Eliot Spitzer runs for mayor, so will he. I just pray Spitzer isn't stupid enough to actually run, but if anything, this challenge from Grasso probably has Eliot's blood flowing and makes him more likely to do it. God.
• WATN?: Alan Hevesi, who had once served as NYC Comptroller and later comptroller for the whole state, was sentenced to one to four years in prison, after pleading guilty last fall to one count of official misconduct. Hevesi took bribes from financial firms (politely called "pay-to-play") in exchange for steering the state to invest its considerable pension funds with those firms. What a piece of shit. Anyhow, he could be out of jail in less than a year.
Another ex-pol who has very much landed on his feet is former PA Gov. Ed Rendell. Of course, you'd expect nothing less from Fast Eddie, and if you really are curious as to what he's up to, you're going to have to click the link, because it's way more than I can summarize.
• CT-Sen: Connecticut's open seat Senate race was always destined to be a high-dollar affair, and the money chase is well underway. Former SoS Susie Bysiewicz released a first quarter total of a respectable $500K, but Rep. Chris Murphy, her main rival in the Dem primary, just more than doubled up on that, with $1.1 million raised over the course of his first 10 weeks. (Of course, they've both picked their low hanging fruit on their first trip to the orchard, so the challenge will be to keep up that rate.)
• FL-Sen: PPP, who put out general election numbers on the Senate race last week, have the GOP primary numbers... and they find GOP voters saying "Uh, who?" (Y'know, like that guy who used to be the Senator... who somehow is known by only 26% of the sample?) Unfortunately, Connie Mack IV dropped out while the poll was in the field, so, better-known than the other options (perhaps courtesy of his dad, the former Sen. Connie Mack III, who the state's older and more confused voters might think is back) he leads the way at 28, with the actual candidates, ex-Sen. George LeMieux and state Sen. majority leader Mike Haridopolos at 14 and 13, respectively. Additional likely candidate Adam Hasner is back at 5. Don't look for any help on choosing from Marco Rubio: he's just announced that he won't endorse in the primary.
• HI-Sen: There still seem to be fans out there for losing '06 IL-06 candidate and Obama admin member Tammy Duckworth, eager to get her into elected office somewhere someday, and the place du jour seems to be Hawaii, where a Draft Duckworth page has popped up for the open Senate seat.
• MA-Sen: Salem mayor Kim Driscoll has been the occasional subject of Senate speculation for the Dem primary, along with the mayor of pretty much every other mid-sized city in the state. Nevertheless, she pulled her name out of contention yesterday (all part of the Democratic master plan of not having a candidate to deceptively lull the GOP into complacency, I'm sure). Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Scott Brown (last seen praising the Paul Ryan Abolition of Medicare Plan, rolled out his first quarter fundraising numbers: he raised $1.7 million in Q1, leaving him with $8.1 million cash on hand. That's, of course, huge, but the silver lining on that is that it doesn't leave him on track to hit his previously-announced super-gigantic $25 mil fundraising goal for the cycle.
• FL-Gov: With various newly-elected Republican governors in polling freefall, Rick Scott (who can't even get along with his GOP legislature, let alone his constituents) really seems to be leading the way down. Quinnipiac finds his approvals deep in the hole, currently 35/48, down from 35/22 in February (meaning he picked up no new fans in that period, but managed to piss off an additional quarter of the state). Voters says by a 53-37 margin that his budget proposals are unfair to people like them. Voters are also opposed to the legislature's proposal to stop collecting union dues from state workers' paychecks.
• MO-Gov: After spending Monday dragging out his fight with those who buy ink by the barrel (aka the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who broke the story on his fancy-pants hotel habit), Missouri Lt. Gov. and Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Kinder seemed to dial things down a notch yesterday: he says he'll 'voluntarily' reimburse the state $30K for those expenditures, and while not exactly apologizing, says he seeks "to move this nimbus off the horizon." Um, whatever that means.
• AZ-06: After getting mentioned a lot when Jeff Flake announced his Senate run, opening up the Mesa-based 6th, state Senate president Russell Pearce is now sounding unlikely to run according to insiders. (Blowback over his links to the Fiesta Bowl controversy may be the last straw, though, rather than his status as xenophobia's poster child.) A couple other GOP names have risen to the forefront: state House speaker Kirk Adams, who's considering, and former state Sen. majority leader Chuck Gray, who is already in.
• CA-36: One more big union endorsement for Janice Hahn in the primary fight against Debra Bowen to succeed Jane Harman: this one comes from the SEIU.
• CT-05: The open seat vacated by Chris Murphy is likely to draw a crowd, and here's a new Republican contender in this swingy, suburban district: Farmington town council chair and former FBI agent Mike Clark. Clark has a notable profile for helping to take down a fellow Republican while at the FBI: corrupt ex-Gov. John Rowland. He'll face Justin Bernier in the GOP primary, who lost the primary in 2010.
• FL-20: In case Debbie Wasserman Schultz's work load couldn't get any heavier, she just got a new heap of responsibility dumped in her lap: she'll become the new head of the DNC, to replace newly-minted Senate candidate Tim Kaine. She'll, of course, keep her day job as Representative.
• MN-08: The Dem-leaning 8th is as good a place as any to pick up a seat in 2012, but there's the wee problem of trying to find somebody to run there. The latest Dem possibility that drew everyone's interest, Yvonne Prettner Solon, the former Duluth-area state Sen. and newly-elected Lt. Governor, won't run here either.
• NH-St. House: I realize that with 400 members you're going to have a lot of bad apples, but still we're up to 3 GOP frosh having resigned already from the New Hampshire state House. Hot on the heels of a 91-year-old member resigning after advocating (literally) sending 'defectives' to Siberia to starve, Gary Wheaton just resigned for driving with a suspended license after a previous DUI (and then publicly suspected the arresting officer for targeting him because of his vote against collective bargaining). And somewhat less dramatically, Robert Huxley eventually got around to resigning after not getting around to showing up for any votes so far in the session.
• EMILY's List: EMILY's List is out with its first five fundraising targets for the 2012 cycle. Some of them are to be expected, with high-profile GOP freshmen and already-announced female opponents: Allen West (who may face West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel in FL-22), Paul Gosar (who faces a rematch with ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in AZ-01), and Charlie Bass (rematched with Ann McLane Kuster in NH-02). They also targeted Joe Heck in NV-03 and Chip Cravaack in MN-08, who don't have opponents yet but conceivably could match up with Dina Titus and Tarryl Clark, respectively.
• WATN?: Thirtysomething Carte Goodwin seemed to make a good impression during his half-a-year as a fill-in in the Senate (in between Robert Byrd and Joe Manchin), moving him to prime position on the Dems' West Virginia bench, but he says he's not running for anything else anytime soon. Or more accurately, he says the only the only thing he's running for "is the county line." (Uh, with the revenuers in pursuit?)
Former appointed Sen. George LeMieux announced this morning that he's seeking the GOP nomination for Senate in 2012. LeMieux launched a campaign website and made a video announcement on the conservative Shark Tank blog, a favorite venue for Marco Rubio during his successful 2010 candidacy.
LeMieux joins state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, in the GOP primary race. Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Boca Raton is also exploring a run. All are eyeing the seat of two-term Democrat Bill Nelson.
I find George LeMieux so boring that I just have nothing else to say at this moment.
• CT-Sen: Former SoS Susan Bysiewicz said that she raised over half a mil in Q1. She also continued a theme of attacking Chris Murphy as some kind of skeezy Washington insider, saying "I'm sure the corporate PACs and DC lobbyists are lining up to support other candidates." Murphy is the only other announced candidate.
• FL-Sen: Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times tweeted last Wednesday he expects George LeMieux (R) to announce "next week"... which means this week.
• IN-Sen: Rep. Dan Burton, one of the most disliked Republicans in the state of Indiana, channels his inner Tobias Fünke (the man inside him?) and says, "I'm supporting Dick - there's two Dicks in the race." That'd be Richard "Dick" Lugar and Richard "Dick" Mourdock. Oh Burton, you blowhard!
• KY-Sen: I can't really believe Rand Paul is serious about a presidential bid, but then again, I thought the same thing about Michele Bachmann and was clearly wrong about that. Still, I'm mostly amused by the fact that he met with Iowa Republicans (including Gov. Terry Branstad) in Des Moines this past weekend. Rand might be trying to set himself up for a run in 2016... or he could also be doing a good job of inviting a primary challenge if he seeks re-election.
• MA-Sen: Teabaggers being pissed at Scott Brown are nothing new - though I do find their naivety endearing. (What did they think they were going to get?) What's sad is that one of their self-anointed leaders, some guy named Judson Phillips, can only muster up this in response to Brown's latest outrage (calling to reduce budget cuts): "Perhaps the Massachusetts Tea Party will step up with someone to challenge him in 2012." A resounding call to arms this ain't.
• ME-Sen: Freshman Sen. Pat Toomey says he won't endorse Olympia Snowe in her bid for re-election. Toomey, don't forget, has some residual teabagger cred, given that he was president of the Club for Growth.
• MO-Sen: Citizens United (yes, thatCitizens United) just gave GOP Rep. Todd Akin $10K in the hopes of luring him into the Senate race. I was wrong about Trent Franks, but I really do feel like Akin will get in here.
• MT-Sen: Republicans think they get lots of mileage out of attacking "welfare," but Denny Rehberg took this trope several steps further, declaring that Pell Grants are "turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century."
• NV-Sen: Rep. Shelley Berkley says she's heartened by the internal poll numbers she put out last week (42-38 over Republican Dean Heller), she still hasn't made up her mind, though now says she'll decide "fairly soon," whatever that means.
• NY-Sen: Kirsten Gillibrand set a personal record with her 1Q fundraising, taking in over $3 million.
• KY-Gov: Despite opposing the expansion of gambling in the state - a very big and very contentious issue - State Senate President (and GOP gubernatorial nominee) David Williams lost over $36,000 in casinos from 1999 to 2002, according to court documents related to his divorce.
• MO-Gov: Did GOP Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder just neutralize the whole "Air Claire" business? It turns out that Kinder, widely expected to run for governor, has spent an average of two months a year staying at St. Louis luxury hotels, all at taxpayer expense, including trips for society balls and baseball games.. You really need to read the whole piece to get the full flavor of Kinder's abuse of his office. Kinder also told a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "I'm not talking to you," then hung up the phone. This story's going to get worse, not better.
• UT-Gov, UT-Sen: As we've noted previously, the teabaggers are gunning for Gov. Gary Herbert, thanks to his support for immigration bills that are insufficiently punitive, in their view. Now the name of another potential primary challenger has surfaced: state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom. The linked article also says that David Kirkham, a key teabagger who helped oust Bob Bennett last year, is suggesting that Herbert, rather than Orrin Hatch, may be his compatriots' number one target this cycle. Hatch previously refused to take a position on his home state's legislation, but let's see if he turns on Herbert in the hopes of re-directing the teabaggers.
• WV-Gov: Julie Sobel at the Hotline has a complete wrapup of fundraising numbers for all the major candidates, both Dem and Republican, in the WV gubernatorial race.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: On Twitter, when Sarah Palin announced she was backing David Prosser, I called it the kiss of death. J. Pilmanis said no, she kissed a corpse. We'll find out for sure tomorrow! Anyhow, the ad wars have, of course, gone full-tilt in the final days of the campaign. Here's a roundup of some that we've seen:
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 50 (44)
Mike Haridopolos (R): 34 (32)
Undecided: 17 (24)
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48 (46)
Adam Hasner (R): 32 (30)
Undecided: 20 (25)
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48 (47)
George LeMieux (R): 33 (36)
Undecided: 19 (17)
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 47 (44)
Connie Mack IV (R): 34 (36)
Undecided: 18 (20)
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 45
Joe Scarborough (R): 32
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 47
Jimmy Wales (R): 28
At least three names tested here are almost certainly out of consideration. Mack as you know said last week that he wouldn't run. The NRSC dumped all over Scarborough a few weeks ago after he revealed they'd been recruiting him; the hostility level there soared to "Ernie" almost overnight. And Jimmy Wales is just some libertarian fantasy candidate - he's the founder of Wikipedia and has plenty of baggage of his own. (Long before Wikipedia, he created the porny site Bomis, and in later years tried to whitewash references to it from his own Wikipedia profile!)
That leave the bumbling Haridopolos, the would-be teabagger fave Hasner, and the one-time Charlie Crist acolyte LeMieux. I'm not writing any of these guys off, but it's not a terribly inspiring field (which explains why John Cornyn was chatting up Joe Scar). I wouldn't be surprised at all if another big name got in, whether we're talking some random rich dude ala Rick Scott, or Rep. Vern Buchanan (who is himself also a rich dude). Bill Nelson got absurdly lucky in 2006 when he faced Katherine Harris; he won't be that fortunate again, but he may still benefit from a weakish field.
Anyhow, to the numbers. As Tom notes, Nelson's scores with members of his own party are kinda low:
38% of voters approve of the job Nelson's doing to 34% who disapprove. Those numbers sound uninspiring but the main reason for them is that only 55% of Democrats approve of the job he's doing, where you'd usually expect someone to be in the 70-80% range within their own party. Nelson gets 74-80% of the Democratic vote against each of the Republicans we tested him against so this is a classic case where his base might not love him, but they're still going to vote for him.
I agree - I think these folks will come home for Nelson, especially with Obama at the top of the ticket. Tom makes another good point:
Most of the time people focus on politicians' approval number when analyzing their reelection chances and if you do that in Nelson's case 38% doesn't look so hot. I think it might be more instructive here though to look at Nelson's disapproval number - is someone who only 34% of voters are unhappy with really going to get tossed out of office? Seems doubtful - certainly didn't happen to any Senators or Governors last year.
Not loved, but not hated. That might just be good enough for 2012.
• FL-Sen: I was pretty bored with reading the George LeMieux tea leaves even before his cuppa began brewing, but in case you're not me, the very-short-tenured former senator has been busy attending Lincoln Day dinners and meeting with GOP activists and potential donors. In beltway land, I think this upgrades him from "Lean Run" to "Likely Run."
• IN-Sen: Treasurer Richard Mourdock is trying to cause some trouble by saying that Gov. Mitch Daniels encouraged him to run against Dick Lugar in the GOP primary, while a Daniels spokesperson said the governor did no such thing. Daniels previously said he'd vote for Lugar, but didn't exactly endorse him. In other news, Mourdock says he expects to show $125K raised for his race in just a month of campaigning.
• KY-Gov: Dem Gov. Steve Beshear just punked his top opposition in this year's gubernatorial race, state Senate President David Williams, hard. Williams had insisted on broad spending cuts (including to education) as part of a Medicaid budget bill; the Democratic-controlled House had no interest in these cuts, but Williams refused any possible compromise. So House Dems (and rebellious House Republicans) passed the Williams bill anyway... I know, hang on ... but full-well expecting Beshear to use his line-item veto to strike the cuts. Then they adjourned, so that the vetoes couldn't get over-ridden. And that's exactly what happened, handing Williams a humiliating defeat.
• WI-Gov: I'm wondering which pollster will finally have the courage to report numbers to the THOUSANDTHS of a percent. For now, we'll have to content ourselves with Republican-affiliated pollster We Ask America, which bravely ignores all rules about significant digits and goes all the way to hundredths. They show what other polls are showing: that Scott Walker (like other loser Midwestern Republican governors) has crappy job approval ratings, in this case 43.71 to 54.87. YES DECIMALS.
• WV-Gov: The AP has a good run-down on which groups are endorsing whom in the gubernatorial race. On the Dem side, we've noted several of the big union heavy hitters, most of whom are backing state House Speaker Rick Thompson. But some important labor groups are supporting other candidates, like state Sen. Jeff Kessler (Fraternal Order of Police, nurses) and Treasurer John Perdue (teamsters, state troopers). Meanwhile, EMILY's List has endorsed SoS Natalie Tenant. The AP also tried to get candidates to cough up estimates of their fundraising figures (final reports are due Friday), but only acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin responded, saying he'd pulled in about a million bucks.
And speaking of Thompson, he's apparently the first on TV, with an ad touting his hardscrabble upbringing. By the way, SSP Southern Correspondent Trent Thompson notes that the soundtrack you hear is a Baptist hymn, which seems to be popular among Southern Dems (Bobby Bright featured this sort of thing in his advertising). (UPDATE: Actually, it's an actually an old Hank Williams gospel song that's commonly sung in churches.)
• CA-36: It looks like we have the final list of candidate filings for the special election. I count ten Democrats, six Republicans, five "nonpartisan," two Libertarians (splitter!), and one "Peace and Freedom" candidate. Also, Howard Dean just endorsed Debra Bowen, which is not too surprising given that his former organization, Democracy for America (run by Howard's brother Jim), also recently endorsed.
• CA-51: Apparently there had been vague rumors that Dem Rep. Bob Filner might run for mayor of San Diego... and now apparently Filner just went and announced he was in fact doing so in a totally off-hand remark after a screening of the film Freedom Riders. (Filner himself was one of the Mississippi Freedom Riders.) There's been some dispute over whether Filner's remarks were accurately conveyed, but oddly, Filner's office has refused to either confirm or deny the statement. Note that the race is in June of next year, so I believe Filner gets a free shot while keeping his House seat.
• TX-23: Not so fast, Quico! Gary Martin of the Houston Chronicle says that Dems are looking at a few potential challengers to freshman GOPer Quico Canseco, including state Rep. Joaquin Castro and Pete Gallego, and state Sen. Carlos Uresti. Ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez is also apparently weighing a rematch. While the borders of the 23rd will undoubtedly shift somewhat, it probably can't change a whole lot thanks to the VRA (it's 66% Hispanic), so this race could heat up earlier than many others.
• WI-01: Food service company owner and Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban is apparently interested in challenging GOP Rep. Paul Ryan. Despite his leadership post and his inflexible conservatism, Ryan sits in a very swingish district that can't really be improved in redistricting for a variety of reasons.
• ME-St. Sen.: The Maine SoS has set May 10th as the date for a special election to fill the seat of state Sen. Larry Bliss (D). The reason for Bliss's resignation was certainly unusual and quite poignant: He couldn't find a job in Maine. State legislators work part-time and are only paid $13,000 a year. Bliss said that in the absence of other work, he'd been working as a "full-time" legislator and was really enjoying his job, but he could only find employment in California, prompting his resignation. Of course, this story really isn't that unusual at all, given how many people are still out of work and struggling terribly. Also of note: Bliss was one of only a handful of openly LGBT state legislators nationwide.
• PA-AG: Longtime Philly DA Lynne Abraham (D), who left office just last year, said she's considering a run for state AG, despite being 70 years old. (Devoted Swingnuts will recall that ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy is also thinking about a run.) Believe it or not, no Democrat has won the AG's office since it became an elected position in 1980.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: Unnamed sources tell the National Review they've seen polling showing the race between incumbent Justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg "near even."
• Census: Like in NYC, pols in Atlanta are wondering why the new Census numbers for their city are so much lower than expected - 420K vs. a projected 540K. Jacob Alperin-Sherrif (better known to you as DemocraticLuntz) has an excellent post comparing Census projections with actual numbers for cities between 100K and 1 million people. You need to click through for his must-see scatterplot. There is one massive outlier: Atlanta, which is more than six standard deviations away from the mean.
• Indiana: Despite total Republican control over the process, it's starting to look like the Indiana legislature won't finish their congressional map before the body adjourns on April 29th, largely because of a walk-out by Democrats which ground most work to a halt. But the Democrats just reached what they're saying is a favorable a deal with the Republicans, so perhaps the process will pick up again soon.
• Iowa: The state's independent redistricting panel will release the first draft of a new congressional map at 8:15 am local time on Thursday morning.
• Virginia: New maps for Congress, the state House and the state Senate could be released by the legislature today. Stay alert!
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV won't run for U.S. Senate.
"I've got two small children and it's hard enough to get to spend a lot of good quality time now. I have a wife. They are all very important to me and at the end of the day family has to be number one,'' Mack told the St. Petersburg Times.
His wife, kids and parents encouraged him to run and politically it made a lot of sense, he said. But the three-term congressman also considered his position in congress, saying he said he can be a leading advocate for cutting spending and taxes and, as chairman of House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, the 43-year-old Fort Myers Republican also a top voice on Latin America and challenging Hugo Chavez.
Mack had a lot of natural advantages in this race, not least the broad recognition of his family name - his father, Connie Mack III, was a two-term Senator who in fact preceeded Dem Bill Nelson in his seat. So this leave Mike Haridopolos as the only serious candidate in the race - hah, just kidding! Haridopolos is a joke. Which means there's now an even bigger opening on the GOP side for the likes of ex-Sen. George LeMieux or ex-state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. But I think the person best situated to take advantage is actually 13th CD Rep. Vern Buchanan, who is very wealthy and probably more acceptable to the teabagging set than Mack, who was occasionally an apostate. Buchanan has some ethical & legal issues of his own, but with Mack out, the field is now wide open.
On Thursday, a confidante close to Mack told POLITICO "there was nothing wrong with saying it's expected" that he would run. "You are not wrong to print this," continued the aide. But this reporter was clearly under the mistaken impression that meant he was going to go forward with a campaign.
"He was the front runner. He was expected, which is what you wrote, but he's going to announce he's not going to run," said the aide Friday morning.
This source intentionally tried to deceive Dave Catanese and others. Dave, and this source's other victims, need to share this person's name. He or she no longer deserves the protections of anonymity - this person failed to live up to their end of the bargain. If this person remains masked, then everyone else in the media ecosystem is at risk of being their next victim.
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 41 (35)
Jeb Bush (R): 49 (50)
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 45
Connie Mack (R): 40
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 49
George LeMieux (R): 35
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48
Mike Haridopolos (R): 27
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 46
Adam Hasner (R): 24
I've seen better, and I've seen worse. Obviously the Jeb Bush numbers are concerning - even though he's exceedingly unlikely to run - but the trendlines (which are extremely old, and reflect a poll taken at the height of healthcare reform in the news) show some improvement for Nelson. It's not the amount of improvement that interests me but the fact that improvement is even possible. If the economy picks up, if Barack Obama contests Florida, and if general anti-incumbent-party anger continues to fade, Nelson's numbers could get better still.
I also like the fact that he isn't locked into the low 40s. Sometimes you see these really troubling polls where the incumbent is matched up against everyone ranging from Republican Jesus to Some Dude and he gets 40% regardless of his opponent's name rec. Nelson does better against lesser-known opponents, which to me suggests there are some potential Republican voters who are still willing to give ol' Nellie a chance. (Note that this squares with something PPP found a few months ago.)
There are a couple of other potential names in the mix that M-D didn't try - wealthy third-term Rep. Vern Buchanan, and probably-dreaming freshman Rep. Daniel Webster - but I suspect their numbers would look something like those of the two least-known candidates, at the bottom of the list. If you need a refresher, Mike Haridopolos is the state Senate President (and is the only candidate who is actually more-or-less officialy in the race), while Adam Hasner is the former state House Majority Leader.
• AZ-Sen: Could we actually see a retirement from the GOP's #2, Jon Kyl? Seems hard to believe, but there seems to be increasing chatter about it, at least to the extent that it's now a "real possibility." Local sources refer to his fundraising as being in a "holding pattern." Kyl promises a February deadline for deciding whether or not to run again.
• FL-Sen: He doesn't have the name rec of ex-Sen. George LeMieux or Rep. Connie Mack IV, but don't discount former state House majority leader Adam Hasner as a potential force in the GOP Senate primary. While he's little-known, insiders point to him having the best-built network for fundraising and activist mobilization among the GOPers. (Also worth noting: his wife just finished running Meg Whitman's campaign. Although I don't know if, at this point, that's a plus or a minus.)
• IN-Sen: Seemingly having learned from the 2010 Republican Senate primary, where two candidates split the hard-right vote and let warmed-over establishmentarian Dan Coats stroll to the nomination, Indiana tea partiers seem to be trying to coordinate their efforts better this time in order to beat Richard Lugar. 180 leaders met to summon three potential candidates (the already-oft-mentioned state Sen. Mike Delph and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, but also 2010 IN-02 loser Jackie Walorski) to appear before them so they can unify behind one of them. (The article's worth reading too for some provocative pushback from Lugar's camp, including some thoughtful mention from them of the Latino vote, a growing demographic even in Indiana.) Meanwhile, faced with redistricting-related uncertainty in his House district, Rep. Joe Donnelly is continuing to "look at his political options" regarding a statewide run (where, theoretically, a Senate run could be more appealing, if odds are starting to look like the Gov. opponent will be Mike Pence and the Sen. opponent will be a little-known teabagger).
• MA-Sen: Cat fud doesn't get any better than this: the National Republican Trust PAC, which spent $95K on IEs to get Scott Brown elected in 2010, is now vowing to defeat Brown in the next Republican primary in order to "protect its brand." The last straw for them? START, of all things. While I can't see such a primary likely to succeed (especially since these guys seem like kind of small-ball players... I mean, $95K?), the prospect of angry right-wingers staying home in November makes the general election that much more interesting. Meanwhile, Rep. Michael Capuano, who lost the special election Dem primary, still sounds like the Dem likeliest to make the race, although he's now saying he won't have a formal decision until summer. Another potential candidate, Rep. Stephen Lynch, is out with some comments that somehow don't seem likely to endear him any more to the party's base, saying that liberal activists should steer clear of primary challenges in 2012 (Lynch, of course, was recipient of one of those challenges). He stopped short of saying that they should steer clear of primary challenges to him in the Senate race, though, so that doesn't give much insight into his 2012 plans.
• MI-Sen: With Peter Hoekstra having made some vague noises about being interested in the Senate race last week, now it's Terry Lynn Land's turn. The former Republican SoS says she's "considering it," but interestingly, plans to meet with Hoekstra next week before making a decision.
• TX-Sen: This isn't much of a surprise, but west Texas's three interchangeable Republican House members (Mike Conaway, Randy Neugebauer, and Mac Thornberry) announced en masse that they weren't interested in running for the Senate seat. Makes sense... why give up the safest job in the nation (GOP House backbencher in a district that's R+25 or more) for the chance to get flattened in a primary by David Dewhurst and/or a teabagger to be named later?
• VT-Sen: Republican State Auditor Tom Salmon seems to have an amazing new quantitative scheme for gauging his interest in running for Senate: currently he says he's "65 percent in," and that "when I hit 75 percent it will commence exploratory." He also lets Politico know (I'm not making this up) that he "needs to be an authentic self-utilizing power along the lines of excellence." I guess he switched from being a Democrat to a Republican last year because he felt more welcome in the GOP, given their long-standing tolerance of Sarah Palin's gift for word salad.
• WI-Sen: This seems like a pretty good indicator that long-time Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, who prefers to write his own checks rather than work the fundraising circuit, is planning another run in 2012 rather than retirement. He just loaned $1 million into his campaign account in the fourth quarter of 2011.
• WV-Gov: PPP is out with the primary election portions of its gubernatorial poll from last week. On the Dem side, there are two clear favorites but they're neck and neck: acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (at 25) and SoS Natalie Tennant (at 24). Further behind are state Treasurer John Perdue at 16, state Sen. Jeff Kessler at 7, state House speaker Rick Thompson at 6, and state Sen. Brooks McCabe at 4. On the GOP side, if Shelley Moore Capito does show up (which she says she won't), she's a shoo-in, at 72, with ex-SoS Betty Ireland at 10, state Sen. Clark Barnes at 5, Putnam Co. Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia at 1, and state GOP chair Mike Stuart at 1. They also try a Capito-free version, in which Ireland becomes the heavy fave at 46, with Barnes at 11, Sorsaia at 9, and Stuart at 4. There's also word of one more GOPer who isn't interesting: former astronaut and 1996 gubernatorial candidate (who lost the '96 primary to Cecil Underwood) Jon McBride says he won't run this time.
• IN-01, MI-14: Two Democratic old-timers who may be faced with less favorable districts after redistricting (or at least dark-blue districts that contain a lot of new territory) and have some ethical problems hanging overhead both announced that they're running for re-election. Peter Visclosky and John Conyers both are looking to get an early start on their races.
• WA-08: Here's a new House filing from a fairly prominent local Democrat to go against perennial target Dave Reichert: state Rep. Roger Goodman has set up a committee to run in the 8th. This requires some reading between the lines, though, because a Goodman/Reichert matchup is highly unlikely in the end; Goodman just needs a federal committee set up for, well, somewhere. Goodman lives in Kirkland, which is about a mile to the north of the 8th's boundaries; he actually lives in WA-01, where he probably doesn't want to look like he's mounting a primary challenge to Jay Inslee, although it's widely-assumed that Inslee will be vacating the 1st to run for Governor in 2012. That doesn't mean that Goodman running in the 1st is a done deal, either; under the likeliest redistricting scenario, Kirkland is likely to be part of a new Dem-friendly district that's based on the true Eastside (whether it's the 8th or 10th remains to be seen), with Reichert, who's based down in Auburn, getting his own friendlier district based in SE King County and eastern Pierce County. So, I'd say, it's likelier than not that we'll see both Reichert and Goodman in the House in 2013; the main question is the district numbers.
• DCCC: Here's something we like to see; not only is the DCCC is getting an early start on offense this year, seeding the ground to try to get some early momentum going against the most vulnerable House GOPers, but they're explicitly doing some progressive framing here, highlighting the links between infrastructure spending and job growth. They're running radio ads in 19 districts, most of which aren't a surprise by virtue of their swinginess: targets include Lou Barletta, Charlie Bass, Ann Marie Buerkle, Steve Chabot, Chip Cravaack, Bob Dold!, Sean Duffy, Blake Farenthold, Mike Fitzpatrick, Nan Hayworth, Joe Heck, Robert Hurt, Patrick Meehan, Dave Reichert, David Rivera, Jon Runyan, Joe Walsh, and Allen West. The wild card? Thad McCotter, whose continued presence in the House seems to have more to do with his ability to not draw tough opponents than it does with a connection to his district.
• Redistricting: The Fix has an interesting look at Virginia redistricting, where the Dem control of the state Senate probably means an 8-3 compromise map protecting current incumbents. There's one wrinkle, though: congressional redistricting could be pushed back until after the 2011 legislative election in the hopes that the GOP takes back over the state Senate, which would give them the trifecta. (Obviously, they couldn't delay legislative redistricting, though, meaning the GOP won't have the leverage over the map that would shape the results of the 2011 legislative election.) Although it's hard to see what they could do to VA-11 that wouldn't cut into VA-10, the GOP could conceivably push for a 9-2 map if they got that advantage. (The Rose Report is out with a much more in-depth series on Virginia redistricting this month that's worth a look.) Meanwhile, in New Jersey (another early state where the work is done by bipartisan commission), there's already some disagreement within the commission over whether or not they need to have an 11th, tie-breaking member appointed so they can move forward. (H/t to Taniel for noticing the delightful headline: "N.J. redistricting commission argues over whether it is at an impasse.")
• Census: Speaking of Virginia and New Jersey, and their early redistricting efforts, the Census Bureau will be rolling out the first big batch of complete, detailed data from 2010 for the first four states that need it early (for 2011 legislative election purposes)... Louisiana and Mississippi as well. They don't have a specific date set, but keep watching this link because they'll be available at some point this week.