• HI-Sen: Ex-Rep. Ed Case said he expects to decide by "mid-April" whether he'll seek Hawaii's open Senate seat. Case also says that the Merriman River Group took a poll for him and claims he kicked ass in both the primary and general-but he's only released a couple of selected toplines (click the link if you want them). PPP will have an HI-Sen general election poll out on behalf of Daily Kos/SEIU in the next couple of days.
• ME-Sen: Democrat Hannah Pingree, former Speaker of the state House and daughter of 1st CD Rep. Chellie Pingree, left the state legislature earlier this year. Only 34, she's lately been managing the family's inn & restaurant and serving on a local school board, so she seems like a good potential candidate to run for office once again-perhaps even to challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe. But Pingree just gave birth to her first child a week ago, which probably makes her less likely to get back into the game this year.
• MI-Sen: A GOP operative passes along word to Dave Catanese that Pete Hoekstra is turning down the chance to appear at some Lincoln Day dinners-which this source thinks is a sign that Hoekstra isn't planning to run for Senate. Hoekstra's would-be pollster (the same guy who was basically spinning lies about PPP last week) vociferously disputes this interpretation. We'll see, but I personally think Hoekstra is going to tell us he plans to spend more time building turtle fences with his family.
• MT-Sen: Activist Melinda Gopher says she is contemplating a primary challenge to Dem Sen. Jon Tester. She explains her reasoning here. She received 21% of the vote and finished third in the Dem primary for MT-AL last year. I could not find any FEC reports for her.
• ND-Sen, ND-AL: Another good catch by Greg Giroux: ex-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) just closed his federal campaign account. While it's not dispositive, of course, this probably means he's not interested in seeking his old seat, or the retiring Kent Conrad's spot in the Senate. Note that Pomeroy didn't completely slam the door on a gubernatorial run, but I'm guessing that's not terribly likely, either.
• NM-Sen: New Mexico's Republican Lt. Gov., John Sanchez, sounded very much like a candidate on a recent trip to DC. He spent some time slagging ex-Rep. Heather Wilson (the only declared candidate so far) in an interview with The Hill, criticizing her moderate credentials, but also being careful to try to put a little daylight between himself and the teabaggers. Sanchez indicated he'd decide "in the spring," and perhaps hinted he'd announce on or around April 15th... because it's totally not teabaggish to make a fetish out of Tax Day. He also says he'll be back in Washington next week to meet with the NRSC (this trip was occasioned by a gathering of the all-important National Lieutenant Governors Association).
• FL-22: Ex-Rep. Ron Klein (D) definitively slammed the door on a rematch this cycle, saying he's "looking forward to the private sector" (he's taking a job with the law firm of Holland & Knight). But he did hold out the possibility he might return to office some day (he's only 53). The same article also mentions a new possible Democratic candidate (despite the entrance of West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel in recent days): state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, who says he's keeping his options open. (Abruzzo, hardly alone among Democrats, backed Charlie Crist over Kendrick Meek in last year's Senate race.)
In other news, a firm called Viewpoint Florida released a very questionable poll pitting Rep. Allen West against Frankel. Really, the only reason you'd put out a survey of a district which is guaranteed to get reshaped is because you're hoping to set a narrative among people who don't know better (like, say, the tradmed... this piece doesn't even mention the word "redistricting"). In addition, the poll is way too Republican, and also purports to be of "likely" voters, about one billion years before election day.
• MI-09 (?): The question mark is there because who knows what districts are going to look like, or where state Rep. Marty Knollenberg-who says he's considering a run for Congress-will wind up when all is said and done. That name ought to sound familiar: Marty's dad is, of course, George McFly ex-Rep. Joe Knollenberg, who lost to current 9th CD Rep. (and potential redistricting victim) Gary Peters in 2008. Of note, Marty sits on a redistricting committee in the state lege, so maybe a House race is his... density.
• NY-25: This is the kind of news I like to hear! Dan Maffei, who lost a heart-breaker last year, sent an email to supporters saying that he is "strongly considering running again" for his old seat. Maffei was always a great vote and a strong progressive voice, despite his decision to take a job after the election with the annoying "moderate" group Third Way. (I don't begrudge the guy needing to eat, though, and the market was pretty saturated with one-term Democratic ex-Congressmen in need of a job.) We don't know how this district will wind up, of course, but I'd be surprised if there were nowhere for Maffei to run.
• NY-26: Teabagger David Bellavia looks pretty doomed-despite having enough signatures (in theory), he failed to file a key piece of paperwork with the Board of Elections, which will probably terminate his candidacy. It's all the more poignant because, according to this article, the other campaigns said they would not challenge his signatures-and seeing as he submitted just 100 more than the 3,500 target, it's a good bet he was in the danger zone. (Is it really true that Republican Jane Corwin said this, though?)
Speaking of Corwin, she's got a third ad out, once again returning to small business themes (as she did in her first spot), rather than the negative attacks in her second ad.
• PA-17: Tim Holden could be in that rare bucket of Democrats who might not actually benefit from their seats being made bluer in redistricting. The conservative Holden could have Lackawanna County added to his district, according to a possible GOP plan, which might open him up to a primary challenge from the left. It would also move a couple of ambitious pols from the county into his district, including Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien (who attempted to primary ex-Rep. Paul Kanjorski last year) and Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty. PoliticsPA also says that Holden's 2010 primary challenger, activist Sheila Dow-Ford, is "rumored" to be considering another run. (Dow-Ford lost 65-35 in a race fueled in large part by Holden's vote against healthcare reform.)
• VA-05: Last cycle, few establishment figures were as absolutely hated by the teabaggers as now-Rep. Robert Hurt. He won his primary with just 48%, against a typically fractured People's Front of Judea/Judean People's Front field. (We really need an acronym for that. PFJJPF, anyone?) The teabaggers have now taken to protesting Hurt's votes in favor of continuing budget resolutions outside of his district office, but given their feeble efforts to unite around a standard-bearer last time, I'm skeptical that they have the organizational power to threaten Hurt next year.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: The Greater Wisconsin Committee is running a very negative new ad against Republican Justice David Prosser, accusing him of refusing to prosecute a child-molesting priest back when he was a D.A.-and explaining that the same priest went on to molest other kids after a parish transfer.
• Census: New York City pols, led by His Bloomberginess, got wiggy almost immediately after seeing the Census Bureau's largely stagnant new population figures for the city. Pretty much everyone is convinced that NYC grew by more than 2.1%, because, they say, the bureau undercounted immigrants. And here's a pretty good supporting piece of data: The city added 170,000 new homes over the last decade, so how could it grow by only 166,000 people? (There are no huge swaths of abandoned properties in New York, though the Census does claim vacancies increased.) As a result, city officials are planning to challenge the figures (which they think should be about a quarter million higher). But it's worth noting that a similar challenge 20 years ago wound up failing.
• Votes: The New York Times is getting into the party unity score game, finding that (according to their methodology) 14 Dems have voted with Team Blue less than 70% of the time this Congress. It's pretty much just a list of the remaining white conservative Blue Dogs who sit in red districts, though three names from bluer districts stand out: Dennis Cardoza (CA-18); Jim Costa (CA-20); and Gary Peters (MI-09).
• Louisiana: A state Senate committee passed a plan for redistricting its own lines last Thursday; a vote by the full body could come this week. Notably, the new map increases the number of majority-minority districts from 10 to 11. Things are delayed on the House side, though.
• Virginia: A teachable moment in Virginia: Democrats in the state Senate adopted a rule that would limit the population variance in any new maps to no more than ±2%, while Republicans in the state House are using a ±1% standard. This issue often comes up in comments, but it's simple: For state legislatures, courts have said that a 10% total deviation is an acceptable rule of thumb-that is, if the difference in population between the largest district and the smallest district is no more than ±5% of the size of an ideal district, then you're okay. However, at least one map which tried to egregiously take advantage of this guideline (total deviation of 9.98%) was nonetheless invalidated, so while the "ten percent rule" is still probably a reasonable safe harbor, it may not be a sure thing. For congressional maps, it's even simpler: Districts have to be perfectly equipopulous unless the state can justify the difference as necessary to achieve legitimate state policy. (For instance, Iowa state law forbids splitting counties to draw a federal map; this is considered an acceptable goal by the courts, so Iowa's districts have slight variances.)
• AK-Sen: To quote Troy McClure, "here's an appealing fellow... in fact, they're a-peeling him off the sidewalk." Yes, Joe Miller didn't even wait until today to make his decision about whether or not to appeal to Alaska's Supreme Court; he already pulled the trigger on his appeal (despite the fact that everyone but him knows that he's, at this point, roadkill). Arguments are set for Friday, so (since he can't introduce new evidence, which the trial judge found sorely lacking, at the appellate level) this should get resolved pretty quickly.
• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon is sounding very much like she's ready to run again in 2012 against Joe Lieberman and a Dem to be named (maybe she found another $40 million under the couch cushions). She has a meeting planned with the NRSC's John Cornyn, presumably to discuss her next move. Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman (who lost control of his own vanity party, the CfL) is seeming likelier to run again, thanks to encouragement from both sides of the aisle, and he may even have a useful vehicle to do it with: the new "No Labels" party-type thing courtesy of Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile, there's more follow-up from yesterday that, yes, Rep. Joe Courtney is considering a run for the Dem nomination (which could set up a primary against fellow Rep. Chris Murphy); he says he's "looking at it" and, if he runs, will announce soon. That pretty much leaves Rosa DeLauro as the lone Dem House member in the state who hasn't said yes or no, and today, as you'd expect, she said a loud "no."
• ME-Sen: Roll Call seems to have read the same article as everybody else yesterday that had that baffling interview with Andrew Ian Dodge -- the tea party impresario who claims to be in contact with a killer-app candidate who will unite the teabaggers and defeat Olympia Snowe -- and just flat-out concluded that Dodge is the mystery candidate himself (meaning that he's spent the last few months talking to himself?). As added evidence, Dodge doesn't dispute a local blog's reports that he plans to run.
• MI-Sen: Despite his strong name-rec-fueled showing in a PPP poll last week of the GOP Senate primary (or perhaps because of it), ex-Gov. John Engler is now saying that he has no plans to run for Senate, and will be staying in his role as head of the National Manufacturers Association. Strangely, the biggest-name candidate beyond Engler associated with the race, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. and gubernatorial primary loser Peter Hoekstra, sounded pretty indifferent about it when asked by a reporter yesterday, saying "We'll see. I'm not sitting around yearning to get back into office."
• MN-Sen: PPP is out with GOP Senate primary numbers, and it's a familiar story: the GOP base is irretrievably enamored with a female politician who's poison in the general election. Rep. Michele Bachmann (who loses the general 56-39 to Klobuchar) leads the field at 36, far ahead of more establishment figures like outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty (20) and ex-Sen. Norm Coleman (14). They're followed by new Rep. Chip Cravaack at 7, Tom Emmer at 6, John Kline at 5, Laura Brod at 4, and Erik Paulsen at 2. There's not much indication that Bachmann is interested in a Senate run -- in fact, she's currently sending out fundraising appeals based on the threat of a rematch with Tarryl Clark -- but there's also word that Amy Klobuchar's camp is most worried about facing Bachmann of any of the possible opponents, probably because of her national fundraising capacity (although it may also be a bit of public don't-throw-me-in-that-briar-patch posturing).
• NV-Sen: Need some evidence that Rep. Shelly Berkley is planning a Senate run? National Journal looks at her repositioning, as one of the key members of the party's liberal wing in the House to break away and support the tax compromise, suggesting that she's trying to tack toward the center to play better in the 2nd and 3rd districts. (Of course, it's worth noting that she wasn't that liberal to begin with, as a member of the New Dems, not the Progressives, and with a National Journal score usually putting her around the 60th percentile in the House.)
• IN-Gov: Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel isn't in a hurry to declare whether or not he's going to run for Governor, although with Evan Bayh's recent demurral, the iron would be hot. The key indicator, though, will be whether Weinzapfel runs for another term as mayor; the election is in 2011, and it's assumed that if he does run for re-election a gubernatorial run is unlikely. He'll need to make a mayoral decision by Feb. 18.
• MT-Gov: The Dems have lined up a real candidate for the governor's race, maybe the best they can do if AG Steve Bullock doesn't make the race. Dave Wanzenreid, if nothing else, has a long resume: currently a state Senator, he served previously as a state Rep., as both minority and majority leader in that body. He was also chief of staff to ex-Gov. Ted Schwinden and then state labor commissioner in the 80s.
• Crossroads: American Crossroads, after its avalanche of late-cycle ads a few months ago, is already getting back in the TV game. The Karl Rove-linked dark money vehicle is spending $400K on radio advertising in the districts of 12 Dems who won by narrow margins, urging them to vote in favor of the tax compromise package. Tim Bishop, Jim Costa, Gabrielle Giffords, Gerry Connolly, Ben Chandler, Jason Altmire, Bill Owens, Maurice Hinchey, Heath Shuler, Gary Peters, Joe Donnelly, and Sanford Bishop are all on the target list.
• Votes: There's a strange array of "no" votes on the tax compromise that passed the Senate 83-15. The Dems have a few votes from the left (Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Pat Leahy, Russ Feingold (although it's gotten kind of hard to tell if he's doing anything from the left or not anymore)), but also some votes from some pretty avowed centrists (Jeff Bingaman, Kay Hagan, Mark Udall) too, of which Bingaman is the only one up in 2012. John Ensign was one of the few GOP "no" votes, although you've gotta wonder whether it's because he's trying to save himself in a primary by appealing to the far-right or if he's just given up and voting his conscience.
• Census: While you wait for the main course on Dec. 21 (the day for reapportionment hard numbers), the Census Bureau is out with a gigantic appetizer. They're rolling out their first-ever 5-year estimates from the American Community Survey (their one-year samples aren't that reliable, but over five, they are). The ACS covers a lot of the deeper demographic information that used to covered by the Census "long form," covering stuff like poverty, housing values, commute times, and education. Information is available all the way down to the block level, but here's an array of county-level maps to start with.
• AK-Sen: When Norm Coleman... the man who has pretty much set all current standards for pointlessly dragging out an election for partisan purposes... is telling you to pack it in, believe me, it's time to pack it in. The ex-Sen. from Minnesota is the latest GOPer to tell Joe Miller to stop the madness. (What's his angle? He may have designs on behind-the-scenes Beltway leadership, possibly RNC chair, and with that in mind would probably like to discourage nonsensical R-on-R courtroom violence.)
• IL-Sen: The 59-41 Dem edge in the Senate drops to 58-42 for the rest of the lame duck session today, as Rep. Mark Kirk gets sworn in as the newest member. (Illinois, of course, was the only of the special election seats that flipped to the GOP.)
• IN-Sen: This NYT story doesn't really have any new specifics about Richard Lugar's upcoming teabagging that you don't already know, but it has a spectacular quote from former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, another Republican who occupied the same pretty-conservative-but-not-a-jerk-about-it space as Lugar:
If Dick Lugar... having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.
• MA-Sen: The Boston Globe takes a look back at Deval Patrick's reelection town-by-town, and also wonders what it may mean for Scott Brown's first re-election battle in 2012. Patrick, for instance, won back many of the larger blue-collar (and usually Democratic) communities like Lowell and Quincy that Brown won. The question for 2012, though, is: how much of Brown's initial success was unique to Brown (more charismatic than your garden-variety blue-blood Republican like Charlie Baker), and, by contrast, how much of that was unique to the turnout model produced by the special election?
• MD-Sen: Republicans may already be settling on a favorite for the Maryland Senate race in 2012, and they're considering the same strategy as 2006, running an African-American against Ben Cardin. (In '06, recall, Michael Steele, well, still lost badly, but made the race more competitive than Maryland is used to.) There's a lot of buzz surrounding Charles Lollar, who just ran against Steny Hoyer in MD-05 and apparently wowed a lot of people on the stump. Of course, he also lost 64-35, but, well, you've gotta start somewhere. (Eric Wargotz, who just lost to Barb Mikulski, is also reportedly interested in trying again.)
• MO-Sen: The Beltway seems abuzz about a potential Claire McCaskill/Jim Talent rematch (thanks to McCaskill tweeting about her random airport meet-up with Talent, no doubt), but the missing part of the story seems to be that Talent, if he runs, could be walking right into a juicy establishment/tea party battle. Ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who lost a feisty gubernatorial primary in 2008 and threatened a 2010 primary run against Roy Blunt, has been turning up the volume on a potential run too. Ed Martin, last seen losing narrowly in MO-03, has also become the subject of some speculation. One unlikely run at this point, though, is former Ambassador to Luxembourg (which is code for "very wealthy donor") Ann Wagner, who has been linked to the Senate race but just announced a bid for RNC chair instead this morning.
• NJ-Sen: When did Bob Menendez's numbers start to look like Richard Burr's? A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson (favorables only, no head-to-heads) finds vast indifference about the Garden State's junior Senator. At least he's above water, with 31/25 faves, but 29% are unsure and 15% have never heard of him.
• NM-Sen: Jeff Bingaman, assuming he runs again, is already facing his first GOP opponent, although one from the Some Dude end of the spectrum. William English ran (apparently in the GOP primary) for the open NM-02 seat in 2002, although he seems best known for saying controversial things in his local newspaper, perhaps most notably that Barack Obama "literally amounts to an African dictator."
• TX-Sen: Yet more names are surfacing on the GOP side for possible primary challenges to Kay Bailey Hutchison: today, it's Houston-area state Sen. Dan Patrick.
• VA-Sen: Corey Stewart is the Prince William County Supervisor and a likely candidate in the GOP Senate primary, if his latest pronouncements are any indication. He's started firing shots across the bow of presumptive favorite George Allen's comeback, saying he had a "mediocre" Senate record and that his base has moved on.
• MN-Gov: The recount of the 2.1 million ballots in the Minnesota gubernatorial race officially kicks off today. You probably already know the candidates, but the Star-Tribune today profiles the really key players at this juncture: the lawyers. One of them, interestingly, is Eric Magnuson, who you may remember from the 2008-09 recount as state supreme court chief justice and head of the canvassing board; having left the court, now he's on Tom Emmer's team.
• WV-Gov: It's still not clear when the election will even occur (to set a permanent replacement for Joe Manchin), but acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin isn't going to get a free pass in the Dem primary, facing likely opposition from two of the people most actively involved in establishing when that election will happen. Both SoS Natalie Tennant and state House speaker Rick Thompson are eyeing the race, with Thompson "planning" to run and Tennant "seriously considering."
• CA-20: Look for a likely rematch in the 20th, which turned into one of the nation's closest races this year. Andy Vidak "promises" he'll try again vs. Jim Costa in 2012, although if he couldn't make it this year, the odds of him getting over the hump in a presidential year model seem even slimmer. (Unless, of course, the boundaries of the 20th get changed by the citizens' commission, but the VRA is likely to keep compelling a Hispanic-majority Fresno-to-Bakersfield district.)
• CA-45: Further south, Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet is another potential rematch. The Democrat already filed for a 2012 campaign, although he says he hasn't ruled another race in or out and is establishing the committee to settle up some unpaid bills from his 2010 race.
• CT-05: And here's one more: Justin Bernier, who was initially the GOP's preferred candidate in the primary in the 5th but got shoved over after Sam Caligiuri dropped down from the Senate race, is saying he's considering another run in 2012 (motivated in part by the likelihood of an open seat with Chris Murphy's likely Senate run).
• PA-11: Don't assume that Corey O'Brien is going to be the Dem nominee in the effort to take back the 11th in 2012, as there's a long list of possible contenders on the bench in this bluish seat. At the top is Scranton mayor (and, briefly, gubernatorial candidate) Chris Doherty, but other names you might see are Wilkes-Barre mayor Tom Leighton, former Pittston mayor (and Paul Kanjorski crony) Michael Lombardo, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Wilkes-Barre solicitor William Vinsko, and new state Sen. John Yudichak.
• California: Finally, those of you not living on the West Coast may be unaware that there are parts of the country where the Republicans are the ones in "what did we do wrong?" soul-searching mode. The WaPo looks at the epicenter of that, in California (where they didn't pick up any House seats, lost all the statewide races, and even lost ground in the state legislature), where local GOPers are flummoxed by the state's changing demographics.
(General h/t to Brian Valco, bearer of many of today's links.)
The AP has called the race in California's 20th district for Democratic incumbent Jim Costa.
SACRAMENTO (AP): Democratic Rep. Jim Costa has narrowly won enough votes to retain his Central Valley seat.
That's not a surprise, as everyone had been treating this one as a victory for almost a week, ever since a huge ballot dump from Fresno Co. pushed Costa into a late lead over GOP challenger Andy Vidak.
In New York's 25th District, however, it's over, and GOP challenger Ann Marie Buerkle has won. Dan Maffei just conceded the race, trailing by 567 votes. He'd been planning a court date concerning the recount today, but instead decided to pull the plug. Here's the best part of his statement:
The electorate may have changed tremendously from 2008 to 2010 in terms of who turned out to vote, but I kept my pledges to the people who elected me and I will forever be proud of that. Not only do I not apologize for my positions on the stimulus, the health care bill, financial reform, and the credit card bill, but my only regret is that there were not more opportunities to make healthcare more affordable to people and businesses and get more resources to the region for needed public projects - particularly transportation and public schools.
That brings the total GOP gain in the House to 63 seats, with only two seats left to be called and/or conceded (CA-11, looking like a definite Dem hold, and NY-01, a nailbiter but with some Dem momentum).
• AK-Sen: The big news out of Alaska is that Joe Miller is now suing to disenfranchise bad spellers. It's probably his only path to victory, forcing the state to adhere to a strict absolutely-spelled-correctly standard for "Lisa Murkowski" instead of a looser standard of analyzing voter intent. Miller's lawyer is asking a federal judge for a hearing this afternoon, seeing as how the state is planning to begin the process of checking and counting the 92,000 write-in ballots cast. Miller did get a leg up from the absentee count (of 27,000 additional ballots) issued yesterday, though. Murkowski went into yesterday leading by 13,439 votes (a 7% spread) and came out leading by 11,333 (a 5% spread). That's not the end of the absentee and early-vote count, either; another 12,000 remain to be counted, on top of all the write-in analysis.
• MA-Sen: I wonder just what the heck Marty Meehan is planning to do with his millions of dollars ($4.5 mil -- compare that with likely candidate Mike Capuano's $91K CoH!) in cash on hand, currently getting moldy in some bank vault. The ex-Rep. and current university president deferred on yet another Senate run, saying he won't challenge Scott Brown in 2012. At any rate, even with the most-loaded potential challenger out (short of Some Millionaire showing up and swamping the race with self-funding), the Beltway CW still is still treating Scott Brown as the most endangered GOPer for 2012, and that seems to have gotten amplified with the generally-strong top-to-bottom performance of Dems last week in the Bay State, suggesting that the Senate special election may have operated in its own little unusual vacuum.
• ME-Sen: Turnabout's fair play, I guess. With the DC press trying to drum up some drama out of (possibly non-existent) GOP overtures to get Joe Manchin and Ben Nelson to switch parties, now there's word from, uh, somebody about Dem outreach to Olympia Snowe to get her to switch (and avoid a likely teabagging in a 2012 GOP primary).
• MT-Sen: We mentioned businessman and losing 2008 Lt. Gov. candidate Steve Daines yesterday as a potential challenger to Jon Tester, and it looks like he's already moving full speed ahead. He'll be announcing his bid this Saturday.
• NE-Sen: Right on cue, here's the first Republican-sponsored poll of the 2012 cycle showing Ben Nelson in deep shit. The poll, commissioned by the state Republican party from Voter/Consumer Research, finds Nelson trailing the one announced candidate, AG Jon Bruning, by a 50-35 margin. (He also trails Generic R 42-32, and Gov. Dave Heineman 59-31, although Heineman has already said he's not running.) Interestingly, he's still above water on his approvals, which are 50/41... but it's a red enough state that that may not be enough to save him.
• NV-Sen: PPP is turning its attention to 2012 already, and its first poll is a juicy place to start: the GOP primary in Nevada. This is something of a surprise, at least upending the conventional wisdom: John Ensign has significant leads over both his highest-profile potential primary opponents. He beats Rep. Dean Heller 45-37, and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki 55-27. Those leads may not hold up across a campaign, though, as Ensign has much higher name rec than either opponent. He's at 64/23 (remember, this is only Republicans in the sample, who, if David Vitter is any indication, are firm believers in the principle of IOKIYAR), while Heller is at 56/8 and Krolicki is at 45/9.
• RI-Sen: The names are also floating up for potential Republican challengers to Sheldon Whitehouse, with so-so approvals but not considered terribly vulnerable in his blue-state perch. State GOP chair Giovanni Cicione is publicly weighing a bid (although he's also saying that he's pushing outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri to make a bid, though he doesn't sound interested). Two other possibilities mentioned in the article include Warwick mayor Scott Avedisian and Cranston mayor Allen Fung.
• WV-Sen: This whole thing is getting a little too meta for me: with the perception out there of having gotten publicly burned on their attempts to get Joe Manchin to switch parties, now NRSC spokespersons are trying to say that the whole rumors of the outreach (which may or may not have actually happened) originated with the Manchin camp, so that he can bolster his bipartisan credentials. I can't decide whether the two camps are truly playing 3-D chess with each other or it's just devolved into high school mean-girls behavior at this point.
• CA-11, CA-20: Jerry McNerney keeps adding to his lead, making this one looking likely to get called soon. He's now up by 2,269 votes after a batch came in from blue Alameda County. We don't have any specific new numbers to report for you further south in the 20th, but the long-awaited dump of Fresno County ballots (where Jim Costa has led by a significant margin over Andy Vidak) is scheduled for later today, which is expected to push Costa into the lead (Vidak currently leads by only 145 right now, thanks to his home base of Kings County).
• FL-22: Allen West's hiring of a controversial talk show host as his chief of staff (payback for her constant boosterism of his campaign) is not only great fodder for the sheer litany of terrible things she's said (click the link for more), but it also may run into ethical and even FCC problems if she keeps her other job as radio host. The counsel for the House Committee on Standards of Ethical Conduct said the situation is "potentially problematic" because of conflicts of interest, and a different expert says it may also pave the way for demands for equal time on the air for whoever West's 2012 opponent is.
• PA-11: You may remember Corey O'Brien, the Lackawanna County Commissioner who lost the Dem primary in the 11th to Paul Kanjorski back in May. With the elderly Kanjorski not likely to try for a rematch, O'Brien looks to be in the driver's seat with regards to the Dem nomination for 2012 to go up against Lou Barletta in this D+4 district (though that's subject to the redistricting pen, of course). The buzz is he's a near-definite candidate, although he might face a primary bout with Scranton mayor (and, briefly, gubernatorial candidate) Chris Doherty.
• DCCC: In case you didn't know, lawyers get really expensive really fast. One of Chris Van Hollen's last acts as DCCC head is to send out a fundraising blast to donors, trying to round up $100K to cover potential recount activity in (according to him) nine different races.
• House: Nate Silver's new piece matches what I've seen a lot of in the comments (and my own perceptions, as well): the idea that 2012 should be a year of happy hunting for Dems in the House (although, especially with redistricting giving a boost to the GOP, a heavy lift to get back into the majority). The balance of mismatched seats has switched dramatically: now there are 12 Dems in seats that Obama lost (down from 50), and 55 GOPers in seats that Obama won (up from 28). Even if that's old news to you, the array of graphs is worth checking out.
• IA-St. Sen.: It looks like things have been finalized in Iowa, and the state Senate is at least one closely-decided legislative chamber that we pulled out of the fire. Democrat Tod Bowman's 71-vote victory in SD-13 gives the Dems 26-24 control over the body. (One other outstanding race, where the GOPer is narrowly leading, could also break for the Dems.) That leaves the Oregon state Senate as the chamber that's still probably the biggest question mark.
• Chicago mayor: We've been meaning for a while now to do a comprehensive who's-in-who's-out post about the mayoral race in Chicago, but here's a potentially big name that deserves immediate mention... if only because he's in the House, and if there's one thing SSP is all about at this point in the cycle, it's the Open Seat Watch. Rep. Danny Davis of IL-07 on Chicago's West Side (who'd previously flirted with and decided against a bid for Cook Co. Executive) is now expressing interest in the race, saying he's "ready to run." In a boost to his prospects, a coalition of black religious and community leaders that had previously supported ex-Sen. Carol Mosely Braun for the job has reversed course, and is now backing Davis.
Recounts: The Hill reports that the DCCC has sent staffers to assist with recount efforts in California, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina and Washington state. One state is notably not on the list, and I think that says a lot: Texas. Check out our TX-27 item below for more.
AK-Sen: Here's the schedule: Absentee ballots (30,500) will start getting counted today. Tomorrow, write-ins (83K) will be talled. And provisional ballots (12,000) will be opened on Friday. Joe Miller needs to find a way to disqualify over 13,000 write-ins to have a shot (as things stand now) - or pray that people wrote in someone other than Lisa Murkowski. Interestingly, the NRSC is still backing Miller's play, with Big John Cornyn and Jim "Crème" DeMenthe both sending fundraising emails on his behalf to help with recount efforts. Meanwhile, for her part, Murkowski has brought in notorious GOP hatchet man Ben Ginsburg. You may remember Ginsburg from such recounts as "Florida 2000: The Brooks Brothers Riot" and "Dickface Norm Coleman's Dickfaced Adventure: The Whinening." A little late-breaking cat fud!
MN-Gov: Though he trails Dem Mark Dayton by more than 8,700 votes, Tom Emmer (through his lawyer) says he won't forego a recount. Cynical (i.e., sensible) observers imagine that Emmer will pursue even a hopeless recount just to give GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty some more time in office. With the state lege having just flipped to the Republicans, this would give the right-wing wrecking crew some unfettered time at the controls. The incoming state House Speaker, Kurt Zellers, says that even if this scenario came to pass, the Republicans would not "rush to ram something right through." Of course, you trust him, right?
CA-11: Dem Rep. Jerry McNerney's lead over David Harmer has now climbed to 804 votes. A judge also rejected GOP demands that the elections chief for Contra Costa County allow observers to "compare signatures on vote-by-mail ballots with voter affidavit signatures on file in the office." (The Contra Costa portion of the 10th CD went for Obama 56-43.)
CA-20: Republican Andy Vidak has seen his lead shrivel to just 145 votes... but it's Dem Rep. Jim Costa who is in the driver's seat. Huge numbers of ballots remain to be counted in Fresno County (perhaps 50 to 70K), and the Fresno part of this district went for Obama by a two-to-one ratio. Hard to see how Vidak hangs on.
IL-08: Though she picked up 188 votes last week, Rep. Melissa Bean (D) still trails Jim Walsh by 350. According to the AP, "hundreds of provisional and absentee ballots are still being counted in Cook, McHenry and Lake counties," but the count won't be finalized any sooner than Nov. 16th, the deadline for absentees to arrive. Provisional ballots will get counted after that date. In related barf-inducing news, unnamed sources (aka "buzz," according to Politico) are supposedly floating Bean's name to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Board if she doesn't pull this one out. Gack!
KY-06: Andy Barr is down 649 votes to Rep. Ben Chandler (D), but he won't concede until after a recanvass (scheduled for Nov. 12th) is complete. Barr vaguely sounded like he might be interested in a rematch, saying ""the cause will continue... and you can count on me whether I'm in Congress, a citizen, or a candidate for Congress."
NC-02: A lot of roundups keep forgetting this race, but Dem Rep. Bob Etheridge has not conceded to Renee Ellmers - and in fact, he's already filed a request for a recount. As long as the margin stays under 1% (as it is now), Etheridge is automatically entitled to have the votes tallied a second time. Even so, the gap right now is quite wide - 1,646 votes - but it seems like Dems are pinning their hopes on more errors like the one on election night, where Samson County failed to report votes from three of four early voting sites. Once these were added to the tally, Etheridge gained 453 votes. Still, he's got a long way to go.
NY-01: Dem Rep. Tim Bishop's lawyers are apparently headed to court today, seeking a full hand recount of all the ballots cast in this race. (And he's raising money for the cause, too.) As you will recall, Bishop had a 3,400-vote lead on election night, but somehow that has since swung all the way to a 383-vote advantange for Randy Altschuler. New York finally moved to a modern, scantron-type ballot system this year; problems with the transition are being blamed for all kinds of issues. As for absentees, Hotline says: "There are approximately 10,000 absentee ballots still to be counted; 4,200 from voters of parties that endorsed Altschuler and 3,900 from voters of parties that endorsed Bishop."
NY-25: Dem Rep. Dan Maffei trails Ann Marie Buerkle by 659 votes, but the AP says that "more than 7,000 absentee and other ballots remain outstanding and most won't be counted until Nov. 15." Also note that military and overseas ballots have until Nov. 24th to come in, which could be a factor if the race tightens. However, an analysis in AuburnPub.com suggests that if the absentees follow the same pattern as votes cast on election day, Buerkle's lead will actually increase a bit.
TX-27: Dem Rep. Solomon Ortiz is gearing up to request a recount, but this one looks pretty hopeless. There are fewer votes remaining to be counted (and this includes provisionals, which are subject to getting tossed) than separate Ortiz from Blake Farenthold. Oritz is alleging irregularities at the polls, but local officials haven't heard any such reports.
VA-11: As we mentioned yesterday, Republican Keith Fimian is conceding the race to Rep. Gerry Connolly.
WA-02: As we mentioned yesterday, the AP has called the race for Dem Rep. Rick Larsen over John Koster.
AK-Sen: Right now, write-ins account for 41% of the vote in Alaska, while Joe Miller has 34% and Scott McAdams 24%. State election officials have bumped up the start of the write-in count to Nov. 10th (from Nov. 18th). Murkowski is one of 160 declared write-in candidates, but obviously quite a few write-ins ballots would have to be spoiled, or for other candidates, for her to lose.
WA-Sen: Patty Murray's lead widened to 1.6% as votes were counted in the populous Democratic stronghold of King County. The trends look poor for Dino Rossi, who took 40% here in 2004 (when he almost tied Christine Gregoire in the gubernatorial race), but is now at 37% this year.
CT-Gov: Yikes - the AP withdrew its call for Dem Dan Malloy. This one could get seriously topsy-turvy. Whatever the hell is going on here might also impact Jim Himes (vs. Dan Debicella) in CT-04. Not good.
MN-Gov: With 100% of precincts reporting, Dem Mark Dayton holds an 8,854-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer, within the half-percent margin which would prompt an automatic recount. No recount can start until after Nov. 23rd, when the vote is certified. Note that Norm Coleman's election-day lead was just 725 votes in 2008. So even though GOP lawyers are already laying in a supply of amphetamines, it's possible the Republicans will abandon what looks like a futile effort.
IL-Gov: Man, did anyone dig a mangier rabbit out of a shabbier hat than Pat Quinn? After a day of counting more votes in Cook County (Chicago), Quinn's lead has expanded to 19,000 votes, and Republicans are getting ready to throw in the towel on behalf of Bill Brady. Pretty amazing, for a guy who seemed DOA just a couple of months ago.
OR-Gov: As we noted yesterday, various media sources have called the race for Dem John Kitzhaber over Chris Dudley.
AZ-07: As we noted yesterday, Dem Rep. Raul Grijalva has declared victory over Ruth McClung, with a 3% lead. A Grijalva spokesman said that the remaining ballots are in Pima County, which favors Dems.
AZ-08: Dem Rep. Gabby Giffords leads by 2,349 votes over Jesse Kelly, but again, Pima - they have some 47,000 votes still outstanding. Pima was one of only four counties to go for Kerry - and for Obama, too.
CA-11: With an unclear number of votes left to be counted, Dem Rep. Jerry McNerney has inched into a 121-vote lead over David Harmer. It'll take four weeks for the vote to get certified, at which point the loser can seek a recount (at his own expense).
CA-20: Dem Rep. Jim Costa trails Andy Vidak by almost 2,000 votes, but there may be something like 30,000 uncounted ballots from Fresno County, which Costa won on e-night by a 2-to-1 margin. So maybe we'll get lucky here.
IL-08: With 100% of the vote in, Dem Rep. Melissa Bean is trailing in a shocker to Jim Walsh by 553 votes. She isn't conceding yet, though.
KY-06: With 100% of votes counted, Dem Rep. Ben Chandler has a 619 vote lead over Andy Barr. Barr has until next Tuesday to request a "recanvass," which would be completed by Nov. 12th. Barr could then ask for a formal recount, but he'd have to foot the bill.
NY-25: Really barfy: As we noted yesterday, Republican Ann Marie Buerkle has moved into the lead, after late results from Wayne County came in. She's now up by 659 votes. Some 8,300 absentee ballots have been returned so far (out of 11,600 requested), though more are trickling in. Maffei would have to pull in something like 54% or so out of the absentees to pull this one out.
TX-27: It's looking pretty bad for Dem Rep. Solomon Oritz, who trails Blake Farenthold by 799 votes with 100% in. Farenthold has declared victory, but Ortiz claims his legal team is conducting a review and that he may seek a recount - which he would have to pay for (unless it changes the final results). And check out how far the apple has fallen from the tree:
Farenthold is grandson of Frances "Sissy" Farenthold, a Democrat who served two terms in the state House and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1972. That same year, she finished second in balloting to become George McGovern's vice presidential candidate at the Democratic convention.
VA-11: With 100% of precincts reporting, Dem Rep. Gerry Connolly leads Keith Fimian 111,621 to 110,696. The vote will get certified on Nov. 22nd, at which time Fimian can seek a recount if the margin remains less than half a percent (recounts are not automatic).
WA-02, WA-09: As we noted yesterday, a number of media outlets have called the 9th CD race for Dem Rep. Adam Smith over Dick Muri. Meanwhile, Rick Larsen has taken his first lead over John Koster, albeit a narrow one (30% of votes remain to be counted).
• AL-Gov (Univ. of S. Alabama): Ron Sparks (D) 35%, Robert Bentley (R) 48%
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov (Suffolk): Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 52%, Carly Fiorina (R) 43%; Jerry Brown (D) 50%, Meg Whitman (R) 42%
(Bonus: Kamala Harris leads Steve Cooley 35-34 in the AG race, and "no" leads "yes" on Prop 19 55-40)
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov (SurveyUSA for KABC): Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 45%, Carly Fiorina (R) 40%; Jerry Brown (D) 46%, Meg Whitman (R) 38%
(Bonus: Gavin Newsom leads Abel Maldonado 42-34 for LG, and "no" leads "yes" on Prop 19 46-44)
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov (PPP): Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 52%, Carly Fiorina (R) 43%; Jerry Brown (D) 53%, Meg Whitman (R) 42%
(Bonus: "no" leads "yes" on Prop 19 45-48)
• CA-20 (SurveyUSA for KFSN): Jim Costa (D-inc) 42%, Andy Vidak (R) 52%
(note: this poll population is 37% Hispanic, compared with 67% in reality) (also, the DCCC responded with a poll giving Costa a 47-41 lead, although they neglected to leak the pollster's name) (UPDATE: The pollster is Bennet Petts & Normington, with the sample over the same 10/21-24 period as SurveyUSA)
• CT-Sen, CT-Gov (Quinnipiac): Richard Blumenthal (D) 54% (54), Linda McMahon (R) 42% (43); Dan Malloy (D) 48% (49), Tom Foley (R) 43% (42)
• FL-08 (Susquehanna for Sunshine State News): Alan Grayson (D-inc) 41% (36), Daniel Webster (R) 48% (43), Peg Dunmire (T) 4%
• GA-Gov (InsiderAdvantage): Roy Barnes (D) 41%, Nathan Deal (R) 47%, John Monds (L) 5%
• ID-Gov, ID-Sen, ID-01, ID-02 (Mason-Dixon for Idaho newspapers): Keith Allred (D) 30%, Butch Otter (R-inc) 52%; Tom Sullivan (D) 20%, Mike Crapo (R-inc) 64%; Walt Minnick (D-inc) 44%, Raul Labrador (R) 41%; Mike Crawford (D) 17%, Mike Simpson (R-inc) 67%
• IA-Gov (Global Strategy Group for Chet Culver): Chet Culver (D-inc) 40%, Terry Branstad (R) 46%
• IL-Gov (MarketShares for Chicago Tribune): Pat Quinn (D-inc) 39% (39), Bill Brady (R) 43% (38), Scott Lee Cohen (I) 5%, Rich Whitney (G) 4%, Lex Green (L) 2%
• IL-Sen (Anzalone-Liszt for DSCC): Alexi Giannoulias (D) 38%, Mark Kirk (R) 36%, LeAlan Jones (G) 7%, Mike Labno (L) 4%
• KY-Sen (PPP): Jack Conway (D) 40%, Rand Paul (R) 53%
• KY-03 (RiverCity for Todd Lally): John Yarmuth (D-inc) 41%, Todd Lally (R) 37% (note: n = only 239, yet they claim MoE of 4.5%)
• LA-02 (Anzalone-Liszt): Cedric Richmond (D) 49%, Joe Cao (R-inc) 32%
• NY-20 (Siena): Scott Murphy (D-inc) 42% (54), Chris Gibson (R) 51% (37)
(The Murphy camp leaked an internal from Global Strategy Group today, although only saying a 3-point lead without specific toplines)
• OH-Gov, OH-Sen (Quinnipiac): Ted Strickland (D-inc) 43% (41), John Kasich (R) 49% (51); Lee Fisher (D) 36% (34), Rob Portman (R) 53% (55)
• OH-Sen (Wilson Research, not apparently on anyone's behalf): Lee Fisher (D) 38%, Rob Portman (R) 49%
• OH-Sen (Univ. of Cincinnati for Ohio newspapers): Lee Fisher (D) 39%, Rob Portman 58%
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (Ipsos for Reuters): Joe Sestak (D) 46%, Pat Toomey (R) 46%; Dan Onorato (D) 43%, Tom Corbett (R) 49%
(Sestak leads 46-42 among RVs, and even Onorato leads 46-43 among RVs)
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (Muhlenberg): Joe Sestak (D) 40% (42), Pat Toomey (R) 48% (47); Dan Onorato (D) 39% (41), Tom Corbett (R) 50% (49)
• PA-08 (POS for Mike Fitzpatrick): Patrick Murphy (D-inc) 40%, Mike Fitzpatrick (R) 50%
• PA-10 (Lycoming): Chris Carney (D-inc) 45%, Tom Marino (R) 39%
• SD-Gov (Neilson Brothers): Scott Heidepriem (D) 40%, Dennis Daugaard (R) 43%
• VA-09 (SurveyUSA for WDBJ): Rick Boucher (D-inc) 46%, Morgan Griffith (R) 47%
• WI-Gov (Mellman Group, not apparently on anyone's behalf): Tom Barrett (D) 45%, Scott Walker (R) 47%
SurveyUSA for KFSN-TV (9/10-12, likely voters, no trend lines):
Jim Costa (D-inc): 48
Andy Vidak (R): 46
Jim Costa's coming off a whopping 74-26 win over unheralded GOP challenger Jim Lopez in 2008, but SurveyUSA thinks that cherry farmer Andy Vidak is within striking distance of an upset here this fall. The 20th District is at least somewhat competitive, having gone for John Kerry by only three points over Bush in 2004 (but also supporting Obama by 60-39 in '08 and Al Gore by 55-44 a decade ago). One big red flag is SUSA's estimation of the Hispanic turnout: they're pegging it at just 30%. (Note that this CD was 63% Hispanic as of 2000.) In what appears to be an effort to preemptively address criticism with their sample's demographics, SUSA broke with their normal practice and banged out the following:
* If Hispanics make up 30% of voters on Election Day, Costa and Vidak finish effectively even, Costa 48%, Vidak 46%, within the survey's theoretical margin of sampling error. At this hour, Republicans are, subject to change as the campaign unfolds, within reach of a take-way. If Hispanic turnout is 30% or less on election day, other turnout issues, such as the number of males vs females, could potentially come into play and help decide the contest.
* If Hispanics make up 35% of voters on Election Day, Costa is better positioned to hold the seat for the Democrats: he would lead today by approximately 7 points, 50% to 43% in a hypothetical analysis conducted by SurveyUSA.
* If Hispanics make up 40% of voters on Election Day, Costa today would lead by approximately 11 points, 52% to 41%, according to a hypothetical analysis conducted by SurveyUSA.
Meanwhile, in the open seat race to replace George "Who?" Radanovich, GOP state Sen. Jeff Denham leads physician/attorney Loraine Goodwin by 63-30.