• CT-Sen: Following his loss in the CT-Gov primary after leading the polls almost all the way, I hadn't heard much discussion about Ned Lamont making a repeat run against Joe Lieberman for the 2012 Senate race. Lamont confirms that, saying he's "strongly disinclined" to try again.
• FL-Sen: Here's a dilemma for temp Sen. George LeMieux, as he gave his farewell speech from the Senate floor. Acknowledge the man without whom he'd be utterly unknown and thus not in a position to run again for Senate in 2012... or invoke said man, whose name is utterly mud in Florida GOP circles, thus reminding everyone of those connections that can only hurt in a 2012 primary? In the end, basic human decency prevailed, and LeMieux thanked Charlie Crist for appointing him.
• ME-Sen: This is pretty big news, as everyone has been treating newly-elected Gov. Paul LePage's imprimatur as a make or break for Olympia Snowe's hopes in a GOP primary in 2012. LePage, of course, was the tea party choice in the primary, and his say-so would go a long way toward either encouraging or discouraging a teabagger challenge to Snowe. LePage just came out with a statement of support for Snowe in the primary, saying he'd back her in the face of a possible primary challenge.
• MO-Sen: Sarah Steelman continues to rack up support from the GOP's far-right, as she girds for a possible GOP primary showdown against ex-Sen. Jim Talent. Steelman met with Jim DeMint, the Senate's de facto kingmaker of the tea party set, and those involved expect DeMint's Senate Conservative Fund to back Steelman shortly (which would be his first endorsement of the 2012 cycle).
• PA-Sen: Moran gets brain? Perhaps sensing the steep uphill climb of a challenge against the Casey name brand in Pennsylvania in a presidential year, random rich guy John Moran has done an about-face on a threatened possible Senate run that first emerged last week. Another central Pennsylvanian, though, state Sen. Jake Corman, seems to be interested in taking on Bob Casey Jr.
• UT-Sen: In case there was any doubt about Orrin Hatch running again -- in his 70s and facing a likely difficult primary/convention -- well, he is. He released a statement this morning saying "I intend to run, and I intend to win." That comes in the face of the formation of a new leadership PAC by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, which would likely point to stepped-up fundraising efforts in the face of a intra-party challenge. (Hatch is sitting on $2.32 million CoH, while Chaffetz has $179K. If the targeted audience isn't all Utahns but a few thousand nuts at the state convention, though, money is less of an issue.)
• IN-Gov: Soon-to-be-ex-Sen. Evan Bayh is issuing something of a timeline regarding whether or not he runs for his old job as Governor again in 2012. Bayh says he'll make a decision by the end of the year, and is saying it's a "possibility but [not] a probability." (Rep. Baron Hill and Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel are other fallback options.)There's no timeline, though, from Rep. Mike Pence, who probably would be the strongest candidate the GOP could put forth, but seems more interested in going straight for the Presidency. One GOPer who isn't waiting for Pence's decision is Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who has moved forward on fundraising although she hasn't officially declared anything. Soon-to-be-Rep. Todd Rokita warns not to underestimate Skillman.
• MN-Gov: This is kind of a moot point in view of his concession this morning, but in case you're wondering what suddenly motivated Tom Emmer to drop his challenge to Mark Dayton and move on, this was probably the last straw: yesterday the Minnesota Supreme Court denied his petition asking for all counties to perform a reconciliation of number of voters with number of ballots cast. With the recount already done, the reconciliation would have been the only practical way of even stringing this thing out for a while longer, let alone finding an extra 9,000 votes.
• MO-Gov: In marked contrast to the recent PPP poll giving Jay Nixon a clear edge, Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (now looking more like a candidate than ever) is pointing to an internal poll by American Viewpoint taken way back in late September that gives him a 47-38 lead over Nixon. The poll finds Nixon still popular, though, with 51% approval.
• ND-Gov: Today was the first day on the job for North Dakota's new Governor, ex-Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who took over as John Hoeven resigned in order to join the Senate soon. Hoeven is the first-ever North Dakota Governor to resign voluntarily. Taking over as Lt. Gov. is ex-US Attorney Drew Wrigley. Dalrymple will be watched carefully as to what happens in 2012: he could either run for election to a full term, or move over to a Senate run against Kent Conrad.
• MN-08: Newly-elected Rep. Chip Cravaack will have one of the tougher re-elects of any of the new House Republicans (he's in a D+3 district that includes the Dem stronghold of Duluth), but one of the bigger-name Dems in the district is saying he won't be the challenger. State Sen. Tom Bakk (one of the 5,589,358,587,568,120 people who ran for the DFL gubernatorial nomination this year) is staying where he is, especially since he's about to become minority leader.
• GA-St. House: One more D-to-R party switcher to report, and it's a fairly big name within the confines of the Georgia legislature: Doug McKillip, who was previously #2 among Democrats. Interestingly, he's not from a dark-red rural district but represents the college town of Athens, and he says he'll be better able to agitate for the University's needs from within the majority... although, that, of course, would depend on getting re-elected again from that (presumably blue) district.
• AK-Sen: I hope the Alaska journalist corps is fueled up on coffee and is ready to go on a week-long dumpster diving binge, because the mother lode just got opened up. A state superior court judge just ordered that Joe Miller's Fairbanks borough personnel records get released, saying the people's right to know trumps Miller's privacy concerns. The release won't happen until tomorrow, though, to allow time for an Alaska Supreme Court decision if necessary.
• CA-Sen: The polls can't seem to decide whether the California Senate race is tightening, loosening, or staying basically the same, but it was enough to finally get Carly Fiorina to do what the NRSC had probably hoped she would have done months ago: she put $1 million of her own money into the race. (She'd spent $5 mil of her own on the primary, but nothing since then.) On top of that, the NRSC is throwing an additional $3 million into the race for the last week, while Barbara Boxer is calling the bluff with $4 million from her account for ads of her own.
• NV-Sen: As we expected, Harry Reid's been keeping up a steady drip-drip of endorsements from prominent Republicans around Nevada. The most recent one: term-limited state Sen. Dean Rhoads, who represents almost all of the state (geographically) except Clark and Washoe Counties. (H/t LookingOver.)
• FL-Gov: Wow, Bill McCollum actually ate his own cat fud. With little time left on the clock, he swallowed any remnants of his pride and endorsed primary rival Rick Scott, the guy he swore he'd never endorse.
• RI-Gov: Interesting approach from a blue state Dem: Frank Caprio just told the President to "shove it," in reaction to Barack Obama's apparent decision not to endorse him when he was in Rhode Island today. Payback for Lincoln Chafee's Obama endorsement in '08? Or reverse payback for Caprio's reported flirting with a party switch? Or elaborate theater staged for Caprio's benefit, to help distance himself from the White House?
• OH-Gov: Obama and Biden alert! The Dynamic Duo are adding yet another campaign stop in Ohio, where saving Ted Strickland seems to be one of the White House's top priorities. On Sunday, both will appear with Strickland, and then there'll be a Biden/Strickland stop later in Toledo.
• CA-47: Um, maybe someone should tell Van Tran that taking a page from the Carl Paladino playbook isn't really a good idea right now... Tran's out with foul-smelling scratch-and-sniff mailers in the district, hitting Loretta Sanchez for the "stench of Washington."
• CO-04: Add one more body on the plague wagon: the DCCC brought out Betsy Markey on Friday. They announced that they won't be spending any more on the 4th this cycle. They'd previously drawn down their efforts here, but now they're fully pulling out. (If there's a bright spot, this is probably their last triage move... with one week left, there's really no time left to cut anyone else off.)
• FL-12: Is there a growing sense of Republican worry in this district? They shouldn't lose an R+5 district in this climate, but they have probably the most credible 3rd party Tea Party challenger anywhere here, in the form of an actual county commissioner, Randy Wilkinson, who internals polls have seen taking gobbling up double-digit vote shares. They're taking the problem seriously enough to have Newt Gingrich doing robocalling on behalf of GOP nominee Dennis Ross, suggesting that Wilkinson is a plant from next door's Alan Grayson.
• IN-02: Oooops. Jackie Walorski ran footage in a web video of a South Bend neighborhood as an example of a neighborhood "in ruin" from Democratic policies. The residents of the neighborhood are now deeply offended, saying their neighborhood is hardly ruined at all, and are demanding an apology.
• KS-03: In a more normal year, this might be enough to do some serious damage in a close race: just-released police records show that Kevin Yoder (the GOP's nominee here) refused to take a breath test during a 2009 traffic stop. He pled guilty to speeding, also received a citation for not taking the test, and it was left at that.
• MS-04: Look who's in a bit of a panic, and revealing his true stripes: Gene Taylor just let his district's voters know that he isn't one of those Demmycrats at all! Why, he even voted for John McCain in 2008, he says.
• PA-11: Bill Clinton's traveling schedule takes him to three blue-collar districts that were, in the '08 Dem primaries, some of the most die-hard Clinton districts anywhere, now all home to pitched battles. He's appearing in the 11th tomorrow in support of Paul Kanjorski (who we'd expected, a few months ago, to be the first Dem incumbent we wrote off, but who seems to still be in the thick of things). On Thursday, he also visits PA-03 and PA-15.
• VA-05: If you weren't already sold on Tom Perriello's particular brand of awesome, check out the highlight reel of some of the best clips from his most recent debate with Rob Hurt.
• WA-06: Here's an internal poll that's a real head-scratcher, that requires a bit of explanation. Rob Cloud, the same doofus who runs against Norm Dicks every cycle (four times in a row now) and gets crushed, claims to have an internal poll out giving him a four-point lead over the long-time Dem. (Well, four if you do your own math. For some reason, the poll gave actual respondent totals only, 609 to 558 with 95 undecided. If that strange method doesn't by itself set off alarm bells, the polling firm is someone called Wenzel (out of Ohio), a company I'd only heard of once, when they polled OH-Gov and OH-Sen last year on behalf of Ohio Right to Life... but (h/t to quiller) it turns out have a regular gig as WorldNetDaily's pollster and have been responsible for extremely leading-question-rife polls about Barack Obama's citizenship. And on top of all that, Dicks won the Top 2 primary (the most reliable poll possible) with 57% of the vote, with a combined GOP vote share of 43% (of which Cloud got a pathetic 29%),which shouldn't imply much vulnerability. On the other hand, Dicks' district is "only" D+5, one of the least-blue districts that isn't home to an on-the-radar race... and moreover, Dicks has seemed pretty invisible as far as I can tell, compared with next-door neighbor Adam Smith who's in a similarly D+5 district but got a polling-related wake-up call and has been working his butt off lately. So, uh... who knows?
• NRCC: Eager to maximize last-minute take-over opportunities, the party of fiscal responsibility is throwing some more debt on the pile. The NRCC just took out a $20 million line of credit to fund some more late-in-the-game advertising.
• Dark Money: Just as the actual universe's mass is mostly composed of dark energy and dark matter, so too the political universe is apparently mostly composed of dark money these days. Hotline's Jeremy Jacobs has an excellent piece that pulls together all the GOP spending by shadowy third-party groups, fleshing out the IE picture greatly, and also showing a remarkable amount of avoidance of duplication of efforts in the districts. They couldn't actually be coordinating their efforts behind-the-scenes, you think? (Not that that's illegal, as far as I know.)
• IEs: Speaking of IEs, if you haven't been following spiderdem's weekly series over in the diaries regarding the back-and-forth battle of the independent expenditures between the DCCC and NRCC, you absolutely should. It rounds all the numbers up in one handy place, and puts them in the context of the probable lay of the land.
• SSP TV:
• AK-Sen: Here's that NRSC ad mentioned late last week, where they hit Scott McAdams in a preemptive attack to keep him from shooting the gap (and here's the SOTB: $75K)
• CA-Sen: No more giddy Carlyfornia Dreaming here, with a dour ad from the Fiorina camp hitting Barbara Boxer for California's dire economic straits
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio's closing statement is a plain talk-to-the-camera spot saying "Reclaim America!"
• WI-Sen: Russ Feingold's out with the ad that he should have run about two months ago, making fun of Ron Johnson's whiteboard and platitudes
• NM-Gov: Susana Martinez makes the Diane Denish/Bill Richardson connection about as explicit as humanly possible in her new spot
• FL-22: Ron Klein seems to have finally moved away from Allen West's homeowners association liens, with the Outlaws gang connections too juicy even for him to ignore
• ID-01: Walt Minnick cites his independence and rags on Raul Labrador for getting his own last ad pulled for its bogusness
• MN-06: Taryl Clark hits Michele Bachmann for, well, being a "celebrity"
• VA-05: Robert Hurt goes after Tom Perriello for being a Washington insider
• CA-Gov: Jerry Brown (D) 48%, Meg Whitman (R) 42%
• CA-Sen: Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 48%, Carly Fiorina (R) 46%
• CT-Sen: Richard Blumenthal (D) 56%, Linda McMahon (R) 43%
• IN-Sen: Brad Ellsworth (D) 34%, Dan Coats (R) 52%
• MD-Gov: Martin O'Malley (D-inc) 52%, Bob Ehrlich (R) 42%
• ND-Sen: Tracy Potter (D) 25%, John Hoeven (R) 72%
• PA-Gov: Dan Onorato (D) 45%, Tom Corbett (R) 50%
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) 44%, Pat Toomey (R) 48%
• RI-Gov: Frank Caprio (D) 28%, John Robitaille (R) 25%, Lincoln Chafee (I) 35%
• SD-Gov: Scott Heidepriem (D) 36%, Dennis Daugaard (R) 55%
• TX-Gov: Bill White (D) 42%, Rick Perry (R-inc) 51%
Not much to see here other than the remarkable consistency over the almost one year's period since the previous Selzer poll of this race. (I just learned a new word today, while searching for how to describe this race, linked to the Chet Culver vortex: "syntropy." It's synergy + entropy.)
• NH-Sen, NH-Gov: American Research Group (9/22-26, likely voters, Dec. 2009 in parentheses):
Paul Hodes (D): 32 (36)
Kelly Ayotte (R): 46 (43)
Undecided: 20 (21)
John Lynch (D-inc): 42
John Stephen (R): 40
ARG, mateys! Here be a mighty treasure trove of undecided scallywags! (And here be the gubernatorial link.)
• OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Univ. of Cincinnati for various Ohio newspapers (9/16-20, likely voters, 5/11-20 in parentheses):
Lee Fisher (D): 40 (47)
Rob Portman (R): 55 (46)
Undecided: 5 (6)
University of Cincinnati hasn't been in the field for a while, so they missed the very steady decline of the Dems in Ohio, making it look like more of a sudden collapse. At any rate, this is actually Ted Strickland's best non-internal showing since early August.
• WA-Sen: Commonsense Ten is out with a $412K independent expenditure in the Washington Senate race, on Patty Murray's behalf. (Wondering who they are? This Hotline article from July explains how they're something of a Dem answer to groups like American Crossroads, as well as giving some legal background on just how it came to be that the super-wealthy can give endless money to 527s to spend endlessly on IEs.) Meanwhile, there are dueling ads in Washington. As one might expect, Patty Murray lets Dino Rossi hang himself with his own anti-Boeing words, while Rossi hits Murray on her support of tarps. (Since most Washingtonians own several tarps -- they only thing that allows them to go camping during the ten rainy months of the year -- I don't see what the big deal is.)
• WV-Sen: The Dems are definitely getting active in here: the AFL-CIO is out with a huge direct mail blitz in West Virginia, and the DSCC is placing a major ad buy there starting tomorrow. In the meantime, John Raese, Tweeter and Facepage aficionado, is sticking to the GOP party line on global warming: it's all volcanoes' fault! (Wait... I thought it was sunspots. They'd better get their stories straight.)
• AK-Gov: Bill Walker, after weeks of dithering in the wake of losing the GOP gubernatorial primary, has formally decided against a write-in bid (despite having an easier-to-spell name than Murkowski). No word on an endorsement of either Sean Parnell or Ethan Berkowitz, although Berkowitz has been steadily reaching out to Walker.
• GA-Gov: With Nathan Deal not really having done much to deflect the attention being paid to his family's imminent financial collapse, now he's having to run damage control on another issue: his campaign is accused of having spent $135K to lease aircraft from a company where Deal himself is a part-owner. State ethics law bars candidates from using campaign funds for personal benefit, although the open legal question here is whether this turns into "personal benefit."
• NM-Gov: Third Eye Strategies for Diane Denish (9/21-23, likely voters, no trendlines):
This is kind of odd... we just got a Diane Denish internal poll from a totally different pollster (GQR) in the middle of last week. Does she have two different pollsters working for her? At any rate, the news is decidedly better in this one, showing a tie where last week's poll had her down by 5.
• TX-Gov: Blum & Weprin for Texas newspapers (9/15-22, likely voters, 2/2-10 in parentheses):
Bill White (D): 39 (37)
Rick Perry (R-inc): 46 (43)
Kathie Glass (L): 4 (-)
Deb Shafto (G): 1 (-)
Undecided: 8 (13)
The Texas race is extremely stable (check out the flatness in Pollster's regression lines, with a mid-single-digits spread). While I'd like to think that Bill White can get over 50% on his own, his best hope at this point might be for Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass to start taking a bigger share (presumably out of Rick Perry's hide, via the same crowd who went for Debra Medina in the primary).
• FL-24: Hamilton Campaigns for Suzanne Kosmas (9/22-23, likely voters, 8/25-29 in parentheses):
This is the first internal we've seen from Team Kosmas, and while it's not the kind of numbers that fill you with great confidence (up 2 in one's own internal), it is an indicator that we're still looking at a Tossup here instead of Lean R (which is where some of the other prognosticators have been sticking this one). The movement in Kosmas's direction suggests that voters have found out more about the crazier side of Adams in the wake of her surprise primary victory.
• MS-04: Tarrance Group for Steven Palazzo (9/21-22, likely voters, December 2009 Tarrance Grop poll for NRCC in parentheses):
Gene Taylor (D-inc): 45 (68)
Steven Palazzo (R): 41 (24)
(MoE: ± ?%)
There were reports last week that the NRCC was starting to smell smoke in this race (despite having an underfunded, low-name-rec candidate in Palazzo), and was going to try out a round of polling. Seems like their hunch may be right, as long-time Rep. Gene Taylor (who hasn't given Dems much reason to take interest in him lately... well, ever, really) is up only by single-digits in a new poll from the Palazzo camp.
• PA-10: Momentum Analysis for Chris Carney (9/23-25, likely voters, no trendlines):
Chris Carney (D-inc): 46
Tom Marino (R): 38
Chris Carney, having been slightly on the wrong end of a public poll from the Times-Leader (and on the very wrong end of that sketchy AFF poll last month), rolls out an internal giving him an 8-point lead over Tom Marino. Marino (who's pretty underfunded, although the NRCC is starting to get involved) is little-known (only 26/24 faves), so this is going to be one of many races where the Dem's survival is based on localizing in order to fend off Generic R.
• PA-16: I'm not sure what to make of this: the uphill campaign of Lois Herr (going against Joe Pitts in the 16th, which is solidly Republican but moved a lot in the Dems' direction in 2008) is out with a second internal poll from PPP that has her within single digits of the GOP incumbent. Pitts leads 41-34, which seems kind of bizarre considering that we're seeing polls in Pennsylvania with incumbent Dems losing by larger margins than that in much friendlier districts.
• SD-AL: Bennett Petts and Normington for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (9/22-23, likely voters, no trendlines):
Here's one race that seems to be becoming a little more comfortable for the Democrats. (Recall that Herseth Sandlin led in the last Rasmussen poll of this race, after months of trailing.) I wonder how much of that has to do with the reveal of Noem's atrocious driving record, given voters' memories of leadfooted ex-Rep. Bill Janklow?
• DLCC: If you're looking to really micro-target your financial contributions to where your dollars get stretched the furthest and the leverage is the greatest (given the knife-edges on which many state legislatures, and the entire 2012 redistricting process, rest) the DLCC has rolled out its "Essential Races" program. This points to some of the tightest races in the tightest chambers; the link details their first wave of 20.
• CA-Init: There are some Field Poll leftovers to look at, concerning three of the biggest initiatives on the ballot this year. The news is good all around, although the margins aren't decisive: Proposition 19 (marijuana legalization) is passing 49-42 (it was failing 44-48 in the July Field Poll). Proposition 23 (undoing greenhouse gases limiting legislation) is failing 34-45. And maybe most importantly, Proposition 25 (allowing budget passage with a simple majority) is passing 46-30.
• Florida: Mason-Dixon's latest Florida poll (we gave you Sen and Gov numbers over the weekend) has a lot of miscellany in the fine print that's worth checking out. They find the GOP leading narrowly in three major downballot races: Pam Bondi leads Dan Gelber in the AG race 38-34, Jeff Atwater leads Loranne Ausley in the CFO race 29-27, and Adam Putnam leads Scott Maddox in the Ag Comm race 36-32. They also find that Amendment 4 has a shot at passing; it's up 53-26, although bear in mind that you need to clear 60% for a Florida initiative. Amendment 4 would require localities to put changes to comprehensive zoning plans up to a public vote; Josh Goodman has a good discussion of it today along with several other initiatives in other states that may pass despite having both sides of the entire political establishment lined up against them.
• SSP TV:
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio rolls out his first ad en espanol, a biographical spot
• PA-Sen: How many freakin' ads has Pat Toomey come out with? Anyway, here's another one
• CT-02: Joe Courtney stresses his independence, especially regarding TARP
• CT-05: Chris Murphy's new ad focuses on stopping outsourcing
• PA-03, PA-11: The DCCC is out with new ads in the 3rd and 11th, continuing the trends of hitting Mike Kelly as out-of-touch millionaire and hitting Lou Barletta for sucking as Hazleton mayor
• AL-Sen: William Barnes (D) 30%, Richard Shelby (R-inc) 58%
• CT-Sen: Richard Blumenthal (D) 50%, Linda McMahon (R) 45%
• DE-Sen: Chris Coons (D) 49%, Christine O'Donnell (R) 40%, Mike Castle (I) 5%
• GA-Sen: Michael Thurmond (D) 36%, Johnny Isakson (R-inc) 52%
• IA-Gov: Chet Culver (D-inc) 37%, Terry Branstad (R) 55%
• ND-Sen: Tracy Potter (D) 25%, John Hoeven (R) 68%
• SC-Sen: Alvin Greene (D) 21%, Jim DeMint (R-inc) 64%
Another August come and gone with Labor Day leaving too. This means that summer is officially over and if you live in the East Coast, you will agree. Everyone knows August as the month where people go on vacation and/or want to install air conditioners. August also has another name on it that not many people mention: the bad month for Democrats and/or Obama. In August of 2004, Kerry was down in the polls due to the swift boat ads. In August of 2006, the generic ballot was tied. In August of 2007, Hillary was crushing Obama. In August of 2008, Palin was nominated and tied the race (until she crashed of course but that comes later.) In August of 2009, people came to town hall meetings to parrot talking points by Republicans that denounced the healthcare bill and spread lies about death panels. Now August of 2010 is a month where Obama's poll numbers are low because the economy was supposed to recover in a day. Rome was built in a day too. Also, this August showed bad polling numbers for many of the Senate candidates.
Yes, I am finally getting to the subject of this post: Senate races. August is always a bad month people so we should not be too worried about losing the Senate because it always gets a little better. Still, my Senate rankings are going in the Republicans' favor because my rankings show the way the races stand now. Many races though will start seeing action soon but were quiet in August. Alaska is an exception where Lisa Murkowski (R) was primaried out by Joe Miller (R), a teabagger who makes the race closer. It is not close enough to put in the rankings though. Other races that are shifting are Florida Senate with Kendrick Meek (D) taking votes from Charlie Crist (I) who may caucus with the Democrats if he wins. Other races with movement include Pennsylvania and Ohio. I am not keeping Nevada on the list although some pundits suggested Republicans will vote for extremist Sharron Angle (R) holding their nose. As I see Republicans like Nevada's first lady Dawn Gibbons endorse Harry Reid (D), I just cannot put this race on the line. I have also removed Missouri from the list although Carnahan can make it closer once she reminds Missouri why 61% of the voters supported her in 2008. I am predicting a 6 seat pickup for the Republicans. Enough talk about the races though, here are the rankings with a description on each race:
1. North Dakota OPEN Bryon Dorgan (D)
North Dakota is known for electing personally popular politicians regardless of the party. Governor John Hoeven (R) is anything but an exception to this rule.
Ranking: Safe Republican
Previous Ranking: 1
2. Arkansas Blanche Lincoln (D)
One of the Democrats' last holdouts in statewide offices was Arkansas. Lincoln won a primary against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter (D) when most pundits thought he would win. She will definitely not have the same luck while running against Rep. John Boozemen (R).
Ranking: Likely Republican
Previous Ranking: 2
3. Indiana OPEN Evan Bayh (D)
Bayh jumped out of the race as Dan Coats (R) jumped into the race. Coats is known as a former incumbent, a lobbyist and this is supposed to be anti incumbent year, right? Actually, it is an anti Democratic incumbent year. The Democrats nominated sheriff Brad Ellsworth (D) from Evansville in southern Indiana, a critical area for Democrats to win so they can win statewide. The campaign has not gotten into full mode. Although Ellsworth should narrow the margin a bit, it is the wrong year and he is not doing well enough in the urban areas.
Ranking: Likely Republican
Previous Ranking: 5
4. Delaware OPEN Ted Kaufman (D)
Rep. Michael Castle (R) is running against New Castle County Exec. Chris Coons (D) and due to Castle's popularity, it looked like an easy win for him. Now the race suddenly got more interesting. The Tea Party Express which kicked out Lisa Murkowski (R) in Alaska now is supporting Christine O'Donnell (R) in the primary against Castle. They are going to pour in their money. Most polls show Coons winning against O'Donnell so if she wins the primary, expect the race to fall down the list. If Castle wins, Coons is still in trouble.
Ranking: Lean Republican
Previous Ranking: 4
5. Pennsylvania OPEN Arlen Specter (D)
First, the Senate race that kept changing was Florida. Although Florida does keep shifting, so does Pennsylvania. First, Specter switched parties and became a Democrat. Then congressman Joe Sestak (D) from the Philadelphia suburbs challenged him. Sestak won by 8 points, shocking the Philadelphia establishment. Sestak won by using an ad blitz but now he is sinking the polls against Pat Toomey (R). Toomey primaried Specter in 2004, ran as a conservative and lost. Toomey is now running to the center and Sestak is doing...nothing. He plans to do an ad blitz really close to election day. I do not think it will work this time though because most voters will have made up their minds.
Ranking: Lean Republican
6. Colorado Michael Bennett (D)
Bennett (D) faced a challenge from the left and Bill Clinton in Andrew Romanoff (D) in the primary. Bennett survived, defying a late surge for Romanoff. Now Bennett faces Ken Buck (R). Although Buck is leading by a few points, he is a prone gaffe machine who rivals Sharron Angle. Buck said that the difference between Jane Norton (his primary opponent) and him was that he did not wear high heels. Also, Buck said he liked the education system of the 1950's. He did not say which part of the country's education system. Did he mean the South? Bennett has not spent much time defining Buck yet which Bennett needs to do if he wants to win.
Previous Ranking: 8
Status: Toss Up/Tilt Republican
7. Illinois OPEN Roland Burris (D)
This race is another one where the leader in the polls keeps switching. First, Mark Kirk (R) from the Chicago suburbs was winning against Alexi Giannoulis (D). Then Kirk lied about his military credentials...more than once. Giannoulis though has problems with his family's bank. Therefore, both candidates are tied. Kirk is a moderate and it is a Republican year. Giannoulis though will get the support of the strong Democratic party in Chicago and Illinois's Democratic lean. This is a race that should have a recount if there is one but I expect Giannoulis to win by 1-2 points.
Status: Pure Toss Up
Previous Ranking: Not on top 10
8. Florida OPEN George LeMieux (R)
This race used to be much higher up in the rankings. Now with Kendrick Meek's (D) primary win, this race is shifting in Marco Rubio's (R) favor. Charlie Crist (I) used to be leading in the polls but Meek received a post primary bounce. It also though could be a permanent boost. Whatever it was, Crist lost his lead in the polls and is now a few points behind Rubio. It may be a temporary bounce for Meek but even so, Crist is getting squeezed from both sides of the aisle. Expect this race to fall off the line if Crist does not get his act together.
Status: Toss Up/Tilt Republican
Previous Ranking: 4
9. Washington Patti Murray (D)
I had a diary on the county baselines of Washington recently where I mentioned how Washington State is the New Jersey of the west. Here, Republicans always think they finally have the candidate but the voters always side with the Democrat. In New Jersey though, that trend broke with Chris Christie (R) winning the Governorship last year. Now former moderate Dino Rossi (R) is vying for statewide office for the third time. Rossi first ran for Governor and lost after a long recount in 2004. He ran for Governor again in 2008 and lost by a not so recountable margin, 53%-47%. Washington State has an interesting primary system where all candidates regardless of party run and the top two vote getters advance to the general election. Murray got 46% in that election and since it was not a high turnout election for Democrats, this looks like a close race.
Status: Toss Up/Tilt Democratic
Previous Ranking: Not on Top 10
10. Kentucky OPEN Jim Bunning (R)
I was going to put a race like Wisconsin in for this spot but this morning, I saw a poll showing the two candidates Rand Paul (R) and Jack Conway (D) tied. Although Conway is not from the crucial coal counties in east Kentucky, he is a strong candidate from Louisville which Democrats rely on now to win in Kentucky. Paul is well known for outrageous comments like suggesting businesses should decide whether African Americans can come and that Kentucky has no drug problem. Although Paul is a poor candidate and Conway is a good one, the year and Kentucky's Republican lean is probably too strong for Conway to beat.
Status: Toss Up/Tilt Republican
Previous Ranking: 10
• CO-Sen: Ken Buck twisted himself into a knot that's unlikely to satisfy anyone. After it came out that, about a year ago, he'd announced his support for the repeal of the 17th Amendment (which allows for direct election of Senators, and should alarm any non-teabagger), on Friday he clarified that, no, he's changed his mind and supports the 17th now (which should piss off any teabagger). While several House GOP candidates have touted the idea, Buck is the first Senate candidate to discuss why it's a good idea for people to vote for him so he can go to Washington and take away their right to vote... for him.
• FL-Sen: There's one more Florida poll to add to the growing pile; it's only of the Democratic Senate primary, though, and it's from Republican pollster Susquehanna on behalf of online media outlet Sunshine State News. They join in the chorus seeing Kendrick Meek pulling away from Jeff Greene, 45-30.
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak's getting some support from an unexpected place: Michael Bloomberg, the loudly post-partisan New York mayor. Bloomberg, who'll stump on Sestak's behalf in Pennsylvania tomorrow, seems to like Sestak's efforts on better lending for small businesses. Another bright spot for Sestak: Green Party candidate Mel Packer is dropping out of the Senate race, not seeming able to withstand the pending court challenge to his petitions from the Sestak camp.
• AL-Gov: With friends like Artur Davis, who needs enemies? The ostensibly Democratic Rep., who seems to have gotten consumed with bile after his surprising yet thorough loss to Ron Sparks in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, published an op-ed in the Montgomery Advertiser yesterday titled "A lack of vision" that said that Sparks is "no champion of real change." The key quote: "In a break with tradition, I did not attend that [unity] event and will not be campaigning for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee." But really: read the whole thing, especially if you still had any shreds of respect left for Davis.
• CA-Gov: You know that saying about how if you want to experience the sense of yachting, just go stand in the shower with your clothes on and keep continuously flushing money down the toilet? I wonder if Meg Whitman is starting to get that sense about her own campaign and its nine figures worth of out-of-pocket sunk costs. She just wrote herself another $13 million check, saying that she had to throw down more because of the nerve of those unions and their insistence on using independent expenditures.
• IA-Gov: You might remember the gadflyish Jonathan Narcisse, a former Des Moines school board member and alternative newspaper publisher who'd made some motions about challenging Chet Culver in the Dem primary. Well, now he's back, and he's planning to mount an independent bid instead. He claims to have enough signatures to qualify, and despite his ostensibly left-of-center orientation claims to be getting a lot of interest from disgruntled Bob Vander Plaats supporters looking for an option to Terry Branstad.
• LA-Gov: In case there was any doubt, Bobby Jindal confirmed that he'll be running for re-election for Governor in 2011. That makes a 2012 presidential run seem less likely, given the quick turnaround, but he's young enough that he needn't hurry.
• MS-01: Travis Childers is out with his second ad in as many weeks, this one a negative spot against Alan Nunnelee (although self-narrated by Childers, rather than using the usual grainy black-and-white photos and angry-sounding voice of doom like most negative ads). Childers hits Nunnelee for raising various taxes while in the state legislature.
• NH-01: Frank Guinta, the presumed frontrunner in the GOP primary for the right to face Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, has some good news and bad news. The good news: he seems to have discovered an extra bank account in his name that had somewhere between $250K and $500K in it, which hadn't been on previous disclosure forms because of "an inadvertent oversight." The bad news: now he has to explain where all that money came from, which isn't exactly clear, as Guinta has partially self-funded his run but also done a lot of outside fundraising. This looks serious enough that ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley is calling for Guinta to drop out if he can't provide a credible explanation (although it should be noted that, although Bradley hasn't officially endorsed, he was already informally backing GOP primary rival Sean Mahoney).
• NY-06, NY-13: The New York AFL-CIO endorsed all but four New York House incumbents over the weekend: the two Republicans, naturally, but also Reps. Mike McMahon and... Greg Meeks? Turns out they've had a beef with Meeks (who's a bit of a mismatch with his dark-blue district) for a while, going back to his CAFTA vote. So this means they did endorse Mike Arcuri in NY-24, despite his HCR vote and subsequent antipathy from the Working Families Party.
• Ohio: We Ask America, an auto-dialing pollster with Republican connections that occasionally pops up with flurries of polls, rolled out three polls of different House races in Ohio last week. They add one more poll to the heap of doom for Rep. Steve Driehaus in OH-01, finding him losing to ex-Rep. Steve Chabot 51-39. They also find Paula Brooks unlikely to prevail in her right-candidate-wrong-year challenge to GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi in OH-12; she trails 51-34. Perhaps most interesting is OH-15, which I believe is the first poll released of this race, which many Dems have mentally written off already. While they have freshman Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy trailing, it's not that bad, in comeback-able range with a 46-41 lead for GOP rematch candidate Steve Stivers.
• Stumping: Barack Obama is making a three-state road swing over the next few days, appearing on behalf of three vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbents: Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer in California, and Patty Murray in Washington. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton is making three appearances around Florida today on behalf of Hillary-endorsing Kendrick Meek in his Senate primary.
• CT-Gov: Dan Malloy (D) 48%, Tom Foley (R) 33%
• GA-Sen: Michael Thurmond (D) 41%, Johnny Isakson (R-inc) 55%
• ME-Gov: Libby Mitchell (D) 30%, Paul LePage (R) 38%, Eliot Cutler (I) 16%
• ND-Sen: Tracy Potter (D) 25%, John Hoeven (R) 69%
• ND-AL: Earl Pomeroy (D-inc) 44%, Rick Berg (R) 53%
• CO-Sen: So since the last time we checked in, Ken Buck royally stepped in it not just once, but twice. First, he made the argument that voters should opt for him and not Jane Norton because "he doesn't wear high heels." (It was by way of arguing that, instead, he wears cowboy boots with actual bullshit on them, but the gender card was pretty clear. And Norton's response was easy to write, and was on the air almost instantaneously. It probably played at least something of a role in today's decision by Arizona governor Jan Brewer, amassing her own clutch of Mama Rattlesnakes, to extend an endorsement to Norton.) Then second, it came out over the weekend that on June 11, Buck was overheard referring to Tea Partiers (or at least the birthers among them) as "dumbasses." (Compounding the unforced nature of the error was that he was joking around with his Democratic tracker while saying it!) Buck was out with the inevitable apology to the teabaggers within the day. (Y'know, for a bunch of self-styled tough guys, they sure do get their feelings hurt easily.)
• CT-Sen: Despite his blowing through a large chunk of his remaining cash on hand in a baffling ad urging people to vote in the Republican primary (although not specifically for him), Rob Simmons is still maintaining that he's not currently a candidate for the Senate. He considers his $350K ad buy as something like "public service announcements."
• FL-Sen: Must be nice to have Jeff Greene's money! Concerned observers are a bit troubled by the close correlation between his hiring of DNC member Jon Ausman as a consultant, and his next-day endorsement of Greene's campaign. Greene has spent $6 million of his own money on the race so far, which apparently is a drop in the bucket for him, as he's been content to ignore a $1.87 million fine from the government of Belize that's outstanding against him, after he crashed his 145-foot yacht into a sensitive coral reef there.
• IL-Sen: Continuing the boat-crashing theme, in case you've been living under a rock all weekend, the big news in Illinois is that Mark Kirk has gotten caught in yet another series of misrememberments, this time about his sailboat accident and subsequent Coast Guard rescue that supposedly got him devoted to public service. Turns out he at least got the being in a sailboat accident part right, but, unlike his own description of the events, he was rescued long before nightfall, he probably didn't swim for a mile because he was within half a mile of shore, and his core temperature certainly wasn't 82 because he would have lost consciousness long before getting to that point. Sensing a pattern here?
• KY-Sen: Rand Paul is re-affirming that he supports Mitch McConnell. Well, sort of. During his Fancy Farm appearance this weekend, he said he's going to vote for McConnell for leader, but almost immediately afterwards, reduced that to not seeing a reason why he wouldn't vote for him. Observers also noted that, in his earlier sorta-support for McConnell, he was implicitly dissing Sharron Angle as unlikely to win, by way of saying that Jack Conway's first action would be to vote for Harry Reid for majority leader (something that, of course, wouldn't happen if Reid weren't to get re-elected).
• NV-Sen: Sharron Angle's media policy can be summed up in one word: RUN! That's what she did when faced with questions from a six-months-pregnant reporter last week, who, in typical lamestream media fashion, insisted on asking some further questions after a three-minute speech of boilerplate on the estate tax. How presumptuous! Harry Reid got further good news, too, with the endorsement of Las Vegas mayor and relentless self-promoter Oscar Goodman, who called Reid "the man we go to get things done in the city." If there's one Nevadan having an even worse time than Angle, though, it's John Ensign; his one-time crony Tom Coburn just hung him out to dry, handing over e-mails from Ensign in the ongoing criminal investigation by the DOJ into l'affaire Hampton.
• WV-Sen: With filing closed in West Virginia, there are eleven GOPers fighting in the primary for the right to oppose Joe Manchin in the Senate special election. Most prominent, of course, is businessman John Raese, who lost the 2006 Senate race to Robert Byrd and is also something of an archenemy to the Moore/Capito family. The only other noteworthy GOPer is Mac Warner, who already lost the WV-01 primary this year (and whose brother, Monty Warner, was the 2004 GOP gubernatorial nominee, losing badly to Manchin). Raese punctuated his entry with some ill-advised and outdated ethnic humor, comparing the Italian-American Manchin to Tony Soprano. The NRSC, probably not liking any of its options here (and having gotten burned by some of its earlier interventions), says it isn't getting involved in the primary.
• CO-Gov: The rumor du jour last week was that the RGA was prepared to pull out of Colorado entirely -- and that was before this morning's confirmation that Tom Tancredo was going to jump into the race as an indie candidate in order to either leverage the GOP nomination or crash-land the whole operation. The RGA denied the rumors when they first came out, but the local GOPers working on the race are suddenly leaking e-mails that they're broke. And with Tancredo's bid today, suddenly his allies and core backers among the Tea Partiers are suddenly denouncing him, accusing him of being a likely spoiler, whether intentional or not. Bafflingly, Tancredo pushed back in the way most likely to rub them the wrong way, calling the teabaggers new members of the "establishment." Tancredo's getting some pushback from state party chair Dick Wadhams, too; TPM has audio of the literal screaming match between the two of them.
• FL-Gov: You may remember state Sen. Paula Dockery, who was running a futile campaign against Bill McCollum in the GOP gubernatorial primary until dropping out after getting totally eclipsed by Rick Scott. Well, now she's teaming up with Scott; she's stopping somewhere short of endorsing him, but is joining him on his bus tour, saying she share similar stances on the issues. (She can't be angling for a Lt. Gov. slot, as Florida elects its LG separately, so what her angle is, I don't know. UPDATE: Actually, commenters have corrected me on Florida's LG procedure, wherein the nominees pick running mates, so, yes, it does sound like she's angling for LG.) Also, while it isn't exactly about the horse race, here's a fascinating (at least to me) piece of backstory about Democratic candidate Alex Sink. Her slightly Asian appearance is because she's 1/8th Thai, and her great-grandfather was a well-known celebrity in the early 1800s: circus performer Chang Bunker, one-half of the original so-called "Siamese Twins."
• GA-Gov: Dueling (banjo) endorsements in the Georgia GOP gubernatorial runoff, and they seem to fit the overall media narratives about the two candidates. The suburbanized Karen Handel got Mitt Romney's endorsement, while the more hickory-smoked Nathan Deal got the backing of the NRA.
• OK-Gov (pdf): There's one more poll of the primaries in Oklahoma (to be decided tomorrow night), from the Republican firm of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, apparently on their own and not on anyone else's behalf. The results are pretty similar to this weekend's Sooner Poll: they see AG Drew Edmondson beating Lt. Gov. Jari Askins 38-27 on the Dem side, and Rep. Mary Fallin well ahead of state Sen. Randy Brogdon 50-22 on the GOP side. Askins did get one late-breaking endorsement, though, that's good as gold in this football-mad state: she got the backing of former OU and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer. Switzer's backing is credited with helping Brad Henry win a come-from-behind victory in the 2002 Dem gubernatorial primary.
• OH-St. House: Here's something you don't see every day: a local article about a competitive state legislative chamber where you don't get just platitudes about the closeness, but actual detail about the most competitive races. Democrats currently control the state House 53-46 after picking it up in 2008, and it could revert back to the GOP this year. The Democratic seats on defense that they list are scattered among Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland suburbs, and Appalachian-flavored rural areas like Portsmouth and Zanesville.
• OR-Init: Oregon stands out as the only west coast state that doesn't have an independent redistricting commission for state legislative seats. It looks like that's going to continue: a proposed initiative to create an independent commission of retired judges for redistricting didn't qualify for the ballot, after too many signatures turned out to be invalid. 2002 GOP governor candidate and bringer-of-the-crazy Kevin Mannix was the leader of the move, although he actually had some big money interests behind him this time (like Nike's Phil Knight).
• AZ-Sen (R): John McCain (R-inc) 54%, J.D. Hayworth (R) 34%
• ND-Sen: Tracy Potter (D) 22%, John Hoeven (R) 69%
• AR-Sen: Bill Halter's netroots haul has crested $1 million, between MoveOn and ActBlue (led by the PCCC and Daily Kos). On top of all that, the Sierra Club is joining the fray, with its own attack ads against Blanche Lincoln over her attempts to limit EPA regulation. The ads don't mention Halter by name, though.
• AZ-Sen: John McCain is getting the newest GOP sensation, Scott Brown, to come to Arizona to stump for him. Because, you know, nothing says "Hey teabaggers, vote for me instead of J.D. Hayworth!" than bringing in the New England RINO who gladly took all the teabaggers' money and support and turned around and voted for a Democratic piece of legislation on his first week on the job.
• CO-Sen: Having seemingly scored big time with his public option letter (at least to the extent of raising his previously very low profile), Michael Bennet seems to be getting very ambitious. The freshman Senator just unveiled a comprehensive package of Senate reforms that he's authored that's aimed squarely at undoing the quagmire that the Senate has become, including filibuster reform, eliminating anonymous holds and private-sector earmarks, and barring lawmakers from lobbying... for life.
• KS-Sen: Rasmussen finds that (big surprise) all the action in the Kansas Senate race is the GOP primary (although they didn't bother polling the hotly-contested primary). Rather than test possible candidate state Sen. David Haley, they just take the "Generic D" route, and find both Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt beating G.D., 51-26 and 50-29 respectively.
• ND-Sen: The Dems' leading candidate for contesting the likely takeover of the open Senate seat in North Dakota by Republican Gov. John Hoeven decided against a run, probably sensing the long odds. Former AG Heidi Heitkamp said no (on her brother's radio show), although rumors suggest she's interested in running for Governor in 2012, meaning she probably wouldn't want a big defeat as people's last memory of her. State Sen. Tracy Potter is already in for the Dems, and businesswoman Kristin Hedger may also get in, as she said she'd defer only to Heitkamp.
• NY-Sen-B: Is Kirsten Gillibrand going to actually be able to waltz to re-election, or will some other moneybags celebrity pop out of the woodwork next week? After having sent Harold Ford Jr. packing, now billionaire publisher Mort Zuckerman decided against a Republican bid (couching it oddly, in that being a Senator would take up too much time from his actual day job). Zuckerman is wise to save his money, as Rasmussen finds Zuckerman losing to Gillibrand 47-36 (not as bad as Marist yesterday, but still not encouraging). Rasmussen also finds Gillibrand beating even George Pataki, 44-42 (although for some reason they don't poll actual candidate Bruce Blakeman).
• NY-Gov: When it rains, it pours, for David Paterson. The New York State Commission on Public Integrity just released its finding that he violated state ethics laws for securing World Series tickets for himself and friends and then falsely testifying under oath about it. That gets sent over to Andrew Cuomo's desk on top of the whole meshugas about the state police, which kept building today with the resignation of state police superintendent Harry Corbitt. Maurice Hinchey just publicly said what I'll bet most other New York Dems are privately thinking: he's glad he won't have to run with Paterson upticket from him.
Meanwhile, there's a ton of snap polling out today about Paterson, of varying degrees of badness for him. Quinnipiac finds his approval at an all-time low of 24/62, although voters say 61-31 he should finish his term rather than resign. SurveyUSA, however, finds a plurality for resignation: 47 say resign, 44 say stay. Rasmussen finds 28 say resign, 53 say stay. Rasmussen also threw in some numbers for the gubernatorial election in November, finding Cuomo winning against Republican Rick Lazio, 55-30. They also tested out gadflyish businessman Carl Paladino, who's made noises about running. With Paladino as the R, Cuomo wins 56-27, and with Paladino as an I, Cuomo is at 50, with 19 for Lazio and 15 for Paladino.
• OK-Gov: Here's a path for Democrats to win the Governor's race in Oklahoma, according to Rasmussen: find a way for state Sen. Randy Brogdon to win the GOP primary. Unfortunately, it seems like the very conservative Rep. Mary Fallin is well on her way to winning the primary against the ultra-conservative Brogdon. Fallin beats Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins 51-37, and AG Drew Edmondson 51-36. Brodgon, however, loses to Askins 42-39 and beats Edmondson 42-41.
• PA-Gov: Quinnipiac released the gubernatorial half of its Pennsylvania poll, and Arlen Specter's bounce doesn't seem to have rubbed off much on the Democrats running for Governor... although their main problem, as always, seems to be that no one knows who they are. In the primary, "don't know" dominates at 59, followed by Dan Onorato is at 16, Jack Wagner at 11, Joe Hoeffel at 10, and Anthony Williams at 2. AG Tom Corbett has no problems on the GOP side, beating state Rep. Sam Rohrer 43-5. In head-to-heads, Corbett beats Onorato 42-32, Wagner 42-30, and Hoeffel 41-30.
• TN-Gov: Here's another state where it's still just too damn early to be polling the gubernatorial race. MTSU doesn't even bother with head-to-heads in the Tennessee race, but finds that Republican Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam (who's been spending heavily on advertising) has a bit of a leg up, in that he's the least unknown of the myriad candidates (19% of respondents were actually able to name him). Mike McWherter is the best known Dem (although that may be because he shares a last name with his dad the ex-Gov.).
• HI-01: We've gotten confirmation that the May 22 special election to replace resigned Rep. Neil Abercrombie will be an all mail-in affair, saving the state some money but possibly scrambling the parties' GOTV plans. This election and the special election in PA-12 four days earlier pose a quandary for the NRCC -- spend money they don't really have, in order to take advantage of what seems to be nationwide Republican momentum... or fess up that they really don't have much chance in either of these districts and save their money for November (or worse, spend the money and lose anyway, as with NY-20 and NY-23). NRCC spokesperson Paul Lindsey seems to telegraph which way the NRCC is leaning: "Considering that one district is the birthplace of President Obama and the other gives Democrats a voter registration advantage of more than 130,000, it is not lost on anyone that we face an incredible challenge in both races."
• NY-15: Charles Rangel has finally put down his gavel as Ways and Means chair, after he was found to have violated ethics rules. He says it's a temporary "leave of absence," but the House's presiding officer said "the resignation is accepted," suggesting something more permanent. This comes in the face of a growing wave of opposition within his own party, with a number of members returning his PAC money (ranging from the very vulnerable, like Walt Minnick, to the theoretically vulnerable, like Niki Tsongas). Also, perhaps symbolically important, it came after Artur Davis (running for Alabama governor) became the first CBC member to call for Rangel to give up his gavel.
• OK-02 (pdf): The 2nd seems like a strange choice of a place to poll, but I guess it's a good test case in terms of a Democratic Rep. in a dark-red district that hasn't been on anyone's radar screen as being vulnerable (in the face of utterly no-name challengers). True to form, Dan Boren doesn't have much to worry about this fall. He's having no trouble against his anonymous opponents, beating Dan Arnett 49-22, Daniel Edmonds 44-28, and Howard Houchen 48-26. (Teabagging independent Miki Booth pulls in 7 or 8 in each matchup.) Much of that has to do with the level of opposition, but Boren is the first incumbent Rep. PPP has found who's polling above 50 in terms of approval, at 51/33. Boren's occasional, um, departures from the party line can be better understood in terms of Barack Obama's disturbingly low 27/65 approval in the district.
• PA-11: Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien got some help from the left as he fights a primary battle against crusty Rep. Paul Kanjorski; he got the endorsement of two local unions: the Northeast Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council.
• PA-12: Bill Russell released an internal poll showing him beating Tim Burns in the GOP primary in the 12th. That's not really the newsworthy part; what's interesting is his internal pollster is Zogby. The pollster that everyone treated as an oracle in 2004 has been reduced to polling on behalf of BMW Direct's direct-mail-scam frontman? Lord, how the mighty have fallen.
• Census: Guess who's finally learned to love the Census? Michele Bachmann! Probably after some of her staffers showed her a puppet show spreadsheet showing how a combination of not enough residents in her district + a Democratic governor and legislature = no more MN-06. At any rate, she's planning to vote for a largely symbolic resolution to encourage Americans to participate in the Census.
• AR-Sen: Despite the seemingly imminent entry of Rep. John Boozman into the GOP field in the Arkansas Senate race, soon-to-be-former-frontrunner state Sen. Gilbert Baker says he's staying in the race. The alternative would be to run for Baker, who represents Little Rock suburbs, to run for the open seat in AR-02 instead - but there he'd face a tough primary against Beltway GOP favorite Tim Griffin, who's already established a solid fundraising foothold. (Some of the seven dwarves in the GOP field, who seem concentrated in the state's right-leaning northwest, may be interested in switching to Boozman's open seat in AR-03, though.) And unbelievably, yet another Republican is interested in getting in the Senate race: former NFL player Jim Lindsey is readying for a bid. Lindsey is a real estate developer and former University of Arkansas trustee.
• AZ-Sen: Sarah Palin is still dancin' with the one who brung her. She announced yesterday that she'll appear on behalf of John McCain, who plucked her from near-obscurity and is now needs a favor of his own as he's facing a primary challenge from the right from ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Needless to say, this provoked a lot of disappointment from her supporters among the teabagging set, who would prefer to see her stab McCain in the back and then field dress him.
• CO-Sen: With right-wingers filled with antipathy toward establishment choice ex-Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, there's been a lot of casting about for an alternative. Weld County DA Ken Buck seems more and more like he'll be that guy, as he's been making common cause with the Paulists, who are now planning to pay for a statewide advertising campaign on Buck's behalf. Meanwhile, on the Dem side, primary challenger Andrew Romanoff is trying to energize his sleepy campaign with a big hire - pollster Celinda Lake, whose previously sterling reputation got driven off a cliff with her handling of the Martha Coakley campaign.
• CT-Sen: There's not much left to see for the 2010 race, but everyone's thinking ahead to 2012, with the new rumor afoot that - with the Senate Kennedy-free for the first time in more than half a century - Ted Kennedy Jr. may run against Joe Lieberman in 2012. Lieberman himself is up to his usual asshattery, speculating out loud that he could conceive of becoming a Republican, and also saying that he might support Linda McMahon in the 2010 race... seeing as how Richard Blumenthal (tepidly) supported Lamont in the 2006 general while McMahon supported Lieberman. Apparently Lieberman learned his politics from watching the Godfather: it's not business. Just personal. (Lieberman also seems to be a believer in leaving the cannoli, and taking the guns.)
• FL-Sen: In the wake of new polling showing him falling behind Marco Rubio in the GOP Senate primary, the questions are getting louder about whether Charlie Crist might consider running as an independent instead. He said no to that idea... but people are noticing he didn't rule out switching parties altogether. With Crist appearing side-by-side with Barack Obama today in Florida (something he wouldn't consider doing if he saw any hope in trying to compete with Rubio - who just got the endorsement of ur-conservative Steve Forbes -- on conservative bona fides alone), could that actually be a consideration? If so, he'd need to switch parties by April 30.
• MA-Sen: There are a couple more retrospectives worth reading on Massachusetts, as people try to make sense of the mixed messages sent by exit polls (with one particularly intriguing tidbit: 52% of Scott Brown voters approved of Ted Kennedy's performance). Mark Blumenthal also looks at the shift in polling over the last few weeks, wondering again about the differing results gotten by live interviewers vs. robocallers, while also pointing to questions of how much pollsters' views of a race can actually change the overall momentum of the race (fundraising and perception-wise) and thus become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And get ready for the teabaggers' week-long love affair to end very soon: Scott Brown (who apparently has some self-preservation instincts) just served notice on the GOP that he won't always vote with them.
• ND-Sen: This isn't going to make the teabaggers any happier: Gov. John Hoeven, now running for the Senate, joined the Democratic Party in 1996 (at a time when he was head of North Dakota's state-owned bank), ditching them in 2000 for his gubernatorial run. With Hoeven already on their naughty list for his insufficiently anti-government stances, now he's just going to get more wrath.
• NH-Sen: Former AG Kelly Ayotte is wielding an internal poll by the Tarrance Group that gives her a big edge in the GOP primary against her challengers. She leads Ovide Lamontagne, coming at her from the right, 43-11. Random rich guys Bill Binnie and Jim Bender clock in at 5 and 3 apiece. No general election numbers were released.
• NV-Sen: One more disastrous poll for Harry Reid, which came out from Research 2000 a few days ago. This poll closely echoed one from PPP a few weeks ago that tested alternative Democrats, and finds that only Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman beats the Republicans (while Rep. Shelly Berkley and SoS Ross Miller don't fare much better than Reid). Unfortunately, this was all rendered moot a few days ago by Goodman's announcement that he wasn't going to run for either Governor or Senator. Reid loses 52-41 to Danny Tarkanian and 51-42 to Sue Lowden. Berkley loses 46-40 to Tarkanian and 45-40 to Lowden, while Miller loses 44-36 to Tarkanian and 43-37 to Lowden. Goodman beats Tarkanian 44-41 and Lowden 44-40. Rep. Dina Titus, facing a tough re-election of her own, doesn't seem to think much of Reid's chances anymore: she publicly said "Reid is done; he's going to lose."
• NY-Sen-B: One other Research 2000 poll to talk about: they looked at the Democratic primary in New York, and find about what everyone else has found. Kirsten Gillibrand leads ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. by a 41-27 margin (with 3 for Jonathan Tasini), looking solid but still with a ton of undecideds. This also exists merely at the level of rumor, but with the potential presence of Ford scrambling things for the ever-so-briefly-thought-to-be-safe Gillibrand, sources say that Democratic Rep. Steve Israel (who got dissuaded from a primary challenge) and Republican ex-Gov. George Pataki (who hasn't sounded interested until now) are both giving the race a little more consideration.
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): Franklin & Marshall's previous polls in Pennsylvania have tended to have unusually high undecideds, suggesting that they don't do any pushing of leaners at all - but this may have reached an all-time high with their new poll. Most notably, they find Allegeheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato completely dominating the Democratic gubernatorial primary... at 10% (more than doubling up on Jack Wagner, Joe Hoeffel, and Chris Doherty, all at 4)! They also find similarly low numbers in the Senate race, where Republican ex-Rep. Pat Toomey leads incumbent Dem Arlen Specter 45-31 and Rep. Joe Sestak 41-19 (?!?), and where Specter beats Sestak in the primary 30-13. (They didn't do a general election poll in the Governor's race, but find Republican AG Tom Corbett leading his remaining rival, state Rep. Sam Rohrer, 23-5 in the primary.)
• UT-Sen: The Mason-Dixon poll that gave us some (not so good) gubernatorial results also threw in some vague questions about the Senate race too. Incumbent Bob Bennett leads a Generic R in the primary, 46-27, and a Generic D 53-26 in the general. Nevertheless, Bennett drew yet another primary opponent, albeit someone seemingly of the Some Dude variety: local businessman Christopher Stout.
• WI-Sen: Wherever there's a vacillating Republican needing convincing to get into a Senate race, there's Rasmussen. (Whaddya wanna bet they have a Patty Murray/Dave Reichert poll in the field right now?) Contrary to PPP's view of the race, Rasmussen finds ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson leading incumbent Dem Russ Feingold, 47-43. They find Feingold with a perplexingly low 47/48 approval.
• CT-Gov: Is ex-Rep. Chris Shays looking to get into the Governor's race? Suddenly, it sounds like he's at least thinking about it, saying he'd like to do it but not sure if it's feasible. He's currently in Washington as head of the Wartime Contracting Commission, meaning he'd need to re-establish his Connecticut residency, but given his long-time popularity in his district (which eventually got too blue for him to hold) he might have a leg up on the so-so GOPers already in the field.
• FL-Gov: Quinnipiac released the gubernatorial half of its Florida poll yesterday, finding that Republican AG Bill McCollum has a somewhat bigger lead on Democratic CFO Alex Sink, 41-31 (McCollum led 36-32 in October). Sink leads state Sen. Paula Dockery 35-29, but considering that McCollum leads Dockery 44-6 in the GOP primary, that configuration doesn't seem likely.
• MI-Gov: Two guys who had been unlikely candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor both announced they wouldn't run. Rep. Bart Stupak is the big name to say "no," which is good as far as the DCCC is concerned, as he's needed to hold down the fort in his R+3 district. The other is Detroit Pistons head of basketball operations Joe Dumars, who probably realized he'd get pretty banged up out there without Bill Laimbeer to run interference for him. One other interesting rumor of who might run, though, is ex-Rep. Joe Schwarz, the GOP moderate who got bounced out in a 2006 Club for Growth-fueled primary by Tim Walberg. And get this... he's talking about running as an independent. Could he actually peel off enough center-right votes for the Dems to salvage this race?
• NY-Gov: Research 2000's New York poll also looked at the Democratic gubernatorial primary, finding AG Andrew Cuomo defeating incumbent David Paterson, 63-19. Paterson is laboring under 34/54 approvals. The GOP primary to see who gets flattened by Cuomo is looking pretty uneventful: Erie Co. Exec Chris Collins, who continued to express vague interest despite having gaffed his way out of contention several months ago, finally pulled the plug on his exploratory committee. That leaves ex-Rep. Rick Lazio as the only major GOPer in the race, to few people's enthusiasm.
• TX-Gov: Looks like Gov. Rick Perry isn't much of a fan of the librul media, or at least he realizes that his key demographics aren't really the newspaper-reading types. He's decided not to sit for editorial board interviews prior to their pre-primary endorsements.
• CO-Sen, CO-Gov: After some flirtation with the idea of switching over to the open seat Governor's race, or even endeavoring to become Lt. Governor, former State House speaker Andrew Romanoff announced yesterday that he's going to keep doing what he's doing (despite having made little headway at it so far): challenging appointed incumbent Michael Bennet in the Democratic Senate primary. Romanoff also threw his support to Denver mayor John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial primary.
• FL-Sen: I wonder if we'll see more of this from insurgent Democratic candidates. Former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre, looking for some sort of angle to use against front-running Rep. Kendrick Meek for the Democratic Senate nomination, has come out against the current health care reform plan (although not against HCR in general), calling it "a special interest plan that raises taxes and favors insurance and pharmaceutical companies."
• KS-Sen: The PMA scandal has mostly left House Democrats tarred with its brush, especially crusty old-school guys from that Appropriations clique, like John Murtha and Pete Visclosky. However, it's now expanding to take in a key Republican member on Appropriations - one who's in a tight battle for a promotion to the Senate and can't afford to get besmirched in any way. The House ethics panel is now looking at the links between Rep. Todd Tiahrt's donations and defense earmarks.
• NY-Sen-B: Rasmussen checks out the race that's suddenly on everyone's mind (and that doesn't even exist yet, although Harold Ford Jr. just took a monthlong leave of absence from Merrill Lynch to "explore" the race - I wonder if he'll be doing most of his recon by helicopter). They find numbers very similar to local pollsters Marist and Siena: Kirsten Gillibrand beats Ford, 48-23 (with a surprisingly large 10 for "some other," presumably Jonathan Tasini although maybe it's more just "anybody else, please"). Where Rasmussen parts ways with the other pollsters is Gillibrand's high favorables (and high knowns, period): they have her at 59/27.
• OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Take this with a bag of quick-melting rock salt, if you choose, as it's a poll commissioned by Ohio Right to Life and conducted by Republican pollster Wenzel Strategies. Still, the numbers clock in pretty close to what Rasmussen has been seeing lately. They see John Kasich with a 43-33 lead in the Governor's race, and Rob Portman up in the Senate race: 37-31 over Lee Fisher and 40-35 over Jennifer Brunner.
• MD-Gov: One more poll, and it actually shows a Democrat in reasonably good shape. Incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley is up 9 points against the GOP's best possible offering, potential candidate ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich, 48-39, according to local pollster Gonzales Research. (Gonzales saw it an 11-point race last September.) O'Malley's approvals (46%) could use some improvement, but considering that Ehrlich hasn't sounded likely to get in (although he might be doing a rethink given last night's events), there are certainly many other races higher on the worry-about list.
• AL-05: If Rep. Parker Griffith thought he'd be welcomed with open arms into the Republican fold, well, he's got another thing coming. The only good news for him from last night's meeting of the Madison County (i.e. Huntsville) Republican Executive Committee was that, in the end, they decided not to attempt to get Griffith removed from the primary ballot as a Republican. The real question of the meeting, though, was whether it would be better strategy for Republicans to try to beat him in the primary or via an independent candidacy in November.
• AR-02: Democratic candidates who sound committed to running to replace retiring Rep. Vic Snyder are already piling up - and we haven't even gotten to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter or ex-Gen. Wesley Clark yet. State House Speaker Robbie Wills today stopped short of saying he's running, but says he's "excited" about running. State Sen. Joyce Elliott also sounds very likely to run, while Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie is in the "seriously considering" stage.
• AZ-03: On the other side of the aisle and of the country, Republicans from the deep local bench are piling into the open seat race in the 3rd, vacated by Rep. John Shadegg. Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker is ending his long-shot gubernatorial campaign and heading over to the 3rd, and he's being joined by state Sen. Jim Waring (who's dropping his state Treasurer campaign to do so). They join already-in state Sen. Pamela Gorman and state Rep. Sam Crump.
• IL-10: State Rep. Julie Hamos and Dan Seals continue to split key endorsements in their primary fight for the Democratic nod in the open 10th. Hamos got the endorsements of both the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, while Seals picked up the smaller-circulation Daily Herald's endorsement.
• ND-AL: Add one more confirmed name to the list of GOPers sniffing out the at-large House seat in North Dakota, hoping John Hoeven's Senate bid gives them some coattails against the entrenched Democratic incumbent, Rep. Earl Pomeroy. Former House majority leader Rick Berg kicked off his campaign yesterday.
• TN-04: Rep. Lincoln Davis has been pretty much assured a bumpy ride, thanks to Tennessee's rapidly-reddening status. He got a new Republican challenger today, in the form of attorney Jack Bailey. It's unclear whether the never-before-elected Bailey will be stronger than physician Scott DesJarlais (or can even get past him in the primary), but he's a former Hill staffer (ex-CoS for Missouri Rep. Scott Akin) so he probably still has a full Rolodex for fundraising purposes.
• TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron keeps looking like he'll have an easy path to the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner. Former state Rep. Phillip Pinion, an oft-floated name, said he wouldn't get into the race.
• OR-Init: Oregon voters have a chance to deal a major setback to the coalescing conventional wisdom that voters prefer service cuts to tax hikes to plug state budget gaps, with Measures 66 and 67. The state legislature passed raises in the $250,000-plus tax bracket and certain corporate income taxes, which are now subject to a people's veto (via an all-mail special election with a deadline of Jan. 26). Well-regarded local pollster Tim Hibbitts, paid for by a coalition of local media, finds both measures passing: 52-39 for 66 and 50-40 on 67.
• Mayors: One other election result from last night: Jefferson Co. Commissioner William Bell defeated attorney Patrick Cooper in a runoff, to become Birmingham, Alabama's new mayor, 54-46. Cooper had won the most votes in the general, but Bell seemed to consolidate previously-split African-American votes.
• Polltopia: One more interesting follow-up on the increasing democratization of polling (on the heels of yesterday's piece by Mark Blumenthal): the Hill looks at the increasing move by groups like Firedoglake and the PCCC toward commissioning polls - and even has an anecdote about PPP's Tom Jensen getting berated by a nameless Beltway person for broaching the unmentionable and polling potential alternatives to Harry Reid.
• Social media: At some point during the flurry of activity yesterday, Swing State Project shot past 1,000 Twitter followers (gaining more than 100 yesterday alone). Not a follower yet? Check us out. You can also receive SSP updates via Facebook, if you're one of those Luddites who like to read things that are longer than 140 characters.
Republican Gov. John Hoeven seems to have an even clearer path to the Senate than he did against Byron Dorgan, now that it's an open seat. He posts 20-point-plus leads against all of his opposition, including the likeliest Democrat to get the nod: former AG and 2000 gubernatorial candidate Heidi Heitkamp. We're looking at a strongly Republican likely electorate here (with Barack Obama at 41/54 approval, and the Republican Party faring much better as a party than the Democrats (although still in crappy position, too): 39/53 for the GOP vs. 25/61 for the Dems). That means that performance is pretty much equal for all Dems, whether they're well-known (Ed Schultz) or up-and-coming but unknown (North Dakota Rural Development Director Jasper Schneider). With that in mind, Swing State Project is moving this race to "Likely Republican."
Hoeven may still be in for a bumpy ride, though, thanks to the same thing facing fellow level-headed midwestern Governor (and 'stache wearer) Terry Branstad: bubbling-over anger on the teabagging right and mistrust of his establishment, insufficiently tax-averse ways. While the Tea Partiers don't seem to have a particular primary opponent in mind, they're adamant that Hoeven won't be getting a free pass through the primary.
Democratic at-large Rep. Earl Pomeroy seems to have had the right idea in staying where he is, rather than going for the promotion. He's looking fairly secure against the GOP opposition (although below the symbolic 50% mark), leading Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer (a statewide official, but one who's lost twice to Pomeroy previously, and just announced today that he's going back for a third try) and his 2008 opponent (and current Senate candidate, although he might want to drop down to get out of Hoeven's way) Duane Sand by similar 20-point-plus margins. Insurance salesman Paul Schaffner is also in the GOP primary, and state Rep. Rick Berg and Fargo city commissioner Dave Piepkorn are also weighing the race.