AK-Sen: As of Friday, Lisa Murkowski was saying that she still hasn't made a decision about whether to pursue a write-in bid. At least one major Republican is opposed to the idea: Sen. John Cornyn says that Murkowski would have to quit her job as vice chair of the NRSC if she goes the third-party route. I also wonder if her Senate committee spots might be in jeopardy, too. Anyhow, Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota's excellent Smart Politics blog has a good post on the history of write-in campaigns in the Land of the Midnight Sun. In eight statewide contests, the best-ever score in a senate race was 17%, and 26% in a gubernatorial race. I actually think those numbers aren't bad at all!
DE-Sen: While everyone's still abuzz about last night's poll numbers, there's some other DE-Sen news worth reporting. For one, the NRA endorsed Christine O'Donnell. For another, so did Sen. Jim DeMint, Kingmaker of Loons. For yet another, Sarah Palin recorded a robocall for O'Donnell, playing up their shared sense of victimhood.
Meanwhile, The Hill says that the Tea Party Express has spent some $300K on radio and TV ads on O'Donnell's behalf, but it's a little hard to double-check that since TPX's FEC filings seem to use, shall we say, "new math." Finally, a reporter asked Mike Castle if he'd pursue an independent bid if he lost the primary. (DE's laws are apparently similar to Alaska's in this regard.) Castle was surprisingly non-committal, saying he'd "have to give it thought."
GA-Sen: Big Dog Alert (retroactive)! Bill Clinton was in Atlanta late last week to do a fundraiser for Labor Comm'r Michael Thurmond, the Dem senate nominee challenging GOPer Johnny Isakson. Thurmond, as you'd expect, was a big-time Hillary Clinton supporter.
IA-Sen: Chuck Grassley, making a play for the dirty old man vote, had this to say when asked why he didn't once look at opponent Roxanne Conlin during a recent debate:
"I wish you had told me because I would have been very happy to look at her. She's a very nice looking woman."
NH-Sen: The New Hampshire Union Leader has been combing through a batch of emails released by the NH attorney general's office pursuant to a freedom of information request, and they've turned up a doozy: Then-AG Kelly Ayotte used her official email account to discuss campaign strategy with a guy who later became one of her consultants. In better news for Ayotte, Sarah Palin recorded a robocall for her, too (see DE-Sen item above), but man is this imagery getting crazy: She calls Ayotte a "Granite Grizzly." Zuh? Anyhow, Jim DeMint's also decided to get involved here (again, see DE-Sen), endorsing surging wingnut Ovide Lamontagne.
NV-Sen: Jon Ralston has the complete tick-tock on how he got Harry Reid and Sharron Angle to agree to a debate on his show - only to have Angle, in a spasm of campaign dysfunction, pull out, despite being the one to throw down the challenge to Reid in the first place.
AK-Gov: Anchorage attorney Bill Walker, who drew about 30% in his primary against Gov. Sean Parnell (thanks to $300K in self-funding), says he's still waiting to see if either the Alaskan Independence Party or Libertarian Party candidates withdraw from the race. If there's a drop-out by Wednesday, Walker could take that spot for the general election.
HI-Gov: A new robopoll by Aloha Vote (taken for online news service Civil Beat) shows ex-Rep. Neil Abercrombie beating Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann by 48-31 in the Democratic primary. That's a pretty different picture from a Ward Research survey a few weeks ago which had Abercrombie leading just 49-44.
NY-Gov: It's been a long time since anyone has come out with any interesting statewide poll numbers in New York, but with just days to go before the primary, Siena has finally managed to surprise us (well, sorta): They show scuzzbucket businessman Carl Paladino in a dead heat with ex-Rep. Rick Lazio, trailing just 43-42. In mid-August, Lazio had a 43-30 lead, so this is all Paladino surge. The rest of the numbers (which test the senate races) are all meh - click the link if you want `em.
In other NY-Gov news, the Working Families Party decided to endorse Andrew Cuomo, and Cuomo - who had kept the WFP at arms' length for a long time - accepted. A federal investigation of the WFP was recently dropped, which seemingly helped smooth things. The party was in a very tough spot, though, as without Cuomo on their ballot spot, there was no real path for them to get the 50,000 votes they needed to avoid losing their ballot line. So I'm guessing there may be more to this story.
"John Salazar, it's time to come home," Tipton said as he opened the debate. "It's 9/11. Let's roll."
FL-25: Another mystery teabagger has (not really) come out of the woodwork. Roly Arrojo is running on the Florida Tea Party line, and it seems no one knows a thing about him, except for the fact that he hasn't filed any FEC reports - except for a Statement of Candidacy in which he identified himself as a Democrat. Republicans are suggesting this is a Dem put-up job, but Joe Garcia's camp is of course denying any knowledge of this guy. Interestingly, so is the head of the FL Tea Party!
ND-AL: I know, it sounds like parody, but Republican Rick Berg has a great idea: Drill for oil in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park! Not only is it, of course, illegal to do so, but it's also a fucking national park!
NY-13: Republican Michael Allegretti just got bounced from the new teabaggish Taxpayers Party line, thanks to a lack of sufficient signatures. Rival Mike Grimm already has the Conservative line, come hell or high water.
NY-15: Of all people, Mayor Mike Bloomberg wound up recording a robocall for Rep. Charlie Rangel.
PA-08 (PDF): Yikes. Sophomore Dem Patrick Murphy just put out an internal from the Global Strategy Group showing him up by a mere 47-43 margin over the man he beat in 2006, Republican Mike Fitzpatrick. This is scary.
VA-05: The Weiner Watch continues: Republican Rob Hurt has already skipped two debates, and now he's announced he's skipping a third. Weiner!
Chicago-Mayor: Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says he won't make an endorsement in the race to succeed him.
NY-AG (PDF): Siena also released some final attorney general numbers, finding Eric Schneiderman narrowly in the lead at 25, with Kathleen Rice nipping his heels at 23. Sean Coffey is at 13, Richard Brodsky at 7, and Eric Dinallo at 4. The race has continued to get nasty in its final days, with Rice putting out a TV ad trying to link Schneiderman to scumbag state Sen. Pedro Espada, while a Schneiderman spot hits Rice for only becoming a Democrat in 2005.
DCCC: Blah blah blah, Dems not paying their DCCC dues. It's old news, and I'm beyond sick of these stories, but not (only) for the reason you might expect. Oh yeah, I'm pissed at the schmucks who are holding out on their party for no discernible reason, but I'm also frustrated with the DCCC. We've repeatedly told them we want to help them raise money from their members - the netroots is not all-powerful, but we can bring some pressure on stingy Dems. But the DCCC steadfastly refuses to share their dues spreadsheet with us - even though they have no problem sharing it with the likes of Politico, and even though they actually promised to give us a copy at Netroots Nation. Not just obnoxious, but weirdly self-defeating.
KY-06: NRCC ($96K on anti-Ben Chandler ads and polls from two different firms)
More generally, the NRCC's IE arm said that it would go up with anti-Dem ads in eight districts (though no IE reports have yet been filed): AZ-01, AL-02, FL-02, MS-01, TN-08, TX-17, VA-05 & WI-07. A representative ad is available at the link.
• DE-Sen: Christine O'Donnell's radio interview on a local station yesterday should answer any doubts about whether or not the new Tea Party fave is ready for prime time (the answer: she isn't). Mostly it's notable for how testy it got, but also for O'Donnell pushing back on rumors that Mike Castle is gay - rumors that apparently no one has ever heard until O'Donnell brought them up in the first place. At any rate, Castle isn't content to just stand back and let her dig her own hole: not wanting to fall into the Lisa Murkowski trap, his camp confirms that his last-minute pre-primary ad buy will be negative against O'Donnell. He also said he won't be debating with (or otherwise even talking to) O'Donnell... ordinarily a safe decision for a quasi-incumbent, but who knows, maybe a mid-debate implosion by O'Donnell would be all Castle needs to put this one away.
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist's out with an internal today from Fredrick Polls, and while it gives him the lead, it's a small enough edge compared with his rather robust leads pre-Dem primary that it shouldn't fill anybody with much confidence about where his trendlines are headed. He leads Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek 35-34-17. That comes against the backdrop of getting squeezed in both directions, with the NRSC "pledging" (I don't know what that means, but it's not actual reservations) $2.5 million for the race, and Meek airing a new radio ad going after Crist's GOP past, airing Crist's own words, including calling himself "pro-life" and a "Jeb Bush Republican." At least Crist is getting some backing from one rather unusual corner: state Sen. Al Lawson, who just lost the FL-02 primary to Allen Boyd, just endorsed Crist.
• NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: Maybe I should've been patient yesterday instead of complaining about Quinnipiac's lack of New York primary numbers, because they rolled them out today. At any rate, they find, as I'd suspected, things tightening in the GOP gubernatorial primary: Rick Lazio leads Carl Paladino 47-35. ("Tightening" may not be the right word, as this is their first look at the NY-Gov primary, but it's what other pollsters have seen.) In the Senate special election, Joe DioGuardi leads David Malpass and Bruce Blakeman, 28-12-10. And in another sign that Democratic voters are only dimly aware that there's an election this year, fully 77% of Dem voters have no idea who they'll vote for in the Attorney General's race. Kathleen Rice leads Eric Schneiderman by a margin of 4-3. (That's not a typo.)
• WI-Sen: Ron Johnson has been outspending Russ Feingold 3-to-1 on the TV airwaves, which goes a long way to explaining why this is a tied race, but that may not matter much if he keeps stepping on his own free-market-fundamentalist message. Johnson found himself, in a recent radio interview, tying himself into knots by praising Communist China for having a more favorable investment climate for business than America, in part because of its "certainty." So, let's see... to stop America's descent into socialism, we need to become more like the Communists, because the path to freedom is actually through the kind of "certainty" that comes from a command economy? Finally, this is probably too little too late, but Terence Wall, the guy who dropped out in a huff from the GOP field after the state convention, is now publicly touting the idea of a write-in campaign in the upcoming primary. I don't know if he actually thinks he has a shot against a stumbling Johnson or is just engaged in some last-minute sour grapes.
• WV-Sen: Joe Manchin continues to rake in the bucks in the West Virginia Senate special election. (Facing self-funding John Raese, the money issue is the main threat to Manchin... well, that, and the perilously low approvals for national Dems here.) He reported raising $393K last week, bringing his total to $1.5 million. Raese reported $717K, but $520K of that was self-funded, with only $22K from donors.
• AZ-Gov: This may not get much press in the wake of her amazing debate performance, but Jan Brewer is also engaged in an interesting strategy of retaliation, pulling her campaign ads off the local CBS affiliate, whose news department dared to question Brewer's relationship with a key advisor who's also connected to private prison company Corrections Corporation of America, which stands to make significant money incarcerating illegal immigrants rounded up under Arizona's SB 1070. That's not the same station whose reporter aggressively questioned Brewer post-debate last night... my advice to Brewer would be to go ahead and stop advertising on all local network affiliates as punishment. That'll show 'em!
• CO-Gov: This may be kind of repetitive, but Dan Maes againturned down calls to drop out of the race today, after former state Senate president John Andrews withdrew his endorsement and told him to get out. Andrews wasn't alone in the endorsement rescinding department: it looks like the whole ooops-no-I-actually-wasn't-an-undercover-cop-in-Kansas thing was the fridge too far for former GOP Senator Hank Brown, who is now saying he's "looking around" for a new candidate. Meanwhile, on the touchy subject of water law, maybe Maes should take a page from Scott McInnis and just plagiarize all his work on the subject, as at least that way he wouldn't appear completely ignorant of the law. He just introduced an entirely new water law doctrine with his proclamation that "If it starts in Colorado, it's our water" - ignoring the 7-state compact on use of Colorado River water and the whole concept of prior appropriation. As much as I'd like to see Jan Brewer using the Arizona National Guard to invade Colorado and reclaim its water, I don't think the courts would let it get to that point.
• FL-Gov: Alex Sink is expanding her current TV advertising buy, throwing another $600K into keeping her introductory spot on the air in a number of non-Miami markets. Oddly, Rick Scott has been taking the week off since the primary, at least from advertising.
• OR-Gov: John Kitzhaber has finally decided to go negative on Chris Dudley... it might be too little too late, but at least he's recognizing what he needs to do (as recently as last week, he negged a DGA ad that went negative on Dudley... and this is the first time he's aired a negative ad since 1994). The ad attacks Dudley for having "never managed anything" and never "shown much interest in Oregon" before (as seen in his decision to live in income-tax-free Washington while playing for the Trail Blazers).
• CT-04: Republican state Sen. Dan Debicella offers up a recent internal poll, via National Research. It has him within 4 points of Rep. Jim Himes, trailing 42-38 (the same 4-point margin seen in the recent round of AAF polling).
• FL-25: Here's an offensive opportunity for House Dems that nobody should be writing off. Joe Garcia posted a lead in a recent internal poll (taken in wake of the primary, and revelations about various unsavory moments from Republican opponent David Rivera's past) for his campaign. Garcia leads by 4 points in the poll from Benenson, 40-36 (with 5 for the Tea Party candidate and 1 for the Whig).
• MO-03: Republican challenger Ed Martin got the endorsement of the Missouri Farm Bureau, a change from their backing of Russ Carnahan in previous cycles. Carnahan didn't show up for his meeting with the Farm Bureau, although it's unclear whether that's why he didn't get endorsed or if he felt the endorsement was already lost.
• NH-02: EMILY's List, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL are all coordinating their efforts in favor of Ann McLane Kuster ahead of the Dem primary in the 2nd, where's she's running against Katrina Swett, who has supported parental notification laws. In addition to a joint rally, they're sending out a joint mailer together.
• PA-12: The NRCC is out with a poll, via POS, of the 12th, giving Tim Burns a small lead in his rematch against special election victor Mark Critz. Burns leads 48-43, quite the reversal from Critz's 53-45 win in May. (Bear in mind that POS's final released poll before that election gave Burns a 2-point lead.)
• AK-Sen: Scott McAdams (D) 44%, Joe Miller (R) 50%
• FL-Gov: Alex Sink (D) 44%, Rick Scott (R) 45%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 46%, Dino Rossi (R) 48%
WV-Sen: Gov. Joe Manchin is holding a press conference at 10am today to announce his intentions with regard to the special election for the late Sen. Robert Byrd's now-vacant senate seat. Apparently, Manchin is paying for a live satellite feed, leading Mike Memoli to quip that this has to mean he's running.
OH-Gov: Is this really the right way to be doing things? The Cleveland Plain-Dealer explains John Kasich's strategy for dealing with the media:
Until now, Kasich has run a low-profile race with the exception of showing up on national Fox radio and television programs. His campaign advisors repeatedly dodge or refuse to answer questions from local media covering the race.
Kasich must know it. Even as one of his spokesmen tried to pull him away from the media on Monday, Kasich held his ground and with one parting shot vowed to be more accessible.
"There is this perception in some quarters that Kasich is not available. You think I am not available you call me," he said. "Because I don't think I've ever turned down any of your interviews, unless they are just stupid questions."
Uh, no. It's not the right way. And nor is Kasich's first ad, which we discussed yesterday, where he basically repeats Ted Strickland's (dead-on) accusations against him. I've learned from a source that Kasich's ad buy is actually for real - about $200K over three weeks, in Cincy and Columbus - but I don't know if I'd be too unhappy about that if I were the Strickland team. Kasich is proving to be his own worst enemy.
TX-Gov: File this under "TX-Gov, 2006": Rick Perry just settled a lawsuit with Chris Bell, his Democratic opponent from the last time Perry sought re-election, for some $426,000. Bell had accused Perry of trying to mask the source of a $1 million donation from Bob Perry, the kind of Swift Boat pond scum, in the waning days of the 2006 race.
Meanwhile, Obama alert! The POTUS is coming to Texas on August 9th to do two fundraisers, one for the DNC and one for the DSCC. I'm filing this under TX-Gov, though, because Dem gubernatorial candidate Bill White says he has no plans to attend either event.
ID-01: It was a bridge too far, even for Walt Minnick. The Democratic frosh is rejecting the endorsement of the Tea Party Express, on account of their refusal to refudiate racist jerkwad Mark Williams. (Click the link if you really need the backstory.) Minnick is still touting his support from local teabaggers, though.
NC-02: Remember Renee Ellmers? I don't, either, but fortunately Politico reminds us she's the GOPer who was hoping to capitalize on Bob Etheridge's seriously over-the-top response to those weirdo Republican kids who were trying to videotape him doing something embarrassing (boy did they ever). But as one brave anonymous consultant says, Ellmers is clearly "not ready for prime time": she utterly failed to capitalize on the gift she was handed and has only $42,000 in the bank, while Etheridge has $1.2 million.
NY-01: Good news: Rep. Tim Bishop scored the Independence Party line in his bid for re-election. Bishop also has the Working Families Party line.
NY-14: If there's one thing Reshma Saujani is good at, it's protesting too much. She's as touchy about her Wall Street connections as John Kasich, claiming that "only" 25% of her donors in 2Q work in the banking industry. Justin Elliott at Salon crunched the numbers and found that this actually amounted to a full 48% of Saujani's cash haul - even worse than the one-third I calculated represented her share from financiers in the first quarter. Another Salon writer, Alex Pareene, also points out how whack-ass Saujani's messaging has been, trying to downplay her own extreme reliance on Wall Street while attacking Maloney for raising money from from financial types. Moreover, as Liz Benjamin details, Saujani has had a high burn rate ($1.2 million raised, $770K spent, and no TV as yet), and only $272K of her $428K on hand is primary money. The rest is only good for a phantom general election.
NY-20: More good Independence Party news: Rep. Scott Murphy will have the IP line free and clear. Republican Chris Gibson had hoped to challenge Murphy for the line in a primary, but the party refused to give Gibson the necessary "certificate of authorization" (known to hardcore NY junkies as a "Wilson-Pakula") that allows candidates to run on the line of a party they are not a member of.
PA-07: Biden AND Pelosi alert! The fearsome twosome did a fundraiser in Philly yesterday that raised $250,000. Half will go to Bryan Lentz's campaign coffers and half will go to the D-Trip.
VA-02: Republican Scott Rigell, trailing Rep. Glenn Nye by about a million bucks in the cash department, is dumping another $500K of his own money into his campaign, according to a spokesman. That brings his total self-loans to a pretty hefty $1.4 million.
WI-07: An interesting catch from WisPolitics: Just a week before announcing his retirement, Rep. Dave Obey spent $30,000 on polling. That means he took some very thorough surveys before deciding to hang up his spurs. He also still has a million bucks on hand - which will hopefully be making its way to the DCCC before long.
NY-AG: Definitely down in the weeds, but this is SSP, after all: SurveyUSA has a poll of the New York Attorney General's race, a seat that's open this year because the sitting one-term AG, Andrew Cuomo, is running for governor. Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice is the clear frontrunner with 32%. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and state Sen. Eric Schneiderman are both at 9, while wealthy trial lawyer Sean Coffey and former state Ins. Comm'r (not an elected job)/former Securities Bureau chief at the AG's office Eric Dinallo are both at 7. Part of the reason I'm posting this, though, is because I genuinely have no idea who I want to support. So I'm asking the New Yorkers here: who are you backing in this race, and why?
• AR-Sen: The Bill Halter campaign is looking for last minute phonebanking help to seal the deal. And you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov (pdf): The Senate GOP primary portion of the Field Poll came out over the weekend, and it's right in line with the various other pollsters finding a last-minute Carly Fiorina surge into a double-digit lead. She leads Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore 37-22-19. (Campbell led 28-22-9 in the previous Field poll in March.) Also, it looks like Campbell's last-minute ad pitch, centered around his electability, may fall on deaf ears: 42% of primary voters think that Fiorina has the best chance of beating Barbara Boxer, while 22% think that Campbell does (and 12% think that Chuck DeVore does -- which is also about the same percentage of Californians who believe there is a 1,000 foot high pyramid in Greenland). There are also primary polls out from Republican pollster Magellan (who don't have a horse in this race), who find things even worse for Campbell: they have Fiorina leading Campbell and DeVore 54-19-16. They also give a big edge to fellow rich person Meg Whitman in the gubernatorial race; she leads Steve Poizner 64-22. The unfortunate moral of the story here: have a lot of money.
• DE-Sen: New Castle Co. Exec Chris Coons is pre-emptively getting ahead of Republican charges that he raised taxes, by, instead of hiding under the bed like conventional wisdom dictates, saying 'guilty as charged' and explaining how it helped. The county wound up with a AAA bond rating and a eight-digit surplus. Coons also previewed one of his lines of attack against Mike Castle: Castle's role in deregulating the banking sector.
• FL-Sen: As Charlie Crist rebuilds his team from scratch, he's rolling out a new media team that's heavy on the Democratic ties. Most prominently, Chuck Schumer's former chief of staff, Josh Isay, will be Crist's lead media person. Isay's firm SKD Knickerbocker may be best-known for helping out other moderate independents, like Joe Lieberman and Michael Bloomberg. One of the fires that Isay will have to put out as soon as he gets in the building, though, is what to do about the Jim Greer situation. Greer's lawyer is saying that Crist gave the initial OK on Greer's fundraising workaround which avoided usual party channels (which Greer allegedly turned into a scheme for filling his own pockets).
• IL-Sen: Rep. Mark Kirk's very, very bad week last week just seems to be spilling over into this week. There are allegations popping up that he fibbed on getting shot at in Afghanistan too, and also evidence that he made a lot of stuff up while talking off the cuff about the Somalia situation last year. Taking a page from Richard Blumenthal, late last week he finally dropped the playing offense against the charges and instead went to the Chicago Tribune's e-board to say "I'm sorry" -- but that apology comes after letting the story fester all week.
• NH-Sen: After a year and a half of having the Democratic primary to himself, there are hints that Rep. Paul Hodes might get some late-in-the-game company. Mark Connolly, the former head of the state's Securities Division who resigned to become a whistleblower in the wake of the Financial Resources Mortgage coverup (the same one that'll have Kelly Ayotte testifying before the state legislature soon), expressed some interest and said "he's angry enough to do it." (Looks like a common theme this year.) Speaking of Ayotte, it sounds like she doesn't know how to read a poll: she says she won't take drilling for oil off New Hampshire's tiny coastline "off the table."
• WA-Sen: You might remember from last week that the Univ. of Washington engaged in some methodologically weird stuff by adding an extra week's worth of samples on the end of their already-released poll and re-releasing the numbers (which were nevertheless unchanged, at Patty Murray 44, Dino Rossi 40). Well, now they're re-releasing the poll yet again with even more samples, with changed toplines and with specific numbers for that tiny extra sample for the days May 24-28 (following Rossi's official announcement). The number that's getting all the press is that Rossi led Murray 42-39 in that batch, although that's only based on 221 likely voters with a margin of error of 6.6%, so its usefulness is, well, questionable. Their full numbers are now 42-40 for Murray for the entire RV sample and 46-40 for Murray for the entire LV sample (i.e. those who voted in 2006), and she leads Generic R 44-39 among RVs (and 46-41 in the May 24-28 sample), but this poll has gotten so methodologically convoluted I'm not really sure it's worth much of anything at this point.
Murray got some good news today in the form of an endorsement, and it's not from a human but a corporation: Boeing. While she's received plenty of Boeing money in the past, I'm not aware of Boeing ever having explicitly endorsed her or anyone else before (although anyone with a pulse knows that Murray has taken over for Scoop Jackson as the "Senator from Boeing"). Frankly, in the state of Washington, this is a bigger endorsement than any human politician's endorsement would be, considering the way Boeing's tendrils reach so much of the state. Finally, the field of miscellaneous Republicans kept shrinking today, as chiropractor Sean Salazar (probably the first guy to try to grab the teabagger mantle here, although he got shoved over by Clint Didier) bailed out of the race and backed Rossi.
• WI-Sen: Here's a strange vulnerability for Ron Johnson in the Wisconsin Senate race: his fixation on opposing bipartisan Wisconsin state legislation making it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers. That'll require some explanation, and I assume it'll be something other than his current explanation, that such legislation would only lead to more victims of sexual abuse by making organizations likelier to sweep it under the carpet.
• IA-Gov: After endorsing a variety of misspelled odds-and-ends last week ("Cecil Bledsoe," "Angela McGowen," and Joe Miller), Sarah Palin went with a big gun this weekend, and it was one who doesn't match her carefully cultivated teabagging/religious right image at all: establishment retread Terry Branstad in Iowa. Is she counting on getting repaid by Branstad in the 2012 caucuses, if she decides to give up the grifting lifestyle and take the huge pay cut associated with running for President? (Branstad also has the backing of Mitt Romney, who seems more of a kindred spirit for him.)
• MI-Gov: The Schwarz is not with us after all. Joe Schwarz, the moderate ex-Rep. who got bounced from MI-07 in 2006 in the GOP primary by Tim Walberg, has decided against pursuing the independent bid in the Governor's race that he'd been threatening. On the surface, the loss of a center-right indie looks like bad news for the Dems, but depending on which two candidates match up in November, Schwarz could just have easily pulled more left-of-center votes... and in all likelihood, he wasn't going to rack up more than a few percent anyway.
• NY-Gov: In their standoff with Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo, the Working Families Party seems to have blinked first. They went ahead and nominated placeholders in the Governor, Lt. Gov, and AG slots, presumably to allow coordination with the Dem choices later. Cuomo had been leaning hard on the WFP to do so. The person most affected by this is state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, a Cuomo foe who had been considered the most likely WFP candidate for AG; instead, the WFP may wind up going with Nassau Co. DA Kathleen Rice, who's Cuomo's preferred AG for his informal "ticket."
• TX-Gov: The Greens are actually going to be on the ballot in Texas this year, for the gubernatorial race? I'm as surprised as you are, but it's less surprising when you find out who's behind it: Arizona Republican consultant Tim Mooney, who set up the petition drive to get them on the ballot (and who's also a veteran of the 2004 efforts to get Ralph Nader on as many states' ballots as possible). GOP incumbent Rick Perry faces a tough race from Dem former Houston mayor Bill White, and he can have a little breathing room if the Greens siphon off a few lefties.
• AR-01: Chad Causey has an interesting argument for Democratic runoff voters in the 1st not to vote for ex-state Sen. Tim Wooldridge: he's likely to bolt for the Republican Party at his earliest convenience. Causey's evidence for the flight risk posed by Wooldridge includes his very conservative voting record in the state legislature, starting with his pro-public hanging legislation. Wooldridge, for his part, said he'd never switch. The Wooldridge camp is also offering up an internal poll (no word on the pollster) claiming a 48-24 lead over Causey in the runoff.
• CA-19: SurveyUSA has one last poll of the race in the 19th's GOP primary, which they've polled exhaustively (and found almost exactly the same thing each time). However, this time it's a little more interesting: there seems to be some late movement to former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson, who now leads state Sen. Jeff Denham 34-30. Ex-Rep. Richard Pombo is back at 17, with Larry Westerlund at 8. On the Dem side, it's a 26-26 tie between Loraine Goodwin and Les Marsden.
• MN-06: What started out as a thorny three-way primary (when Elwyn Tinklenberg was in the race) has turned into a walk for Democratic state Sen. Tarryl Clark. Maureen Reed, a physician and former Independence Party Lt. Gov. candidate, ended her bid and endorsed Clark against Rep. Michele Bachmann. Reed had done surprisingly well at fundraising, but didn't have the institutional advantages that Clark did, especially once Clark got the DFL endorsement. Clark still has an uphill fight against Bachmann, who's insulated against likely future foot-in-mouth incidents by the district's reddish lean as well as a huge war chest.
• TN-08: A Hill piece on the possibility of another NRCC-touted candidate (in the form of Stephen Fincher) going down in flames actually has some nice dirt on all three Republicans contesting the primary in the 8th. Fincher, of course, is widely noted for his hypocrisy on attacking the federal government while receiving millions in farm subsidies, but it's also been revealed that he has voted in three Democratic primaries in the last eight years, "used virtually the same TV ad as a candidate for Alabama Agriculture Commisioner" (I have to assume it was an ad from one of the "thugs," since if he'd riiiiiiipped off Dale Peterson's ad, the whole blogosphere would already know about it by now), and perhaps most pathetically, misspelled "Tennessee" in a mailer. His challengers, Ron Kirkland and George Flinn, have their own troubles; Kirkland contributed to outgoing Democratic Rep. John Tanner in 2000 and 2004, while Flinn tried to cover up a lawsuit by a contractor who wasn't paid for remodeling work.
• GA-Sen: Here's some great news out of Georgia: we may actually score a late top-tier challenger in the Senate race. Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, who's held that office since 1998, has been considering promotion opportunities (including, reportedly, not just this but also a GA-12 primary challenge), and it looks like he's likely to pull the trigger on a run against Johnny Isakson. Isakson has had soft approval ratings, but has benefited from lack of much of a challenge (R.J. Hadley is the only announced Dem). A recent R2K poll had Thurmond losing to Isakson 53-26, but maybe that poll gave some encouragement to Thurmond in that he might be able to ride the surging Roy Barnes's coattails a bit (and maybe also give a boost to Barnes, by driving up African-American turnout).
• NV-Sen: Mason-Dixon, for the Las Vegas Review-Journal did another poll of the Nevada Senate, despite having issued one just a week ago. I'm not exactly sure why; perhaps they felt that, in the wake of Jon Scott Ashjian's bad week (with revelations of the financial disaster in his personal life, as well as the kerfuffle about whether he even qualifies for the ballot), they needed to re-evalute. They also added another right-wing third-party candidate to the mix, Tim Fasano of the American Independent Party. Polling only on the Harry Reid/Sue Lowden matchup, they find not much has changed. Ashjian's support has dropped, but that may have more to do with the addition of Fasano to the mix and the splitting of the hardcore no-RINOs crowd. They found Lowden 47, Reid 37, Fasano 3, and Ashjian 2. (Compared with last week's 46-38, with 5 for Ashjian.) At least one thing is going right for Ashjian: he was just given the green light by a court to remain on the ballot for the Tea Party, despite the fact that he was still a registered Republican when he filed.
• NY-Sen: The search goes on for a challenger to Chuck Schumer, and the GOP may have a willing victim: George Maragos. You can't fault Maragos for lack of ambition: he was just became Nassau County Comptroller at the start of the year, as part of the GOP's comeback in Nassau in November, and he's already looking to move up. Political consultant Jay Townsend has also floated his name for the race.
• WI-Sen: Beer baron (and former state Commerce Secretary) Dick Leinenkugel didn't waste much time following Tommy Thompson's rambling announcement of his non-candidacy; he issued a statement last night that sounds very candidate-ish, although the jist of it was to "stay tuned" over the next couple weeks.
• MN-Gov: Coleman endorses Rybak! No, relax, not Norm Coleman. Chris Coleman, mayor of St. Paul and an oft-rumored candidate himself last year, endorsed R.T. Rybak, mayor of the other Twin City (Minneapolis) for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
• CA-11: Here's a race to keep an eye on. David Harmer, who performed above expectations in the CA-10 special last year, is doing well in the next-door 11th also. He raised $380K last quarter, outpacing Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney's $286K.
• MN-06: Rep. Michele Bachmann rode the Crazy Train all the way to Moneyville, it looks like. She raised $810K in the first quarter, giving her $1.53 million CoH. If that number seems eerily familiar, it's almost exactly what was reported by Alan Grayson, her lightning-rod bookend at the other end of Congress.
• MO-08: Sleeper candidate Tommy Sowers reported a nice cash haul ($295K for the quarter), and now it looks like he's outraised incumbent GOP Rep. Jo Ann Emerson for the second straight quarter. She brought in only $223K.
• NC-08: One guy's who's lagging on the fundraising front -- although it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, given the last four years of history -- is Democratic freshman Rep. Larry Kissell (lauded, or notorious, depending on your perspective, for preferring to work on a shoestring budget). He raised only $72K for the quarter, giving him $326K CoH, as he was outpaced by self-funding GOP opponent Tim D'Annunzio.
• NV-03: Rep. Dina Titus may not be faring well in the polls against Joe Heck, but she's whupping him in the cash department. Titus raised $254K last quarter and has $902K CoH, compared with $148K raised and $257K CoH for Heck.
• NY-24: There's a less somewhere in here about keeping your base (you know, the ones holding the wallets) happy. Rep. Mike Arcuri's fundraising wasn't that impressive for a competitive race, as he raised $208K, leaving him with $493K CoH. He was outpaced by GOP rival Richard Hanna, who raised $358K (and reports the same amount as CoH).
• OH-15: Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy had a good quarter, raising $308K. It still wasn't enough to top her GOP competition, Steve Stivers, though; he reported $367K for the quarter.
• PA-10: Here's a loudly-touted GOP candidate who's not living up to the hype yet. Ex-US Attorney Tom Marino's first quarter was unimpressive, raising $111K and ending up with $74K CoH. Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Carney sits on $665K CoH.
• PA-12: The DCCC is getting involved in a big way in the 12th, laying out $136K for ad time in the special election in the 12th. The ad is a negative ad against the GOP's Tim Burns. Also, while he has a small cash edge over Dem Mark Critz right now, it's fitting that, given his name, Mr. Burns is self-funding his campaign. Of the $325K raised by his campaign so far, $221K has come from his own pocket.
• VA-11: It looks like this is going to be a big money race all around. As the gear up for the GOP primary, Fairfax Co. Supervisor Pat Herrity and rich guy Keith Fimian are engaged in a tiresome spin battle about who has more money. Herrity raised $275K despite a late entry during the quarter and has $195K CoH, while Fimian raised $278K and has $609K CoH. Rep. Gerry Connolly can marshal his resources for the general; he bested them both, raising $446K and sitting on $1.04 million CoH.
• WV-01: Mike Oliverio, running in the Democratic primary, had a big quarter: he raised $240K and has as much cash on hand as Rep. Alan Mollohan.
• NY-AG: Former Rep. and NYC controller Elizabeth Holtzman looks poised for yet another comeback; she's released an internal poll showing her with a big lead in the Democratic AG primary, which, while she's not running yet, isn't the usual action of someone who doesn't plan to run. Her poll finds her at 29%, with Nassau Co. DA Kathleen Rice in second at 9%.
• DNC: Someone at the DNC seems to know what to do: they're pledging to spend $50 million on cash and field operations for the 2010 midterm. They say there's going to be a big emphasis on base turnout (youth, African-Americans and Latinos, first-time voters); in other words, they understand they need to rebuild the Obama coalition as much as possible to limit losses in November.
• IA-Sen/Gov: The newest Des Moines Register poll by Selzer & Co. has some appalling numbers for Democrats. In the Senate race, Chuck Grassley leads Democratic challenger Roxanne Conlin 57-30. And in the gubernatorial race, incumbent Dem Chet Culver trails Republican ex-Gov. Terry Branstad by almost as wide a margin, 57-33 (with Culver also trailing conservative GOPer Bob vander Plaats 45-37, although Culver beats several other GOP minor-leaguers). A 24-point beatdown is hard to believe given Culver's poor-but-not-abysmal 40/49 approval rating, and this is way out of line with R2K's polling last month, but this being Iowa, I'd be hesitant to bet against Selzer. (Discussion already well underway in desmoinesdem's twodiaries.)
• IL-Sen: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who was considered a likely candidate in this race for a long time but eventually backed down, endorsed state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the Democratic primary. Giannoulias now has the endorsement of five of Illinois's twelve House Dems. Also today, Patrick Hughes, the conservative alternative to establishment GOP pick Rep. Mark Kirk, is in DC looking for support from conservative movement poohbahs. The DSCC has a well-worth-seeing video out detailing Kirk's transparent shift to the right (especially his pleas for help from Sarah Palin) as he seeks to fight off primary challenges.
• MA-Sen: The voter registration deadline to be able to participate in the primary special election to replace Ted Kennedy is this Wednesday. The primary itself is Dec. 8.
• NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov (pdf): Siena's monthly look at the Empire State shows a little improvement for Kirsten Gillibrand, who now narrowly leads ex-Gov. George Pataki, 45-44. She loses 49-43 to Rudy Giuliani; weirdly, while the rumor mill has until very recently had Pataki likelier to make the Senate race than Giuliani, Pataki now seems much likelier to run for President, while Liz Benjamin is now wondering if Giuliani's recent bout of national security saber-rattling shows he's more likely to run for Senate than Governor.
Meanwhile, Siena has yet another installment in the ongoing David Paterson implosion. Paterson's approval is down to 21/79, 69% would prefer to elect someone else, and he now loses the Democratic primary to Andrew Cuomo by a 59-point margin (75-16) while, in a first, also losing the general to Rick Lazio (42-39) as well as, natch, Giuliani (56-33). Cuomo defeats Giuliani 53-41 and Lazio 67-22. Latest Cuomo rumors involve him trying to assemble a whole slate to run with, and central to that is recruiting outgoing NYC comptroller William Thompson to run for state comptroller. Having the African-American Thompson on a 'ticket' with him would take some of the awkwardness out of Cuomo elbowing aside an African-American governor to avoid a replay of the 2002 gubernatorial primary. Cuomo also wants a female AG (possibly Nassau Co. DA Kathleen Rice) and an upstate LG to balance everything out. Still, that would set up a hot Democratic primary between Thompson and incumbent comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; there's some tension between Cuomo and DiNapoli, though, so that's another instance of two birds, one stone. Finally, in case there were any doubts, Hillary Clinton confirmed that she has no intention of getting in the gubernatorial race.
• SC-Sen: Lindsey Graham, although not up until 2014, could be going the way of Olympia Snowe. There are leaks of private polls showing that more Republicans oppose Graham than support him, and that his support among independents is dwindling too. I guess that's what happens when you vote the party line only 93% of the time.
• TX-Sen: Little-noticed in the announcement on Friday that Kay Bailey Hutchison was going to delay her resignation until after the gubernatorial primary election in March means that, unless she does it immediately afterwards, the special election won't be held until November 2010. Conventional wisdom is that this is good for the GOP, as the seat will be easier to hold as part of a larger election instead of on its own. (Of course, that assumes KBH resigns at all assuming she loses the gubernatorial primary, which somehow I doubt.) The Austin American-Statesman also has a good rundown on what the delay means to all of the potential players in the special election.
• ME-Gov: The Maine governor's race may well wind up as crowded as the one in Minnesota: we're up to 21 candidates, although most of them are minor. One more medium-to-big name is getting in today on the Dem side, though: John Richardson, the former House speaker and current commissioner of the state Dept. of Economic and Community Development. Current Conservation Commissioner Patrick McGowan is also looking likely to get in the Dem field.
• WY-Gov: Former US Attorney Matt Mead has formed an exploratory committee to run for the Republican nomination in next year's gubernatorial race in Wyoming. He joins state House speaker Colin Simpson and ex-state Rep. Ron Micheli in the hunt. Mead, you may recall, was one of the finalists to be picked to replace Craig Thomas in the Senate, but that post went to John Barrasso.
• IL-11: This isn't the way to get your campaign off on the right foot: Adam Kinzinger, who has the insider backing for the GOP nomination in the 11th, stormed out prior to a debate held by Concerned Taxpayers United against his primary competition when one of them, David McAloon, had a staffer with a video camera present. The base in the district is already suspicious of Kinzinger, and ticking them off this way can't help.
• NY-25: One race in a swing district that hasn't been on anyone's radar is NY-25, held by freshman Dem Dan Maffei. He's drawn two potential challengers, wealthy ex-turkey farmer Mark Bitz and former Syracuse Common Councilor Ann Marie Buerkle. Bitz hasn't held office before, but says he's prepared to loan himself a "substantial amount" of money. He'll need it, as Maffei has been one of the freshman class's top fundraisers.
• TN-01: Fans of wingnut-on-wingnt action may be disappointed to hear that it sounds unlikely for ex-Rep. David Davis to take on slightly-more-mainstream Rep. Phil Roe (who knocked out Davis in a 2008 primary) next year. Although he's been staying visible at local tea parties, Davis is focusing on paying down campaign debt from last time.
• UT-02: It doesn't sound like Rep. Jim Matheson is going to face a primary over his health care vote after all; state Sen. Scott McCoy said he didn't intend to go after Matheson, citing the difficulty of a run given the overall composition of the GOP-leaning district.
• Biden Alert: Joe Biden is in the midst of a western swing, doing a Sunday fundraiser for Rep. Dina Titus. Today he's holding events for Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell, Martin Heinrich, and Harry Teague, bringing the total to 26 for vulnerable House Dems he's campaigned for. Biden will also be in Connecticut next month for a Chris Dodd fundraiser.
• NRCC: To avoid a repeat of NY-23, the NRCC has basically turned the vetting process over to Grover Norquist and friends. Norquist said that at a recent meeting between the NRCC and conservative movementarians, 40 recruits were discussed and they apparently all met the litmus test (although Norquist grudgingly admitted that some of the northeasterners were "as good as it gets").
• WATN?: Ex-Rep. Bill Jefferson's going to the big house. On Friday, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison after his August conviction for money laundering and wire fraud; this is the longest sentence ever handed out to a former Congressman.
• Maps: As if electoral junkies didn't have enough online tools to geek out over, now there's this: super-helpful step-by-step instructions on how to generate a county-by-county map of the country on, well, whatever topic you want, using only free tools instead of expensive GIS software.
• Site News: We were so busy following the off-year elections that we didn't notice it at the time, but last month, the Swing State Project welcomed its seven millionth visitor. (Number six million came this past March.) Thanks, everyone! (D)
• CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons needs to look like one of those allegedly-not-quite-extinct moderate New England Republicans in order to get elected in Connecticut, but he's not doing himself any favors by appearing with Newt Gingrich at the annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner. With a large Puerto Rican population in Connecticut, Simmons probably doesn't want to be anywhere near Sonia Sotomayor's loudest and most toxic critic. Another problem for Simmons: businessman Tom Foley, the former ambassador to Ireland, made his official entry into the GOP primary field today. Foley, unlike Simmons, has deep pockets he can self-fund with.
• MN-Sen: Sources close to Norm Coleman are suggesting he won't appeal at the federal level if he loses his case with the Minnesota Supreme Court. Republicans still publicly say they'll try to stop any Dem efforts to seat Al Franken until Coleman has conceded or exhausted his appeals. John Cornyn has sent some mixed signals, though, saying it's "entirely" Coleman's decision whether to keep fighting and that he's "amazed that Sen. Coleman's been willing to persevere as long as he has."
• NV-Sen: Wondering why the GOP is having a hard time attracting a challenger to supposedly-vulnerable Harry Reid? Maybe it's because of his deep levels of support among much of the state's Republican establishment. The Reid camp released a list of 60 GOP endorsers, including, most prominently, soon-to-be-ex-First Lady (and former NV-02 candidate) Dawn Gibbons, Reno mayor Bob Cashell, and, in a move guaranteed to nail down the key 18-29 demographic, Wayne Newton.
• NH-Sen: Could it be that the NRSC could actually be stuck running Ovide Lamontagne against Rep. Paul Hodes? Just the very fact that the NRSC is talking to Lamontagne (a businessman whose one claim to fame is losing the 1996 governor's race to Jeanne Shaheen) with an apparently straight face should be a red flag that their top-tier possibilities (ex-Sen. John Sununu, ex-Rep. Charlie Bass) aren't looking likely.
• NY-Sen-B: Joe Biden reportedly had a sit-down earlier this week with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who may or may not be running in the Senate primary against Kirsten Gillibrand. Presumably the meeting would contain some of the same content as Barack Obama's now-famous phone call to Rep. Steve Israel.
• OH-Sen: If a candidate falls in the woods with no one around, does he make a sound? State Rep. Tyrone Yates has been exploring the Senate race for several months, and apparently found nothing that would help him overcome Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and SoS Jennifer Brunner, as he bowed out of the race.
• NJ-Gov: Rasmussen has the first post-primary poll of the New Jersey governor's race. Chris Christie may have gotten a bit of a brief unity bounce in the wake of his primary victory, as he's up to a 51-38 edge over Jon Corzine now, as opposed to 47-38 last month. There's one spot of 'good' news, as it were, for Corzine: his approval rating is back up to 42%.
• AZ-08: Construction company executive and ex-Marine Jesse Kelly seems to be the establishment GOP's choice to go against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2010. He announced endorsements from three House members: Trent Franks, Duncan Hunter, and Frank Wolf. (Not quite clear how endorsements from Hunter and Wolf help him in Arizona, though.)
• KS-01: State Senator Jim Barnett got into the race for the seat being vacated by Rep. Jerry Moran, who's running for Senate. Barnett may quickly become front-runner, based on his name recognition from being the 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate (where he lost the state as a whole to Kathleen Sebelius, but won the dark-red 1st). He's up against a more conservative state Senator Tim Huelskamp, and Sam Brownback's former chief of staff, Rob Wasinger. The primary is the whole shooting match in this R+23 district.
• KY-01: After the purchase of "whitfieldforsenate.com" got people's attention yesterday, Rep. Ed Whitfield had to tamp that down, confirming that he's running for re-election in his R+15 House seat.
• MN-06: Even if this goes nowhere, it's great to have a GOPer doing our framing for us... attorney Chris Johnston is publicly mulling a primary challenge to (his words, on his website) "'anti-American' hurling, malaprop-spouting, 'they took me out of context'" Rep. Michele Bachmann. He confirms that he and Bachmann share "strong conservative beliefs;" he just thinks the 6th would prefer someone "who thinks before they speak."
• NH-02: Attorney Ann McLane Kuster is launching an exploratory committee to run for the open seat left behind by Rep. Paul Hodes. St. Rep. John DeJoie is already in the primary field, and they may soon be joined by Katrina Swett.
• NY-03: Dems are scoping out potential candidates in Long Island's NY-03 (which fell to R+4 in the wake of 2008), thinking that even if Rep. Peter King doesn't vacate to run for Senate he's still vulnerable. The biggest fish would be Nassau Co. Exec Tom Suozzi, who seems to have bigger fish to fry (reportedly AG if Andrew Cuomo vacates). The next-biggest fish would Nassau Co. DA Kathleen Rice. Smaller fish listed include Isobel Coleman of the Council of Foreign Relations, and minor league baseball team owner Frank Boulton.
• NH-Legislature: It took a rewrite of a couple sentences that Gov. John Lynch didn't like, but after a few weeks of back-and-forth New Hampshire finally enacted gay marriage. Both chambers passed the amended bill yesterday (clearing the House 198-176) and Lynch signed it into law on the same day.