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Kenneth Lewis

SSP Daily Digest: 5/25 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Tue May 25, 2010 at 5:20 PM EDT

Idaho: The only state holding primaries tonight is Idaho, where the only race that's captivating is the Republican primary in ID-01 between Vaughn Ward and state Rep. Raul Labrador. Ward has quickly turned into one of this cycle's SSP favorites, parlaying early establishment backing and financial advantages into a dead heat with the teabaggish Labrador through repeat instances of plagiarism and general cluelessness. In fact, the latest incident came just today, when Idaho's senior senator Mike Crapo asked Ward to clarify an inaccurate e-mail that implied Ward had Crapo's endorsement. In a Mason-Dixon poll from several days ago, Ward led Labrador 31-28. Politico has some extra background on the race today, focusing on the bizarre intramural rivalries within the Tea Party movement, as local Labrador-backing teabaggers have split off into the Tea Party People's Front and the People's Front of Tea Party over the national Tea Party Express's backing of Ward.

The Republican primary in the Governor's race is also tonight, with incumbent Butch Otter facing challenges from wacko businessman Rex Rammell (whom you may remember from the 2008 Senate race, where he ran as an independent) and Ada Co. Commissioner Sharon Ullman. Otter, who was a libertarian-leaning House member prior to being Governor, hasn't really drawn the wrath of the Tea Party though, and is polling well; the same Mason-Dixon poll finds him at 60%, with no opponent over 6%. Most polls in Idaho close at 8 pm Mountain time (10 Eastern), with some closing at 8 pm Pacific (11 Eastern).

AR-Sen: The AFSCME is up with an $855K ad buy with a negative ad throwing the kitchen sink at Blanche Lincoln, even making fun of her absentee ballot screwup on Election Day. In Arkansas's cheap media markets, that's enough to keep the ads running all the way through the runoff.

CA-Sen: While we at SSP are pleased and even a little honored that political insiders seem to be not only reading us but actually taking seriously things that we say, we also realize that they might not be familiar with all internet conventions. SSP allows (and encourages) user diaries. What is said in these diaries is not reflective of the opinions of the site's editors. So, for instance, if a user diary says that CA-Sen is a "Tossup," that does not mean that Swing State Project is calling CA-Sen a "Tossup," which is precisely what the Carly Fiorina campaign was busy tweeting today.

NC-Sen: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Third-place Democratic primary finisher Kenneth Lewis has signed on as campaign chair for Elaine Marshall. Marshall faces a runoff against Cal Cunningham, who got a good endorsement of his own yesterday, from Jim Neal (who you might remember lost the 2008 Senate primary after running to Kay Hagan's left).

WI-Sen: You see allegations of this kind of thing in small-ball state legislative contests a lot, but usually when you get up to the U.S. Senate level, you have your staffers do this kind of thing. Well, I guess Ron Johnson is a man of the people, willing to go out there and get his own hands dirty tearing down his opponents' signs (as seen on this video).

AL-Gov: Artur Davis is out with a last-minute hit on Ron Sparks, throwing around "corruption" in reference to the thorny issue (in Alabama) of gambling. Usually campaigns like to close on a happy note; is Davis worried about a last-minute Sparks surge?

MN-Gov: With Margaret Anderson Kelliher having announced a running mate pick, the other two guys in the Democratic primary have now, too. Mark Dayton picked state Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon. She represents Duluth, an important but oft-overlooked Democratic stronghold in the state's north. Matt Entenza seems to be going for star power rather than geographical balance, though, reportedly asking retiring news anchorwoman Robyne Robinson.

CA-36: Looks like the Democratic primary between Rep. Jane Harman and activist Marcy Winograd is getting nationalized. Democracy for America (the descendant of the Dean campaign) is endorsing Winograd over the centrist Harman in this D+12 district.

HI-01: A day after sounding noncommital about running in the regularly-scheduled primary in the 1st after finishing a surprising 3rd in the jungle-style special election, Ed Case is now confirming that he will keep running. Case has challenge Colleen Hanabusa to jointly commission a poll on who's more competitive against Charles Djou (who was sworn in today, by the way) and the loser would drop out. Um, maybe the time to do that would be before the weird special election, not before the conventional primary where Hanabusa's probably the favorite.

OH-18: State Sen. Bob Gibbs and ex-state Agriculture Director Fred Dailey will have to wait a while longer for a conclusion to their super-close GOP primary, as SoS Jennifer Brunner ordered a recount. Gibbs finished ahead of Dailey by 156 votes, out of 52,700 (so it falls within the half a percentage point margin where an automatic recount is ordered by state law).

VA-02: The GOP primary in the 2nd seems to be following a familiar pattern this cycle: the establishment candidate wins with a plurality after the Tea Partiers and assorted other hard-right constituencies can't unite behind any one standard-bearer. A POS internal poll from wealthy auto dealer Scott Rigell (who has a bipartisan contibution record that must be dismaying to the local teabaggery) has Rigell way in the lead at 47, followed by 10 for Bert Mizusawa, 9 for Scott Taylor, 6 for Ben Loyola, and 1 each for Ed Maulbeck and Jessica Sandlin. Virginia's primary is on June 8, but remember that, unlike most Southern states, they don't employ runoffs.

WI-07: EMILY's List is getting involved in the open seat race in the 7th, now that state Sen. Julie Lassa has the Democratic field to herself. Their endorsement give her access to a nationwide donor base.

Nevada: Democrats in Nevada have been able to point to a steadily increasing registration advantage over the last few years, but that petered out in the state's newest release of numbers. The GOP increased its share, not by gaining more new registrations than the Dems, but by losing fewer registrations! Dems lost 42K since January, the GOP lost 20K, and nonpartisans went down 13K. I doubt people are burning their registration cards in a fit of pique, which instead suggests that there's a lot of migration out of Nevada this year as it's particularly hard hit by unemployment and foreclosures.

Redistricting: Here's some bipartisanship you can believe in: GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown -- both beneficiaries of minority-majority districts, including an ugly gerrymandered one in Brown's case -- joined together to sue to stop the Fair Districts initiative that will be on Florida's ballot in November.  

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SSP Daily Digest: 5/19

by: Crisitunity

Wed May 19, 2010 at 4:36 PM EDT

CA-Sen: Good news for Tom Campbell, in the form of the Senate half of M4's poll of the California GOP primary: he leads Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore, 33-28-15. (Of course, with his plans to briefly go dark to conserve funds, that gives Fiorina a chance to play catchup when the margin's not that big.) Bad news for Campbell, though: the NRA has him in its metaphorical crosshairs, sending out a mailer to members attacking Campbell and, while not endorsing, offering kind words for Fiorina and DeVore.

CT-Sen: This is going to make it a lot easier for Richard Blumenthal to make the case that the "in Vietnam" controversy is something of a cheap shot. A longer-form video release of the appearance (provided, ironically, by the Linda McMahon campaign, undercutting their own hatchet job) where the offending phrase occurred have him correctly referring to having "served in the military, during the Vietnam era" in the very same speech. That's not stopping Vietnam vet Rob Simmons, who, sensing an opening, has rolled out web advertising with "Blumenthal Lied About Vietnam" in very large letters.

Blumenthal is getting more explicit backing from Democratic bigwigs now, as his mea culpa/attempt to get back on the offense seems to have had the desired effect. Rep. Chris Murphy, the likeliest guy to pick up the pieces if Blumenthal had to bail out, offered his unqualified support; so too did Howard Dean. And here's one thing that's actually good about Rasmussen's one-day, no-callback samples: they can strike fast. They polled Connecticut, and while the trendlines aren't appealing, they find Blumenthal still beating McMahon even in the heat of the moment before the story has had time to digest, and beating the other, unmoneyed GOP opponents by pretty wide margins. Markos has some really nice pushback against Rasmussen in general, today, asking why they always poll quickly when there's the potential for a good Republican narrative but not when the narrative doesn't fit (as seen in their failure to poll the Sorta Super-Tuesday primaries).

FL-Sen: Charlie Crist has been trying to woo union support, starting with a speech at the state AFL-CIO convention this weekend. It's another indication that he's trying to move squarely onto Kendrick Meek's turf and monopolize as much of the left-of-center vote as he can, now that he's free from his GOP shackles. Meanwhile, quixotic Democratic candidate Jeff Greene has apparently been seen wooing Ukrainian strippers, in 2005 on his 145-foot yacht while cruising the Black Sea. Not so, claims his campaign spokesperson; he was busy traveling with his rabbi at the time instead.

KY-Sen: In case you needed one more data point on how thin-skinned Rand Paul and how likely a meltdown from him is at some point before November, here's an anecdote from last night: he refused to take the customary concession call from Trey Grayson, at least according to the Grayson camp.

NC-Sen: Here's a big score for Elaine Marshall: Third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis gave his backing to Marshall in her runoff against Cal Cunningham. This move isn't so surprising, given that Lewis's supporters, like Rep. Eva Clayton, were already gravitating toward Marshall, but it ought to steer much of Lewis's African-American and youth base in her direction as well.

NV-Sen: Three items, all of which are very, very bad for Sue Lowden. First, the Club for Growth finally weighed into the Senate primary, and they backed right-winger Sharron Angle (maybe not that surprising, since they backed her in the 2006 primary for NV-02). That ought to give Angle a further shot of adrenaline, though, on top of her Tea Party Express endorsement and polling momentum. Lowden is also still bogged down in controversy over her luxury bus, doubling-down on her claims that use of the $100K vehicle was leased despite also having stated elsewhere that the bus was "donated" (which means it would have needed to be reported as an in-kind contribution). That's nothing, though, compared to the (by my count) quintupling-down on Chickens-for-Checkups, simultaneously trying to fight top Nevada journo Jon Ralston on the fact that, yes, people are bartering for health care while trying to claim that she never actually said anything about Chickencare at all.

NY-Sen-B: The only GOP big name left who hadn't said anything definitive about participating in the GOP Senate primary for the right to get creamed by Kirsten Gillibrand finally said a public "no." Orange County Executive Ed Diana said he'll stick with his current job, to which he was elected in November to a third term.

UT-Sen: Looks like that teabaggers' victory in Utah might be short-lived. Bob Bennett seems to be more interested than before in running as a write-in in the general (where, despite the complex dynamics of a write-in campaign, he faces better odds with the broader electorate than with the narrow slice of extremists running the GOP convention). We may know tomorrow what his plans are, as he emphasized "Stay tuned tomorrow."

WA-Sen: If Dino Rossi really is still interested in running for Senate, this isn't a particularly good way of showing it. Rossi is scheduled to make a blockbuster appearance on May 25... to give opening remarks at a dinnertime seminar for local real estate investors focusing on strategies for profiting off foreclosures. Because nothing says "I'm a man of the people" than knowing all the ins and outs of how to profit off the people's misery.

AL-Gov: Artur Davis is out with an internal poll, that seems mostly oriented toward countering the sense that he's losing ground among his African-American base. The poll shows Davis leading Democratic primary rival Ron Sparks 46-33. It also shows Davis leading 50-25 among African-Americans (despite the defections of some prominent local black groups), while trailing Sparks 42-41 among whites.

FL-Gov: Bill McCollum is going to have to start taking moneybags Rick Scott seriously, and he's striking hard, sending out a press release calling him an "embarrassment" and a "fraud," presumably in reference to allegations leveled against Scott's health care firm. Scott's ginormous introductory ad buy is now estimating at $6.3 million.

KS-Gov: Sam Brownback is drawing some heat for taking things out of context. Now, politicians take things out of context all the time, but his sleight-of-hand in attempting to fight efforts to more tightly regulate the business of car loans to military members may be a fridge too far.

"CNN Money on May 13 reported that 'Raj Date ... agreed that the additional (Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection) regulation might cause some dealers to stop arranging loans," Brownback said in the letter.
But Brownback's letter did not include the rest of Date's comment, which was this, "There will be some dealers who say, 'If I have to play by an honest set [of] rules, then I can't be in this business anymore.' I'm not going to shed any tears for these dealers."

MA-Gov: You may recall last week's Rasmussen MA-Gov poll where, in an effort to find some sort of good news, they found that, if liberal activist Grace Ross somehow beat incumbent Dem Deval Patrick in the primary, she would lost to GOPer Charlie Baker. Well, it's looking like Ross is in danger of not even making it onto the ballot. The state SoS says she has only a little more than half of the 10,000 signatures she needs; Ross promises an announcement tomorrow morning on her next step. (The upside for Patrick, if Ross qualifies for the primary though, would be $750K in public financing for his campaign, which he wouldn't be entitled to if he were running unopposed.)

ME-Gov: There's been some ongoing controversy in the sleepy Maine governor's race about how Republican candidate Steve Abbott (former CoS to Susan Collins) wound up with GOP voter lists, but this is a strange turn: the state Republican party chair, Charlie Webster, is now saying that Abbott's camp flat-out "stole" it.

GA-09: The special election to replace Nathan Deal (where GOPers Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins are in a runoff) seems to have winnowed the Republican field for the regularly-scheduled GOP primary, too. Former state Senate majority leader Bill Stephens has dropped out of contention in that field.

HI-01: Even if something incredibly dramatic happens between now and Saturday's drop-dead date in the special election in the 1st, things are still pretty much cast in stone. In the all-mail in election, now 43% of all ballots sent out have been returned.

IN-03: State Sen. Marlin Stutzman (whose name rec is sky-high right now after running fairly well in the GOP Senate primary against Dan Coats) says that he's going to strike while the iron is hot, and get into the race to replace resigning Rep. Mark Souder. Other GOPers confirming that they'll run include state Rep. Randy Borror, Ft. Wayne city councilor Liz Brown, and recent primary loser Phil Troyer. Another recent primary loser, Bob Thomas, is a potential candidate.

OH-16: After having found an excuse to hide behind the door the last time Barack Obama came to Ohio, Rep. John Boccieri was proudly with him when he visited Youngstown yesterday. Perhaps he can sense a bit of a turning of the tide? Troublingly, though, Senate candidate Lee Fisher wasn't present.

PA-12: PPP digs through the data from their last pre-election poll in the 12th and finds what may really have done the Republicans in. There's one entity in the district even more unpopular than Barack Obama (who had 30% approval), and that's Congressional Republicans, who were at a miserable 22/60. In nationalizing the election, Tim Burns tied himself to the nation's least favorite people of all.

PA-19: After having surviving his primary last night despite publicly seeking another job, it looks like Rep. Todd Platts exposed himself to all that danger for no reason at all. Platts announced yesterday that the Obama administration had let him know that he wasn't going to be selected for the Government Accountability Office job he'd been angling for.

CT-AG: Here's one of the weirdest career crash-and-burns I've seen lately: SoS Susan Bysiewicz went in a few months from likely next Governor to somehow not even eligible to run for the lower-tier job she dropped down to. Connecticut's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that she didn't meet the criteria for legal experience required to become AG, reversing a lower court's decision. Former Democratic state Sen. George Jepsen now has the AG job pretty much to himself. At any rate, with Bysiewicz now combing the "Help Wanted" section, that gives the Connecticut Dems a fallback plan for the Senate if Richard Blumenthal does need to bail out (although Bysiewicz may be seriously damaged at this point too).

OR-St. House: Here are a couple races with interesting implications that I forgot to watch last night: two Republican state Reps. from the high-desert parts of Oregon (the state's Republican stronghold) committed the unthinkable heresy of not only bipartisanship but supporting tax increases to close the state's budget gap. Both Bob Jenson and Greg Smith survived their primaries, though, after teabaggers, right-to-lifers, and even their state House minority leader turned their wrath against them.

Arizona: One other election result from last night that most people, us included, seemed to overlook was Proposition 100 in Arizona. In a surprise, at least to those people who think that it's a rabidly anti-tax year (which would be those people who didn't pay any attention to Measures 66 and 67 earlier this year in Oregon), the people of this red state voted by a fairly wide margin for a temporary sales tax increase as part of a package of changes to close the budget gap. It's a victory for Jan Brewer, actually, who backed the plan (perhaps feeling safer to do so, having solidified her position with her support for the "papers please" law).

1994: When you have a wave, a lot of dead wood washes up on the beach. Prompted by '94 alum Mark Souder's mini-scandal and resignation, Dana Milbank looks back at the wide array of scoundrels and rogues who were swept in in 1994.

History: History's only barely on the side of Blanche Lincoln when it comes to runoffs. It turns out that the person who finishes first in a runoff wins 72% of the time, but when that's limited only to runoffs in primaries, the success rate is only 55%... and Lincoln's victory over Bill Halter last night was a particularly close one.

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SSP Daily Digest: 5/12 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Wed May 12, 2010 at 7:13 PM EDT

FL-Sen: Charlie Crist went the full-on "I" today; he made a big show of switching his own party registration to "no party affiliation" today, to match having filed as an independent to run for Senate. Free from his Republican shackles, Crist is also following through on plans to call a special legislative session on oil drilling, which could result in Floridians voting on a constitutional amendment to ban offshore drilling in Florida waters. And one final middle-finger to his former Republican allies: after previously saying he was open to refunding money to donors unhappy with his party switch, today he said he wouldn't be giving any contributions back.

NC-Sen (pdf): PPP's out with another quick poll of the runoff for the Democratic Senate nomination between Cal Cunningham and Elaine Marshall. It's a tie, with Cunningham and Marshall both at 36. While this would initially suggest that Cunningham (who finished 2nd) is picking up the bulk of the also-rans' votes, that's not the case; Marshall is still leading among liberals and African-Americans, which probably means she's getting most Kenneth Lewis voters. PPP's analysis is that Cunningham's improved standing is a result of an enthusiasm gap between their supporters; Cunningham backers seem likelier to actually show up for the runoff.

NV-Sen: Here's something we haven't seen in probably more than a year, which is half a lifetime in politics years: Harry Reid is posting a lead. Now, granted, this is a Democratic poll, although not a Reid internal; it was taken by Dem pollster Fairbanks Maslin on behalf of the New West Project. But still, this shows that the chickens have come home to roost for Sue Lowden, in the wake of her quadrupling-down on her HCR gaffe; she's now trailing Reid 42-35 (with 5 for Tim Fasano, 3 for Scott Ashjian). Reid is tied with Danny Tarkanian, who isn't gaffe-tainted (and in fact is now trying to tar and feather Lowden with it in the primary), at 37-37 (with 7 for Fasano and 2 for Ashjian).

UT-Sen: One impure collaborationist down, one to go. With Bob Bennett out, teabagger frenzy is now turning to Orrin Hatch. Mason-Dixon finds Hatch's 2012 numbers pretty weak, with a 35% re-elect and 51% wanting someone else. And that "someone else" is already making his interest known, more than two years out (probably with an eye toward goading the 78-year-old Hatch into retirement): ambitious freshman Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

WI-Sen: Wealthy businessman Ron Johnson, the teabaggers' horse in the Wisconsin Senate GOP derby, made it official, filing as a candidate today. He'll officially launch his bid next Monday.

AL-Gov: Bradley Byrne, the supposed moderate (by Alabama GOP standards) in the race, has had to two-step to the right and defend his creationist cred, after an ad from the "True Republican PAC" attacked him for the unforgivable sin of teaching evolution in schools. Turns out that there's some tasty Democratic dirty pool behind all this: the True Republican PAC is funded by the state teacher's union, the Alabama Education Association (who are also Ron Sparks' biggest financial backer). Their rationale seems to be that they'd rather, Gray Davis-style, torpedo Bradley Byrne in the GOP primary, on the assumption that he'd be the most difficult Republican to beat in the general.

CT-Gov: On the Chris Cillizza hierarchy of endorsements, I think this one falls under the category of "10) Wtf?" State Sen. minority leader John McKinney, who'd considered a gubernatorial run himself, endorsed neither of the GOP frontrunners, but rather the random businessman with the weird name, Oz Griebel. The former head of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce has been polling in the low single digits.

OH-Gov: Lehman Brothers keeps turning into a bigger and bigger albatross around John Kasich's neck. It turns out that Kasich, while he was head of Lehman's Columbus office in 2002, tried to convince two state pension funds (OPFPF and OPERS) to invest with the now-imploded investment bank.

OR-Gov: Yet another poll of the primaries in the Oregon gubernatorial race, confirming what's come into pretty sharp focus lately, that it'll be a John Kitzhaber/Chris Dudley matchup in November. Local pollster Tim Hibbitts, on behalf of assorted media outlets including Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Portland Tribune, found Kitzhaber beating Bill Bradbury 53-23 on the Dem side. For the GOPers, Dudley leads Allen Alley by a not-overwhelming 33-23, but there's little time left for Alley to make a move. (John Lim is at 8 and Bill Sizemore is at 6.) They also looked at the Dem primary in the special election for Treasurer, finding a competitive race with lots of undecideds: appointed incumbent (and ex-Multnomah Co. Chair) Ted Wheeler leads state Sen. Rick Metsger 29-24.

WA-Gov: The rumor du jour is that Chris Gregoire is now on the short list to become Solicitor General, assuming Elena Kagan gets promoted to the SCOTUS. Allow me to say: bad idea, if only because it means at least several months of Governor Brad Owen. Under Washington law, though, Owen wouldn't serve for long, as a special election would be held. The timeline varies, depending on when Gregoire might quit as Governor. If it happens before May 31, a primary would be held, followed by a two-person general in November. If it happens after May 31 but before October 3, it would result in a jungle-style election in November. And if it happens after October 3, we'd be blessed with two full years of Owen. One other major wrinkle: if this looks like it has legs, it may shut the door on a Dino Rossi run for the Senate, as it's a poorly-kept secret that he'd really prefer another gubernatorial run rather than wasting his third strike on getting pasted by Patty Murray, and this would be the way for him to do it.

NY-29: David Paterson did the unthinkable and called a special election for the 29th. Heh... except he called it for the regularly-scheduled election day in November, so the winner will get to serve for a few weeks in the lame duck session, Snelly Gibr-style. Smart move by the Gov, as it saves Dems from a potentially embarrassing special election on a day when that's the only story. Instead, the outcome will probably be that Tom Reed gets to start work a few weeks early.

PA-12: Two polls are out today in the 12th, both giving a single-digit lead to Democrat Mark Critz. One poll is a Critz internal, so you'd expect a lead there: Global Strategy Group gives him an 8-point lead of 44-36 (up from 41-38 in mid-April). But the other is from Susquehanna, a pollster who often works for Republican candidates but here is polling on behalf of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (the GOP paper in town). They find Critz up 44-38, and Critz even leads by 19 among "super voters" (who've voted in 3 of the last 4 primaries). Interestingly, they find Republican Tim Burns' woes increasing on two different fronts: he's also in a "dead heat" with BaseConnect stooge Bill Russell (who got passed over for the special election nod) in the regularly-scheduled GOP primary on the same day. For some reason, specific numbers weren't available for the GOP primary or the Dem primary, although it says Critz has "a majority" against Ryan Bucchanieri.

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SSP Daily Digest: 5/7 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Fri May 07, 2010 at 3:05 PM EDT

CA-Sen: Hell hath no fury like a teabagger scorned, and now the swarm is turning its anger on the queen bee. Even Sarah Palin's popularity apparently has limits, as she's getting all sorts of blowback (at her Facebook page, mostly) from California's right-wingers upset over her endorsement of corporate GOPer Carly Fiorina instead of true believer Chuck DeVore.

KY-Sen: Research 2000, on behalf of various local news outlets, polled the primaries in Kentucky, finding, in the Democratic field, Dan Mongiardo leading Jack Conway 39-32 (with 12 opting for one of the three minor candidates). On the GOP side, Rand Paul leads Trey Grayson 44-32. The same poll has perilously low approvals for Majority leader Mitch McConnell, down to 41/49. And guess who's taking notice? Democratic state Auditor Crit Luallen -- one of our commenters, nrimmer, reports that she's sending out fundraising e-mails raising the possibility of a 2014 challenge.

Dan Mongiardo is also out with an internal poll, in the wake of the Conway camp releasing one with Conway in the lead. Mongo's poll, taken by Garin Hart Yang, has him up 46-34 (although he can't be psyched about the trendlines; his internal poll from February had him up 43-25). One other note from this race: an Iowa-based group, American Future Fund, is running an anti-Paul ad on TV. AFF claims to be about "free market views," so I'm not sure what their beef with Paul is (you don't get much more free market than that), but at any rate, their ad features a chiming cuckoo clock in it, which nicely underscores Paul's, um, cuckoo-ness.

NC-Sen: Third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis finds himself in something of the kingmaker's seat, after preventing Elaine Marshall or Cal Cunningham from avoiding a runoff in the Democratic primary. Lewis says he's not sure who he'll endorse or even if he will endorse, but both camps are, naturally, reaching out to him and his supporters (including Mel Watt and Harvey Gantt).

PA-Sen/PA-Gov (pdf): There's clearly a lot of day-to-day volatility in the Muhlenberg/Morning Call daily tracker of the Dem primaries, but you can't deny this is a blockbuster result: Joe Sestak has drawn even with Arlen Specter for the first time, as they tie at 43-all today. Maybe that ad with all those purdy pictures of him with George Bush and Sarah Palin is having the desired effect? On the gubernatorial side, Dan Onorato is at 35, Joe Hoeffel at 11, Anthony Williams at 10, and Jack Wagner at 8.

UT-Sen: Tomorrow may well be the end of the line for Bob Bennett, the three-term Senator from Utah. He's poised to get kicked to the curb at tomorrow's nominating convention by his state's far-right activist base for the crime of actually trying to legislate. Bennett's getting some last-minute hits from robocalls from the Gun Owners of America, but that's pretty tame compared with some of the other over-the-top attacks being leveled at other candidates (like Mike Lee as Hitler?). Michael Steele, wary of treading on the base's toes in a no-win situation, has announced his staying neutral in the nominating process.

MA-Gov: Looks like you don't want to get on Tim Cahill's bad side (or maybe more accurately, on the bad side of media consultant John Weaver, who's also working on the oddball campaigns of Rick Snyder in Michigan and Steve Levy in New York). After a hard hit from the RGA, the Cahill camp retaliated with a web video pegging RGA chair Haley Barbour as a Confederate sympathizer and corrupt lobbyist. The RGA fired back saying the Cahill camp had responded like "scalded apes" (strange metaphor, but it has a certain evocative charm).

OR-Gov: That SurveyUSA poll that had Republican primary results that was leaked a few days ago is fully available now, and it also contains Democratic primary results. John Kitzhaber seems poised to roll over Bill Bradbury; he leads 54-16. (As reported earlier, Chris Dudley led on the GOP side, although only at 28%.)

RI-Gov: The DGA is going on the offensive against independent Lincoln Chafee, seeing him (and certainly not Republican John Robitaille) as their main impediment to picking up the governor's office. They've launched an anti-Chafee site... and here's an indication of the candidates' positioning in this scrambled race: they're actually attacking Chafee from the right, focusing on Chafee's love of taxes.

HI-01: One candidate who isn't running away from Barack Obama is Ed Case, who's up with a new TV ad throwing his arms around the hometown favorite. "Only one candidate is strong enough to stand with the President: Ed Case!" intones the ad. Despite the White House's behind-the-scenes finger-on-the-scale, though, Obama hasn't officially come out in favor of Case.

ID-01: I wonder what think tank the right-wing's current fixation with the 17th Amendment recently bubbled up from? I thought it was a weird aberration when Steve Stivers started up about it, but now it's an issue in the GOP primary in the 1st, where all of a sudden the two contestants, Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward, are trying to out-Seventeenther each other. Has Frank Luntz actually tried running the idea through one of his focus groups of taking away people's rights to vote for their Senators? Somehow I doubt it polls well.

WATN?: Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Former Republican state Senate majority leader Joe Bruno just got sentenced to two years in federal prison for fraud and abuse of office. It's worth noting, though, that the sentence was stayed until the SCOTUS can rule on the "honest services" issue that's before it, so it could be a long time, if ever, before Bruno's wearing stripes.

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Election Night Results Wrapup

by: Crisitunity

Wed May 05, 2010 at 3:05 PM EDT

Yesterday's primary elections in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio showed two things: one, despite all the huffing and puffing about it being an anti-incumbent year and there being a massive wave of teabaggers ready to take the system down, establishment candidates still won pretty much everything. And two, the enthusiasm gap between the parties that we've been warned about is definitely out there, and numbers from last night back that up.

Indiana: Indiana was the case study for what went wrong with the anti-establishment candidates -- there were just too many of them. In Republican race after race, the anti-establishment votes were split between too many candidates, letting the incumbents or the anointed challengers slip through; had the teabaggers had the presence of mind to unite behind one person, they could have done some actual damage. In the Senate primary, 90s-leftover Dan Coats won with a tepid 39%, beating state Sen. Marlin Stutzman (standard-bearer of the DeMint wing of the teabaggers) at 29 and ex-Rep. John Hostettler (representing the Paulist wing) at 23. As we've wondered openly before at SSP, I have no idea whether that's better or worse for Democrats, seeing as how Coats has access to actual money but also a dump-truck full of vulnerabilities (starting off with the possibility that the NRA might actually support Brad Ellsworth over the Brady Bill-supporting Coats).

The same dynamic played out in a slew of House races. In IN-03, somnambulistic Rep. Mark Souder won with 48% over two opponents, Bob Thomas at 34% and Phil Troyer at 16%. In the open seat race in IN-04, SoS Todd Rokita only cleared 42%, although there were 13 contestants in the race and his nearest rival, Brandt Hershman, only reached 17%. In IN-05, widely disliked Rep. Dan Burton managed to way underperform his 52% from his last primary: he only got to 30%; luckily for him, his opposition was so chopped up that he still survived, with former state GOP chair Luke Messer coming closest at 28%. In IN-08, the NRCC's pick, surgeon Larry Bucshon, barely survived a horde of teabaggers, most of whom coalesced behind Kristi Risk, whom he beat 33-29. And in IN-09, a three-way duel between ex-Rep. Mike Sodrel, establishment pick attorney Todd Young, and teabagger fave Travis Hankins wound up with Young winning with 34%, with Hankins at 32% and Sodrel at 30% (sparing us Baron Hill vs. Sodrel Round Five). The only dominant performance was Jackie Wolarski in IN-02, who picked up 61% of the vote to Jack Jordan's 28%.

As with Coats, it's unclear to me who we'd rather have faced in those races. In each case, it was a choice between an establishment guy with money but who isn't going to excite the GOP base, vs. an outsider without the connections or, possibly, the campaign chops. Maybe Risk's loss will help with Democrat Trent Van Haaften's outreach to the local teabaggery, and in the 9th, while it's sad Baron Hill won't get to face off against the increasingly laughable Sodrel, Young seems to come with his own set of problems (first and foremost, a big recent donation from Don Blankenship, controversial CEO of coal mining company Massey Energy).

North Carolina: The big story in North Carolina was the Democratic primary in the Senate race. Thanks to a fairly strong performance from third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis, nobody cleared the 40% mark, and we're headed to a June 22 runoff between SoS Elaine Marshall and ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham, which'll be a duel between name rec (Marshall) and money (Cunningham). Marshall finished at 36%, Cunningham at 27%, and Lewis at 17%.

At the House level, in the main race where the GOP is playing offense, the primary is also headed to a runoff. In NC-08, unhinged rich guy Tim D'Annunzio got 37% and ex-sportscaster Harold Johnson got 33%. NC-11 had looked like it was also headed to a runoff, but by night's end businessman Jeff Miller barely cleared the hurdle, with 40.2%. In both those races, the Dem incumbents got mild rebukes from their bases (presumably over their anti-HCR votes), with Larry Kissell getting only 63% and Heath Shuler getting 62%. In NC-06 and NC-10, geriatric Howard Coble (64%) and bombastic Patrick McHenry (63%) also underperformed against fractured opposition. You have to look further downballot to see any bodies falling: five incumbent state legislators lost their primaries (four of them Dems, although some of these look like safe seats).

Ohio: The main event in Ohio was the Senate primary for Democrats, where Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, as expected beat SoS Jennifer Brunner 55-45. Considering how vastly Brunner was outspent, and the trajectory of the last week's polls, it's actually surprising it was that close. Apparently Brunner's hard work on the ground in some of Ohio's reddish areas in the last weeks of the campaign paid off some dividends, as she put up big leads in the Cincinnati area (Hamilton and Clermont Counties). Naturally, it leaves you to wonder what she could have done if she'd had some actual money.

In the House, OH-02 was the scene of two contested primaries. Rep. Jean Schmidt survived her primary challenge with little trouble, beating Warren Co. Commissioner Mike Kilburn 62-22. On the Dem side, Surya Yalamanchili squeaked out a 41-38 win over David Krikorian, with apparently enough people repulsed by both to give 22% to Some Dude J. Parker. Krikorian continued to be a douchebag even in defeat, accusing Yalamanchili of having played "the race card." The establishment candidates in the two other big GOP primaries both prevailed: in OH-16, Jim Renacci got 49% to 40% for Matt Miller (his third straight time breaking 40% but losing the GOP primary here). And state Sen. Bob Gibbs, the NRCC's recruit in OH-18, seems to have beaten Fred Dailey by about 200 votes (at 21% each), although this race appears headed to a recount. (One would be hard-pressed to call Dailey, the 2008 nominee and former state Agriculture Director, an outsider candidate, although at least he was certainly angry this time around.)

In Ohio, there were also some allegedly hot primaries for the GOP in statewide races, where teabagger favorites were taking on establishment picks, that also turned out to be a big bucket of nothing. In the SoS primary, state Sen. Jon Husted beat Sandra O'Brien 67-33, while in the Auditor race, Delaware Co. Prosecutor Dave Yost (who was the teabagger fave when he was in the AG race running against the guy they really hate, Mike DeWine, but became their enemy when he switched over to the Auditor's race against the guy they liked) beat state Rep. Seth Morgan 65-35.

Finally, as I said at the start, there's the matter of turnout disparities. Reid Wilson points to how only 662K voters voted in the OH-Sen Democratic primary, which was lower than the number of Democratic voters (872K) in the Democratic primary in 2006 (where there was no contested D primary in either the Governor or Senate races). That jibes with the broader numbers we've been seeing about enthusiasm gaps (as with Gallup's recent poll showing 43% of Republicans are "very enthused" about voting, while 33% of Democrats are). The falloff was similar in Indiana, where only 204K Dems participated as opposed to 304K in 2006, although it's worth noting that the Dems were playing offense in 2006 and had contested House primaries, while this year there was really bupkus to get Dems to the polls in Indiana. In North Carolina, 425K voted in the Dem primary. Reid compares this to 2004, where more Dems showed up in the primary, but that may not be an apt comparison as that's a presidential year -- regardless, that too may be an ominous number in the context of the Republican Senate primary, where almost as many, 374K, voted to help Richard Burr dispatch no-name opposition.

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SSP Daily Digest: 5/3 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Mon May 03, 2010 at 7:09 PM EDT

AR-Sen: Barack Obama is cutting a radio ad in support of Blanche Lincoln as she faces a primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Also on the ad front, here's an ad that both Lincoln and Halter agree on. Both have condemned the anti-Halter ad from Americans for Job Security as racist; the ad uses Indian actors and backdrops to accuse Halter of having offshored jobs. AJS's head says he sees nothing wrong with the ad and won't be pulling it; it's a big ad buy and scheduled to run for the next two weeks in the leadup to the primary.

KY-Sen: Lots happening in Kentucky, most notably a strange switcheroo by Christian right leader James Dobson. He outright switched his endorsement from Trey Grayson to Rand Paul, blaming GOP insiders for feeding him misinformation about Paul (such as that he was pro-choice). Dobson's endorsement is bound to help the Paul attract some social conservative voters uneasy about his libertarianism, and also helps paint Grayson as tool of the dread insiders. True to form, Grayson is touting a new endorsement that's pretty insidery: from Rep. Hal Rogers, the low-profile, long-term Rep. from the state's Appalachian southeast corner and a key pork-doling Appropriations member. Grayson is also touting his own internal poll, which shows Paul and Grayson deadlocked at 40-40, contrary to, well, every public poll of the race.

LA-Sen, LA-LG: Here's the first non-Rasmussen poll of Louisiana we've seen in a while, not that it has Charlie Melancon in a particularly better position.  It was conducted by Southern Media & Opinion Research on behalf of businessman Lane Grigsby (a wealthy meddler in Republican politics, last seen swaying LA-06 in 2008 with hundreds of thousands of IEs from his own pocket). Vitter leads Melancon 49-31, and Vitter has 55/36 favorables. It also seems to be the first poll to take a look at the Republican all-party jungle primary in the developing Lt. Governor's race (created by Mitch Landrieu's election as New Orleans mayor). State Treasurer John Kennedy (the ex-Dem and loser of the 2008 Senate race) leads the pack at 21, followed by SoS Jay Dardenne at 15, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell at 14, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis at 6, and state GOP chair Roger Villere at 2. (Kennedy and Campbell, however, haven't announced their candidacies yet.) (H/t Darth Jeff).

NC-Sen: PPP has one last look at the Democratic primary in the Senate race, although this one may well be going into overtime (someone needs to break 40% to avoid a top-two runoff). They find Elaine Marshall leading Cal Cunningham 28-21 (a bigger spread than her 26-23 lead one week ago). Kenneth Lewis is at 9, with assorted others taking up another 9%. PPP also polls on the potential runoff, finding Marshall would beat Cunningham in a runoff 43-32 (as Lewis's voters would break to Marshall by a 47-32 margin).

NH-Sen: Kelly Ayotte seems to be leaving any "moderate" pretenses in the dust, as she just came out in favor of Arizona's new anti-illegal immigrant law. (Of course, New Hampshire is one of the whitest and least Hispanic states in that nation, so it still may not wind up hurting her much.)

NV-Sen: Research 2000, for Daily Kos, came out with a poll of the Nevada Senate race last Friday. Nothing unusual here, inasmuch as they find Harry Reid not looking as DOA as Rasmussen always does, though there are still lots of flies circling around him. Reid's faves are 37/53, and he trails Sue Lowden 45-41 (with 4 for the Tea Party's Scott Ashjian, 2 for "other," and 2 for Nevada's unique "None of the Above" line). He also trails Danny Tarkanian 43-41 and Sharron Angle 44-41. Despite Lowden getting low marks for her chicken bartering proposals (14/81 approval of that, including 27/68 among Republicans), she still has 42/34 favorables overall and is leading the way in the GOP primary, although perhaps by a narrowing margin: she's at 38, to 28 for Tarkanian, 13 for Angle, and 12 for "other," with 9 undecided.

OH-Sen: One last poll sneaked under the finish line before tomorrow's Democratic primary in the Ohio Senate race. Quinnipiac finds last-minute momentum for Lee Fisher (in the wake of actually spending some money on TV ads): he leads Jennifer Brunner 43-23. It pretty much seems to depend on name rec (which, in turns, depends on ads): Fisher has 44/8 favorables among likely primary voters, while Brunner is at 26/7 (with 65% having no opinion of her).

AZ-Gov: I hadn't been aware until today that controversial Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio was still seriously considering a run in the GOP gubernatorial primary (especially since, with Jan Brewer signing the anti-illegal immigrant law into effect, his main raison d'etre to challenge her was gone). At any rate, after making a big show of "major announcement today!" he then issued a brief press release saying that he wasn't going to run.

CA-Gov: Meg Whitman is treading carefully in the wake of the Arizona immigration law's passage, probably mindful of the California GOP's short-term gains but long-term ruin in the wake of Proposition 187. Meg Whitman came out against it (while primary opponent Steve Poizner supports it), perhaps an indication that she feels safe enough to start charting a moderate course for the general election.

CT-Gov: Two interesting developments in Connecticut: one, former HartStamford mayor Dan Malloy, Ned Lamont's main Democratic primary opposition, will qualify for public financing of his campaign. This will help Malloy compete on a somewhat more level playing field against Lamont, who can self-finance. Also, the Democratic field shrank a little, as one of the minor candidates in the field, Mary Glassman (the First Selectwoman of Simsbury) dropped out and signed on as Lamont's Lt. Governor running mate instead.

IL-Gov: Democratic running-mate-for-a-day Scott Lee Cohen followed through on earlier threats, and today announced his independent candidacy for Governor. His rationale? "I believe that the people of Illinois have forgiven me."

MN-Gov: Needless to say, I'm feeling better about our chances in Minnesota, as newly-anointed GOP nominee Tom Emmer is laying down markers way, way outside the Minnesota mainstream. Turns out he's a full-on "Tenther," having recently sponsored state legislation that would purport to nullify all federal laws that are not approved by a two-thirds supermajority in the Minnesota legislature. (He also recently said that the Arizona immigration law was a "wonderful first step.")

NY-Gov: We're getting very mixed signals on the Steve Levy campaign for the GOP nomination. On the one hand, Levy is claiming that the RGA is ready to pony up $8 million to $10 million in support of his campaign. On the other hand, state GOP chair Ed Cox, the guy who arm-twisted Levy to get into the race in the first place, is privately expressing worries that Levy won't get the 50% of county chairs' endorsements to get the ballot line, and there are rumors that he's now floating the idea of a Rick Lazio-Steve Levy ticket.    

OH-Gov: Incumbent Dem Gov. Ted Strickland is going on the air starting on primary election day, with a major TV ad buy of 1,000 points each in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton. Strickland has $2 million more cash than John Kasich, so he probably figures now's the time to use it.

OR-Gov: A variety of polls have popped up of the primaries in Oregon, whose fast-approaching primary is kind of dwarfed by higher-profile affairs in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania on the same day, May 18. Tim Hibbitts (on behalf of Nike and Standard Insurance, in case there was any doubt that Oregon is, in fact, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Phil Knight) found John Kitzhaber firmly in control of the Dem primary, leading Bill Bradbury 50-21. Local TV affiliate KATU also commissioned a poll by SurveyUSA, which was taken in mid-April but they seem to have sat on the results until now. It's apparently the first public poll of the Republican primary; they find Chris Dudley, who's been spending heavily on TV time, leading the pack at 28. Allen Alley is at 13, under-indictment Bill Sizemore is at 11, John Lim is at 7, and assorted tea-bagging "others" add up to 8.

UT-Gov: Looks like those rumors that Democratic candidate Peter Corroon was going to pick a Republican running mate were right. Corroon tapped state Rep. Sheryl Allen, one of the legislature's leading moderate GOPers, as his number two.

OH-17: Insert obligatory "beam me up" joke here! Ex-Rep. Jim Traficant, out of prison, is looking to get back in the game, and he'll be taking on his former employee, Rep. Tim Ryan, by running as an independent in his old district, the 17th. While there had been rumors that Traficant was also going to file to run in the next-door 6th (as, bizarrely, you can run in multiple different districts in Ohio), but he decided against that. Bear in mind that Traficant already ran against Ryan in the 17th as an independent shortly after his 2002 conviction and House expulsion, but only got 15% in that race.

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SSP Daily Digest: 4/27 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 3:11 PM EDT

FL-Sen: It's come down to brass tacks for Charlie Crist. With fast-approaching April 30 the drop-dead date for switching over to an independent bid for the Senate, he's set a Thursday deadline for making up his mind on the matter. So, we'll know soon one way or the other.

MO-Sen, IL-Sen: Robin Carnahan found an excuse to avoid Barack Obama last time he was in Missouri, but, apparently realizing that she needs to rev up her base, she's appearing with him this week when he visits an ethanol plant in Macon. Obama is also extending some of his cred to the currently very-wobbly Alexi Giannoulias, appearing with him downstate in Quincy on the same road swing.

NC-Sen: There are two different polls today of the Democratic primary in the North Carolina Senate race, both promising a very close race (with the election one week from today, although a runoff may be in the offing). SurveyUSA's first look at the field finds SoS Elaine Marshall leading ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham 23-19, with attorney Kenneth Lewis at 10, miscellaneous others adding up to 15, and 34% undecided. (Marshall has a 33-13 edge among liberals, while Cunningham has narrow leads among moderates and conservatives. And despite Cunningham's relative youth, he's in 3rd place among the 18-34 set; Kenneth Lewis actually leads among young voters, but barely makes a dent among older voters.) SurveyUSA also finds Richard Burr cruising in the GOP primary, at 59% with none of his opponents topping 6%. PPP (pdf) has similar numbers; Marshall leads Cunningham 26-23, with Lewis at 7, miscellaneous others at 10, and 34% undecided. (It's a narrower spread from last month, where PPP saw Marshall leading Cunningham 23-17.)

NY-Sen: Finally, someone put their head in the chopping block to go up against Chuck Schumer and his $21 million warchest. Republican political consultant and Fox commentator Jay Townsend will try to... well, you can't even hope to contain Schumer, let alone beat him.

UT-Sen: There's yet another poll of the delegates to next month's Republican convention in Utah, this time by Mason-Dixon on behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune. This one's pretty bad for Bob Bennett too, suggesting he isn't likely to even make it to the final round of convention balloting. He's in third place among delegates' expressed first choices. Mike Lee is at 37, Tim Bridgewater is at 20, and Bob Bennett is at 16, followed by Cherilyn Eagar at 11. (Inflammatory ex-Rep. Merrill Cook seems to have burned all of his bridges and then bagged and sold all the charcoal, as he's polling at 1%.) Based on second choices, Lee would win the final round against Bridgewater 44-30, suggesting that Lee can't nail it down at the convention and that he and Bridgewater would advance to the primary. (Lee wins a Lee/Bennett head-to-head 51-18.) Perhaps the most telling statistic, though, of what a thin slice of the hard right this sample is: of the delegates, 68% say they're "supporters" of the Tea Party movement. Other Senator Orrin Hatch should be glad he's not running this year, as he's sufficiently impure that he'd be getting the same treatment: 71% say they'd be inclined to nominate someone other than Hatch.

AL-Gov: Ah, nothing beats good old fashioned southern hospitality. Tim James (son of ex-Gov. Fob James), running for Alabama Governor, says he'll save money by stopping offering the driver's license test in other languages (because, apparently, complying with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is for suckers). James's tagline? "This is Alabama. We speak English."

GA-Gov: Wealthy teabagger Ray Boyd -- who just recently showed up on the scene in the GOP gubernatorial field -- balked at signing a Republican "loyalty oath" that's apparently a mandatory part of running for office as a Republican in Georgia. So, Boyd took his $2 million ball, went home, and is now planning to run as an independent. A few percentage of right-wingers peeled off by Boyd may make all the difference for Democratic ex-Gov. Roy Barnes in a close election, so consider this good news.

ME-Gov: Former state House speaker John Richardson abruptly dropped out of the Democratic field in the Maine governor's race. Richardson (already getting little traction, if another candidate's internal is to be believed) hit 'eject' after finding he wouldn't qualify for Clean Election Act public funding, after the state ethics committee found his campaign fudged documents about qualifying contributions. That brings a little more clarity to the almost-opaque Democratic field, reducing it to state Sen. President Libby Mitchell, ex-AG Steve Rowe, ex-Dept. of Conservation head Pat McGowan, and businesswoman Rosa Scarcelli.

MN-Gov: This seems like a strange time for Ramsey Co. DA Susan Gaertner to drop out of the gubernatorial race, as she was one of the candidates who was ignoring the DFL nominating convention and planning to forge ahead in the primary regardless. Maybe she was counting on a R.T. Rybak endorsement and thus being the only female candidate in the primary? At any rate, Gaertner cited money woes as the main reason for her dropout; she stopped short of endorsing Margaret Anderson Kelliher but cited the historic nature of electing a female governor and said she didn't want to be a spoiler for Kelliher.

UT-Gov: Salt Lake County mayor Peter Corroon sounds like he's looking to take a page from Brian Schweitzer and Kathleen Sebelius, two popular Dems who overcame their states' reddish hue with a Republican as a running mate. Corroon didn't name anyone specific, but said he has some GOPers on his Lt. Gov. short list.

AL-05: I don't know if this'll help Rep. Parker Griffith much with the local rank-and-file (for instance, the Madison Co. Republican Committee, which refused to endorse him), but all of the state's four other Republican House members endorsed him. Said the former Democrat and Deaniac: "They have seen first-hand how hard I've fought Nancy Pelosi's liberal agenda that will ruin our country if we don't stop it."

FL-25: Buried deep in a Roll Call article about the current state of play in the open seat in the 25th are some numbers from a month-old internal poll by Benenson taken for the DCCC. The poll may explain what got 2008 Democratic candidate Joe Garcia off the fence and back into the fight in the 25th: the poll had Garcia leading state Rep. David Rivera (looking like the likeliest GOP nominee) 38-35. As far as the GOP field goes, it doesn't seem like rumored candidate state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla is planning to show up; so far, Rivera's main GOP opposition seems to be attorney Marili Cancio, who says she declined an invitation to the NRCC's "Young Guns" program.

HI-01: The DCCC is slapping down an $81K independent expenditure in the 1st. It's a media buy, not on behalf of either Dem but against GOPer Charles Djou.

KS-02: Too bad we don't have much of a candidate on tap in the 2nd to exploit the carnage if the GOP primary goes nuclear. One-term Rep. Lynn Jenkins (who, believe it or not, hails from the "moderate" wing of the party despite a litany of right-wing-sounding gaffes) is getting a challenge from the teabag corps, in the form of state Sen. Dennis Pyle. Pyle has been threatening a bid for many months, but made it official today.

MO-04: And here's yet more cat fud, across the state line in Missouri's 4th. While they haven't done anything publicly, the NRCC is apparently starting to choose sides in the primary, favoring state Sen. Bill Stouffer over social conservative ex-state Rep. Vicki Hartzler. The NRCC arranged a sitdown between the two candidates, but Hartzler apparently blew it off after finding out the point of the NRCC's meeting was to encourage her to drop out.

WA-03: State Rep. Deb Wallace was the first Democrat to jump into the field after Rep. Brian Baird's retirement; she got out fairly quickly once Denny Heck got in, realizing that she'd have to share the moderate side of the ledger with him and that she wouldn't be able to compete with Heck's financial resources. Wallace finally endorsed in the race today, opting for (no surprise here) Heck over the more liberal state Sen. Craig Pridemore (who just picked up the Sierra Club's endorsement last week). Heck also has Baird's endorsement, as well as that of Gov. Chris Gregoire.

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SSP Daily Digest: 4/14

by: Crisitunity

Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM EDT

Election results: Yesterday's big event was the special election in FL-19, the first real electoral test after the passage of HCR. The allegedly massive opposition to healthcare reform on the part of the district's many seniors never really materialized. Democratic state Sen. Ted Deutch beat Republican Ed Lynch 62-35, with very little falloff from Obama's 65-34 performance in 2008. (Contrast that with John Garamendi's so-so 53-43 performance in November's CA-10 special election, a similarly 65-33 district in 2008.)

I should also pause to offer a little credit to Texas's Republicans, who voted for the less crazy candidates in the Board of Education and Supreme Court runoffs, and in a bigger surprise to me, for the Hispanic-surnamed candidates in the TX-17 and TX-23 runoffs (which, based on incumbent Victor Carrillo's trouncing in the Railroad Commissioner primary, seemed unlikely to happen). The NRCC has to be pleased to see the wealthier and less wingnutty Bill Flores and Quico Canseco emerge. Rep. Chet Edwards, however, is one guy who knows how to stand and fight, and he wasted no time hitting Flores hard and defining him as a carpetbagger in big oil's pocket.

One other leftover issue from last night: two races in California, as expected, are headed to runoffs. In Republican-held SD-12, Republican Assemblyman Bill Emmerson will face off against Democrat Justin Blake (the GOPers combined got more than 60% of the vote, so this is a likely hold), while in safely-Democratic AD-43, Democratic lawyer Mike Gatto will face off with Republican Sunder Ramani to replace now-LA city councilor Paul Krekorian. Gatto seemed to shoot the gap in this heavily Armenian-American district after the two Armenian candidates, Chahe Keuroghelian and Nayiri Nahabedian, nuked each other.

AR-Sen: Bill Halter's primary campaign gained more momentum, as he picked up an endorsement from the Alliance for Retired Americans, pleased with his time as a Social Security Administration official. One group that really isn't getting on board with Halter, though, is the Berry family; first outgoing Rep. Marion Berry dissed Halter, and now his son, Mitch, is head of a group, Arkansans for Common Sense, that's running ads attacking Halter on the Social Security front. (Are there any Arkansans who are actually against common sense?)

CO-Sen: Looks like GOP establishment candidate Jane Norton sees the handwriting on the wall and is taking a page from Democrat Michael Bennet's book: not able to rely on getting on the ballot via activist-dominated convention (where teabagger-fueled Ken Buck seems likely to triumph), she's making plans to qualify by finding 1,500 signatures in each of the state's seven congressional districts. Speaking of Bennet, he's still the fundraising kingpin in this race; he just announced he raised $1.4 million last quarter, well ahead of Norton's $816K.

FL-Sen: Charlie Crist may have sounded Shermanesque last week in his determination not to switch to an Independent bid for Governor, but apparently now there's increasing moves within his inner circle to move in that direction. Unnamed advisors are floating the idea to the WSJ today.

IN-Sen: Dan Coats seems to be having more trouble making the transition from the free-wheelin' world of high-stakes lobbying back to the humdrum electoral politics world, where you actually have to follow the rules and stuff. He's 10 days overdue on filing his finance disclosure reports with the FEC. One note that the Beltway press seemed to miss though: his main GOP primary opponent, ex-Rep. John Hostettler hasn't made his filing yet either. (Of course, fundraising was never Hostettler's strong suit. Or even his weak suit.)

NC-Sen (pdf): PPP issued its latest installment in polls of the Senate general election in its home state. Maybe the biggest surprise is that incumbent Republican Richard Burr's approvals are just continuing to fall; he's currently at 32/41 (while likeliest opponent Elaine Marshall is in positive territory at 19/11). Also encouraging, I suppose, is that the actual human Democrats are starting to draw even with Generic D (while previous polls have had Generic D far outpacing them), showing they're getting better-defined. Burr leads Generic D 43-38, while he leads Marshall 43-37, and leads both Cal Cunningham and Kenneth Lewis 43-35.

NY-Sen-B: With ex-Gov. George Pataki's phantom interest in this race finally having been dispelled, Swing State Project is removing this race from its "Races to Watch" list.

PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): One more poll in the rapidly-becoming-overpolled Pennsylvania Senate race, this time from Republican pollster Susequehanna. They use an LV model, and find Pat Toomey with a 48-38 lead over Arlen Specter. Of more immediate consequence, they find Specter leading Joe Sestak 42-28 in the Dem primary. They also polled both primaries in the gubernatorial race, finding Dan Onorato seeming to break away from the ill-defined pack among the Dems. Onorato is at 32, followed by Joe Hoeffel at 13, Jack Wagner at 6, and Anthony Williams at 4. Tom Corbett beats down Sam Rohrer on the GOP side, 50-7. After marshaling his resources, Specter is finally starting to open fire; he's up with his first TV ad of the cycle starting today.

WI-Sen: The only thing that's sure is that Tommy Thompson likes to see his name in the press. There's been a lot of conflicting reporting about Tommy Thompson today, with many outlets running with the story that he's decided against running for Senate (that all traces back to one leak to a local TV station, although it sounds like Politico got some confirmation from an anonymous GOP source). Other outlets are emphasizing that Thompson's spokesperson says that Thompson hasn't made a final decision, though. Either way, Thompson will be announcing his plans at a Tea Party rally tomorrow in Madison, so our pain will be ended tomorrow one way or the other.

MA-Gov: Here's more evidence for my expectation that Dem-turned-indie Tim Cahill will be running to the right (or at least to the incoherent-angry-working-class-Catholic-guy-position) of the Republican in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race this year. He's appearing at today's Tea Party rally on Boston Common today, the same one with Sarah Palin that Scott Brown ditched (although MA-10 candidate Joe Malone and GOP gubernatorial underdog Christy Mihos will be there). Likely GOP gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker (from the party's old-school moderate WASP tradition) decided against attending, probably out of fears that he might get jostled by some ruffian and spill some of his gin and tonic on his white Bermuda shorts.

MN-Gov: Two blasts from the past in the Minnesota gubernatorial race. Walter Mondale weighed in in favor of Democratic state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, while a guy I've never heard of named Al Quie, who claims to have been governor from 1979 to 1983, endorsed Republican Marty Seifert.

NE-Gov: Via press release, the campaign for Democratic candidate Mark Lakers let us know that he took in $314K, impressive considering his late entry to the campaign.

AL-07: State Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr. got an endorsement from the United Steelworkers, a union that seems to still have a lot of clout in Birmingham, once a major steel town.

AZ-03: Now here's some news I didn't expect: the fundraising champ in the 3rd isn't one of the many state legislators running here, but rather attorney (and vice-presidential progeny) Ben Quayle. He pulled in $550K in the first quarter, thanks no doubt to family connections. There are a couple other self-funders in the race too, but the elected officials seem to be lagging: case in point, well-known ex-state Sen. Pamela Gorman, who raised only $37K and ends with $23K CoH.

FL-24: Rep. Suzanne Kosmas announced a haul of $260K for the first quarter. That's less than the $340K reported by her likely GOP opponent, steakhouse mogul Craig Miller (although a slab of his money was apparently carved out of his own personal funds); Kosmas has a big CoH advantage, though, sitting on more than $1 million.

GA-07: Retiring Republican Rep. John Linder didn't look far to endorse a replacement for him: he gave his nod to his former chief of staff, Rob Woodall.

HI-01: Sen. Dan Inouye just transferred $100K of his money to the DCCC, despite appearances that they're actively backing Ed Case, rather than Colleen Hanabusa, who has the support of Inouye (and pretty much everyone else in the local Democratic establishment). Inouye has apparently been working behind the scenes, including reaching out to Nancy Pelosi, to get the DCCC to dial back their Case support, so maybe the cash infusion will give him a little more leverage. (Inouye is sitting on $3.2 million and faces little if any opposition this year.)

IN-03: Nice fundraising numbers from Democrat Tom Hayhurst, who ran a surprisingly close race against Rep. Mark Souder in 2006 and is back for another try. Hayhurst has racked up $234K CoH, more than Souder ($99K in the first quarter).

IN-05: Politico has a look at Rep. Dan Burton's difficult primary in the 5th, in Indianapolis's dark-red suburbs. While Burton may actually be safer this year compared with 2008 (since he has four opponents instead of just one), the article traces the roots of the local GOP's discontent with him, and also shows the magnitude of his collapse in support: only 2 of the 11 local party organizations are supporting Burton this time.

MO-08: Another Dem in a dark-red seat who keeps impressing everybody with his tenacity is Tommy Sowers. The veteran and college instructor, who's challenging Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, raised $295K in the first quarter and is now sitting on $675K CoH.

NM-02: Ex-Rep. Steve Pearce can write himself his own checks if he needs to, but he may not need to at this rate. Pearce raised $277K in the first quarter, and now sits on $708K. Democratic Rep. Harry Teague hasn't reported yet, but in the duel of wealthy oil guys, he can self-fund too if need be.

NY-14: With Democratic primary challenger Reshma Saujani having some success on the financial front, Rep. Carolyn Maloney got some top-tier help from Barack Obama, who endorsed her and sent out a fundraising appeal on her behalf.

PA-11: If this doesn't wake up Rep. Paul Kanjorski from his nap, I don't know what will. Three-time Republican opponent Lou Barletta raised $300K in the first quarter. An important caveat: there was no mention of cash on hand, which is telling because Barletta was still saddled with a lot of debt from his 2008 campaign when he decided to run again. (UPDATE: Barletta's CoH is now $205K.)

PA-17: Republican state Sen. David Argall raised a tolerable but not-too-impressive $125K in the first quarter. He'll need more than that to battle Rep. Tim Holden, who, if nothing else, has great survival skills (he had the worst district of any freshman who survived 1994, and then survived a 2002 gerrymander designed to rub him out). In fact, he'll need more than that just for his primary; heretofore unknown GOP opponent ex-Marine Frank Ryan raised $70K in the first quarter.

Redistricting: Maryland beat out New York to be the first state in the nation to enact legislation that will, in terms of redistricting, treat prisoners as residents of their last known address, rather than where they're incarcerated (and thus move the center of gravity back toward the cities from the countryside). Also, on the redistricting front, if there's one group of people who are the target audience for a whole movie about redistricting (Gerrymandering), it's the crowd at SSP. The film's director has a diary up, touting its release in two weeks at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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SSP Daily Digest: 4/13 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 4:47 PM EDT

Special elections/Runoffs: Believe it or not, it's a busy election night tonight. Top of the list is the special election in FL-19, where the successor to Robert Wexler will be chosen. In this D+15 district in the more middle-class parts of the Gold Coast, the Democrat, state Sen. Ted Deutch, is heavily favored. The parties haven't gotten involved, and Republican Ed Lynch (who lost a lopsided decision to Wexler in 2008) is hamstrung by the presence of independent right-wing candidate Jim McCormick.

It's runoff day in Texas, with almost all the action on the GOP side. TX-17, between self-funder Bill Flores and 2008 candidate Rob Curnock, and TX-23, between self-funder Quico Canseco and ex-CIA agent William Hurd, are the marquee races as far as the U.S. House goes. There are also some GOP runoffs in some state House races, an interesting mixed bag of open seat succession races, teabaggish challenges to GOP incumbents, and challenges to vulnerable Dems. Finally, there's a culture war clash between just-very conservative and super-duper conservative in two statewide contests: one for the Supreme Court (with Rick Green, the former state Rep. known for punching the guy who beat him in 2002, representing Team Crazy), and one for the Board of Education (between Marsha Farney and Brian Russell, with Russell the movement conservative here).

Finally, there's some state legislature action in Massachusetts, California, and Florida. Primaries for two state Senate seats are in Massachusetts, the ones held by now-Sen. Scott Brown and now-disgraced Anthony Gallucio. This is the de facto election in Gallucio's dark-blue seat, seeing as how no Republicans are running, but the winner between state Rep. Lida Harkins and doctor Peter Smulowitz in the Dem primary will face off against GOP state Rep. Richard Ross on May 11 to succeed Brown. In California, there are two legislative specials; using the California system, each one will likely head to a runoff (unless someone in the cluttered fields breaks 50%). Both seats will likely turn out to be holds: SD-37 is in Republican exurban Riverside County, while AD-43 is in Democratic Glendale in LA County. And in the Florida Panhandle, dark-red HD-04 should be an easy Republican hold.

AR-Sen: Looks like Blanche Lincoln picked the wrong week to stop acting like a Democrat. She got seriously outraised by Bill Halter in the first quarter, earning $1.3 million (Halter got $2 mil). She also spent more than she earned, running a blitz of TV ads, probably to the tune of $2 million, as her cash on hand dropped $700K --although it's still a high $4.7 million. Still no word yet from the race's key Republicans.

CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina filled in the last blank in the California Senate race; her fundraising total for the first quarter was $1.7 million, edging out Tom Campbell (who pulled in $1.6 million). Both GOPers lagged Barbara Boxer's $2.4 million.

FL-Sen: Charlie Crist is still trying to find something that'll stick to Marco Rubio, and he's trying again to link ex-state House speaker Rubio to some of the other less savory elements among legislative leadership. He's up with a new ad trying Rubio to another former speaker, Ray Sansom, who's currently under indictment for charges of falsifying state budget items.

IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias is lagging Mark Kirk on the cash front; he raised $1.2 million last quarter, compared with Kirk's $2.2 million. Giannoulias didn't release cash on hand figures, which may not be too impressive either considering that he had to fight through a competitive primary.

NC-Sen (pdf): PPP looked at the primaries only in the North Carolina Senate race (they're on May 4). On the Dem side, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham is still within striking distance of SoS Elaine Marshall; she leads Cunningham 23-17, with Kenneth Lewis at 9 and 5% for assorted minor candidates. (Last month, Marshall led Cunningham and Lewis 20-16-11.) On the GOP side, Richard Burr is at 67%, with his closest competition, Brad Jones, at 7.

NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: Quinnipiac finds a lot of same-ol'-same-ol' in the Empire State: Andrew Cuomo crushing, and Kirsten Gillibrand crushing anyone non-Pataki. Gillibrand trails non-candidate George Pataki 45-40 but leads actual candidate Bruce Blakeman 47-25 (none of the other third-tier GOPers get polled); she's also sporting her highest-ever approvals, at 47/25. (Pataki beats Blakeman in a GOP primary, 64-15.) On the Governor's side, Rick Lazio is still poised to be GOP nominee; he leads Steve Levy and Carl Paladino 34-11-11 (note that the poll was in the field prior to the whole bestiality thing). Andrew Cuomo dispatches Lazio 55-26, Levy 57-24, and Paladino 60-24.

OH-Sen: I'd assumed Lee Fisher had been on the air before, but he's just now launching his first TV spots of his campaign with the primary only weeks away (apparently marshaling his resources for the general). Fisher also pulled down the endorsement of Cleveland mayor Frank Johnson, although he didn't gain the backing of his own home town's Democratic party (in Shaker Heights), which instead declined to endorse.

PA-Sen: Here's a bit of a surprise: Joe Sestak succeeded in his ballot challenge, getting last-minute conservadem entrant Joe Vod Varka kicked out of the Democratic primary, setting up a two-man fight against Arlen Specter. If Sestak's going to have any hope of knocking off Specter, he'll need to consolidate every anti-Specter vote (and also not have the Slovak-American vote -- a big segment in western Pennsylvania -- split).

WI-Sen: Russ Feingold had a successful fundraising quarter, considering right now he's only running against the specter of Tommy Thompson. Feingold earned $1.34 million, leaving him with $4.26 million CoH.

FL-Gov: Rick Scott has decided, rather belatedly, to throw his hat in the ring in the Republican field in the Governor's race. If the name's familiar, he's a former hospital-industry businessman who funded much of the initial anti-HCR astroturfing efforts via his organization Conservatives for Patient Rights. He's sound teabaggish themes about establishment candidate AG Bill McCollum (despite McCollum taking the lead on the GOP AGs' anti-HCR lawsuit). Considering that state Sen. Paula Dockery is already trying to run against McCollum from the right and getting no traction, it's hard to see Scott going anywhere with this, though.

NM-Gov: Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, the lone Dem in the race, is dominating the fundraising front; she raised $1.1 million in the six-month reporting period and has $2.6 million CoH. Among the GOPers, former state party chair Allen Weh leads both in money raised ($691K, although $500K was a personal loan) and CoH ($544K). Dona Ana County DA Susana Martinez raised $428K and sits on $364K CoH.

PA-Gov: Here's a blow to, well, everybody in the Democratic field; after not being able to find two-thirds support for anybody, the AFL-CIO won't be endorsing any particular candidate in the Dem primary. Former Philadephia city controller Jonathan Saidel got their Lt. Gov. endorsement.

AL-05: Party-switching Rep. Parker Griffith (most recently in the news for forgetting his party-switch and billing the DCCC for expenditures) surprised his GOP primary opponents at a debate by asking them sign a unity pledge that the losers of the primary would campaign for the winner in November. No thanks, said both Mo Brooks and Les Philip.

DE-AL: Looks like wealthy self-funder Michelle Rollins, the NRCC's preferred recruit in the race, has some competition on the big bucks front in the GOP primary. Real estate developer Glen Urquhart just announced that he has $512K in his account (of course, $500K of that came from his own pocket).

FL-08: Alan Grayson had another big fundraising quarter, thanks in large part to netroots moneybombing (especially his March event which brought in $500K). He raised $803K in the last three months, bringing his CoH total to $1.5 million (along with the possibility of writing checks to himself).

HI-01: CQ has an interesting piece on HI-01 that focuses primarily on just how difficult it is (especially for "mainland" pollsters) to poll in Hawaii. With only two polls of this race having seen light of day so far, the main takeaway may be that anyone's guess is as good as mine where the race stands.

MI-01: One of the top Republicans on everyone's candidate list for the newly-opened seat in MI-01 has said that he won't run. State House minority leader Kevin Elsenheimer said he won't run, even though he's termed out of the House and needs something else to do. (Elsenheimer, from the Traverse City area, is disadvantaged by not coming from the Upper Peninsula portion of the district.)

MS-04: Here's one other eye-catching fundraising note: a Dem incumbent who got outraised by Republican opposition previously considered inconsequential. Rep. Gene Taylor raised $41K and has $221K CoH, while GOP state Rep. Steven Palazzo raised $125K and has at least $100K CoH. Let's hope Taylor doesn't hit the "snooze" button for another quarter. National Journal's latest fundraising outline also has noteworthy numbers from Charlie Dent (PA-15), Dan Debicella (CT-04), and Rick Crawford (AR-01).

Redistricting: With the Fair Districts redistricting initiative seeming destined to make the ballot in Florida, now the Republican-controlled legislature is trying to get its own redistricting initiative on the ballot, in an apparent effort to clarify (or gut) the Fair Districts proposals. The Senate's proposal deals with the thorny questions of VRA-mandated districts and communities of interest, which aren't addressed in satisfactory manner by the original initiatives, which forbid designing districts in a manner that is favorable to one party or the other.

Demographics: Josh Goodman has an interesting look at population change in Texas, similar to some work we've done at SSP over the last few years; he finds that while Texas's largest counties are becoming swingier, its fastest-growing counties are still pretty solidly Republican (although the growth in these counties is in demographics that aren't likely Republican). Of course, the parts of the state that are becoming less and less of the state, percentage-wise -- the rural parts -- have become even more conservative than the fast-growing exurbs, so in a way that's progress too.

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SSP Daily Digest: 3/17 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 2:17 PM EDT

CO-Sen, CO-Gov: As we mentioned on the front page yesterday, Andrew Romanoff won the Democratic primary precinct-level caucuses last night; the final tally, percentage-wise, was 51-42 (with 7% uncommitted) over Michael Bennet (who, by the way, hit the airwaves with the first TV spot yesterday, a decidedly anti-Washington ad). Things were actually much closer on the GOP side, where it looks like ultra-conservative Weld County DA Ken Buck is actually leading establishment fave Jane Norton by a paper-thin margin (37.9% to 37.7%). Of course, the activist-dominated straw polls are going to be Buck's strong suit and his strength here may not translate as well to the broader GOP electorate, but he performed well enough to show that he's in this for the long haul. (A similar dynamic played out in the Governor's race, where ex-Rep. Scott McInnis easily beat teabagger Dan Maes, 61-39, although Maes has polled in the single digits out in reality.)

NC-Sen (pdf): PPP's monthly poll of the North Carolina Senate race general election shows little change, with Richard Burr (with a 35/37 approval) still winning in very humdrum fashion. Burr leads Elaine Marshall 41-36 (a positive trend, as she was down by 10 last month, although she was also within 5 of Burr in December). He also leads both Cal Cunningham and Kenneth Lewis 43-32, and leads Generic Dem only 41-39. With low familiarity for all three Dems (Marshall's the best-known, but even she generates 71% "not sure"s), PPP's Tom Jensen expects the race to tighten once they actually have a nominee.

WA-Sen: Here's some food for thought on why Dino Rossi has retreated back to the private sector and has seemed reluctant to come back out to play, despite the NRSC's constant entreaties: his financial links to Seattle real estate developer Michael Mastro, whose local real estate empire collapsed in late 2008, leaving hundreds of investors out to dry.

MA-Gov: Here's more evidence that Tim Cahill, a Democrat until a few months ago, is heading off to the right to try and claim some of Republican Charlie Baker's turf for his independent challenge to Deval Patrick: he fessed up to having voted for John McCain and is attacking Massachusetts's universal health care plan (which even Scott Brown didn't have a beef with, during his campaign) and saying that if the nation took the same approach it would be bankrupt "in four years."

NM-Gov: Oooops. Pete Domenici Jr. got a little presumptuous prior to the state's Republican convention, issuing fliers touting his "great success" and his getting put on the ballot. Turns out neither happened -- his 5% showing was last place, not a great success, and didn't qualify him for the ballot either (he can still do so by gathering signatures).

NY-Gov: This may be a tea leaf that Democratic Suffolk Co. Exec Steve Levy is gearing up to challenge ex-Rep. Rick Lazio for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He hired a Republican consultant, Michael Hook, to help with preparations. Meanwhile, will the last person left in David Paterson's employ please turn the lights out? Another top staffer, press secretary Marissa Shorenstein just hit the exits today.

PA-Gov, PA-Sen: Could ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel be knocked off the Democratic gubernatorial primary ballot? That's what Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato is trying to make happen, as his team is challenging the validity of Hoeffel's 7,632 ballot petitions. In order to qualify for the ballot, candidates need 2,000 valid signatures, including at least 100 from 10 different counties. (JL) Hoeffel's not the only one; Joe Sestak's also challenging signatures in the Senate primary. Sestak's target isn't Arlen Specter, though, but rather Joseph Vodvarka, a Pittsburgh-area businessman who was a surprise last-minute filer and is the primary's only third wheel. Sestak, no doubt, is worried that Vodvarka could peel off enough anti-Specter votes to throw a very close election.

HI-01: Here's a sign of life from the seemingly placid Colleen Hanabusa campaign; she just got the endorsement of the Hawaii State Teachers' Association. (Not that it was likely they'd endorse Ed Case, but it's still important for GOTV.)

NY-13: Politico's Ben Smith reported that Republican state Senator Andrew Lanza was taking a second look at the race in the 13th, now that the possibility of the Working Families Party withdrawing its support for Rep. Mike McMahon (if he votes against health care reform) could make a GOP challenge easier in the face of a divided left. The NRCC denied having reached out to Lanza; Lanza confirmed, though, that they had, but said that he was still unlikely to get in the race, preferring to focus on taking back GOP control of the state Senate. While the two GOPers in the race, Michael Grimm and Michael Allegretti, both have had some fundraising success, Lanza would be a definite upgrade for the GOP in the unlikely event he runs.

PA-06: Another bummer for Doug Pike, who seems to be losing as many endorsements as he's gaining these days. State Rep. Josh Shapiro, who briefly explored a bid for U.S. Senate last year, has officially switched his endorsement from Pike to "neutral". (JL)

SC-03: With rivals Rex Rice and Jeff Duncan (both state Reps.) having gotten the lion's share of the endorsements and money, state Sen. Shane Massey appears ready to drop out of the GOP primary field in the 3rd. It looks like it'll be a two-man fight between the Huckabee-backed Rice and CfG-backed Duncan.

VA-05: I'll repeat all the usual caveats about how straw polls reflect the most extreme and engaged activists, not the broader electorate, bla bla bla, but there's just no good way for state Sen. Robert Hurt to spin his showing at the Franklin County GOP Republican Womens' straw poll. The establishment pick drew 11.6% of the vote, while self-funding teabagger Jim McKelvey grabbed 51%.

WA-03: The Dick Army (aka FreedomWorks) has weighed in with a rare primary endorsement in a rather unexpected place: the GOP primary in the open seat in the 3rd. They endorsed David Castillo, the financial advisor and former Bush administration underling who stayed in the race despite state Rep. Jaime Herrera's entry. Here's the likely explanation: Castillo actually used to work for FreedomWorks' predecessor organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy. Still, that's a boost for Castillo, who's been faring pretty well on the endorsements front against the establishment pick Herrera (and a boost for Dems, who'd no doubt like to see a brutal GOP primary). Meanwhile, on the Dem side, state Sen. Craig Pridemore is holding outgoing Rep. Brian Baird's feet to the fire to get him to switch his vote to "yes" on health care reform; primary opponent Denny Heck has avoided taking much of a position on HCR.

Census: Here's some interesting background on how the Census protects respondents' privacy. Not only are individual responses sealed for 72 years, but the Census intentionally adds "noise" that camouflages individuals whose particular combination of data would make them unique in some way and thus not be anonymous, at least to someone seeking them out (for instance, they cite the hypothetical only 65-year-old married woman attending college in North Dakota). (P.S.: You probably got your form in the last day or two. Please fill it out!)

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