• CT-Sen: Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy is sounding very likely to challenge Joe Lieberman in 2012, at least if this WSJ piece primarily on Lieberman's re-election chances is any indication. It quotes Murphy as "definitely considering" the race and says his decision may be only weeks away, given the nature of permanent campaigning these days. Meanwhile, Paulist economist Peter Schiff (whose rather quixotic bid wound up with him deep in third place in the GOP primary in 2010) is saying he'd like to run for office again, but 2012 won't be the year, citing the likelihood of a Linda McMahon run and his inability to compete against her money. Finally, Lieberman himself has his mind on his money and his money on his mind, too... he's hungry enough for money that he's reaching out to his new friends from the No Labels movement and asking them to consider donating to politicians they don't necessarily agree with. Interesting argument (especially considering that the No Labels people are probably the likeliest people out there to agree with Lieberman).
• MA-Sen: Long-time Boston mayor Tom Menino has occasionally gotten some coverage as a possible opponent to Scott Brown in the 2012 Senate race, but he's taking his name out of consideration, saying he'll never run for anything but even more terms as mayor. Menino also offered some warnings to potential Dem candidates about the race, saying "There's nobody that can beat him." (Recall that Menino caught some flak for not really deploying the Boston Dem machine full-force on Martha Coakley's behalf during the special election, so it's unclear whether he's truly fearful of Brown or just engaging in a little concern trolling on Brown's behalf.)
• MI-Sen: Here's another indicator (after last month's PPP poll that had her mired in the 40s) that Debbie Stabenow could have a tough race in 2012, given the right GOP opponent. A Glengariff Group poll for the Detroit News doesn't include any head-to-heads, but gives her 37/39 approvals, and a 23% definite re-elect (vs. 43% someone new). Of course, the GOP will need to cough up someone more imposing than Tim Leuliette, the only publicly interested candidate so far.
• MN-Sen: I hadn't heard Rep. John Kline (the GOP Rep. in MN-02, who labors in right-wing anonymity thanks to a lot of cover from noisy neighbor Michele Bachmann) get associated with the 2012 Senate race before, and after today, he probably won't again. He told a talk radio interview over the weekend that his "plate was full."
• MT-Sen: There's been an uptick in speculation that Denny Rehberg may not run for Senate after all, given that he just landed a slot as not just one of the Appropriations cardinals (regarded by Beltway insiders as the uppermost tier in the House pantheon) but the subcommittee chair in charge of HHS, letting him carry the banner on any HCR repeal efforts. However, he's still being coy about his 2012 plans (and in fact getting a little meta about the endless Beltway media parsing of political career planning), saying a decision is "down the road... which is similar to around the corner."
• NE-Sen: This has been pretty clearly telegraphed for a while now, but Republican state treasurer Don Stenberg is saying he's "quite likely" to get into the Senate race. That, of course, would set up a high-profile primary with another statewide GOPer already a formal candidate, AG Jon Bruning. Meanwhile, GOP state party chair Mark Fahnelson removed an image from his personal blog of Ben Nelson inside a red bullseye. In good Republican fashion, he reaffirmed that he himself, in fact, was the victim in all this.
• NV-Sen: Hoping for Sue Lowden to be the 2012 Senate nominee for the GOP? Don't count your chickens before they hatch, because she's saying she won't consider running if Dean Heller is going to run (she would do it only if both John Ensign and Heller didn't run). Rather candidly, she admitted that she had no shot of beating Heller in a GOP primary. Meanwhile, Sharron Angle has decided that, having had a shot at the big time, another run for the state Senate would just be chicken feed at this point. She says that she won't seek the seat being vacated by resigning former GOP floor leader Bill Raggio (to whom she lost in a 2008 primary), although without saying anything more about another NV-Sen run or a NV-02 run if Heller runs for Senate.
• TX-Sen: Here's another poll showing a Senator who may have a rough go of it in 2012, although in Kay Bailey Hutchison's case, the real hurdle is likely to be the GOP primary. A Blum & Weprin poll for various Texas newspapers found Hutchison with a 46% approval among all registered voters, and only 56% among Republicans. Hutchison, of course, has not given any indication whether she's running for another term or not.
• LA-Gov: That gubernatorial election is only 10 months away, and Louisiana Democrats still seem to standing around scratching their heads wondering who their nominee will be. With GOP incumbent Bobby "Kenneth the Page" Jindal sitting on a $7.2 million war chest and, while not super-humanly popular anymore, still in positive territory, willing victims do not seem forthcoming. Dems seem most interested in somebody who can self-finance, which would probably be oft-rumored Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard, although other more remote possibilities include losing Lt. Gov. candidate Caroline Fayard, PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell (who finished 3rd in the 2007 primary), retired Gen. Russell Honore (who was briefly the subject of speculation for a GOP primary challenge to David Vitter last year), and even a return engagement from ex-Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
• AZ-08: Best wishes to Gabby Giffords for what will no doubt be a long, slow recovery after this weekend's shooting. Physicians say that she is rapidly improving and may be removed from her breathing apparatus in several days if progress continues.
• ND-AL: This has implications for North Dakota's House seat, but also potentially for the Senate seat in 2012, if Kent Conrad (last seen ramping up to start advertising already) does a sudden turnaround and opts for retirement. Ex-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (who's 58) is joining DC law firm Alston & Bird and says "I don't see myself running for office again."
• NM-02: Similarly, Harry Teague has announced that he won't run again for his old seat or anything else, saying he has no plans to seek another office. The 61-year-old (and independently wealthy) Teague plans to return to his family oilfield business.
• Mayors: Another day, another poll showing Rahm Emanuel way in the lead (albeit not out of runoff territory yet). This one's from Anzalone-Liszt on behalf of the Teamsters, and while it shows Carol Mosely Braun gaining ground (thanks to dropouts from Danny Davis and James Meeks), she's still far behind. It's Emanuel 42, Mosely Braun 26, Gerry Chico 10, and Miguel Del Valle 7. (November's Teamster poll was Emanuel 36, Mosely Braun 13, Chico 10.) Meanwhile, Chico can now boast an endorsement from Rep. Luis Gutierrez, which seems like a bit of a thumbed-nose at Emanuel (who used to be Gutierrez's neighbor in the House). And on the other side of the country, San Francisco has a newly-minted interim mayor: city administrator Ed Lee, who will fill in for the next 10 months as Gavin Newsom becomes Lt. Governor. The main thing that clinched it for Lee (who will be the city's first Asian-American mayor) was his promise not to run for the job in the November election. One of Newsom's last acts was to appoint a new DA in San Francisco, too (to replace the state's new AG, Kamala Harris): he promoted police chief George Gascon to that job.
• WATN?: Where are they now? On the prison bus, that's where. At least that's the case with former Republican House majority leader Tom DeLay, just sentenced this morning to three years on conspiracy charges associated with laundering corporate money into campaign donations.
• AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: The signature by Gov. Jan Brewer (which may have helped her survive the GOP primary, but may also hurt her in the general) of Arizona's new aggressive anti-immigrant law was the key motivating factor in a new Democratic candidate getting into the Senate race: civil rights activist Randy Parraz. He'll face Rodney Glassman in the Democratic primary. (Why not the, y'know, Arizona Governor's race instead? Apparently Glassman looks like easier primary opposition than AG Terry Goddard in the governor's race... and at any rate, John McCain and J.D. Hayworth have both been beating the war drums on immigration.) And here's an interesting take on the immigration law: ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo just came out in opposition to it, saying, "I do not want people here, there in Arizona, pulled over because you look like should be pulled over." If even Tom Tancredo thinks you're doing it wrong... you're probably doing it wrong.
• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon's campaign doesn't seem to be doing anything illegal here, but there's still no good way to spin this: the campaign has been offering students an extra $5 bounty (on top of a flat hourly rate) for every Republican registered during a Univ. of Connecticut voter registration drive. It's a practice that the DOJ has frowned upon.
• IL-Sen: In the wake of the seizure of the Broadway Bank, Alexi Giannoulias wasted no time in getting an explanatory ad on the air, laying it out in easy-to-grasp points: one, he hadn't worked there in years and when he left it was fine, two, the broader economy took the bank down, and three, speaking of that economic downturn, don't vote for unemployment-benefits-denying Mark Kirk.
• MD-Sen: OK, maybe all those Barb Mikulski retirement rumors will finally go away. She just had her campaign's official kickoff event on Friday. She has 24 times the cash of her likeliest Republican opponent, Queen Anne's Co. Commissioner Eric Wargotz.
• NC-Sen: Elon University's out with another poll; they still aren't doing head-to-heads, but have some assorted other numbers that Richard Burr would probably rather not see. His approvals (among flat-out everybody, not even RVs) are 28/37 and 26% say he "deserves re-election" with 44% saying "time for a new person."
• NV-Sen: A poll for the Nevada News Bureau performed by PMI finds Sue Lowden leading the pack in the GOP Senate primary, at 41. Danny Tarkanian is at 24, Sharron Angle is at 17, and "someone else" is at 18. The poll was taken on the 22nd, shortly after Lowden laid out her support for trading chickens in exchange for poultices and tinctures.
• NY-Sen-B: Long-time Rockland Co. Exec Scott Vanderhoef has decided not to pursue a run against Kirsten Gillibrand, after having spent a month in exploratory mode, saying the money's just not there. Vanderhoef probably found he didn't have the name rec outside of Rockland Co. to have an advantage against the odds and ends in the GOP primary, let alone in the general.
• UT-Sen: Another poll of GOP delegates for the convention in Utah isn't as bad for Bob Bennett as the one leaked to Dave Weigel last week, but it still looks pretty bad for him. Mike Lee leads the way among first-choice votes at 31%, followed by Bennett at 22% (and then Tim Bridgewater at 17% and Cherilyn Eagar at 10%). 41% of delegates say they will "absolutely not" vote for Bennett, so even if Bennett picks up the other 59%, he still can't nail down the nomination at the convention (as there's a 60% threshold).
• WA-Sen: Everyone seemed a little taken by surprise by Friday's SurveyUSA poll of the Washington Senate race, which has non-candidate (for now) Dino Rossi leading Patty Murray 52-42 (and leading the various no-name GOPers actively in the race by 2 or 3 points). Even the Rossi camp is downplaying it, saying that their internal polling places Murray in the lead - which is an odd strategy for someone who got gifted an outlying poll, unless either he's trying to rope-a-dope Murray into complacency or privately cursing the results saying "aw crap, now I have to run for Senate." One of the no-namers, motivational speaker Chris Widener, got out of the race on Friday, which may also portend a Rossi run (or just having taken a stark look at his own finances). Murray's camp may have gotten advance warning of the SurveyUSA poll, as on Friday they leaked their own internal from Fairbank Maslin giving Murray a 49-41 lead over Rossi, very consistent with R2K's recent poll.
• IL-Gov: Oh, goody. Scott Lee Cohen, having bailed out/gotten booted off the Democratic ticket as Lt. Governor nominee after his criminal record became news, still has a political issue that needs scratching. He's announcing that he's going to run an independent bid for Governor instead. Considering how thoroughly his dirty laundry has been aired, he seems likely to poll in the low single digits; I have no idea whether his candidacy (which now appeals mostly only to the steroid-addled pawnbroker demographic) is more harmful to Pat Quinn, Bill Brady, or just the world's general sense of decency.
• MI-Gov: When I heard a few weeks ago that Geoffrey Fieger (the trial lawyer best known for defending Jack Kevorkian and second-best-known for his awful turn as 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee) was pondering another gubernatorial run, I laughed it off. The new EPIC-MRA poll makes it seem a bit more serious, though... which, in turn, if he won the primary, would pretty much foreclose any Democratic shot at winning the general. They only polled the Democratic primary and find, thanks to name rec within the Detroit metro area, Fieger is actually comfortably in the lead at 28%. Andy Dillon is at 20, Virg Bernero is at 13, Alma Wheeler Smith is at 8, other is at 2, and 29% are undecided. Fieger hasn't moved much to act on his interest, though, and has only three weeks to collect the necessary 15,000 signatures to qualify.
• FL-24: Karen Diebel earned the backing of Tom Tancredo in the GOP primary in the 24th, focusing on (with Tancredo, what else?) in the immigration issue. It seems less of a pro-Diebel endorsement than more of a slap against her GOP opponent Craig Miller, though; in a 2006 Miami Herald op-ed, Miller (who was at that point chairman of the National Restaurant Association) came out pretty solidly on the "cheap labor" side of the Republican split on immigration.
• GA-12: Democrats looking for an upgrade from ex-state Sen. Regina Thomas (who raised $10K last quarter and has $4K CoH) for a primary challenge to recalcitrant Blue Dog John Barrow are going to have to keep looking. State Sen. Lester Jackson decided to take a pass, and will stay neutral in the Barrow/Thomas race. He'll focus instead of supporting the Senate bid of Labor Comm. Michael Thurmond (another rumored, but no-longer, challenger to Barrow).
• LA-03: Bobby Jindal just appointed Scott Angelle, the state's Sec. of Natural Resources, to the vacant position of Lt. Governor. Why is this filed under LA-03? Angelle was rumored to be one of the top contenders to run for the 3rd (although it was unclear whether he was going to do it as a Dem or a GOPer... Angelle was a Dem in the legislature, but appointed by GOP Gov. Jindal to his cabinet). With Angelle saying he'll return to his job at Natural Resources after a permanent replacement is elected, that means that former state House speaker Hunt Downer is pretty well locked-in as the GOP nominee in the 3rd, and the Dems aren't likely to get an upgrade from attorney Ravi Sangisetty, making this open seat a very likely GOP pickup. (H/t GOPVOTER.)
• NY-01: Randy Altschuler got the endorsement from the Suffolk County Conservative Party on Friday, which guarantees him a place on the ballot if he wants it. He'll still need to overcome Chris Cox and George Demos in the competitive three-way moneybags duel in the GOP primary (where the county GOP recently switched its endorsement from Altschuler to Cox). It's unclear whether he'd keep the Conservative line if he lost the GOP primary, as that would create a NY-23 type situation and pretty much assure Rep. Tim Bishop's safety. (Unlike the patchwork of counties in the upstate districts, all of the 1st is within Suffolk.)
• NY-29: The GOP would really, really like to have a special election in the 29th, despite David Paterson's apparent intention to play out the clock until November (and prevent a possible GOP pickup, given the difference in strength between the likely candidates). Several GOP party chairs within the district are preparing a lawsuit that would force a special election; the state GOP plans to assist.
• OH-02: Bad news for Jean Schmidt: although she got the Hamilton Co. GOP's endorsement in the previous two elections, she's going to have to proceed without it this year. They're staying neutral as she faces several primary challengers, most notably Warren Co. Commissioner Mike Kilburn.
• PA-12: In battling independent expenditures in the 12th, the GOP went large, as the NRCC plunked down $235K on media buys. The DCCC also spent $16K on media buys.
• SC-04: The dean at Bob Jones University (the crown jewel in the buckle of the Bible Belt, in Greenville in the 4th), Robert Taylor, has announced he's supporting Trey Gowdy in the GOP primary instead of incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis. The occasionally-moderate Inglis (more stylistically than in actual voting substance, though) faces at least three right-wing competitors in the primary, but could run into trouble if he doesn't clear 50% and gets forced into a runoff with one of them.
• WV-01: There are dueling internal polls in the 1st, in the Democratic primary. State Sen. Mike Oliverio was first to release a poll, saying he led Rep. Alan Mollohan 41-33. (One caveat: Oliverio's pollster is Orion Strategies, owned by Curtis Wilkerson, who also just happens to be Oliverio's campaign manager.) Mollohan struck back with a poll from Frederick Polls giving him a 45-36 lead over Oliverio, with the primary fast approaching on May 11.
• MA-AG: Despite it now being widely known that Martha Coakley has a glass jaw (or what's something more fragile than glass? what do they make those fake bottles out of that they use in bar fights in the movies?), she may actually get re-elected Attorney General without facing any GOP opposition whatsoever this fall. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that the GOP's entire bench in Massachusetts just got elected to the Senate.
• Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting look at the changes in registration in Pennsylvania over the last decade. The Democratic Party grew substantially in the state's east, gaining 550,000 registrations up to 4.3 million voters. The GOP shrank by 103,000 registrations down to 3.1 million votes. The Dems lost 20,000 voters in the state's southwest, though; in 2002, 27.8% of the state's Dems were in the Pittsburgh area, but that's down to 23.8%. Contrast that with the Philadelphia metro area: in its five counties, the number of Republicans dropped 13.5%, from a million to 873,000.
• Redistricting: Here's the last redistricting resource you'll ever need: a handy map showing congressional and legislative redistricting procedures for all 50 states. There's also an accompanying document (pdf) which goes into remarkable detail about the various processes, and even contains an appendix of some of the ugliest current gerrymanders.
David and the rest of the SSP crew have been kind enough to give me a soapbox here, and I think I'll be starting a series on breaking down large jurisdictions through the lens of some election.
Having gotten my hands on precinct data for the city for both 2008 and the 2010 Special, I thought I'd continue to examine the disparities between Obama's and Coakley's respective performances.
As you can see on the map, the geographic central core of the city, Roxbury and Mattapan, remained strong with little dropoff from Coakley to the Obama. Jamaica Plain, Allston/Brighton, and Back Bay - all strong Obama areas as well - showed slightly greater drop-offs. Even greater drop-offs were noticeable in the already swingy areas of the city, such as West Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown, and Southie. McCain won only 3 precincts throughout the entire city's 254; Brown increased that to 33.
Putting this statewide perspective, we get this:
Again looking at the map, South Boston was pretty darn brutal for Coakley, with Brown scoring 60%+ in several precincts. Many people (including one Stephen Lynch) indicated particular hostility for Coakley in the neighborhood. She did get destroyed here, but was it any worse than how badly she got destroyed across the rest of the state?
I think not. Sidenote: I'm defining "South Boston" the same way the Boston City Council does, that is, all nine precincts in Ward 6 and precincts 1-7 in Ward 7.
In 2008, in the 16 precincts constituting "South Boston" (or Southie), Obama beat McCain by a margin of 3,100 votes, or roughly 59-39. In 2010, Coakley lost by a margin of 1,500 votes, or roughly 43-56. Overall, this was a 16.0% swing; this is somewhat worse than that 15.31% swing experienced by Coakley across the state.
But, despite my election-night model assuming so, Coakley didn't experience a uniform dropoff. Instead, dropoffs are quite correlated with how well Obama performed in the area was to begin with. (This makes sense - Democratic strongholds are likely to remain so, while swingy areas in which Obama did well might have been particularly receptive to Republicans in a close election.)
Throwing this up on a graph (with Coakley's dropoff on the vertical axis and Obama's margin on the horizontal), we get:
You'll see a few outliers here: the point at the origin you can throw out - that's Boston Precinct 01-15, which last had a voter in 2004. The correlation on that is 0.83 0.816, suggesting quite a strong relationship.
Taking the geekery to the next level, I busted out the extraordinarily helpful Stata (how academic of you, my SPSS-using friends tell me...):
For those who are less of statistics nerds than I am, the regression tells us two main things:
For every point increase in Obama's margin in a voting unit (precincts within Boston, towns elsewhere), we can expect Coakley's performance relative to Obama's to improve by 0.14%.
For a hypothetical voting unit that was exactly tied between Obama and McCain, we should expect a 17% swing away from Coakley.
Applying this to South Boston, we see that there isn't really a pattern: some precincts had drop-offs more than to be expected, others had less.
There really isn't much a discernible pattern here, again, supporting the conclusion that while Southie didn't like Martha, they didn't indicate their dislike for her through their votes more than the rest of the state did.
This can all be represented visually as well:
The last benefit of getting the Boston data was I could finish results of the Senate Race by CD. As we'd already known, they weren't pretty, but here's the results table just as a freebie:
It's been a bit since the Massachusetts election, in which unknown Republican Scott Brown emerged to upset the favored Democrat Martha Coakley in one of union's deepest-blue states. Since then, Democrats have been recalibrating their strategy.
In a previous post, I outlined the results of how a tied election might look like. Let's take a look at the prediction:
• AZ-Sen: This has to be a bit of disappointment for J.D. Hayworth, as he mounts a right-wing primary challenge to John McCain: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who's been active in endorsing insurgent candidates in GOP primaries and whose stamp of approval has become the gold standard for aspiring wingnuts, has declined to get involved in the Arizona primary.
• CA-Sen: Bringing to the table the business acumen and keen understanding of the law that made her such a smashing success at Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina put forth a worst-case scenario solution for the cash-strapped state of California: declaring bankruptcy. One slight problem here: while municipalities may, states can't declare bankruptcy.
• IN-Sen: Former Sen. Dan Coats made his official announcement during a radio interview today, saying he's "answering the call" to challenge Evan Bayh. Coats said he's "off and running," and by running, that means his staffers are running madly around the state trying to round up at least 500 signatures in each congressional district before the Feb. 16 filing deadline; so far, he has turned in no signatures at all (and his efforts may be greatly hampered by this week's spell of inclement weather). At a more general level, Politico has a story today titled "The Nuking of Dan Coats," a retrospective of all the damage Coats has sustained last week as the Dems (gunshy about a repeat of their asleep-at-the-wheel Massachusetts election) pounced quickly and rolled out pushback-free hit after hit on Coats's lobbying past and residency.
• CA-Gov: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown is sitting on more than $12 million, which would be enough to annihilate everyone and everything in sight in most states. But in freakishly-expensive California and facing billionaire Meg Whitman, who can cut herself a $20 million check the way most of us reach into the change jar on the way to the store, he needs a little outside help. He's getting that from "Level the Playing Field 2010," a coalition of unions and wealthy donors who are launching a $20 million independent expenditure effort of their own, to keep Whitman from dominating the airwaves here in the slow season.
• MI-Gov: This is kind of surprising, considering that she'd been getting a disproportionate share of the gubernatorial buzz, some not-so-subtle encouragement from inside the Beltway, and a primary lead in recent polling. Denise Ilitch, UM regent and one-time pro sports magnate & pizza baroness, decided today against a run for the Democratic nod. She pointed to the late date, saying there was too much catching-up to do at this point, although she said she'd be interested in running for something in the future. This means the Democratic field is likely to be centrist state House speaker Andy Dillon and populist Lansing mayor Virg Bernero going mano-a-mano.
• NY-Gov: You can tell it's not shaping up to be a good week when it starts out with having to point out that, no, you're not resigning. David Paterson batted down rumors about forthcoming resignation in the face of an allegedly-emerging sex scandal (which so far has yet to emerge), but something even more ominous is looming on the horizon: federal prosecutors are starting to look into alleged misdeeds related to awarding gambling contracts at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens. The angle may be that the recipient, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, includes ex-Rep. Floyd Flake, still a prominent black leader in Queens and one who'd been pondering endorsing Andrew Cuomo instead in a primary, and that the contract may have been intended to curry Flake's favor.
• PA-Gov: Scranton mayor Chris Doherty may be looking for an exit, although he maintains he's staying in the Democratic primary field. Rumors have abounded that he's looking to downshift to the Lt. Governor position, and the decision by two locally prominent pols (Wilkes-Barre mayor Tom Leighton and Luzerne Co. Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla) to back rival Dan Onorato instead may hasten his decision. Doherty is also getting urged to drop down to the state Senate, in order to hold the Scranton-area seat being vacated this year by Senate minority leader Robert Mellow (who just announced his retirement) after decades in the Senate. (However, SD-22 is Democratic-leaning and probably doesn't need someone of Doherty's stature to hold it.)
• RI-Gov: I'm not exactly sure where the rumors that Democratic state treasurer Frank Caprio was considering a switch to an independent or even Republican run for governor (presumably in order to avoid an irritating primary with more liberal AG Patrick Lynch, although polls have given Caprio the edge in that primary) were coming from, but Caprio tamped them down, confirming he's staying on board as a Democrat. At any rate, regardless of how things sort out, it looks like Rhode Island will have a governor next year who's in favor of gay marriage: Caprio, Lynch, and independent candidate Lincoln Chafee have all pledged to sign it into law. (Republican candidate John Robitaille won't, although even he's in favor of civil unions; polls have shown him to be an electoral non-factor though.)
• AL-05: Suddenly the floodgates are open in the 5th for Democratic challengers to former Dem Parker Griffith. Taze Shepard and Mitchell Howie both confirmed they'll run yesterday, and now a third person has stepped forward: Steve Raby, a political consultant whose biggest claim to fame is a long stint as the chief of staff to Sen. Howell Heflin. A fourth possible candidate, former Huntsville school board president David Blair, however, said that he won't get involved in the race. The filing deadline isn't until April 2.
• CA-11: The establishment seems to be coming together behind attorney David Harmer as their pick in the GOP primary in the 11th, where there's a wide assortment of Republicans, some of whom can self-fund, but none with an electoral background. Harmer, you'll recall, ran in the special election in the much-bluer 10th last year and overperformed the district's lean against then-Lt. Gov. John Garamendi. Harmer just got the endorsement of Reps. Wally Herger and Buck McKeon, as well as CA-11's 2008 loser, former Assemblyman Dean Andal.
• CT-04: Ex-Rep. Chris Shays is starting to seem like he wants to run for something this year, seeing as how Republican fortunes are improving. He'd previously been linked with a gubernatorial run, but today's rumor has him interested in a rematch against Rep. Jim Himes, who knocked him out in 2008. Shays would be a more imposing foe than the state Senators currently in the GOP field, but would still have an uphill run against the district's D+5 lean.
• MA-AG: If politicians had to have professional licenses in order to practice, Martha Coakley's would have been revoked for gross political malpractice. Instead, though, she's free to run for re-election... and that's just what she's announced that she's doing.
• OH-AG: A Republican internal poll from Newhouse gives ex-Sen. Mike DeWine a sizable edge over incumbent Democratic Richard Cordary in the Ohio AG's race, 50-32. That's actually plausible, as DeWine, who spent two terms as Senator, has much greater name recognition than Cordray, who filled in mid-term in the wake of Marc Dann's resignation.
• NY-St. Sen.: The state Senate actually sacked up and did it: they expelled Hiram Monserrate, several months after his assault conviction. The vote was 53-8. A special election has been called for March 16 (in which Monserrate plans to run anyway); the compressed timetable is largely because Monserrate's absence means the Dems are down to only a 31-30 edge in the Senate, making it impossible for the Dems to move legislation on party lines (as bills need 32 votes to pass).
• NY-St. Ass.: Bad news for suburban New York Democrats, who lost two separate Assembly seats in special elections last night (although one, in Suffolk County, is close enough that it could be salvaged through absentee ballots). The victory of Republican Robert Castelli in AD-89, centered on White Plains in affluent Westchester County, may be particularly alarming for Democrats, especially when coupled with the surprise loss of Westchester Co. Exec Andy Spano in November. It's a bellwether-ish but generally Dem-leaning part of suburbia, and if it's turning right, that could endanger state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (complicating Dem plans to expand the Senate majority) and possibly even NY-19 Rep. John Hall (who represents a further north, but more conservative, part of Westchester as part of his district). Assembly control, however, is hardly hanging in the balance: Dems now control the chamber 105-42-3.
• AR-Sen: Talk Business Net has occasionally polled Arkansas for approvals of its local political figures, and they see Blanche Lincoln sinking further into oblivion: she's currently at a 38/56 approval, down from 42/46 in October. One Arkansas Dem who isn't suffering is Governor Mike Beebe, who's at an inhuman 82/9. Beebe obviously plans for re-election and isn't in a position to relieve us of Lincoln in a primary, but Accountability Now is looking a little further down the totem pole and launching drafthalter.com to try and get Lt. Gov. Bill Halter into the race (although he's been sounding more interested in the open seat in AR-02).
• AZ-Sen: This is good news! For John McCain! However, it has to be bad news for the hordes of teabaggers who had about one day of thinking they'd elected one of their own to the Senate before finding out they'd gotten just got another New England RINO. Newly-elected Scott Brown's first act was to record a robocall in favor of the insufficiently zealous McCain, who may or may not field a challenge from the raving right from J.D. Hayworth. Believe it or not, this wasn't even Brown's first endorsement (the guy's doling out the political capital without having even been sworn in yet). The Hill had a piece this morning titled "Brown's First Endorsement May Backfire," which I assumed was about McCain - but it turns out his first endorsement was of William Hudak, a nobody running in MA-06 against John Tierney. Hudak is a loud-and-proud birther, and now Brown's camp is already trying to figure out how to walk that one back (and getting blasted by Hudak for doing so).
• IN-Sen: With rumors flying about Rep. Mike Pence checking out a possible Senate race against Evan Bayh, key Pence ally Tony Perkins (head of the Family Research Council) said that he doubts there'll be a Pence run for the Senate, and he alluded vaguely to the "possibility" of a 2012 presidential run instead. The Club for Growth, seeing a kindred spirit in Pence, though, has been joining in the chorus pushing him to run.
• NC-Sen (pdf): Not much change in the North Carolina Senate race since PPP's last visit, although there's some fluctuation upward in Richard Burr's head-to-head numbers. The faceless Burr's approvals are still very ho-hum, at 36-33 (with 31 still not sure), but he's still holding his own against Generic D (45-36, up quite a bit from a one-digit gap last month, which was probably too optimistic). Encouragingly, though, SoS Elaine Marshall is starting to overperform Generic D; she trails 44-37. Ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham trails 45-36, and attorney Kenneth Lewis (who was recently endorsed by Rep. G.K. Butterfield) trails 46-34.
• NY-Sen-B: Harold Ford Jr.'s Senate campaign-type-thing seems ill-timed to coincide with the Democrats' belated and tentative moves to try and tap into anti-bankster anger. Sensing some trouble on that front, he's been refusing to say exactly what kind of work he's been doing for Merrill Lynch. Politico previously described his role ("senior policy adviser") as sort of a nothing-and-everything job: "rainmaker and image buffer, there to impress clients, make connections and put a politic foot forward in public settings."
• AL-Gov: More general douchery from Rep. Artur Davis as he tries to run to the right of Ag Comm. Ron Sparks in the Democratic primary, saying of health care reformer supporter Sparks: "Ron Sparks, who supports the flawed health care legislation in Washington, should realize that he is not only out of touch with the state he wants to lead, Ron Sparks would even be out of touch in Massachusetts."
• CO-Gov: Here's one sign that the John Hickenlooper camp was caught flat-footed by Gov. Bill Ritter's retirement announcement: they don't own johnhickenlooper.com. Wanna buy it? It'll only cost you $995, and the Hickenlooper camp doesn't seem to have plans to try to buy it.
• IL-Gov: Dan Hynes, who's been running some hard-hitting (some might say "Willie Horton-esque") ads against incumbent Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary, is now touting an internal poll that has him quickly closing the gap to within 7, down 44-37. (Quinn is also getting hit from the right by anti-tax ads from GOPer Andy McKenna.) Hynes's poll also claims that Quinn's approval is down to 36/60 among primary voters - if that doesn't turn around for Quinn after the primary once he isn't getting squeezed from both sides (if he even survives, as his trendline is pointing down), that would certainly bode ill for the general. One other plus for Hynes: he has a cash advantage of more than $1 million against the incumbent.
• NY-Gov: The NYT reports on mounting impatience among New York Democratic leaders for AG Andrew Cuomo to get over it and declare his gubernatorial bid already. Insiders say he's already made up his mind to run and is waiting possibly as late as April to announce, though - and already holding a $16 million to $3 million funds edge over David Paterson, he doesn't have to hustle. Still, Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, is publicly endorsing Cuomo today, as a subtle nudge to get him off his butt.
• PA-Gov: Businessman Tom Knox got a lot of early attention in the Democratic governor's primary, but hasn't made much an impression in the polls since then. Rumors have been abounding that Knox was about to drop out of the race and endorse rival Dan Onorato instead, after meeting with Onorato this week. Knox's campaign manager has been tamping those rumors down, today, though.
• TX-Gov: With Dick Cheney already offering his endorsement (of questionable value), another Bush administration veteran is about to endorse Kay Bailey Hutchison too in the Texas gubernatorial primary: George Bush himself. Now before you start sputtering, that's Bush the Elder (aka 41, aka Poppy, aka H.W.).
• AR-01: In a piece on Rep. Marion Berry sounding pessimistic about passing health care reform, there's also an even more unsettling tidbit buried, saying Berry sounds "a little unsure" about whether he'll even bother running for re-election this year, even though he's not facing much in the way of a GOP challenge (yet). The quickly reddening 1st is not somewhere we want to be defending another open seat.
• NY-19: Conservative Republicans who've been looking for an alternative to the country-clubbish Nan Hayworth as a challenger to Democratic Rep. John Hall may have found someone to fit that bill. Thomas DeChiaro, owner of a local winery, says he'll run. As an indication of where he's coming from, he said he's already met with Conservative Party leader Michael Long and "plans to" meet with Republican party leaders soon.
• PA-06: It's official: Steven Welch is staying in the GOP primary in the 6th, despite Rep. Jim Gerlach pulling his gubernatorial ripcord and plummeting back into his old seat. Welch may be motivated by nothing more than sunk costs at this point, but he claims he's bolstered by a decent 40% showing at a recent insider straw poll. Looking for an angle in a moderate-vs.-moderate duel, he's also been reaching out to the local teabaggers, but they may be very suspicious of his past support of Democrats.
• PA-08: Ex-Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick had sounded kind of coy about a rematch with 2006 victor Rep. Pat Murphy, but all signs are now pointing toward a 2010 run. He's scheduled a Saturday press conference in the district to talk about his plans.
• MA-AG: Martha Coakley, now that she has some time on her hands, is planning to run for re-election as Massachusetts Attorney General. It remains to be seen whether she'll draw any primary challengers, now that it's been exposed that she has a glass jaw and turned off a lot of former supporters; some of the county DAs who'd been planning to run to succeed her may be interested in forging ahead anyway.
• Governors: Josh Goodman looks at the link between what happened in gubernatorial races in midterm elections where there was a wave at the congressional level. As you'd expect, the party gaining in Congress gains state houses too, although seemingly mostly through open seats.
• Filing deadlines: Don't forget to check out our handy SSP calendar, which covers filing deadlines and primary election dates. Kentucky and West Virginia have filing deadlines next week - and then Illinois has its freakishly-early primary in just two more weeks.
When it comes to writing about elections after the fact, I'm not a big post-mortem guy -- I feel it can sometimes be a little disingenuous to diagnose a race with absolute certainty a day or two after, in many cases, you were hedging your bets as to the final outcome. That said, though, there are an endless supply of post-mortems out there on Martha Coakley's mind-numbingly bad result last night, and some of them actually have some worthwhile observations to offer. Let's round up a few of these pundit attempts to leave their mark on the CW:
While we're talking about lessons to learn from the debacle in Massachusetts, two tough questions that need to be asked, discussed, and reflected on a great deal are:
1. How to get better at picking good candidates in primaries, and
2. What are the danger signs to look out for in a primary that might warn us a candidate that looks good in a primary will bomb in the general election?
Last night's victory by Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in the Bay State was certainly one of the biggest political shockers in my lifetime. The fact that in happened on the eve of the first anniversary of the Obama presidency also leaves a sour taste in everyone but Republican's mouths.
My view is the Democrats got complacent with "safe" seats, and Republicans can get that way also as we've seen in the last 4 years when they just kept losing. The Democrats were so used to Ted Kennedy holding onto his seat, they thought it would be a lock for them and they could run just about anybody, no matter how terrible a candidate he or she was. Brown managed to develop what I thought was a great one-liner in response to David Gergen: "It's not the Kennedy seat, it's the People's seat!"
All the telltale signs that this was not a safe Democrat haven since at least 1990 were there. William Weld, Paul Cellucci, and Mitt Romney weren't accidents. If they could win the governorship with that much success, it was only a matter of time before they managed to ascend to higher office. Hell, Brown even made Coakley look like an elistist with his driving around in his GMC Truck. Can you say "Fred Thompson 1994"?
For a party that emphasized reaching out to Indpendents in 2008, how in the world did they not realize that Independents now outnumber either party affliation is staggering. Either people out there honestly did not approve of HRC, or they didn't understand it because Democrats on the ground weren't campaigning hard enough up to this vote to gain ground with Independents. I would argue that the latter point is more accurate. Democrats like Coakley and Obama pretty much failed to actually campaign until the last minute, allowing Brown to capitalize. How else do you explain a 30 point lead for Coakley evaporating virtually overnight?
Where I come from, I know of a party that had been in office for a long time. They thought the other guys could never beat them and they got complacent. Guess what? The Liberal Party of Canada is in opposition today, and the best leader we could come up with was a guy who spent 30 years away from Canada and was recently a professor at, coincidentially, Harvard. While Democrats haven't been in control in the amount of time Liberals had been, the same situation seems to be present. They need to pick up their game and campaign hard, or else they can start to lose safe seats like they did last night.