• AK-Gov (R/D): Anything other than slam-dunk wins tonight for incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell and ex-state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz would have to be considered a surprise. Parnell has led his two highest-profile challengers, ex-state House Speaker Ralph Samuels and attorney and ex-Valdez Mayor Bill Walker by huge margins, as has Berkowitz against state Sen. Hollis "October Surprise" French. (JL)
• AK-Sen (R): Could Lisa Murkowski bite it in a intra-party challenge from little-known attorney Joe Miller? In Miller's corner are the Palins, Mike Huckabee, and a half-million from the Tea Party Express. In her corner, Murkowski has the backing of about 1.9 million dead presidents, and a 62-30 lead over Miller in a late July Ivan Moore poll. Of course, that was before the TPX started unloading, but the odds are always long for Some Dudes... (JL)
• AZ-Sen (R): This looked like it was going to be one of the all-time great Republican primary slugfests when it first appeared on the horizon: Mr. Maverick himself, John McCain, versus fiery conservative ex-Rep.-turned-radio-talk-show-host J.D. Hayworth. Some of the initial polling, in fact, was fairly close, before the novelty wore off... but then the novelty wore off, and we were left with three basic realities: a) John McCain had a ton more money than Hayworth and was willing to use it, b) John McCain had absolutely no shame about taking all that Maverick stuff, throwing it in the trash can along with many of his previous policy positions, and remaking himself as a right-wing ideologue in order to survive his primary, and c) J.D. Hayworth is a complete and total clown. The turning point seemed to be the revelation in June that Hayworth had shilled for a Matthew Lesko-style free-government-money infomercial, which destroyed any remaining credibility he may have still had. Polling from July gave McCain leads ranging from 20 to over 40 points. (C)
• AZ-Sen (D): At this point, the Democratic Senate primary in Arizona looks a good bit more unpredictable than the Republican one. The seeming frontrunner is former Tucson vice-mayor Rodney Glassman, a former Raul Grijalva aide and a young up-and-comer with some family money as well. Glassman seemed to have the field to himself after the NRSC's desired candidate, wealthy businesswoman Nan Stockholm Walden, begged off... but once the specter of a race against J.D. Hayworth instead of John McCain appeared, some other late entrants arrived, most notably civil rights activist Randy Parraz and former state Rep. Cathy Eden. What little polling we've seen of this race (a Rasmussen poll from July and a Parraz internal) has given Glassman the lead, but he didn't rise above 20% in either poll. More-frequent polling of the general election has actually given Glassman a good chance against Hayworth... but unfortunately, a McCain match is looking much likelier. (C)
• AZ-01 (R): Eight Republicans have jumped into the race for the right to challenge freshman Dem Ann Kirkpatrick. Notably, rogue dentist Paul Gosar has spent the most, but the field also includes former State Senate majority leader Rusty Bowers and 2008 nominee Sydney Hay (whose abysmal campaign netted her a 56-40 defeat). Gosar seems to have most of the establishment support, including endorsements from the Grizzly Momma and (even though the district doesn't enter it) Maricopa County Sheriff and xenophobe extraordinaire Joe Arpaio. Gosar's internal polling has him in the lead, ahead of Hay by a 30-10 margin. Primary voters would be doing themselves a favor by not nominating Hay; we'll see if Gosar can live up to his polling. (JMD)
• AZ-03 (R): Crowded GOP primaries seem to be the norm in Arizona, with a 10-man field for the open seat of retiring GOPer John Shadegg. Several qualify beyond Some Dude status, including former northern Phoenix State Rep. Sam Crump, former State Senator Pamela Gorman (who represented the same district as Crump), former northern Phoenix/Scottsdale State Senator Jim Waring, attorney Paulina Morris, Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker, and Parker's predecessor as Mayor, Ed Winkler. The two largest warchests, however, belong to Ben "Son of Potatoe" Quayle and self-funding businessman Steve Moak. Moak and Quayle have gone hard after each other, with recent revelations about Quayle's history with what eventually became TheDirty.com taking their toll and Quayle's responses being, perhaps hereditarily, ineffectual. Moak seems ready to occupy the vacuum that Quayle's implosion has left, but the sheer number of credible candidates leaves room for surprise. (JMD)
• AZ-05 (R): Two-term Dem Harry Mitchell will face one of five GOPers, a field that includes a rematch between 2008 candidates David Schweikert and Susan Bitter Smith. Schweikert prevailed then by a 1,000-vote margin out of 48,000 cast and went on to a 53-44 loss to Mitchell. Complicating this rematch are other credible candidates in doctor Chris Salvino and self-funded businessman Jim Ward, both of whom have outraised and outspent Bitter Smith. Schweikert seems to have assumed frontrunner status, going as far as cancelling his last-minute ad buy...before opting in for one again. Will Schweikert's hubris come to haunt him today? (JMD)
• AZ-08 (R): In a common pattern that we've seen this cycle, the primary for the right to challenge sophomore Dem Gabby Giffords has a clear establishment v. outsider rift. However, there is only one teabagger here, Jesse Kelly, who squares off against the "establishment's" former Tucson-area State Senator, Jonathan Paton. Perhaps owing to the fact that there's only one teabaggish-type here, Kelly seems to be favored against Paton, posting a hefty 36-17 lead in recent polling. However, this poll was taken before third wheel Brian Miller headed for the exit, endorsing Paton on his way out. Given Miller's low share of support and Kelly's sole claim to the Holy Teabag, we might finally see the upset of an NRCC golden child here. (JMD)
• FL-Gov (R): All good things must indeed come to an end - and I am going to be very sad when this primary is over. Until mid-April of this year, Bill McCollum, the colorless, unlikeable, ambiguously hairpieced state AG and former House impeachment manager, at least had one thing to keep his sorry ass happy at night: He was guaranteed to be the Republican nominee for governor of Florida. Then, a funny thing happened: Zillionaire asshole Rick Scott decided he wanted the nod more - a whole lot more. In fact, about $40 million more, which is what he and allied groups (aka his wife's checkbook) have spent on the race. McCollum and his allies (if you can imagine such a thing), undoubtedly stunned to have to start spending so early, have fired back, but they've only mustered some $14 million. (Check out this great graphic of both camps' spending.)
Anyhow, this race has gone more negative than googolplex divided by minus one. There isn't much consensus among pollsters on how much damage has been done to both candidates (some show McCollum with worse favorables, others show Scott deep in the doghouse), but I'm going to guess the answer is "a lot." There's also some divergence over who the frontrunner actually is. For a while there, Billy Mac's toplines utterly bombed - you can almost see him in his kitchen, sobbing into his cornflakes, as your eyes traverse that mid-July nosedive. But the problem with zillionaire assholes is that it's very hard for them to stop being zillionaire assholes, and they've also probably done quite a few somethings to deserve that reputation in the first place. McCollum's hit Scott hard over his ultra-shady past in the healthcare business, and while we can't say for sure, it seems to have turned the race around. Most recent polls have show McCollum taking back the lead, with PPP's seven-point Scott lead the main outlier.
It's hard to know whom to root for, though. Do we take Scott, with his deeply tarnished background but willingness to spend every last dime, or McCollum, with his coffers depleted but less scandal-plagued and still the establishment favorite? I think we have to be happy no matter what happens. And either way, I can hear the sound of that cat fud tin popping open: McCollum's already saying it would be "very difficult" for him to endorse Scott should he lose. Let's only hope Scott is willing to return the favor! Anyhow, this one was definitely a primary for the ages. God bless you, Florida Republicans. (D)
• FL-Sen (D): Forget the actual Democratic candidates in this race -- the real star of the summer-long Florida Democratic primary saga was not a person, but an inanimate object: Summerwind, the notorious party yacht belonging to billionaire scuzzball Jeff Greene (also known as the Levi Johnston of boats). If there was one factor that helped turn this race upside-down, it was the steady barrage of drug-fueled, vomit-caked, and used condom-strewn stories of Jeff Greene's adventures on the high seas. Those stories, along with a barrage of hits against Greene's shady practices as a derivatives pioneer, have completely stunted Greene's momentum and returned the lead to congressman Kendrick Meek. A Meek primary win undoubtedly complicates things for Charlie Crist, who has to hope that he can marginalize the Democratic nominee in order to drink their milkshake steal their votes in November, but three-way races are notoriously difficult to forecast. (Oh, and as a footnote, technically, ex-Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre is still in this race, but his campaign has been totally eclipsed by the Jeff Greene freakshow.) (JL)
• FL-02 (D/R): Despite that Rep. Allen Boyd is a pretty entrenched Blue Dog facing a potentially hard race in November in this GOP-leaning Panhandle district, the real race to watch tonight is the Democratic primary. Boyd faces a challenge from the left from term-limited state Senate majority leader Al Lawson. Lawson isn't a raging liberal himself (and, unlike many Dem primary challenges this year, Boyd deprived him of a key piece of ammo by voting "yes" on the second round of health care reform), but he's hoping that the fact that the district's Democratic electorate, which is substantially African-American, can keep him competitive with the much-better-funded Boyd. Lawson posted a small lead in an internal poll way back in Nov. 2009, but we haven't heard any polling details about the primary since then. The likeliest GOP nominee is funeral home owner Steve Southerland, whose fundraising has been adequate enough for the NRCC's Young Guns program and who even put out an internal also showing him leading Boyd. However, there are four other even-less-known GOPers standing in Southerland's way in the primary (with David Scholl the best fundraiser of the bunch, although even he hasn't broken into the six digits). (C)
• FL-05 (R): I don't know about you, but I've got a bad case of Cat Scratch Fever, and there's only one cure... a primary victory tonight by the Rock 'n' Roll Sheriff, the Hernando County Madman, the Ten Terrible Fingers of Local Law Enforcement: Richard Nugent. Current Republican Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, facing only an uneventful challenge from teabagger Jason Sager (whose impetus for getting into the race was Brown-Waite's support for Dede Scozzafava!), unexpectedly bailed out on filing day, letting her designated successor Nugent pick up the flag and sneak into office without a top-drawer Republican opponent, of which there are potentially many in this red district. Nugent still has to get past Sager, though; we'll have to see if Sager is beneficiary of people's discontent over the "selection process." (C)
• FL-08 (R): Rep. Alan Grayson should be a tempting target, given his shoot-from-the-hip style and his freshman-in-a-swing-district status, but his huge stash of netroots cash seemed an active deterrent as the NRCC tried vainly to find a top-tier recruit. Eventually, they settled on businessman Bruce O'Donoghue, who had some self-funding potential, as their go-to guy. Unfortunately, one of the other guys they'd been unenthusiastically flirting with, social conservative state Rep. Kurt Kelly, decided he was going to get in anyway, and that was compounded by the fact that attorney/talk radio host Todd Long, who nearly beat then-Rep. Ric Keller in the '08 GOP primary, wasn't going away. Finally, the guy they wanted all along but who initially blew them off, state Sen. Daniel Webster, decided he wanted to run after all, but came back much too belatedly to clear the field or even get much of a fundraising foothold. Webster does have some key backers (Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush), but with not so much as a leaked internal of the primary from any of the players, there's no clue as to whether he'll emerge from tonight's primary. (C)
• FL-17 (D): This nine-way primary to succeed Kendrick Meek has largely been off the national radar - and that's too bad, because it probably represented a good chance for progressive groups to get involved, seeing as it's an 87% Obama district. In any event, the race features several elected officials, a local community figure, and one wealthy self-funder with a proverbial "colorful past," Rudy Moise. The only recent poll of the race was taken on behalf of a group supporting activist Marleine Bastien, which had her at 22, while state Sen. Frederica Wilson was at 21. Moise was back at 10, and Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson was at 9. No one (apart from Moise) has raised much, with state Rep. Yolly Robertson leading the pack at $336K. The Miami Herald has a helpful run-down on each of the candidates in this wide-open race. (D)
• FL-24 (R): National Republicans have run through a succession of favored candidates in this primary, starting with former Winter Park Commissioner Karen Diebel. Diebel turned out to be crazy (in a call to 911 a few years ago, she said political opponents placed a snake in her pool - and were spying on her home and hacking her computer), so attention turned to state Rep. Sandy Adams. Adams, however, turned out to be a sucky fundraiser, so the GOP recruited Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chief Craig Miller, a first-time candidate. Miller has self-funded less than you might have expected (only about $350K), which might explain his last-minute mailer attacking Diebel's sanity over the Snakes In A Pool incident. If Miller hasn't in fact sealed the deal, then race could be very much up in the air, especially since we haven't seen any recent polling. (D)
• FL-25 (R): State Rep. David Rivera, despite a week of horrible press, is still the favorite for the Republican nomination to succeed district-hopping GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, but it will still be interesting to see if any of the ugly headlines will make a dent at the ballot box. First, we learned that Rivera once ran a truck off the road back in 2002 because it was carrying flyers printed for his opponent, in the hopes of preventing it from reaching the post office on time. Next, Rivera's Republican opponents have resurrected allegations that Rivera was involved in a domestic violence dispute. Damaging as stories like those may be, Rivera enjoys a huge fundraising lead over attorney Mariana "Marili" Cancio and Marine Corps veteran and public-relations consultant Paul Crespo. The real fireworks will have to wait for November, where the GOP nominee will face Tea Partier Roly Arrojo, Whig nominee (!!) Craig Porter, and '08 candidate Joe Garcia, who is the heavy favorite to beat union leader Luis Meurice for the Democratic nod tonight. (JL)
• OK-02 (R): The last we checked in on this race, underfunded GOPers Charles Thompson and Daniel Edmonds received 34% and 28% respectively, setting the stage for a runoff. Both candidates seem to have improved their financial position, with Edmonds now able to claim $1,300 in his campaign account and Thompson up to a whopping $13k! Given this, whoever stumbles out of the runoff tomorrow will end up quite the underdog to incumbent (and oft-frustrating) Dem Dan Boren. (JMD)
• OK-05 (R): In the first round, Christian camp director Jim Lankford edged out establishment pick former State Rep. Kevin Calvey, 34-32, a development that left some at NRCC headquarters scratching their heads. Third-place finisher State Rep. Mike Thompson, who earned 18%, has endorsed Lankford and not his former colleague. This just might give Lankford's more grassroots-oriented campaign the extra push it needs to overcome Calvey's financial advantage; since we last checked in, Calvey's plunked out $780k's to Lankfords $415k. While November in this district won't likely be exciting, true SwingNuts would never give up a chance to see egg on the NRCC's face. (JMD)
• VT-Gov (D): Democrats have a challenge ahead of them in knocking off reasonably well-liked Republican Brian Dubie in November, but they have a giant, five-way primary to get through first. The players include former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, state Sens. Peter Shumlin and Susan Bartlett, and ex-state Rep. Matt Dunne. Markowitz and Shumlin have had the strongest fundraising, while Bartlett has raised the least of the major players. Without any public polling of the Democratic primary -- or even a leaked internal -- it's impossible to say what will happen here. (JL)
Bill McCollum (R): 44 (32)
Rick Scott (R): 35 (43)
Undecided: 19 (23)
Kendrick Meek (D): 35 (23)
Jeff Greene (D): 28 (33)
Maurice Ferre (D): 6 (4)
Undecided: 29 (35)
A month ago, it was looking like the massively-self-funded vanity campaigns of Rick Scott (in the GOP gubernatorial primary) and Jeff Greene (in the Democratic Senate primary) were actually going to succeed, having bamboozled an adequate number of voters after swamping the airwaves with TV spots. With voters finally seeming to take notice of Scott's massive Medicare fraud and Greene's hard-partying ways (stuff that was always out there, but seemed to take a long time to break through the clutter), their implosion seems to be happening -- belatedly, but rapidly, all the same.
McCollum's turnaround is particularly surprising, as he's actually venturing back into positive favorable territory (at least among the Republican primary electorate) after having temporarily gotten turned radioactive: he's at 45/30, compared with 34/33 for Scott. (Quinnipiac should ask McCollum supporters how they feel about Scott, and vice versa... I think there might be some mutual exclusivity to those two sets of numbers.) McCollum's also surviving despite that, by a 42-35 margin, GOP voters prefer someone who's an "outsider" to someone with "experience."
There is one other poll, out, though, that gives a small lead to Scott: it's the GOP side of that Susquehanna poll for Sunshine State News (they released Dem Senate numbers yesterday). It's a small lead, though; Scott's up 44-42 (although he was up by 16 in the previous Sunshine State News poll in July). The same sample also took a look at the Democratic primary in the Attorney General's race, where state sen. Dan Gelber leads fellow state Sen. Dave Aronberg, 38-27.
McCollum's also getting some outside help from another new Florida resident: Mike Huckabee is giving his endorsement to McCollum, and will appear with him this weekend. The McCollum camp is also launching a new ad, focusing on Scott's legal woes and featuring new footage of him running away from cameras, and even turning the C and O in his name into handcuffs for emphasis.
Realizing he's up against the wall, Scott is pouring another $4 million of his own money into the race. (Somewhere, Meg Whitman was heard scoffing at the foibles of the little people who can only self-finance in the seven-digit range.) Scott's newest ad references Jim Greer, the disgraced former state party chair, and tries to tie him to McCollum. That seems like it was a bridge too far for even the RGA, which condemned Scott over the ad and danced up to the very edge, in their statement, of almost (but not quite) endorsing McCollum. Also, Scott is going back to the well on the Rentboy scandal, trying to tie McCollum to George Rekers again with a new mailer. Whew! Remember back when we thought the Florida Senate race was going to be the slimy one?
Rick Scott (R): 43 (44)
Bill McCollum (R): 32 (31)
Undecided: 23 (24)
Jeff Greene (D): 33 (27)
Kendrick Meek (D): 23 (29)
Maurice Ferre (D): 4 (3)
Undecided: 35 (37)
Who would have ever thought, even three months ago, that the once-seeming-insane vanity campaigns of ultra-wealthy GOPer Rick Scott and Dem Jeff Greene would actually take off? If anything, it shows the power of money to sway voters, especially the power of money in primary elections where name rec and interest are low and the establishment candidates are on the underwhelming side.
Things haven't changed much in the Republican gubernatorial primary; if anything, Bill McCollum seems to have arrested Rick Scott's progress, although his small turnaround is all within the margin of error. The big movement this time is in the Dem Senate primary, where Greene has shot past Kendrick Meek into first place, with Meek only getting on the air with his first ad this week. (Not to get too morbid about Meek's chances here, but I've gotta wonder how many establishment Dems both in Florida and the Beltway are secretly pleased to see Greene on track to win the primary, which will then free them up to support Charlie Crist in November with a clean conscience...)
If there's any hope to be had for Meek, it's the high number of people who might change their mind, and the preference for experience over outsider status. On the Dem side, only 43% say their mind is made up, and 54% might change, while 44% of Dems prefer someone with experience while 35% want an outsider. Compare that with McCollum's chances: on the GOP side, 55% say their mind is made up, 43% may change. 54% want an "outsider," while 28% want experience.
Rick Scott (R): 44
Bill McCollum (R): 31
Kendrick Meek (D): 29
Jeff Greene (D): 27
Maurice Ferre (D): 3
Here's a "holy crap!" moment from Quinnipiac: the two random sketchy ultra-wealthy guys, Rick Scott and Jeff Greene, whose entries into the GOP gubernatorial primary and Democratic Senate primary (respectively) initially seemed like go-nowhere vanity projects, are actually in serious contention thanks to lavish TV spending.
In particular, Rick Scott (former CEO for hospital corporation Columbia/HCA) has shot ahead of Bill McCollum. Scott's favorables are a very high 40/12 among GOPers, indicating that McCollum's (or Mary Cheney's, really) attempts to point out that whole Medicare fraud thing on Scott's part have gotten drowned out by the sheer volume of Scott's advertising. Of course, it doesn't look like McCollum has gotten too badly harmed by Rentboy; he's also a 41/19 among GOPers, so he might be able to fight his way back if he can find his financial footing, ad-wise.
Jeff Greene, the derivatives pioneer who increased his fortune betting on an economic collapse caused in part by those same derivatives, isn't leading, but is nipping at Kendrick Meek's heels in the Democratic Senate primary. Meek has spent little on advertising so far, so despite his institutional frontrunner status, he isn't particularly better-known than Greene right now.
Quinnipiac released its general election numbers separately:
Kendrick Meek (D): 17 (24)
Marco Rubio (R): 33 (30)
Charlie Crist (I): 37 (32)
Undecided: 11 (13)
Jeff Greene (D): 14
Marco Rubio (R): 33
Charlie Crist (I): 40
Alex Sink (D): 32
Rick Scott (R): 42
Alex Sink (D): 34 (36)
Bill McCollum (R): 42 (40)
Undecided: 19 (21)
Alex Sink (D): 26
Rick Scott (R): 35
Bud Chiles (I) : 13
Alex Sink (D): 25
Bill McCollum (R): 33
Bud Chiles (I) : 19
Charlie Crist may actually be able to thread the needle here (especially if he gets an assist from Jeff Greene, as Crist breaks off an extra 3% from the Dem column if it's Greene instead of Meek); he leads Marco Rubio in both configurations, thanks to, if you believe the trendlines, eating up a further share of Dem votes.
Things aren't looking so good for Alex Sink in the gubernatorial race, with similar underperformances against both Scott and McCollum. (Interestingly -- and I don't know if this is a trend or a blip -- Rasmussen finds the Governor's race a much better bet for the Dems right now than Quinnipiac does.)
It looks like Quinnipiac added a Bud Chiles option mid-sample once the indie candidate announced (as explained by the higher MoE on the three-ways). Despite his Democratic lineage, Chiles' entry doesn't seem to hurt Sink disproportionately, as he seems to have enough Dixiecrat appeal to draw equally from both column D and column R. The 8-to-9 point margins between the Rs and Sink remains unchanged with Chiles in the mix.
AR-Sen: Mark Blumenthal has a detailed post-mortem of the polling in the Arkansas senate runoff, including some off-the-record claims that both Halter's and Lincoln's internal polling showed Lincoln ahead. I sort of wonder why Lincoln didn't put out these numbers, if true.
CT-Sen: Several big-name Republican fundraisers are hosting an event for none other than Joe Lieberman, to benefit his 2012 re-election campaign. Some of the hosts include Robbie Aiken, Wayne Berman, Rachel Pearson, and Kathryn Rand. Obviously an outright party switch is always possible with this fuckin' guy.
FL-Sen: Wow, so there really is a Democrat who wants death panels (more or less). Maurice Ferre, himself 75 years old, said in a meeting with the Palm Beach Post editorial board:
"Well, you know what, when you get to be 85 or 90 years old, you're going to die. And I'm sorry, you call it, Sarah Palin, what you want, but the fact is that it is absurd for us to be spending the types of money we're spending to extend life three months."
Asked what he'd do as a Senator to control such costs, Ferre said: "I would absolutely say that this is the cap on how much is available for you to spend at age 90, 87, with a heart condition of this sort, with diabetes of this sort, two legs missing and, you know, this is how much is available for you to spend. And you spend it any way you want."
There are other ways to lose races in Florida, but this is the simplest and most direct.
KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell's sticking in his bite-guard and gritting his teeth hard to do a fundraiser for Roark Rand Paul later this month. Believe it or not, we happened to get the advance text of Paul's prepared remarks for the event:
Throughout the ages, the finger painter, the Play-Doh sculptor, the Lincoln Logger stood alone against the daycare teacher of her time. She did not live to earn approval stamps. She lived for herself, that she might achieve things that are the glory of all humanity. These are my terms; I do not care to play by any others. And now, if the court will allow me, it's naptime.
NV-Sen: The Big Dog is coming to the Silver State to do a campaign rally for Handsome Harry Reid next week - who won't actually be there because the Senate will be in session. No word on whether a fundraiser is also on tap.
PA-Sen: Pat Toomey is taking some heat for a long-ago resume item: He used to work on Wall Street - in derivatives trading, no less.
SC-Sen: Alvin Greene, the mysterious Dem senate nominee in South Carolina, says he won't drop out of the race, in spite of the state party's call for him to bail in the wake of revelations that he was arrested on an obscenity charge last fall. Then again, Scott Lee Cohen said he wouldn't bow out, either.
KS-Gov: Dem gubernatorial hopeful Tom Holland picked fellow state Sen. Kelly Kultala, considered something of a rising star in KS politics, as his running mate. The two formally kicked off their campaign yesterday.
NM-Gov, WI-07: In NM-Gov, we mentioned a little while back that Dem LG Diane Denish is hitting GOP nominee Susana Martinez's record as a prosecutor in TV ads, specifically targeting her conviction rate. A related issue is coming up in WI-07, where Dems are charging ex-prosecutor Sean Duffy with misusing his (very recently) former office to compile conviction statistics helpful to his political campaign.
SC-Gov: Mitt Romney, who endorsed Nikki Haley back in March, is heading back down to the Palmetto state to campaign for her once more. Haley faces a runoff against Rep. Gresham Barrett on June 22nd.
AK-AL: Former communications exec Sheldon Fisher is running ads against his primary opponent, GOP Rep. Don Young, portraying himself as the "new conservative choice." Kudos to the AP for reporting that the ad buy is $40,000 in size - not much by conventional standards, perhaps, but that money ought to go a lot further in Alaska.
IN-03: So this is pretty bizarre. Ex-Rep. Mark Souder, who recently resigned on account of having an extra-marital affair with a staffer, sent an odd message on Facebook concerning his likely successor, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman. On the one hand, he says Stutzman is "probably best qualified" to fill his spot. But then, explains the AP:
In one paragraph, he says Stutzman knew nothing of the affair and therefore couldn't have tipped off the media. In another, he mentions that Stutzman or a political consulting firm leaked word of the affair to Fox News after getting information from the staffer's husband, Brad Jackson a Kosciusko County commissioner.
Hmm, I thought it was Mike Pence who dimed out Souder?
MD-01: Businessman Rob Fisher is going up with an ad presenting himself as an outsider in the GOP primary. He faces the better-known state Sen. Andy Harris (the 2008 loser). BIG props to Ben Pershing at the Washington Post for nailing down these details: "The spot is running on cable stations in the Baltimore and Salisbury markets, with an initial buy of more than $70,000."
MI-07, MI-09: President Obama did some fundraisers in Michigan earlier this week - one for the DNC, and another joint event for Reps. Gary Peters and Mark Schauer.
OH-18: Zack Space is doin' it right: He's launching a "six-figure" buy for an ad attacking GOP opponent Bob Gibbs as a tax-hiker and self-pay-raiser. Why do I like this move? Because Space is using his use cash edge ($1.3 mil to $0.1mil) to define Gibbs, at a time when Gibbs has only just emerged from the uncertainty of a primary recount (which he won with an absurdly pathetic 20.9%). For his part, Gibbs fired back with a popgunpress release, the poor man's television ad - very poor man's.
VA-05: True to his word, Some Dude Jeff Clark is going ahead with his plans to run as a teabagging independent, since Rob Hurt won the GOP primary to take on Tom Perriello. In fact, Clark filed petitions with the board of elections last week. Note, though, something he hasn't yet filed: an FEC report. Meanwhile, second-place finisher Jim McKelvey, who swore he wouldn't support Hurt if he became the nominee, is still playing coy. Election night remarks suggested he was prepared to fall in line, but he hasn't officially endorsed. (The other four also-rans have in fact done so.)
Polltopia: Taegan Goddard relays some blind non-quotes from random "pollsters" complaining about the alleged lack of transparency in Nate Silver's pollster ratings - in particular, the fact that he hasn't published his database of polls. Leaving aside the delicious irony that anonymous pollsters are complaining about transparency, I think this is a red herring. As Nate points out in a post of his own, anyone can recreate his work (with a lot of time and a little money) - and his main concern is the legal issues involved in making public a database that in part relies on information drawn from for-pay services.
Charlie Crist (I): 30
Kendrick Meek (D): 15
Marco Rubio (R): 27
We've seen our share of Florida polls this cycle, but with a three-way Senate race and weirdo gazillionaires forcing themselves into the Republican gubernatorial primary and the Democratic Senatorial primary, it's always worth it to take a look at this freak state.
Ipsos lends another piece of weight behind the evidence that suggests that Crist is beginning his independent bid for Senate with a slight lead on Rubio thanks in part to significant support from Democratic voters. Crist leads Meek by 38-33 among Democrats, while trailing Rubio by 51-26 among Republicans. Crist also manages to clean up among independents, earning 39% of their votes to only 12% for Rubio and 7% for Meek. I still have to wonder if Crist's 26% among Republicans may represent something of a high-water mark, given that his campaign is now aggressively attempting to eat Meek's lunch. Still, Crist will always have Meek's presence on the ballot as a foil, and maybe that fact alone will help him retain some conservative-leaning votes that he might have otherwise lost.
Also interesting is the fact that Crist's veto of a controversial teacher "merit pay" bill appears to be a political winner, with voters supporting Crist's decision by a 53-29 margin. Of more immediate concern is that, by a 55-31 margin, voters want Crist to veto a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds at their own expense. That number includes a 47-40 plurality among Republicans, and a massive 72-26 spread among indies. This really looks like a no-brainer for Crist if he's looking to score some easy moderate cred.
Meanwhile, check out the Dem primary numbers:
Kendrick Meek (D): 33
Maurice Ferre (D): 10
Jeff Greene (D): 9
Meek at 33% is some truly weak stuff by this point.
The gube race:
Alex Sink (D): 32
Bill McCollum (R): 34
After seeing McCollum lead Sink by wide-ish margins for months, I'll take results like these. Sink manages to hold together Democrats almost as well as McCollum retains Republican support, while splitting independents down by the middle by 26-26. Not too shabby, if accurate.
Finally, we have the Republican gubernatorial primary:
Bill McCollum (R): 46
Rick Scott (R): 22
Paula Dockery (R): 3
I'd like to see chrome-domed creep Rick Scott pull even closer, but I'll accept numbers like these for the time being. State Sen. Paula Dockery, meanwhile, has finally seen the writing on the wall, and pulled the plug on her pathetic campaign yesterday. Let's hope she endorses Scott!
Marco Rubio (R): 44
Charlie Crist (R): 30
Charlie Crist (R): 47
Kendrick Meek (D): 29
Charlie Crist (R): 49
Maurice Ferre (D): 27
Marco Rubio (R): 42
Kendrick Meek (D): 30
Marco Rubio (R): 43
Maurice Ferre (D): 27
Kendrick Meek (D): 24
Marco Rubio (R): 31
Charlie Crist (I): 26
Maurice Ferre (D): 19
Marco Rubio (R): 32
Charlie Crist (I): 29
Crisitunity teased this poll earlier, but now we have the full memo. The primary numbers can't be seen as terribly surprising at this point, and the "Crist-as-indie" scenario is not too far off R2K's test of this matchup. They had Crist 32, Meek 31, and Rubio 27, while here, Charlie is the man-in-the-middle. One obvious option this pollsters didn't test was Crist running as a Dem. Who knows what axe Fabrizio's mysterious client has to grind, but recall that R2K showed Crist (D) beating Rubio (R) by a healthy 45-34 margin. If you're trying to ease Crist out of the Senate race, those are numbers you probably don't want to flash.
Now, why would I suggest that this incognito polling sugar daddy would want to do something like that? Well, take a look at the rest of the nums FMA published:
Charlie Crist (R): 39
Bill McCollum (R): 31
Paula Dockery (R): 4
Alex Sink (D): 31
Charlie Crist (R): 48
Alex Sink (D): 32
Bill McCollum (R): 41
Charlie Crist abandoned a gubernatorial election bid all the way back in May of last year, yet here we have poll numbers testing him in the gubernatorial race! What gives? Well, the polling memo is a bit heavy-handed about its intentions, with statements like: "The only GOP Primary Crist appears to be able to win this year is the Gubernatorial primary where he leads Bill McCollum by several points and performs far better across the board." Hey, that's probably true! But Charlie Crist's advisors can read the numbers as well as anyone, so a line like that has to be for media consumption - i.e., you're hoping that the tradmed will spin this as "Crist should run for a second term as governor."
Maybe good ol' Charlie has ruled it out. But if he doesn't want to leave the GOP, he ought to be thinking about it.
• CO-Sen, CO-Gov: After some flirtation with the idea of switching over to the open seat Governor's race, or even endeavoring to become Lt. Governor, former State House speaker Andrew Romanoff announced yesterday that he's going to keep doing what he's doing (despite having made little headway at it so far): challenging appointed incumbent Michael Bennet in the Democratic Senate primary. Romanoff also threw his support to Denver mayor John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial primary.
• FL-Sen: I wonder if we'll see more of this from insurgent Democratic candidates. Former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre, looking for some sort of angle to use against front-running Rep. Kendrick Meek for the Democratic Senate nomination, has come out against the current health care reform plan (although not against HCR in general), calling it "a special interest plan that raises taxes and favors insurance and pharmaceutical companies."
• KS-Sen: The PMA scandal has mostly left House Democrats tarred with its brush, especially crusty old-school guys from that Appropriations clique, like John Murtha and Pete Visclosky. However, it's now expanding to take in a key Republican member on Appropriations - one who's in a tight battle for a promotion to the Senate and can't afford to get besmirched in any way. The House ethics panel is now looking at the links between Rep. Todd Tiahrt's donations and defense earmarks.
• NY-Sen-B: Rasmussen checks out the race that's suddenly on everyone's mind (and that doesn't even exist yet, although Harold Ford Jr. just took a monthlong leave of absence from Merrill Lynch to "explore" the race - I wonder if he'll be doing most of his recon by helicopter). They find numbers very similar to local pollsters Marist and Siena: Kirsten Gillibrand beats Ford, 48-23 (with a surprisingly large 10 for "some other," presumably Jonathan Tasini although maybe it's more just "anybody else, please"). Where Rasmussen parts ways with the other pollsters is Gillibrand's high favorables (and high knowns, period): they have her at 59/27.
• OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Take this with a bag of quick-melting rock salt, if you choose, as it's a poll commissioned by Ohio Right to Life and conducted by Republican pollster Wenzel Strategies. Still, the numbers clock in pretty close to what Rasmussen has been seeing lately. They see John Kasich with a 43-33 lead in the Governor's race, and Rob Portman up in the Senate race: 37-31 over Lee Fisher and 40-35 over Jennifer Brunner.
• MD-Gov: One more poll, and it actually shows a Democrat in reasonably good shape. Incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley is up 9 points against the GOP's best possible offering, potential candidate ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich, 48-39, according to local pollster Gonzales Research. (Gonzales saw it an 11-point race last September.) O'Malley's approvals (46%) could use some improvement, but considering that Ehrlich hasn't sounded likely to get in (although he might be doing a rethink given last night's events), there are certainly many other races higher on the worry-about list.
• AL-05: If Rep. Parker Griffith thought he'd be welcomed with open arms into the Republican fold, well, he's got another thing coming. The only good news for him from last night's meeting of the Madison County (i.e. Huntsville) Republican Executive Committee was that, in the end, they decided not to attempt to get Griffith removed from the primary ballot as a Republican. The real question of the meeting, though, was whether it would be better strategy for Republicans to try to beat him in the primary or via an independent candidacy in November.
• AR-02: Democratic candidates who sound committed to running to replace retiring Rep. Vic Snyder are already piling up - and we haven't even gotten to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter or ex-Gen. Wesley Clark yet. State House Speaker Robbie Wills today stopped short of saying he's running, but says he's "excited" about running. State Sen. Joyce Elliott also sounds very likely to run, while Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie is in the "seriously considering" stage.
• AZ-03: On the other side of the aisle and of the country, Republicans from the deep local bench are piling into the open seat race in the 3rd, vacated by Rep. John Shadegg. Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker is ending his long-shot gubernatorial campaign and heading over to the 3rd, and he's being joined by state Sen. Jim Waring (who's dropping his state Treasurer campaign to do so). They join already-in state Sen. Pamela Gorman and state Rep. Sam Crump.
• IL-10: State Rep. Julie Hamos and Dan Seals continue to split key endorsements in their primary fight for the Democratic nod in the open 10th. Hamos got the endorsements of both the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, while Seals picked up the smaller-circulation Daily Herald's endorsement.
• ND-AL: Add one more confirmed name to the list of GOPers sniffing out the at-large House seat in North Dakota, hoping John Hoeven's Senate bid gives them some coattails against the entrenched Democratic incumbent, Rep. Earl Pomeroy. Former House majority leader Rick Berg kicked off his campaign yesterday.
• TN-04: Rep. Lincoln Davis has been pretty much assured a bumpy ride, thanks to Tennessee's rapidly-reddening status. He got a new Republican challenger today, in the form of attorney Jack Bailey. It's unclear whether the never-before-elected Bailey will be stronger than physician Scott DesJarlais (or can even get past him in the primary), but he's a former Hill staffer (ex-CoS for Missouri Rep. Scott Akin) so he probably still has a full Rolodex for fundraising purposes.
• TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron keeps looking like he'll have an easy path to the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner. Former state Rep. Phillip Pinion, an oft-floated name, said he wouldn't get into the race.
• OR-Init: Oregon voters have a chance to deal a major setback to the coalescing conventional wisdom that voters prefer service cuts to tax hikes to plug state budget gaps, with Measures 66 and 67. The state legislature passed raises in the $250,000-plus tax bracket and certain corporate income taxes, which are now subject to a people's veto (via an all-mail special election with a deadline of Jan. 26). Well-regarded local pollster Tim Hibbitts, paid for by a coalition of local media, finds both measures passing: 52-39 for 66 and 50-40 on 67.
• Mayors: One other election result from last night: Jefferson Co. Commissioner William Bell defeated attorney Patrick Cooper in a runoff, to become Birmingham, Alabama's new mayor, 54-46. Cooper had won the most votes in the general, but Bell seemed to consolidate previously-split African-American votes.
• Polltopia: One more interesting follow-up on the increasing democratization of polling (on the heels of yesterday's piece by Mark Blumenthal): the Hill looks at the increasing move by groups like Firedoglake and the PCCC toward commissioning polls - and even has an anecdote about PPP's Tom Jensen getting berated by a nameless Beltway person for broaching the unmentionable and polling potential alternatives to Harry Reid.
• Social media: At some point during the flurry of activity yesterday, Swing State Project shot past 1,000 Twitter followers (gaining more than 100 yesterday alone). Not a follower yet? Check us out. You can also receive SSP updates via Facebook, if you're one of those Luddites who like to read things that are longer than 140 characters.
• CT-Sen: Looks like the question marks that were raised a few weeks ago about all of the Linda McMahon campaign's hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed in-kinds have trickled up to the FEC. They're now requiring her to disclose the recipients of more than $567K worth of mysterious payments (for services including consulting and legal fees) made over the brief course of her campaign.
• FL-Sen: After a lot of speculation yesterday that he was fighting for his political life, today Jim Greer announced that he's out as Florida's state GOP chair. Greer said it was his decision (in order to "reunite" the party -- although he launched a whole salvo of parting shots at the party's right wing on the way out the door) and that Charlie Crist didn't push him out. Still, it's pretty clear that this is a big victory for the Rubio camp and assorted right-wing allies, for whom Greer, a moderate and key Crist ally, was one of the biggest scalps they'd hoped to claim. Greer is being replaced by state Sen. John Thrasher, a Jeb Bush ally who, while not an explicit Rubio endorser, recently attended a Rubio fundraiser.
Anybody remember that there's still a Democratic primary going on in this race too? It's a sleepy affair, and may be getting sleepier, based on the sputtering coming out of the camp of former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre. Campaign manager Todd Wilder has departed, although he cites family health concerns.
• SC-Sen: Lindsey Graham just keeps racking up the censure resolutions from county-level GOP organizations for being insufficiently crazy. He got dinged by the Lexington County GOP (one of the state's largest counties, in Columbia's suburbs), largely over his immigration and TARP positions.
• UT-Sen: Rounding out the trifecta of GOP Senatorial cat fud, the insufficiently crazy Bob Bennett pulled in his highest-profile primary challenger since AG Mark Shurtleff departed the race. As expected, attorney Mike Lee officially got into the race today, and will be running to Bennett's right. Lee is the former counsel to ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman, and is the scion of a locally prominent family (his father is former U.S. Solicitor General and BYU president Rex Lee).
• WA-Sen: Add one more name to the list of never-before-elected retired jocks with a political itch to scratch. Former Washington Redskins end Clint Didier says that he'll run against Patty Murray. Didier does at least have experience speaking at the local tea party rally in his native Tri-Cities (in eastern Washington), though. With her gigantic fundraising advantage, expect the five-foot-tall Murray to clothesline Didier.
• MI-Gov: With the governor's race suddenly scrambled, Domino's Pizza CEO Dave Brandon -- an oft-rumored candidate for both Governor and Senate -- said that he isn't running for anything any time soon. He just committed to a five-year stint as the Univ. of Michigan's athletic director.
• NY-Gov: It sounds like David Paterson will get a primary challenge even if Andrew Cuomo doesn't step up: Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is now publicly floating the idea of a challenge, and setting up an exploratory committee. The law-and-order, anti-immigrant Levy would be running to the right of Paterson (and probably to Cuomo's right too, if he stuck around in a three-way scrum). Paterson still seems to be planning to stick around, and he's getting some more verbal backing from Charlie Rangel, who's saying that Cuomo "wouldn't dare" run against Paterson, re-invoking the specter of Cuomo's racially-fraught 2002 primary against Carl McCall. Meanwhile, the NYT explores the train wreck that is the campaign of GOP candidate Rick Lazio, finding him getting a lukewarm reception even from GOP audiences.
• TX-Gov: Kay Bailey Hutchison seems to be pinning her dwindling hopes in the fast-approaching GOP gubernatorial primary on a big ad blitz. She's splurging for an ad buy during the college football championship game (which should have a big audience with the Longhorns in the game -- for whom she was a cheerleader decades ago).
• AL-05, AL-Gov: In the wake of his botched public I-might-switch-races-no-I-won't play, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks has parted way with campaign manager Justin Saia. Not exactly the sign of a well-oiled machine, there. Meanwhile, turncoat Rep. Parker Griffith, still smarting from the resignations of almost his entire stafff, played the "excessive partisanship" card while ostensibly wishing them well yesterday.
• FL-08: Second-term state rep. Kurt Kelly made his campaign official, running against Rep. Alan Grayson in the 8th. That should come as no surprise given his previous announcements, but it's interesting to note that now he comes at it with the endorsement of a number of the other state Reps. that the NRCC had been working on to get into the race, who seemed a little higher up their wish list: Stephen Precourt and Eric Eisnaugle. Also noteworthy: businessman Bruce O'Donoghue, who'd been sounding like the NRCC's pick after they couldn't find anyone else, still sounds like he hasn't fully committed to the race; maybe he's having cold feet with Kelly in.
• FL-10: I don't think this is worth much weight, but the St. Petersburg Times found it newsworthy enough to mention, suggesting that there may be some conventional wisdom developing here. A local poli sci professor is convinced that long-time GOP Rep. Bill Young will announce his retirement in the next few weeks.
• FL-19: This seemed to elude almost everyone yesterday, but Rep. Robert Wexler's resignation was official over this weekend; he heads to the helm of a Middle East peace-oriented non-profit. His resignation leaves Nancy Pelosi short one "yes" vote for the upcoming post-conference HCR vote, meaning one less seat in the lifeboat for whatever vulnerable Dem wants to take a pass.
• HI-01: Also on the resignation front, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (who's leaving to focus on his gubernatorial run) has set an official last day in office: Feb. 28. As for a replacement, it sounds like new interim state election officer Scott Nago is looking at a special election date in May, probably an all-mail vote set for May 1. Nago said he was confident he'd find the money to hold the election (which had earlier been in doubt), although it might mean appealing asking the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for federal dollars. (I guess this means Kevin Cronin's time in charge of Hawaii elections is over. He'll still Keep On Loving You, though.)
• IA-03: One less retirement for the DCCC to worry about: aging Rep. Leonard Boswell confirmed that he's sticking around and running for re-election.
• IL-10: I didn't think that anyone other than me was making any sport out of GOP House candidate Bob Dold's name similarities to a certain presidential candidate, and I can't imagine anyone was actually confused. But Bob Dold actually came out with a jingle, complete with video, reminding voters that Bob Dold is different from Bob Dole.
• MN-06: Here's a big boost for state Sen. Tarryl Clark, who's been viewed as a strong contender against crazy Rep. Michele Bachmann but didn't put up impressive numbers in a recent PPP poll of the 6th. She got the endorsement of EMILY's List, giving her access to their nationwide pool of donors.
• NY-01: This is the first I'd heard of a contested GOP primary in the 1st (where the victor will take on potentially vulnerable Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop), but it suggests that the deep-pocketed Randy Altschuler is going to have to watch over his back for another well-funded rival. George Demos, a former SEC attorney who made his mark on the Bernie Madoff case, reports that he's raised more than $300K since launching his campaign in October, from more than 400 donors.
• PA-17: After downplaying earlier reports of his interest, now it's sounding like Republican state Sen. David Argall is going to go up against Democratic Rep. Tim Holden after all. Reportedly, he'll be announcing his campaign next Monday. Argall (newly promoted to the Senate in a special election, after many years in the state House) gets a freebie as his seat isn't up until 2012; he's from Holden's home turf of Schuylkill County in coal country, which may help limit Holden's usually wide margins in that part of the district.
• SC-01: As things sort themselves out following the retirement announcement of endangered Republican Rep. Henry Brown, 2008 Democratic candidate Linda Ketner is sounding a little more interested than she did before his retirement. She'd previously been unenthusiastic about another race (she'd relied a lot on self-financing in her previous close race, but her finances had taken a hit in the intervening year), but now she tells the Atlantic she'll "take the time to consider it." Also, frequent Mark Sanford critic state Sen. Larry Grooms is one other name to add to the speculation pile on the Republican side.
• TX-18: A Democratic primary is the only way we're ever going to see any turnover in the heavily Democratic, mostly African-American and Hispanic 18th -- and we've actually got one on tap this year. Houston city councilor Jarvis Johnson sneaked under the finish line for Texas filings; he'll take on long-time Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (who got into office herself with a successful 1994 primary challenge to Rep. Craig Washington).
• WA-03: State House minority leader Richard DeBolt had been on lots of watch lists as a possible GOP candidate in the open seat race in the 3rd, but today he declined to run. (He's a rather nasty piece of work who, while having better name rec than the GOPers in the race so far, probably wouldn't play too well outside his own dark-red slice of this swing district.) Here's one other interesting detail: rather than endorse fellow state Rep. Jamie Herrera (whose lack of experience has left many people uneasy), he threw his endorsement behind David Castillo, a former low-level Bush administration official who'd been running long before Brian Baird's retirement announcement.
• WV-01: I'd assumed that when state Sen. Clark Barnes got into the race for the GOP to go against entrenched Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan, the NRCC would be happy (although there's little overlap between his turf and the 1st). But they kept looking, and now they're loudly touting their newest recruit, businessman and former state Del. David McKinley. He can partly self-finance, which is probably what's most attractive about him to them.
• Texas: As mentioned above, Texas had its filing deadline pass. All House members are running for re-election. In one small indication of a change in prevailing political winds, the Republicans managed to fill all the state's House races, while Dems left 7 openings (Louie Gohmert, Ted Poe, Kevin Brady, Mac Thornberry, John Carter, and unhappily, Kenny Marchant, in a rapidly bluening suburban Dallas district, and John Culberson, who faced a strong challenge in 2008). One other filing worth note: Dems fielded a strong last-minute Land Commissioner candidate, in the form of former state Sen. Hector Uribe (not only is it good to round out a competitive slate, but the Land Commissioner is one of the members of the Legislative Redistricting Board, which will be a big issue in coming years).
• NY-St. Ass.: The blowback from the GOP civil war in NY-23 just keeps flying. A key Dede Scozzafava ally in the state Assembly, Janet Duprey, is facing a challenge from the right in this year's GOP primary. She's being challenged by Plattsburgh town party chair Dave Kimmel, who was a Doug Hoffman backer. Like Hoffman, if Kimmel doesn't get the GOP nod, he'll continue on with just the Conservative party line.
• DGA/RGA: The DGA and RGA both reported huge year-end cash hauls, as the moneyed interests are well-aware that the gubernatorial races (with redistricting fast approaching) is where the real drama will be this year. The DGA reports $23.1 million raised over 2009 and currently is sitting on $17.5 million. The RGA did even better, reporting $30 million raised in 2008, with $25 million still on hand.
• CO-Sen: Former state Sen. Tom Wiens made it official; he's entering the Republican field in the Senate race. With former Lt. Governor Jane Norton wearing the mantle of establishment anointment in this race, Wien's entry may actually help Norton, by taking non-Norton votes away from conservative Weld County DA Ken Buck. Wiens is a wealthy rancher prepared to put up to half a million of his own dollars into the race.
• FL-Sen: If anyone has to sweating the movement conservatives' takedown of the pre-selected moderate establishment candidate in NY-23, it's gotta be Charlie Crist. Here's one more thing for him to worry about: his job approval according to a new St. Petersburg Times poll is only 42/55. They don't have him in as dire straits against Marco Rubio in the GOP primary as a number of other pollsters, though -- Crist leads Rubio 50-28 -- but the ultimate indignity is on the question of whether respondents would choose Crist or Jeb Bush to lead Florida right now, 47% opt for Bush (with 41 for Crist). On the Dem side, Rep. Kendrick Meek leads newly-announced former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre 26-6.
• IL-Sen, IL-07: There a lots of interesting plot lines forming as today is the filing deadline in Illinois. But the big one is: what the hell is up with Patrick Hughes? The real estate developer was considered to be the right-wingers' go-to guy to against alleged moderate Rep. Mark Kirk in the GOP primary, but now rumors are swirling that he doesn't have the signatures to qualify. There also seem to be some major ball-droppings for progressives: there's nobody challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski in the primary in IL-03, and there's nobody, period, to go up against GOP Rep. Peter Roskam in the R+0 IL-06. In the 7th, where it's unclear whether Rep. Danny Davis will be coming back or not (he's filed for his seat, but also for Cook County Board President), he's facing primary competition from only one elected official: state Sen. Rickey Hendon (Cook Co. Deputy Recorder of Deeds Darlena Williams-Burnett is also a big name, but I don't think deputy recorder is an elected position). Hendon says he'll bail out and run for Lt. Governor if Davis sticks around.
Meanwhile, on the Senate front, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is touting his own internal poll from GQR giving him a 3-point edge on Rep. Mark Kirk in a general election, 46-43. The same poll finds less-known Democrat former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman trailing Kirk 48-39.
• IN-Sen: Research 2000 (on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, rather than Kos) found last week that Blanche Lincoln was in serious trouble electorally and that her troubles would mount if she opposed health care reform. They also looked at Evan Bayh, and they found that, a) he's not in trouble (62/30 approvals, although no head-to-head test against his erstwhile opponent, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman), and b) a majority wouldn't be moved one way or the other by his health care actions.
• MA-Sen: The start of debates haven't done much to reshape things in the Democratic primary in the special election in the Bay State. AG Martha Coakley holds a 25-point lead over Rep. Michael Capuano, according to an R2K poll commissioned by local blog Blue Mass Group. Coakley is at 42 and Capuano at 16, with Stephen Pagliuca at 15 and Alan Khazei at 5. Only 52% of Coakley's voters are firm about it, though, but that's not much different from any of the other candidates.
• FL-Gov: That aforementioned St. Petersburg Times poll also looked at the governor's race, and they gave Democratic CFO Alex Sink her first lead in a while; she's up a single point on GOP AG Bill McCollum, 38-37. More trouble for McCollum: state Senator Paula Dockery, as threatened, now appears to be jumping into the Republican primary, which had been painstakingly cleared for him.
• MN-Gov: If a candidate falls in the Minnesota gubernatorial Republican field, does it make a sound? State Rep. Paul Kohls dropped out, having not gotten much traction according to recent straw polls. That leaves approximately eleventy-seven zillion Republicans left in the hunt.
• VA-Gov: He's dead, Jim. Four more polls on VA-Gov are out:
YouGov (pdf): McDonnell 53, Deeds 40
Mason-Dixon: McDonnell 53, Deeds 41
PPP (pdf): McDonnell 56, Deeds 42
SurveyUSA: McDonnell 58, Deeds 40
• MI-07: Unseated wingnut Tim Walberg -- who'd like to get his job back from freshman Dem Mark Schauer -- has some company in the GOP primary next year: attorney and Iraq vet Brian Rooney (the brother of Florida Rep. Tom Rooney) is getting in the race. It's not clear whether Rooney is any more moderate than Walberg, though; he's an attorney for the right-wing Thomas More Law Center, the theocons' answer to the ACLU.
• NY-23: A few more odds and ends in the 23rd. One more key Republican endorser working for Doug Hoffman now is Rudy Giuliani (like George Pataki, not the likeliest fellow you'd expect to see make common cause with the Conservative Party -- with neither of them having ruled out 2010 runs, they seem to want to be in good graces with the national GOP, who are all-in for Hoffman now). Rudy's crack team of robots is making calls on his behalf. Another possible useful endorsement: Watertown's mayor Jeff Graham is now backing Hoffman. Former candidate Dede Scozzafava, on the other hand, is now cutting robocalls on Democrat Bill Owens' behalf. Finally, here's an ill omen on the motivation front: sparse turnout was reported for Joe Biden's appearance on behalf of Owens.
• PA-06: One more Republican is getting in the field in the open seat race in the 6th: Howard Cohen, a consultant who is the former Revenue Secretary from the Dick Thornburgh administration decades ago. He'll face a financial gap against pharma exec Steven Welch, and a name rec gap against state Rep. Curt Schroder, though.
• AL-AG: One incumbent who looks badly endangered going into 2010 is Alabama's Republican Attorney General, Troy King. Having buddied up with the state's trial lawyers (thus angering the local business establishment) and also pissed off many local DAs by interfering in their cases, King has lost most establishment support in the upcoming GOP primary against Luther Strange. Two of Strange's biggest backers are both of the state's Senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby.
• ME-Init: Two more polls on Maine's Question 1 (where "yes" is a vote to overturn the state's gay marriage law), both pointing to an excruciatingly close vote. PPP (taken over the weekend) sees it passing 51-47, while Research 2000 (taken last week) gives a tiny edge to "no," 47-48. (R2K also confirms that Olympia Snowe's numbers are way off; the once bulletproof Snowe now has approvals of 50/44.)
• NYC: Three more polls all show Michael Bloomberg with an easy path to a third term, beating Democratic comptroller William Thompson. Bloomberg leads 50-38 according to Quinnipiac, 53-42 according to SurveyUSA, and 53-38 according to Marist (pdf).
• Mayors: There are fresh polls in a few other mayoral races. In St. Petersburg, Florida, one of the most hotly contended races around, Bill Foster leads Kathleen Ford 48-44 according to SurveyUSA. (Foster leads among both blacks and conservatives.) The racially polarized race in Charlotte gives a small edge to the conservative white candidate, Andy Lassiter, who leads 50-46 over Anthony Foxx. And in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, all we know is that someone with a difficult-to-spell last name will be mayor. Matt Czajkowski leads Mark Kleinschmidt 45-44. (Czajkowski seems to be the conservative and Kleinschmidt the liberal.)
• State legislatures: In case there wasn't enough to focus on tomorrow, Josh Goodman points to five legislative special elections tomorrow. The big one is Michigan's 19th Senate district, which was vacated by Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer. Republican former state Rep. Mike Nofs may have an edge for the pickup against Democratic state Rep. Martin Griffin, at least based on fundraising. There are also Dem-held seats up in Alabama's 65th House district, Missouri's 73rd House district, and Washington's 16th House district (the reddest Dem-held seat in Washington), and a GOP-held seat in South Carolina's 48th House district. (UPDATE: TheUnknown285 points us to a whopping seven legislative seats up from grabs in Georgia, too, in his diary.)
• NRCC: Pete Sessions Deathwatch, Vol. 1? This seems odd, given that he's had some pretty good success on the recruiting front, but apparently the behind-closed-doors potshots are hitting NRCC head Sessions just as heavily as they did Tom Cole last cycle. The complaints aren't about recruiting, though, but rather about fundraising, where the NRCC is still lagging the DCCC despite the superficial conventional wisdom that Republicans come into 2010 with momentum, and about not keeping enough of a lid on all those nagging intraparty skirmishes that somehow only the blogosphere ever seems to notice.
• Polling: Mark Blumenthal has a thought-provoking piece on polling the cap-and-trade issue. The key problem: no one knows exactly what it is (reminiscent of polling the public option question, too).
• Voting: States are still trying to figure out what to do about the new federal law intended to make sure that military ballots from overseas get counted. At least a dozen states are now actively considering moving their September primaries up in the calendar to comply (including Minnesota, Vermont, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin).