• ME-Sen: The attempt to primary out Olympia Snowe by the state's various fractious Tea Party factions seems to be sputtering, partly for lack of a credible challenger to rally around (with Some Dude Scott D'Ambroise the only one officially in the race right now) but also as the various Judean People's Front and People's Front of Judea wings of the 'baggers start to increasingly turn their fire on each other rather than on Democrats and alleged RINOs.
• MI-Sen: Joining a major law firm after an electoral loss isn't, in itself, dispositive of future political runs a few years down the line. But observers are taking the decision by former AG Mike Cox (who lost last year's GOP gubernatorial primary) to join a Detroit law firm as an indicator that he isn't considering the 2012 Senate race.
• MO-Sen: There are increasing signals that Jim Talent may not run for Senate in 2012, after all. Dave Catanese talks to various Show Me State insiders who say that Talent hasn't been doing the behind-the-scenes reaching-out that one usually does at this point, and they point to him not only having got caught off guard by Sarah Steelman's abrupt early entry into the primary but also his close relationship with Mitt Romney. Talent is currently traveling with Romney in an advisory role in Afghanistan, and there's speculation his 2012 plans may involve hitching his wagon to Romney in the hopes that he's the next President and that a Cabinet role (SecDef?) may be in the offing.
• OH-Sen: With Mike DeWine having passed on a rematch against Sherrod Brown, the speculation has turned to newly-elected Lt. Gov. and former Auditor Mary Taylor. It sounds like she's game; local insiders are saying she's at "90%" in terms of likelihood of running. She may not have the field to herself even if she does, though; another newly-elected statewide GOPer, 33-year-old state Treasurer Josh Mandel has been impressing the local GOP in his first week on the job and is starting to attract some buzz for a quick promotion.
• WY-Sen: Wyoming promises to be the least dramatic state in the 2012 election, so PPP's decision to poll here this early seems a little odd. At any rate, they find Wyomingites love their politicians: outgoing Dem Gov. Dave Freudenthal gets a 71/18 approval, making him the nation's most popular governor, while the state's two GOP Senators, John Barrasso (69/25) and Mike Enzi (63/24) are the nation's two most popular Senators. Despite his popularity (and, well, despite the fact that he's never expressed any interest in running for federal office), Freudenthal loses a hypothetical 2012 matchup against Barrasso, 56-36, thanks to the GOP's huge registration advantage here.
• RI-Gov: There's already one Dem reportedly gearing up for the 2014 Governor's race: state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who's build a war chest and getting friendly with DC consultants. (Alternatively, she could also be running for Senate in 2014 instead, if Jack Reed isn't running again.) No mention of whether she'd be challenging new indie Gov. Lincoln Chafee (last seen more or less declaring war on local talk radio) from the left or the right (as Frank Caprio tried to do, and failed).
• FL-14: With Rep. Connie Mack IV looking like one of the House's likeliest retirements right now (in order to pursue a Senate bid against Bill Nelson), speculation has already begun about who'll fill his seat. One thing is pretty predictable, given the Fort Myers-area district's R+11 bent and lack of any Dem tradition or bench: it'll be a Republican. GOP names to watch include ex-state Rep. Dudley Goodlette and Lee Co. Commissioner Ray Judah. The most prominent name, though, may be former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp (though he might have trouble getting out of a GOP primary unless he can find a way to wash the stank of the Charlie Crist administration off his suit). State Sen. Garrett Richter (whose district closely overlaps the 14th) says no thanks to the race.
• HI-01: GOP ex-Rep. Charles Djou, seeming a bit testy after the abrupt end to his very short tenure in the House, seems to have thrown all that feel-good ohana crap out the window in his exit press conference, blaming Dem successor Colleen Hanabusa in advance for expected future failures. He may feel free to speak his mind as he also says he has "no plans to run for any political office ever again."
• NM-01: Rep. Martin Heinrich has already drawn some seemingly-credible Republican opposition for 2012, although he has the kind of district that seems much safer for a Dem in a presidential year than last year's narrow win. Republican Albuquerque city councilor Dan Lewis has formed an exploratory committee.
• State legislatures: Two state House speaker elections are in the news today. The big one may be in Texas, where an expected coup from the right against GOP speaker Joe Straus didn't ever seem to materialize. He got the support of 70 of 100 GOP House members in a pre-vote caucus, and then was easily elected to another term by the whole House. Meanwhile, in Oregon, an unusual power-sharing arrangement was cobbled together with a surprising degree of civility and equanimity, as the parties figure out how to grapple with a never-before 30-30 tie. GOPer Bruce Hanna and Dem Arnie Roblan will be co-speakers, handing the gavel to each other on alternating days.
• Special elections: Two southern states have special elections scheduled today, although there should be very little drama in any of the elections, as these are Republican-leaning districts replacing promoted Republican legislators in lightly-contested races (and icy conditions should reduce turnout to microscopic levels). In Mississippi, the races are to replace Alan Nunnelee in SD-6 and Steven Palazzo in HD-116. (With a recent party switch by state Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the GOP is poised to tie the state Senate with today's election.) In Virginia, the races are to replace Robert Hurt in SD-19 and Morgan Griffith in HD-8.
• Primaries: In a nice bit of symmetry, two states are going in very different directions with their primary election rules. In Idaho, where the GOP seems fearful of meddling in its primaries by the state's Democrat (I think his name is Jerry), the state GOP is pushing to change from open primaries to closed primaries. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, after a period of closed primaries for federal-level offices (which was extremely confusing, since they kept using open primaries for state offices), they're expecting federal approval of a switch back to all open primaries this month. The state legislature has already approved it, but as a VRA state, they're waiting for DOJ preclearance.
• Redistricting: Finally, here's some redistricting news. Bob McDonnell has thrown a bone to fans of redistricting reform with the creation of a new redistricting commission with 11 members. It's not a very interesting bone, though, since the commission's role is purely advisory and the commission doesn't even have a budget. Meanwhile, the Hill looks at what might happen to the House districts in New Jersey, a state where the hard work is actually done by commission (which has traditionally focused on incumbent protection, but has to eliminate one seat this year). For now, everyone is waiting for more complete Census figures to see if the population stagnation was more concentrated in the state's north (which would probably hit the Dems) or the state's middle (which would hit the GOP).
• AK-Sen: Last Friday, Joe Miller finally pulled the plug on continued legal challenges to Lisa Murkowski's win in the 2010 election, despite earlier comments that standing down was not an option. (Apparently it actually was an option if no one could be found willing to foot the legal bill for a trip to the 9th Circuit.) So now the 2010 election really, truly is over. And in case Miller was going to get any bright ideas about what do to in 2012, Rep. Don Young (no stranger to primary challenges from the right, having barely survived a CfG-led purge in the 2008 primary) is already firing some shots over Miller's bow with his rusty old harpoon gun.
• FL-Sen: Depending on who you listen to, George LeMiuex either is or isn't about to launch a Senate bid. Roll Call's Steve Peoples says no, pointing to not only LeMieux's weak poll numbers and ambivalent-sounding statements but also his new cushy job as chair of the board of directors of one of the state's largest law firms (a decidedly different role from being there just as a part-time rainmaker/show pony). Other observers have noticed he's been sounding out potential consultants for a run, though, including GOP ad impresario Fred Davis, fresh off such smashing successes as Christine O'Donnell's "I am not a witch" ad and the anti-Patty Murray tennis shoe ad. Meanwhile, Rep. Cornelius McGillicuddy IV (or Connie Mack, as he'd prefer you call him) is gearing up for a run, if a recent fundraising letter citing a run against Bill Nelson sent around by Mack (and Jeb Bush) ally Jorge Arrizurieta is any indication.
• ME-Sen: Affordable-housing developer Rosa Scarcelli got some good buzz during her run in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last year, and now she's talking a bit about a Democratic run for the Senate in 2012. However, she seems to be reserving judgment, waiting to see whether the promised teabagging against Olympia Snowe ever happens, saying any decision would depend greatly on that.
• OH-Sen: In what's certainly not a surprise, Mike DeWine (perhaps compelled to say something after faring pretty well in one of PPP's recent let's-test-everyone Senate polls) says he won't consider running for his old Senate seat in 2012, having just successfully hit the 'reset' button his career with an election to the state AG slot. Newly-elected Lt. Governor Mary Taylor seems to be the top GOP option here, but for now she's simply saying it's too early, but isn't ruling out the possibility (and also saying that no one from the national party has contacted her about it, which stretches the boundaries of credulity).
• PA-Sen: Remember back in the spring of 2010, when the DC press corps, for a couple slow news days there, actually willingly ran with the idea that the allegation that a political job offer was sorta-kinda relayed from the Obama administration to Joe Sestak was the Watergate-esque moment that was going to bring the entire Obama edifice down? Um, yeah... now that it's not an electoral talking point and now that Darrell Issa's is actually in charge of Oversight, he's admitting that that isn't a line of inquiry that he's going to pursue, seeing as how, in his own words, Republicans "did the same thing." (Sighing loudly and walking away shaking head.)
• RI-Sen: Keep an eye on outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri, who while not saying anything tangible about a Senate run, said a number of candidate-ish things in a recent interview, including "I'm not going away" and "I have views, national as well, so I intend to be visible."
• UT-Sen: Here's an interesting take on the redistricting issues surrounding Utah's new fourth House seat: one possible outcome would be the Republicans packing all the state's Dems into one seat in order to avoid weakening any of the other three. And while superficially that might seem to benefit Rep. Jim Matheson, that could actually hurt him by making the district too liberal for Matheson (one of the remaining high-profile Blue Dogs) to win a primary (the article cites former SLC mayor Rocky Anderson as a potential rival). The article also suggests that could instead push Matheson into a Senate run, especially if it's against the more polarizing Jason Chaffetz instead of Orrin Hatch (although I'd think a gubernatorial run might be likelier, seeing as how that's up in 2012 again and Utah is one of those red states that's more forgiving of Dems at the state level than for federal office).
• IN-Gov: Rumors are bubbling up that Democratic Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel is making moves to be the first to declare his candidacy for the 2012 gubernatorial race, mindful of the advantages that accrue to early declarers.
• MS-Gov: Today Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is finally making official his candidacy for the 2011 Mississippi gubernatorial election, an open seat as his boss hogg Haley Barbour is termed-out. While Bryant's stiffest competition will probably occur in the GOP primary (where possible opponents include the delightfully-named SoS, Delbert Hosemann), businessman and Democratic candidate Bill Luckett also appears to be making it official today.
• WV-Gov: I'm wondering if maybe Shelly Moore Capito has let people know that she's not running for Governor? It seems like the floodgates have suddenly opened for lesser GOPers to declare their interest in the race, starting with ex-SoS Betty Ireland last week, but now the state's GOP party chair, Mike Stuart, is also publicly talking himself up for the role. Of course, no one has any idea yet whether that special election will happen in 2011 or 2012.
• AZ-08: Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Gabrielle Giffords in November, is rumored to be moving toward a rematch. His odds would seem to be slimmer in a rematch, as Latinos and youth voters are likelier to show up in a presidential year, but he may figure he has an ace in the hole, in the form of the likely presence of a Kelly ally, Christopher Gleason, on Arizona's ostensibly independent redistricting commission, who might be able to tinker with the boundaries in a more GOP-friendly direction.
• NV-04: Cue the hordes of screaming fans, weeping with joy and fainting from sheer ecstasy: Rory Reid, fresh off his domination in the Nevada gubernatorial race, is the subject of speculation that he might be bringing his own special brand of dynamism and excitement to the open House seat that will be created in the Las Vegas suburbs. (For his part, Reid won't confirm or deny it yet.)
• Chicago mayor: It looks like the African-American community may actually be coalescing around a single non-Rahm candidate in the mayoral race, with the dropout of Rep. Danny Davis from the race. He (along with state Sen. James Meeks, who also dropped out several weeks ago) lent his support to ex-Sen. Carol Mosely Braun, the last one standing. (Note that this is the second time Davis has tried to run for municipal office and then done a U-turn back to his House seat in the last year.) Don't start writing the saga of an Emanuel/Braun runoff just yet, though, as ex-schools chief Gerry Chico is a major wild card here, and now it looks like he has the money to back that up: he reports he raised $2.5 million for the race last quarter, a number that would be boffo even in many Senate races.
• History: The Univ. of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog occasionally comes up with real historical gems like this one, using the possibility of a Russ Feingold run for Herb Kohl's seat as a springboard for looking at Senators throughout history who've leapt from one state's seat to the other. Only two current Senators (Kent Conrad and Frank Lautenberg) meet that criteria, although some other famous names have done so (including Hubert Humphrey and Barry Goldwater). However, neither Conrad nor Lautenberg did so because of a loss (the most recent example of that would be Washington's Slade Gorton, though UMN finds nine other historical examples).
• Photos: This is one of those precious photos that's worth a thousand words, one that Eric Cantor probably already wishes he'd re-thought. (H/t to Brian Valco for this and several other of today's links.)
• CA-Sen: Despite getting only a small vote share in the GOP Senate primary this year (as conservatives decided to go with the slightly-more-electable Carly Fiorina), Chuck DeVore is talking Senate again, for 2012, when Dianne Feinstein will presumably run for re-election. Or is he? All he's saying is that he's likely to run in 2012, but hasn't decided what office. Senate is the only thing that's available, though, which makes his statement seem kind of strange (unless he's talking about trying to rejoin the state Assembly). If Barbara Boxer could still win by 10 points in a terrible year, the more-popular Feinstein in a presidential year is an even more daunting target, meaning that DeVore may be the only prominent GOPer crazy enough to take on the task.
• MA-Sen: Nobody really has any idea whether or not Vicki Kennedy plans to run for Senate -- she'd probably have a massive field-clearing effect in the Dem primary if she did -- but Joan Vennochi is seeing some signs of the groundwork for a run, looking at Kennedy's stepped-up routine of public appearances around the state.
• OH-Sen: Rep. Jim Jordan had probably been the GOPer most associated with a potential run against Sherrod Brown this cycle, but now he's publicly saying that he's "leaning heavily against" the run. He has a plum job coming up as head of the right-wing caucus (the Republican Study Committee), which is often a leadership springboard, and given his ultra-safe district, that may be a more appealing track than rolling the dice on a Senate run. Auditor and soon-to-be Lt. Governor Mary Taylor (who you may recall got a few weeks of Senate speculation in 2009 when conservatives were casting about for someone more charismatic and less wonky than Rob Portman) may be next in line.
PPP is out with its primary numbers for the GOP side, too, and they find that Jordan was actually in first place among those few people who actually know him. It's one of those everybody-but-the-kitchen-sink fields where the guy with the name rec winds up winning out: Incoming AG and ex-Sen. Mike DeWine (who's quite unlikely to run, given his new job) leads at 27, with ex-SoS Ken Blackwell at 17, new SoS Jon Husted at 11, Jordan at 10, Taylor at 7, Rep. Steve LaTourette at 6, new Treasurer Josh Mandel at 5, and state Sen. Kevin Coughlin at 2.
• PA-Sen: Quinnipiac's new poll of the Pennsylvania Senate turned out to not be that revealing, seeing as how they only testing Bob Casey Jr. against Generic R. (Although they can be forgiven, given the paucity of GOP candidates willing to reveal themselves yet.) At any rate, Casey is in good shape, although the percentage of people with no opinion seems strangely high, maybe reflective of his low-key nature. He beats Generic R 43-35, and has an approval of 39/29 (55/16 among Dems, 28/42 among GOPers, and 36/30 among indies).
• House: Politico has another list of possible rematches among the ranks of defeated Dems. Some of these you're probably already familiar with (Frank Kratovil, Glenn Nye, Phil Hare, and Alan Mollohan(?!?)), but other names now weighing another bid include Dina Titus, Steve Driehaus, Carol Shea-Porter, and Bobby Bright. Mark Schauer says he's waiting to see what the GOP-held Michigan legislature does to his district, and Ron Klein is waiting to see how his district responds to Allen West.
• NY-St. Sen.: Craig Johnson lost his case concerning the result in SD-7 (in which the balance of the state Senate hangs) at the Appellate Division level, who found there wasn't a basis for a full hand recount. Johnson is still planning to appeal to the Court of Appeals. (In New York, for some screwed-up reason, the Supreme Court is the court of general jurisdiction and the Court of Appeals is the highest appellate court. Also, hamburgers eat people.)
• Switchers: Courtesy of the Fix's Aaron Blake, here's a list from GOPAC of all the state legislators who've switched parties in the last month, if you're having trouble keeping track. There's a list of 20, although almost all come from three states (Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana). Also an interesting note: we've actually found someone who just switched from the GOP to the Democrats, although you have to go even further into the weeds: Luzerne County (in Pennsylvania) Commissioner Steve Urban. Before you get too excited, though, the move seems to be mostly driven out of personal pique stemming from Urban's recent loss in a state Senate race.
• California: It looks like California's switch to a Washington-style "top two" primary is a done deal. It survived a court challenge, with the state Supreme Court refusing to block a challenge to two of its provisions. (One of the provisions is one way in which it'll differ from Washington: in California, party affiliation can be listed only if one belongs to a party that's officially recognized by the state, while in Washington, you can list yourself as belonging to whatever crazy made-up party you want.)
• CfG: The Club for Growth is issuing one of its litmus test warnings, saying that primaries will result for GOPers who defy its will... and it's over one of the less controversial things on the current docket: the omnibus spending bill (which contains... gasp!... earmarks.)
• Votes: The House, as you're probably well aware, easily passed repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell yesterday (although its Senate future is hazy; ask again later). The 15 Dem "no" votes are mostly Blue Dogs in socially conservative districts (with nine of them not coming back, either via loss or retirement), with one key exception: Artur Davis, still seeming completely intent on maxing out on his frequent douchebag miles before leaving. The 15 GOP "yes" votes are more interesting, a mix of departing moderates (Castle, Djou, Cao, Ehlers), remaining moderates in well-educated (and presumably low homophobia) districts (Biggert, Reichert, Dent, Platts), GOPers with substantially gay constituencies (Bono Mack, Ros-Lehtinen, Diaz-Balart... and we can double-count Cao), die-hard libertarians (Paul, Flake, Campbell), and in his own category, David Dreier.
• WATN?: Dede Scozzafava, perhaps as a reward for, in her own round-about way, giving us the gift of Bill Owens in NY-23, is in talks to get a job in the incoming Cuomo administration. The exact position hasn't been defined, but will be something about "streamlining" government.
• Demographics: Here's an interesting piece in the Democratic Strategist that does some demographic slice-and-dice of the House seats where Dems lost. Some of it isn't a surprise (losses occurred where race and education overlap, as the white working class particularly turned right), but it adds an important variable to the mix that nobody else seems to have noticed: manufacturing. There's a definite correlation between losses and how reliant the district is on a manufacturing economy.
CT-Sen: Obama alert! The POTUS is going to do a fundraiser in Stamford for Dick Blumenthal on Sept. 16th, the same day he was already scheduled to do a DNC event in Greenwich. Sorry to get all emo on you again, but if even Dick Blumenthal needs Obama's help....
DE-Sen: It's the battle of the sketchy polls! The Tea Party Express is touting a survey which supposedly shows Mike Castle up just 44-38 in the Republican primary over Christine O'Donnell. (Actually, they say Castle is at "43.7%" - too many significant digits is a classic sign of sketchiness.) Meanwhile, the Fix claims that "Internal GOP polling conducted last week showed Castle with a margin of nearly 20 points over O'Donnell." Anyhow, the TPX has no plans to evacuate in their moment of... well, we'll see if it's their moment of triumph... despite a surge of new questions about O'Donnell's fitness as a candidate. Among other things: Former aides say she never paid promised salaries on her 2008 campaign against Joe Biden, and she just received her degree from Farleigh Dickinson University last week, despite having attended 17 years ago and having repeatedly described herself as a graduate. Come on, baby, hold together!
IL-Sen: Amanda Terkel has spotted a trend among Mark Kirk's public statements: He can't shut up about the economic crisis in Greece - and Terkel thinks Kirk is attempting to link Alexi Giannoulias (who is of Greek descent) to the meltdown. Perhaps most egregious is Kirk's statement that while he "wore a U.S. Navy uniform, Alexi Giannoulias wore a basketball uniform in Greece." Really? That last part is relevant? A pretty ugly example of "othering."
LA-Sen: A little bit of Cajun-flavored cat fud: Gov. Bobby Jindal won't endorse Sen. David Vitter in his re-election campaign. Jindal claims he doesn't get involved in federal races, but WDSU has two very recent examples to the contrary. Anyhow, I can't think of too many sitting governors who haven't endorsed same-party, same-state senators, can you?
NH-Sen: Finally, a survey of the severely under-polled GOP senate primary in New Hampshire - though it's from Republican pollster Magellan, who likes to do Rasmussen-style one-day samples (a methodology that I think it's fair to say is not a best practice). Anyhow, here are the results (9/1, likely voters, May in parens):
UT-Sen: The battle for Orrin Hatch's senate seat - which won't take place until 2012 - is already getting ugly. Hatch is claiming that freshman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (who, you'll recall, already knocked off one sitting incumbent at a state convention in 2008) promised him he wouldn't challenge him next cycle. Chaffetz says he only pledged not to run against Sen. Bob Bennett, who of course already lost earlier this year. A Hatch spokesbot took off the gloves in response, saying: "Senator Hatch takes very seriously the principle of keeping his word. Of course, I suppose Jason can break it any time he wants to."
WV-Sen: Robert Byrd's family is excoriating self-funding Republican John Raese for using a photo of Dem Joe Manchin and President Obama that was taken at Byrd's memorial service earlier this year in an attack ad. Raese's campaign manager said, "That's a stock photo. We had no idea it was from the memorial service." Well, now you know.
AZ-Gov: Does this statement remind you of O.J. Simpson's ill-fated "hypothetical" book, If I Did It? Because that was the first thing I thought of:
"That was an error, if I said that," Brewer said about beheadings occurring in Arizona.
AZ-01: Ann Kirkpatrick is out with her first ad of the cycle, a pretty dull positive spot about how she donated 5% of her congressional salary... national treasury... opposed bailout... etc., etc. Ordinarily I'd just relegate this to our ad roundup at the bottom of the digest, but I also wanted to point out this great observation from SSP's own Johnny Longtorso: namely, the fact that the Navajo Nation (the largest Indian tribe in the United States) is holding its presidential election this fall, which may help Kirkpatrick on the turnout front. (Indians vote heavily Dem.) According to Wikipedia, some 130,000 Navajo live within the nation's boundaries in Arizona (it also includes parts of Utah and New Mexico), almost all of which is contained within the 1st CD.
AZ-08: You know how the WWF tried to become the WWE? Well, true hardcore wingnuts aren't content with (the bad kind of) SSP - they want SSE: Social Security elimination. Given how toxic this is in the real world (i.e., for the 99.999% of people who have never heard of John Galt), it's no wonder that Republican nominee Jesse Kelly now say he wants to "protect" Social Security. Good luck getting past statements like this one, from just last year: "If you have any ideas on that, I'm all ears. I would love to eliminate the program."
IA-01: This doesn't seem like a positive sign to me. Bruce Braley is going on the air with an ad (watch it here) hitting back against an outside group's attack ad - not something a candidate in an apparently "Safe D" race ordinarily feels a need to do. The group, American Future Fund, is accusing Braley of "supporting" the Park51 community center, though Braley has taken the standard "don't wanna deal with it" approach of calling it a local zoning issue for NYC. On the flipside, I'll take it as a good sign that Braley doesn't plan to get Martha Coakley'd. (Though doesn't it sound like Braley's "I approve this message" was recorded via cell phone? Does that mean the ad was rushed on to the air?) NWOTSOTB for Braley, though AAF claims it has spent $50K and plans to spend more.
IN-03: A common theme rears its head once more: A Republican rails loudly against bailouts, but it turns out he's been the beneficiary of government largesse himself. In this case, Dem Tom Hayhurst has been attacking GOPer Marlin Stutzman for accepting $180K in agricultural subsidies since 1995. But as the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports, just last month Stutzman said: "It's time to get rid of farm subsidies. The subsidies only manipulate the market."
KS-04: You know, we always love reporting on cat fud for cat fud's sake. Sometimes it's just a whiff, but other times, the cat fud can really stink up a race. Case in point: Mike Pompeo, a top competitor for GOP Dickbag of the Year, wasn't endorsed by any of the candidates he beat in the Republican primary, and even refused to return phone calls from his opponents. Now, the cats are coming home to roost, because one of those opponents, rich guy Wink Hartman, is considering re-entering the race on the Libertarian Party line. (The Lib candidate dropped out of the race for health reasons.) Hartman, who spent almost $1.6 million of his own money on the primary, notably includes among his reasons for wanting to get back in the game the fact that Pompeo "misrepresented Hartman's pro-life position and residency." The Libertarians have until Sept. 20th to decide whether to tap Hartman. In any event, this could provide a huge boost to Dem Raj Goyle, who appears to be in a surprisingly good position to stage an upset.
LA-03: In an unusual move, the Louisiana state Republican Party has formally endorsed Jeff Landry over Hunt Downer in the runoff. State parties don't typically take sides in primaries like this, but it sounds like the powers that be are eager to see Downer bail, rather than prolong the race all the way until October 3rd. I personally suspect that Downer has no chance in the second round, and I think he'll wind up playing Kevin Calvey to Landry's Jim Lankford. (Check out our OK-05 tag if the analogy isn't ringing any bells.)
NC-11: Heh - looks like Heath Shuler's suggesting he could run for Speaker of the House, clearly as a way to distance himself from Nancy Pelosi. Shuler also claimed that cats eventually turn into dogs.
NH-02: Nice - progressive fave Ann McLane Kuster raised $223K in her pre-primary report (7/1-8/25), totally kicking the asses of all the other major candidates (Katrina Swett (D): $37K, Charlie Bass (R): $57K, Jennifer Horn (R): $39K). As for cash, it goes Kuster: $450K, Swett: $798K, Bass: $312K, Horn: $32K. Even better news: Kuster is touting an internal poll from the Mellman Group showing her with a commanding 47-24 lead over Swett in the primary, which is Sept. 14th.
NY-20, NY-23: Rahm Emanuel is headlining a joint fundraiser on Sept. 19th for two upstate Dems: Scott Murphy of the 20th CD and Bill Owens of the 23rd. Murphy has $1.5 million on hand but Owens has only $600K.
PA-06: A nasty bit of racial ugliness from the campaign of Jim Gerlach. Said a spokesman about Dem opponent Manan Trivedi: "The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money."
SC-02: The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating Rep. Joe Wilson's trips abroad - at least thirty over the last eight years - and his per diem spending habits. Wilson is a prolific traveler on the taxpayer's dime, ranking 29th among current House members and 39th among 734 members who've served since 1994, according to The State. Wilson has tried to downplay prior reports of the probe, claiming it was only about $12 spent on some cheap mementos from Afghanistan, but that's evidently not the case. Meanwhile, Dem Rob Miller has a new ad out hitting Wilson for his support of CAFTA. Check it out - I think it's pretty effective.
VA-05: In a move that vaguely brings to mind Carl Mumpower, teabagger Jeffrey Clark said he'd withdraw from the race if the party or parties responsible for disseminating information about his financial history came forward to claim responsibility. Dem Tom Perriello's campaign said it wasn't them, but Republican Rob Hurt wouldn't say anything, so Clark says he's staying in the race. Feel the Mumpower!
OH-AG: Wrapping up some odds-and-ends from their recent Ohio poll, PPP find ex-Sen. Mike DeWine leading incumbent Dem AG Richard Cordray 44-40.
DCCC: Another day, another triage story. This time, the NYT claims that "party leaders are preparing a brutal triage of their own members in hopes of saving enough seats to keep a slim grip on the majority." And while they don't have an actual quote from him, the Times claims Chris Van Hollen "conceded" that Dems "would ultimately cut loose members who had not gained ground." In response, reports The Hill:
Van Hollen released a statement saying that the story "erroneously" said that the DCCC would redirect resources to two dozen viable campaigns if a review in the next two weeks showed that vulnerables weren't gaining ground.
I have to wonder: Did the NYT really get Van Hollen wrong here, or is CVH deliberately trying to send mixed messages in order to motivate his troops through fear?
• CO-Sen: Republican candidate Ken Buck has a couple pieces of good news today: one, he's the recipient of $172K in independent expenditures from mysterious conservative group Americans for Job Security. And two, Jim DeMint's coming to town on July 8 to stump on Buck's behalf
• NE-Sen: Ironically, on the same day that he was the deciding vote in the Senate's failure to extend unemployment benefits, Ben Nelson announced that he won't be making an appearance in the unemployment lines himself in 2012. He confirmed that he plans to run for re-election.
• SC-Sen: The profile of Lindsey Graham in the New York Times magazine is well worth a read. While it serves to make me like him a little more, I've gotta wonder if he's even going to bother running (or at least running as a Republican) when he's up again in 2014, considering it's just going to tick off the teabaggers even more. He derides the Tea Partiers, saying they'll be gone in a few years, "chortling" that Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today... and also has a good laugh at the rumors about his sexual orientation, instead of, y'know, punching the interviewer in the nose or something unequivocally manly like that.
• WI-Sen, WI-Gov: PPP rolls out a last batch of numbers from their Wisconsin sample, looking at the Republican primaries in the Senate and gubernatorial races and seeing them as foregone conclusions. On the governor's side, Milwaukee Co. Executive (and legendary 60's crooner) Scott Walker leads ex-Rep. Mark Neumann 58-19, while in the Senate race, Ron Johnson leads Dave Westlake 49-11.
• WV-Sen: OK, so the rumor today is that things are still on for a 2012 special election to replace Robert Byrd, not a 2010 one as suggested yesterday. Gov. Joe Manchin and Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin are sending signals that they won't call for a legislative special session to shift the election date to this year, despite the decision by SoS Natalie Tennant to have it in 2012.
• AL-Gov: Here's one more politican trapped in the semantic quicksand that seems to be developing around the issue of stateside service during Vietnam. Alabama GOP runoff contestant Robert Bentley has drawn some heat for the words "Hospital commander" and "Vietnam War" appearing on-screen in one of his TV ads. Bentley was ranking medical doctor at Pope AFB (in North Carolina) during the Vietnam era, although he didn't serve physically in Vietnam.
• FL-Gov: Now the supposed hero of 9/11 has RINO cooties, too? Rick Scott's camp sent out press releases yesterday attacking opponent Bill McCollum for having supported "pro-abortion, pro-homosexual" Giuliani for President, back in those heady days of, say, 2007, when it was assumed that Giuliani was going to steamroller everyone else in the Florida primary.
• MD-Gov: Republican ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich picked a running mate for his 2010 campaign, and, no, he's not giving Michael Steele his old job back. He picked Mary Kane, who was the SoS under Ehrlich (an appointed position in Maryland). She's from Montgomery County, suggesting he sees the route to 50%+1 through this increasingly-blue suburb.
• OR-Gov (pdf): Republican pollster Magellan is quickly becoming one of the most prolific purveyors of public polls, this time with a look at the gubernatorial race in Oregon. They join the consensus that this is a deadlocked race right now; they find Republican Chris Dudley leading Democrat John Kitzhaber by a paper-thin 41-40 margin. Dudley has 41-27 support among independents. They also offer an interesting breakdown by CD; it's OR-04 that's keeping Dudley in this, giving him a 44-38 edge, while predictably, Kitzhaber dominates in OR-01 and OR-03, Dudley sweeps OR-02, and they fight to a tie in OR-05.
• WY-Gov: OMG! Stop the presses! Veteran character actor and widely trusted commercial pitchman for products for old people (and Wyoming resident) Wilford Brimley has made an endorsement in the GOP gubernatorial primary. He's backing state Auditor Rita Meyer. No word on whether he was won over by her pro-oatmeal stances.
• NJ-07: There's an internal poll out from a Democrat? Not only that, but it's from one who's been totally off the radar, as national Dems seem to have ceded the 7th to freshman GOPer Leonard Lance. While the "informed ballot" numbers are the ones getting promoted (we at SSP think informed ballot questions are good... for us to poop on), there are legitimate toplines in there too, with Lance leading Ed Potosnak by a not-so-imposing 43-30. Lance also has a weak 31/46 re-elect number in the Garin Hart Yang poll.
• NM-02: Construction liens seem to be the common cold of political scandals, but Democratic freshman Harry Teague is in an uphill battle to retain his GOP-leaning seat and probably wouldn't like any bad PR. He personally, and the four oil and gas industry companies he controls, are facing a civil lawsuit over failure to repay loans to purchase equipment.
• Ohio: PPP has some odds and ends left over from their Ohio sample. Two items are on the bad news side of the ledger, although only barely: a generic House ballot test for Ohio (where there are at least five competitive Democratic holds) has Republicans leading Democrats 44-43, and GOP ex-Sen. Mike DeWine is leading appointed Democratic AG Richard Cordray 44-41 in the Attorney General's race. (Screw that; what about SoS race numbers?) The good news is that Sherrod Brown's favorables have rebounded quite a bit since PPP's last poll; he's now at 38/38.
• NRCC: More expectations management from the NRCC? After previous pronouncements that John Boehner was looking to pick up 436 100 seats, now he's sending out a fundraising e-mail that touts a 39-seat pickup as their target.
• RGA: Haley Barbour's rolling around in a trough full of money today: the Republican Governors Association hauled in $19 million in the last fundraising quarter. Also suggesting that GOP fundraising is kicking into higher gear, American Crossroads, the Karl Rove venture that earned a whopping $200 in May, had a much better June: they raised $8.5 million.
Yesterday's primary elections in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio showed two things: one, despite all the huffing and puffing about it being an anti-incumbent year and there being a massive wave of teabaggers ready to take the system down, establishment candidates still won pretty much everything. And two, the enthusiasm gap between the parties that we've been warned about is definitely out there, and numbers from last night back that up.
Indiana: Indiana was the case study for what went wrong with the anti-establishment candidates -- there were just too many of them. In Republican race after race, the anti-establishment votes were split between too many candidates, letting the incumbents or the anointed challengers slip through; had the teabaggers had the presence of mind to unite behind one person, they could have done some actual damage. In the Senate primary, 90s-leftover Dan Coats won with a tepid 39%, beating state Sen. Marlin Stutzman (standard-bearer of the DeMint wing of the teabaggers) at 29 and ex-Rep. John Hostettler (representing the Paulist wing) at 23. As we've wondered openly before at SSP, I have no idea whether that's better or worse for Democrats, seeing as how Coats has access to actual money but also a dump-truck full of vulnerabilities (starting off with the possibility that the NRA might actually support Brad Ellsworth over the Brady Bill-supporting Coats).
The same dynamic played out in a slew of House races. In IN-03, somnambulistic Rep. Mark Souder won with 48% over two opponents, Bob Thomas at 34% and Phil Troyer at 16%. In the open seat race in IN-04, SoS Todd Rokita only cleared 42%, although there were 13 contestants in the race and his nearest rival, Brandt Hershman, only reached 17%. In IN-05, widely disliked Rep. Dan Burton managed to way underperform his 52% from his last primary: he only got to 30%; luckily for him, his opposition was so chopped up that he still survived, with former state GOP chair Luke Messer coming closest at 28%. In IN-08, the NRCC's pick, surgeon Larry Bucshon, barely survived a horde of teabaggers, most of whom coalesced behind Kristi Risk, whom he beat 33-29. And in IN-09, a three-way duel between ex-Rep. Mike Sodrel, establishment pick attorney Todd Young, and teabagger fave Travis Hankins wound up with Young winning with 34%, with Hankins at 32% and Sodrel at 30% (sparing us Baron Hill vs. Sodrel Round Five). The only dominant performance was Jackie Wolarski in IN-02, who picked up 61% of the vote to Jack Jordan's 28%.
As with Coats, it's unclear to me who we'd rather have faced in those races. In each case, it was a choice between an establishment guy with money but who isn't going to excite the GOP base, vs. an outsider without the connections or, possibly, the campaign chops. Maybe Risk's loss will help with Democrat Trent Van Haaften's outreach to the local teabaggery, and in the 9th, while it's sad Baron Hill won't get to face off against the increasingly laughable Sodrel, Young seems to come with his own set of problems (first and foremost, a big recent donation from Don Blankenship, controversial CEO of coal mining company Massey Energy).
North Carolina: The big story in North Carolina was the Democratic primary in the Senate race. Thanks to a fairly strong performance from third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis, nobody cleared the 40% mark, and we're headed to a June 22 runoff between SoS Elaine Marshall and ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham, which'll be a duel between name rec (Marshall) and money (Cunningham). Marshall finished at 36%, Cunningham at 27%, and Lewis at 17%.
At the House level, in the main race where the GOP is playing offense, the primary is also headed to a runoff. In NC-08, unhinged rich guy Tim D'Annunzio got 37% and ex-sportscaster Harold Johnson got 33%. NC-11 had looked like it was also headed to a runoff, but by night's end businessman Jeff Miller barely cleared the hurdle, with 40.2%. In both those races, the Dem incumbents got mild rebukes from their bases (presumably over their anti-HCR votes), with Larry Kissell getting only 63% and Heath Shuler getting 62%. In NC-06 and NC-10, geriatric Howard Coble (64%) and bombastic Patrick McHenry (63%) also underperformed against fractured opposition. You have to look further downballot to see any bodies falling: five incumbent state legislators lost their primaries (four of them Dems, although some of these look like safe seats).
Ohio: The main event in Ohio was the Senate primary for Democrats, where Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, as expected beat SoS Jennifer Brunner 55-45. Considering how vastly Brunner was outspent, and the trajectory of the last week's polls, it's actually surprising it was that close. Apparently Brunner's hard work on the ground in some of Ohio's reddish areas in the last weeks of the campaign paid off some dividends, as she put up big leads in the Cincinnati area (Hamilton and Clermont Counties). Naturally, it leaves you to wonder what she could have done if she'd had some actual money.
In the House, OH-02 was the scene of two contested primaries. Rep. Jean Schmidt survived her primary challenge with little trouble, beating Warren Co. Commissioner Mike Kilburn 62-22. On the Dem side, Surya Yalamanchili squeaked out a 41-38 win over David Krikorian, with apparently enough people repulsed by both to give 22% to Some Dude J. Parker. Krikorian continued to be a douchebag even in defeat, accusing Yalamanchili of having played "the race card." The establishment candidates in the two other big GOP primaries both prevailed: in OH-16, Jim Renacci got 49% to 40% for Matt Miller (his third straight time breaking 40% but losing the GOP primary here). And state Sen. Bob Gibbs, the NRCC's recruit in OH-18, seems to have beaten Fred Dailey by about 200 votes (at 21% each), although this race appears headed to a recount. (One would be hard-pressed to call Dailey, the 2008 nominee and former state Agriculture Director, an outsider candidate, although at least he was certainly angry this time around.)
In Ohio, there were also some allegedly hot primaries for the GOP in statewide races, where teabagger favorites were taking on establishment picks, that also turned out to be a big bucket of nothing. In the SoS primary, state Sen. Jon Husted beat Sandra O'Brien 67-33, while in the Auditor race, Delaware Co. Prosecutor Dave Yost (who was the teabagger fave when he was in the AG race running against the guy they really hate, Mike DeWine, but became their enemy when he switched over to the Auditor's race against the guy they liked) beat state Rep. Seth Morgan 65-35.
Finally, as I said at the start, there's the matter of turnout disparities. Reid Wilson points to how only 662K voters voted in the OH-Sen Democratic primary, which was lower than the number of Democratic voters (872K) in the Democratic primary in 2006 (where there was no contested D primary in either the Governor or Senate races). That jibes with the broader numbers we've been seeing about enthusiasm gaps (as with Gallup's recent poll showing 43% of Republicans are "very enthused" about voting, while 33% of Democrats are). The falloff was similar in Indiana, where only 204K Dems participated as opposed to 304K in 2006, although it's worth noting that the Dems were playing offense in 2006 and had contested House primaries, while this year there was really bupkus to get Dems to the polls in Indiana. In North Carolina, 425K voted in the Dem primary. Reid compares this to 2004, where more Dems showed up in the primary, but that may not be an apt comparison as that's a presidential year -- regardless, that too may be an ominous number in the context of the Republican Senate primary, where almost as many, 374K, voted to help Richard Burr dispatch no-name opposition.
• 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.
• AZ-Sen: Ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth has made it pretty clear already that he's taking on John McCain in the Republican Senate primary, and now he's made it official when he's going to make it official. The launch date for his campaign: Feb. 15.
• CT-Sen, CT-02: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons did a whole lot of bobbing and weaving when an interviewer yesterday kept pressing him on the issue of whether he'd consider dropping down to run for his old House seat again (although a spokesperson followed up afterwards, saying he will not running for anything else, "period"). The idea has to be tempting to Simmons, though, who just watched his Senate dreams vaporize with Democratic AG Richard Blumenthal's entry, and who may by enviously eyeing efforts by some of the other 2006 victims (like Mike Fitzpatrick) to turn back the clock.
• KS-Sen: There's still six months to go before their Republican Senate primary, but time's running out for Rep. Todd Tiahrt to make a move against fellow Rep. Jerry Moran. Moran leads this month's SurveyUSA poll 40-33 (two months ago Tiahrt pulled within 3, but that's the closest he's been). Moran is currently up 38-23 in the state's northeast, which will be the decisive region (as they each have their respective districts already locked down).
• NV-Sen: File this under "it's bad news even if you have to be out there repeatedly saying this," but Harry Reid again denied (this time to Las Vegas political reporter Jon Ralston) that he'd drop out of his fizzling Senate race to make way for a different candidate. On the GOP side, one potential opponent, Sue Lowden, is up with her first TV spot, a soft-focus biographical ad. Taking note of these developments, no doubt, are Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer; insiders are observing that the two of them are both busy doling out campaign cash to their colleagues in order to build loyalties for what looks like the fight to be the next majority leader.
• NY-Sen-B: In case you missed it, last night's point-by-point dismantling of Harold Ford Jr. by Stephen Colbert is a must-see. It clearly wasn't the coming-out gala that Ford had envisioned.
• UT-Sen: The establishment is riding to the rescue for Bob Bennett, who could be threatened in this year's primary if the teabagging rabble somehow coalesced behind one of his many opponents. The NRSC just handed $43K to Bennett's campaign (an important sign to other institutional contributors), and Newt Gingrich is headlining a big-bucks fundraiser for Bennett.
• CA-Gov: Republican pollster McLaughlin & Associates (apparently not working on behalf of any of the candidates) released a poll of the Republican gubernatorial primary, finding zillionairess Meg Whitman leading zillionaire Steve Poizner, 39-12. Apparently they were in the field when Tom Campbell bailed out, as they also offer up a three-way head-to-head, which was 31 Whitman, 17 Campbell, 5 Poizner.
• CT-Gov: A couple comings and goings in Connecticut today: as expected, Danbury mayor Mark Boughton got in the Republican field. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Gary LeBeau, who'd been polling in the low single digits, dropped out. In a moment of unusual honesty for a politician, LeBeau said, "The state has no idea who Gary LeBeau is."
• OR-Gov: This is a bit of a surprise, but in the wake of Al Gore's endorsement, it's certainly an indication that ex-SoS Bill Bradbury (something of an underdog in the Democratic primary against ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber) has some powerful friends back in DC. Howard Dean will appear at several fundraisers for Bradbury in Oregon next week.
• FL-08: Here's another surprise: brash 20-something real estate developer Armando Gutierrez dropped out of the GOP field in the 8th, despite having attracted a lot of favorable buzz and even picked up a few endorsements from members of Florida's House delegation. The national party never warmed up to him, though, seemingly put off by his line-crashing, and he may have finally gotten the message, between the NRCC's preferred pick, businessman Bruce O'Donoghue, officially filing yesterday, and the endorsement by neighboring Rep. Cliff Stearns of yet another Republican in the crowded field, state Rep. Kurt Kelly.
• FL-19: In all the madness over the Illinois primaries today, it's been almost universally forgotten that the primary in the safely-blue 19th to replace resigned Rep. Robert Wexler is also today. It's hardly worth a look, though, as state Sen. Ted Deutch pretty much has it locked down, having raised many times more money than anyone else and nailed down the establishment endorsements. Former Broward Co. Commissioner Ben Graber is the only other candidate of note.
• IN-04: Despite the advantages that his statewide profile brings him, SoS Todd Rokita won't have the GOP field to replace retiring Rep. Steve Buyer to himself. He'll have to face state Sen. Brandt Hershman too. Hershman has one key advantage himself: he works as an aide to Buyer, and has Buyer's backing.
• NV-03: Here's some good news for ex-state Sen. Joe Heck: he just got $10K to go toward his campaign against vulnerable Dem freshman Rep. Dina Titus. The bad news is: that $10K came from the PAC of John Ensign, who just won't stop trying to make himself useful to Nevada's other Republicans despite the fact that he's about as popular as shingles right now. But then Heck got some more good news: he won't face a seriously contested primary, as self-funding businessman Rob Lauer dropped his teabaggish challenge to Heck to run for SoS instead.
• NY-13: A lot of people are asking who Michael Grimm is, after he banked over $300K last quarter to go up against Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon. He's a former FBI agent, who apparently has a lot of friends in high places... in places outside of his district. Only $3,500 of that amount came from within the actual district, and $2,000 of that was from Staten Island Republican guru Guy Molinari.
• NY-14: Live by the primary challenge, die by the primary challenge. Rep. Carolyn Maloney now faces one of her own, a well-funded challenge from the apparent right from 30-something attorney Reshma Saujani, who has previously raised serious dollars within the Indian-American community for other Democratic candidates. Saujani, believe it or not, is running on an unashamedly pro-Wall Street platform (although this is maybe the one district in the country where that might still work).
• PA-06: Two more prominent local Democrats who had endorsed Doug Pike when he was the only game in town have switched their endorsements to Manan Trivedi instead. Significantly, they're both in Berks County (which is also where Trivedi is from, and which is where Dems have tended to run the weakest in the district in the past): Reading mayor Tom McMahon and Berks Co. Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt.
• TN-01: Would you believe that there's a Republican who lost in one of the wave elections who isn't running for something this year? However, before you get too excited, it's ex-Rep. David Davis, who'd been mulling a third matchup against Rep. Phil Roe, who knocked him off in a GOP primary in this super-red district in eastern Tennessee. The not-insane Roe may be the best we can hope for in this district, especially compared with Davis, who'd been making outreach to the local teabaggers in preparation for another run.
• WV-03: A credible challenger to Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall sneaked under the rope at the filing deadline: former state Supreme Court justice Elliott Maynard. Maynard was, until recently, a Democrat, but switched parties pushed along largely by his perception of Democrats' anti-coal environmental policies (and no doubt also influenced by West Virginia's reddish turn over the last decade).
• OH-SoS: This was painless and easy: not only did a more progressive alternative to conservative state Rep. Jennifer Garrison get into the Secretary of State race - Franklin Co. Court Clerk Maryellen O'Shaughnessy - but she won't even face a contested primary. Getting the message that her establishment support was practically nil, Garrison got out of the race. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the GOP establishment seems to have settled the trouble it was having finding a replacement Auditor candidate after Mary Taylor ditched the job to run for Lt. Governor. They got Delaware Co. Prosecutor Kevin Yost to switch over from the AG's race, where he was facing ex-Sen. Mike DeWine in a primary. That caused a lot of consternation among the state's right-wingers, though - they were looking forward to Yost picking off the unacceptably moderate (and generally underwhelming) DeWine in the primary. Both the SoS and Auditor positions are key from a redistricting perspective, as along with the Governor they control the state's legislative redistricting process.
• Republicans: If you haven't checked out the details of Research 2000's in-depth poll of the state of what Republicans believe today, please do. Although I'm not really still sure what to do with all this knowledge... except maybe acknowledge that you can't negotiate with such irrational actors.
• Redistricting: CQ's Josh Kurtz takes an interesting look at redistricting in California over the decades, as seen through the prism of a new book that covers the many ups and downs of legendary California Rep. Philip Burton. Will it be an incumbent protection map or an aggressive push, and how will the state's fast-growing Latino population be accommodated?
Lee Fisher (D): 37 (36)
Rob Portman (R): 44 (38)
Other: 4 (8)
Undecided: 14 (18)
Jennifer Brunner (D): 40 (33)
Rob Portman (R): 43 (40)
Other: 5 (7)
Undecided: 13 (20)
The only thing that seems different between today's Rasmussen look at the Ohio Senate race and last month's is that there's some swapping of positions in terms of which Dem does better vis-a-vis Republican ex-Rep. Rob Portman. Last month, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher seemed to be doing better on that metric, against a backdrop of an ongoing sense of the wheels falling off Jennifer Brunner's campaign. Still, her problems seem to be primarily financial, not message- or reputation-related, and this month she bounces back, coming within 3 of Portman while Fisher trails by 7.
I wonder if this is similar to the way that Rasmussen has been seeing Marco Rubio and Rand Paul overperforming against Dems in the general vis-a-vis their more establishment opponents. Because of the aggressive Rasmussen LV screen which seems to pick up the most especially informed and motivated voters, proportionately more of their Dems may be progressive base voters (who'd be more attracted to the feisty Brunner than the ill-defined Fisher).
Not much of anything has changed in the last month in Rasmussen's view of the Governor's race; they still find ex-Rep. John Kasich with a sizable edge on Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland (although it should be noted that no other pollster has given Kasich a lead). Perhaps the most interesting news from this race lately came today, with Kasich's decision to tap Auditor Mary Taylor (the Republicans' only statewide elected official at this point, in the wake of their 2006 meltdown) as his running mate.
This may serve to help Kasich, by adding a somewhat-well-known, telegenic figure to his ticket. However, it's leaving a big hole in the Auditor race, where the Republicans are currently candidate-less. And that's one statewide race where the Dems were already in good position, with Hamilton Co. Commissioner David Pepper fundraising well to go up against Taylor. At this point, you may be saying "Auditor? Yawn." Well, Ohio does its state legislative redistricting (not its congressional redistricting, alas) via a 5-member board, of which the Governor, Secretary of State, and Auditor are the decisive members. So, if Dems hold 2 of those 3 offices (as they currently do), they get to re-do the state legislative districts in their favor, undoing the harmful Republican gerrymander of last decade. And if the Republicans lose Auditor, that means they'd need to pick up both Governor and SoS (unfortunately, that's more than theoretically possible, with Kasich running strong and state Sen. Jon Husted a good GOP SoS candidate).
To that end, the GOP is scrambling to recruit an Auditor candidate, to the extent that they're begging ex-Senator Mike DeWine to drop down from his already-underwhelming bid in the AG's race. (That would also solve the problem of the GOP AG primary, where DeWine faces Delaware County prosecutor Dave Yost; DeWine has a big money edge, but Yost has gotten the endorsement of the county-level party in some conservative-leaning counties.) They're also asking state Rep. and Treasurer candidate Josh Mandel to switch over. Neither DeWine or Mandel says they're interested in a switch, though. The only GOPer currently interested in jumping into the Auditor race is little-known Dayton-area state Rep. Seth Morgan.
• FL-Sen: Looks like Charlie Crist has decided that, despite mediocre polling and worse fundraising from Marco Rubio, he's facing a bigger threat in the primary than he is in the general. Crist came out in opposition to the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor yesterday, trying to shore up what remains of his conservative bona fides.
• IL-Sen/Gov: Here's an explanation for why Chris Kennedy has been dawdling on declaring for the Illinois Senate primary: he's considering whether or not to jump over to the Governor's race instead. This seems very odd... not that he'd have a good chance in either race, but it seems like he'd have a better shot in a primary in an open seat race against Alexi Giannoulias, who has some vulnerabilities, than against Pat Quinn, who's fairly popular and has the benefits of incumbency. Apparently Giannoulias's fundraising scared him off.
• MO-Sen: Here's an interesting tidbit out of Missouri, suggesting that former Treasurer Sarah Steelman is getting less and less likely to run in the GOP primary. Jeff Roe, who ran Steelman's 2008 campaign, has started working for Rep. Roy Blunt. Blunt still faces a primary challenge from state Sen. Chuck Purgason, though, but he doesn't pose the same level of threat that Steelman would.
• NH-Sen: This is a big surprise, as he's been pouring a lot of money into advertising (for his STEWARD organization, though, not as a candidate) and starting to build a staff. Anti-tax businessman Fred Tausch announced today that he won't be running in the GOP Senate primary after all (or for anything, including the House). Considering that he was lobbing bombs at AG Kelly Ayotte just a few days ago, this is a sudden change of heart. Former Board of Education member and 1996 gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne may still provide a challenge from the right, though.
• NY-Sen-B: Last night was the vaunted Bill Clinton/Carolyn Maloney fundraiser, which pulled in about $300K for Maloney's House account. Meanwhile, the Albany Project has an interesting catch in this race. It turns out that there was one question from the internal poll in May that gave Maloney a 34-32 lead over Kirsten Gillibrand that didn't get released to the public, and only came out in that City Hall News profile from a few days ago: "Asked whom they would vote for if they knew Gillibrand had the support of Schumer and Obama, people chose Gillibrand over Maloney 50-24."
• IA-Gov: A fifth candidate officially got into the GOP field in the Iowa governor's race yesterday: little-known state Rep. and pastor Rod Roberts, who represents a rural part of western Iowa. Roberts polled a whopping 1% in a poll last week by the Iowa Republican blog of the GOP primary field; the poll found Bob Vander Plaats leading the field with 46%, trailed by Chris Rants at 16%, and Paul McKinley and Christian Fong each at 3%. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver defeats Vander Plaats 48-39 and Rants 46-36.
• NV-02: Ooops, back to square one in the 2nd. Douglas County school board president Cindy Trigg, who said she'd run against Rep. Dean Heller in 2010, has backed out, saying she needs to focus on the school board for now instead.
• NY-23: The NRCC has gone on the air in the 23rd, launching pre-emptive TV attacks on state Sen. Darrel Aubertine before he's even a declared candidate for the special election, for voting for new taxes in the state Senate. Meanwhile, word has leaked (perhaps from GOP rival Matt Doheny's camp) that moderate Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava was in fact under consideration for the Democratic nomination, but that they were scared off by unpaid tax problems associated with her brother's business (for which she's listed as the COO).
• VA-11: Home inspection company owner Keith Fimian has decided on a rematch with Rep. Gerry Connolly in the now-blue 11th. Fimian, who can self-fund, lost the 2008 open seat race to Connolly, 55-43.
• NY-LG: A New York judge put the kibosh on David Paterson's appointment of Richard Ravitch as Lieutenant Governor, issuing a temporary injunction to stop it, saying the state constitution does not appear to permit appointment to fill a vacancy in that position. Still, even if the appointment never goes through, it looks like it may have succeeded for Paterson, in terms of forcing Pedro Espada's hand and breaking the state Senate deadlock.
• OH-AG: As was previously leaked, former Senator Mike DeWine announced today that he'll run for state Attorney General. He'll face off against Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray.
• Fonts: Ever wondered about the font that defined the Obama campaign in 2008? Here's a profile of that "uniquely American" sans-serif typeface, Gotham.