North Carolina's incumbent Democratic governor, Bev Perdue, swept into office in 2008 by the narrowest of margins, undoubtedly propelled by the unusual level of enthusiasm for Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Almost ever since then, though, her poll numbers have been poor, and in head-to-heads with likely rematch opponent Pat McCrory (the former mayor of Charlotte), she's usually trailed by double digits:
All the data points in the above graph are from PPP, but they were confirmed by a recent SurveyUSA poll (PDF) for the Civitas Institute. At least a couple of Democrats last cycle who couldn't escape numbers like this bailed rather than seek re-election - Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut for one, and Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado for another. In both cases, they were replaced by more popular candidates (Dick Blumenthal and John Hickenlooper, respectively) who went on to win handily.
Both Ritter and Dodd didn't announce their retirements until January 2010, so perhaps we're a bit early in asking this question. But at SSP, we're always trying to stay ahead of the curve, so I'm putting these questions to all of you: Do you think Perdue could be persuaded not to seek a second term? Do you think she should be? And if she could be prevailed upon not to run again, who could take her place for Team Blue?
• AZ-Sen: I keep saying that there's no way Jeff Flake waltzes to the GOP nomination, but the Republican party has yet to prove me right. Fortunately, my deliverance may come in the form of rich guy Wil Cardon, who is supposedly giving the race a "very strong look" - and can self-fund.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov, etc.: Like another failed Republican gubernatorial candidate before her, it looks like we won't have Meg Whitman to kick around anymore. Actually, that's kind of confusing, because of course we did get to kick Dick Nixon around quite a bit more... but not until he kicked all of us around first. Anyhow, uh, where was I? Oh yeah, the former eBay chief says she "doubts" whether she'll run for office again. Let's hope she means it.
• MA-Sen: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, and Deval Patrick still won't run for Senate.
• MT-Sen: For once, I'm hoping a Republican schedules more fundraisers - at least, fundraisers like this. Denny Rehberg just did an event in Denver that was co-hosted by BP's "director of government and public affairs" (i.e., their chief in-house lobbyist)... on the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Good optics!
• ND-Sen: This should scare absolutely no one off, from either party: Republican Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, the only declared candidate to succeed retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, raised all of $32K in Q1. John Hoeven he ain't. While we're on the subject of North Dakota, former Sen. Byron Dorgan, who retired last year, just donated the bulk of his remaining campaign funds - $1 million - to a new charity he founded, the Center for Native American Youth. A worthy cause, I'm sure, but I'll bet Joe Sestak would have really appreciated that extra mil.
• OH-Sen: It's weird how the GOP went from utterly dominating last year's Senate election in Ohio to digging out their barrel-bottom scrapers from the back of the utility shed. Ken Blackwell says he's talking to the NRSC about a possible run... though I guess it's not really clear if the NRSC is talking back. A lulzy quote: "You don't just come out and build the sort of support base that I have overnight." True - you probably need to spend two years running a crappy campaign to do as terribly as he did in the governor's race back in 2006.
• TN-Sen: This is a little odd: Sen. Bob Corker said he "came close" to not seeking re-election this cycle. Too bad we don't have a candidate who could make hay out of Corker's lack of fire in the belly (a phrase he actually uses with respect to some fantasy presidential run, but seems applicable to his day job, too).
• VA-Sen: It's starting to feel like the wingnut candidates are doing everything they can to make life easier for George Allen by piling into the clown car that is the GOP primary field. The latest is rich dude Tim Donner, whom we mentioned last month. Almost all of these weirdos claim to be teabaggers in good standing, so this almost assuredly means we'll see some People's Front of Judea/Judean People's Front nonsense, rather than a united effort to stop Allen. Lame.
• KY-Gov: Republican frontrunner David Williams raised just $450K in Q1 and has $670K on hand. (This compares to Gov. Steve Beshear, whose numbers we mentioned previously: $1.3m/$3.3m.)
• NC-Gov: PPP's monthly home-state poll shows Gov. Bev Perdue inching up against Republican Pat McCrory, trailing 49-38 instead of 50-36. That's very similar to a new SurveyUSA poll which has McCrory up 51-39.
• SC-Gov: The issues are a little too complex for me to try to summarize here in a digest bullet, but the link will take you to an interesting story exposing some pretty naïve political incompetence on the part of supposed GOP wunderkind Gov. Nikki Haley. One thing I'd like to remind folks of is that despite the Republican bloodbath of 2010, Haley didn't perform all that impressively. In fact, she had the second-narrowest win out of all 20 victorious GOP gubernatorial candidates, just 4.3%. Only Rick Scott won more narrowly, and he's Rick Scott. Dem Vincent Sheheen got almost no national attention but should have, given his strong performance in a tough state in an impossible year. If Haley continues to stumble, I think she could prove surprisingly vulnerable in 2014.
• HI-Sen: Both Rep. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa have confirmed to Roll Call that they are looking at the Dem primary to replace retiring Sen. Dan Akaka, and Hanabusa says she's meeting with the DSCC, presumably soon. She also says that the DS "has made it known it wants to speak with anyone interested in running, but it is not actively recruiting any one candidate" (Roll Call's phrasing).
• IN-Sen: So GOPer Richard Mourdock raised $157K, not much better than the $125K or so he predicted (in an obvious attempt to ensure he "exceeded analysts' estimates," as they might say after a Wall Street earnings call). But I flag this item because Roll Call says Mourdock plans to "raise money from a national donor base starting next year." Does this mean he's going the Sharron Angle/Michele Bachmann/Allen West BMW Direct-type direct mail scammery? (See related bullets below.) If so, then perhaps Dick Lugar is in better shape than he might have hoped.
• MO-Sen: This is news to me: Sophomore GOP Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer is apparently thinking about a Senate bid, and has reportedly even met with the NRSC about his intentions. Dave Catanese says that "uncertainty about redistricting" is spurring Luetkemeyer to consider other options, but I'm not sure I buy that, seeing as the new maps being considered by the Republican-held legislature offer him a very comfy seat. The real puzzler is why he's doing this when six-term Rep. Todd Akin seems to be gearing up for a Senate run, since there's almost no way the two would want to fight it out in a primary. Maybe Lute thinks he can be Plan B if Akin demurs.
Another reason cited by Catanese (which applies equally well to both congressmen) is ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman's crappy fundraising. She pulled in just $186K in Q1, which would be unimpressive for a supposedly serious candidate in almost any state. If Akin gets in, I think there's a non-zero chance that she'd drop out.
• MT-Sen: Nice: Sen. Jon Tester (D) raised $1.2 million in Q1 and has $1.5m on hand. His Republican opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg, raised less than half that, $580K, but has $932K in the bank.
• NE-Sen: Sen. Ben Nelson raised $1 million in Q1 and has $2.3 mil on hand. His chief Republican rival, AG Jon Bruning, raised $1.5 million and has $1.2 in the bank, but Nelson pointed out that $600K was transferred from Bruning's 2008 Senate account (when he briefly sought to primary Chuck Hagel; after Hagel announced his retirement, Bruning was squeezed out by former Gov. Mike Johanns).
• OH-Sen: Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin, whom we'd mentioned previously as a possible candidate, has filed paperwork for an exploratory committee, joining Treasurer Josh Mandel in this in-limbo category in the GOP primary.
• TN-Sen: I feel like there's an alternate universe not too dissimilar from our own where a Republican dude named Bob Corker is also freshman in the U.S. Senate, and he's also up for re-election, except Corker Prime is actually vulnerable. Here on Earth, though, it really seems like Corker is well out of reach for us. He raised an impressive $1.9 million in Q1 and has over $4 million in the bank - and there are no Democratic candidates on the horizon.
• MO-Gov: Gov. Jay Nixon lapped his likely Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, on the fundraising circuit, pulling in over twice as much money over the last six months, $1.7 million to $770K. Nixon also has a big cash-on-hand edge, $2.1 mil to $900K.
But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show? Well, pretty terrible, actually - Kinder's had just an awful few weeks in the press. After the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed his penchant for spending taxpayer money to stay in luxury hotels to attend baseball games and society balls, Kinder promised to reimburse the state $35K... but two weeks later, he still hasn't. That nimbus definitely isn't moving anywhere just yet, and it's his own damn fault. Let's hope he runs the rest of his campaign the same way.
• NC-Gov: This just doesn't seem good. Gov. Bev Perdue, whose public image has already suffered enough damage, was out-of-state Saturday afternoon when a series of deadly tornadoes touched down in North Carolina. She was attending a horse race in Kentucky and didn't make a public appearance back home until 11pm that night. I'm not going to predict what this will mean for Perdue, but it can't be helpful.
• WV-Gov: SoS Natalie Tennant's first ad is a hokey spot set on a farm, in which she decries politicians wasting money... and a cow can be heard to moo. (Or a bull. I don't know. It has horns. But small ones. So maybe still a cow? Do bulls moo? I'm from the city - sue me.) Tennant is generally seen as the candidate with the greatest appeal to liberals (yes, there are some in West Virginia), so she's clearly trying to play against type here.
• AZ-08: Rep. Gabby Giffords raised $358K in Q1 and has $556K in the bank.
• CA-19: Freshman GOP Rep. Jeff Denham (I admit it - I had already forgotten who he was and had to Google him) is already making a name for himself. That name is "idiot." He staged a mega-lavish DC fundraiser in January when he was sworn in which featured singer Leann Rimes and spent an amazing $212,250 on the event. Total raised? $212,900 - which means he netted exactly $650. That's quite the feat. It's even more amazing when you consider it was all supposed to benefit a joint fundraising committee for 11 GOP frosh. To rub it in, Michael Doyle of the Modesto Bee archly observes: "If the $650 netted from outside contributors were to be divvied up evenly, each of the 11 GOP lawmakers would receive $59."
• CA-36: Janice Hahn outraised Debra Bowen in Q1, $273K to $195K, and has about double the cash-on-hand, $171K to $93K. Surprisingly, Marcy Winograd managed to raise $50K. (And if you care, Republican Craig Hughey lent his campaign $250K.)
Bowen also put out an internal from the Feldman Group. In a test of apparently all the candidates who have filed, she and Hahn tie for 20, with Republican Mike Gin the next-closest at 8 and Winograd at 6. The memo also says that in a two-way runoff, Bowen leads 40-36 with 16% undecided. The poll also claims that Hahn's unfavorability rating is "double that of Bowen," but a self-respecting pollster really shouldn't include such tripe, because the refusal to release actual numbers means we're talking about something like a 12-to-6 comparison (i.e., meaningless). As mi hermano G.O.B. Bluth would say, "COME ON!"
• FL-08: Hah! Does Daniel Webster want to lose? The GOP freshman raised just $30K in Q1, but the really funny part is that the guy he defeated, Alan Grayson, raised more! Grayson took in $38K, apparently from small donors who hope he'll make a comeback bid.
• FL-22: Allen West raised a seemingly-impressive $434K in Q1, but as you know, he's a major practitioner of the churn-and-burn style of shady direct-mail fundraising, and it really shows in his burn rate. He spent an amazing $266K last quarter, which both as a raw total and a percentage rate is exceedingly high... but see the MN-06 and NV-02 items below.
• IA-04: Interesting, though not surprising: Politico says that DCCC chair Steve Israel warned Christie Vilsack off of challenging Dave Loebsack in the new 2nd CD, assuring her that the D-Trip would back the incumbent. He also apparently promised to support her if she took on Rep. Steve King (as she supposedly might do), though who knows what kind of $ that might translate into.
• IL-03: Insurance exec John Atkinson, who is apparently challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary, raised $535K in Q1, including $312K from his own pockets. Lipinski raised just $138K but has $637K on hand.
• MN-08: Freshman GOPer Chip Cravaack raised just $121K in Q1 - so why are we having such a hard time finding a Dem willing to take this guy on?
• MN-06: Michele Bachmann raised a MIND-OBLITERATING $1.7 million in the first quarter... and yes, I'm being sarcastic, because she also managed to spent $756K. Of course, netting a million bucks ain't bad (and she has $2.8 mil on hand), and if she truly pulls the trigger on a presidential run, I'll bet the spigots will open even wider. But that's still quite the burn rate.
• NV-02: Sharron Angle makes Allen West look as parsimonious as Scrooge by comparison. Everyone's favorite nutter (okay, it's a multi-way tie, but you know you love her) raised an amaaaaaaaaazing $700K in Q1, but spent an actually amazing $550K, mostly to BaseConnect, the scam artists formerly known as BMW Direct. She has only $176K in the bank.
• NY-26: Republican Jane Corwin is not fucking around: She raised just $102K in Q1, but gave her own campaign a whopping million dollars. Yow. Meanwhile, Crazy Jack Davis has raised zilch, but has loaned himself $1.5 mil and already spent $1.4 mil.
• Denver Mayor: SSP commenter Kretzy has a really good run-down on the May 3rd Denver mayor's race, necessitated by John Hickenlooper's ascension to the governor's mansion. I won't try to summarize it - you should just click through. Timely, too, because SUSA has a poll out on the race, showing James Mejia and Chris Romer tied at 22, with Michael Hancock next at 18. Again, read Kretzy's summary if you want to know more about these people.
• Wisconsin Recall: Signatures were filed yesterday to force a recall election for a third Republican state senator, Luther Olsen, and Dems expect to file petitions for Sheila Harsdorf today. (Number of Dem state sens who've had petitions filed against them so far: 0.) Also, the state's Government Accountability Board says it will try to consolidate the recalls into as few elections as possible.
• DSCC: In an item about Herb Kohl raising $0 last quarter (he can cut himself a fat check any time he pleases, so this isn't meaningful), Dave Catanese says that DSCC chair Patty Murray said "she was confident all of the remaining incumbents were running for reelection." Kohl is the most obvious candidate for retirement, and of course Murray could be wrong, but maybe this is it.
• Fundraising: The NYT has a list of fundraising by freshman Republicans, and also notes that IN-08 Rep. Larry Bucshon took in just $45K. Not really wise for a guy whose district is likely to be made at least a bit more competitive. The Fix also has a fundraising roundup.
• LCV: The League of Conservation Voters is launching a $250K radio ad campaign targeted at four members of the House who voted in favor of a bill that would bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The ads are hitting two Republicans running for Senate, Denny Rehberg and Dean Heller, as well as Energy Cmte Chair Fred Upton (R) and Jason Altmire (D). Here's a sample ad (targeted at Heller), which I actually find kinda weird and confusing.
• Passings: Former Rep. Harold Volkmer, who represented mostly rural northeastern Missouri's 9th CD for ten terms, passed away at the age of 80.
• Colorado: Now this at least is a fight that makes sense: Republicans control the Colorado House, while Dems control the Senate - and tempers have already exploded with the release of proposed redistricting plans from both sides. (See yesterday's digest for the maps.) Speaker of the House Frank McNulty flipped out, accusing Democrats of drawing districts that would benefit two legislators in particular: Senate President Brandon Shaffer and Sen. Morgan Carroll.
However, Carroll said she has no plans to run for Congress, while the Dem point-man on redistricting, Sen. Rollie Heath, pointed out that the new 4th CD (which McNulty thinks Shaffer wants to run in) has a 10 percent GOP registration edge... in other words, not the kind of seat you'd drawn for yourself if you were an ambitious Democrat. So either McNulty is just a garden-variety moran, or he's just trying to cast fact-free aspersions against the other side. We've seen a lot of this kind of crap from Colorado Republicans already, so door number two is a definite possibility (but of course, it's not mutually exclusive of door number 1).
• Missouri: Trying to unlock a stalemate that seems remarkably picayune to outsiders such as myself, Republican power brokers in Missouri met yesterday to talk things over. Among the participants were most of the Republicans in the state's congressional delegation, the heads of the state House and Senate, and the chair of the MO GOP. No sort of deal has been announced as yet.
• Virginia: Hah - so much for lawmakers racing back to work to deal with Gov. Bob McDonnell's veto of their redistricting plans. Legislators had planned to be off this week, so rank-and-file members declined leadership's entreaties to show up.
• OH-Sen: This is about as far from the horse's mouth as you can get (paging Goldy?): The Columbus Dispatch is simply asserting that Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel "is leaning toward a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012 and will make an announcement this spring." They don't even say, "according to sources"-is that supposed to be implied or something? Anyhow, I'll wait for Young Master Josh to confirm, seeing as no one else is reporting this.
• CA-Gov (PDF): The Field Poll has preliminary job approval ratings for Gov. Jerry Brown, who has a pretty sharp-looking 48-21 score in the early going. But don't get too excited: Guess who had 54-15 approvals at the same point in his first term? Yep, that'd be Gray Davis (scroll down to p. 3 for the completely historical picture).
• NC-Gov (PDF): I'll be honest, PPP's regular NC-Gov polls were starting to all run together in my head, but this time, Tom Jensen & the gang tried something different: they tested a bunch of alternatives to the very unpopular incumbent Dem, Bev Perdue. The sad news for Team Blue, though, is that even our best hope, AG Roy Cooper, still trails likely GOP nominee Pat McCrory by a 43-35 margin, though that's better than Perdue's 50-36 gap. State Sen. Dan Blue (trailing 48-28) and Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton (trailing 47-27) don't change the equation, either. I also seriously doubt that Cooper would run; he was courted for Senate in 2009 but declined early on. He seems pretty happy where he is and, at age 53, can still wait a bit before deciding to move up. (I'm guessing 2016 vs. McCrory would be a good matchup.)
• WA-Gov: This is kind of meh, but if you like your tea weak, drink up.
• FL-26: No, that's not a typo! It's just another super-genious catch by Greg Giroux. Lunatic Karen Diebel, last seen losing the FL-24 GOP primary to now-Rep. Sandy Adams, has filed to run for Congress once again. What's awesome about this is that Diebel has kicked her DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour, since her paperwork says she plans to run in the as-yet-uncreated twenty-sixth congressional district. Click the PDF for the documentary proof. This should be great. (Click here if you need a refresher on Diebel's batshittery, including the infamous Snakes in a Pool incident.)
• IN-02: Former Republican state Rep. Jackie Walorski, best known as Wacky Jackie, surprised no one in formally announcing she'd seek a rematch against Rep. Joe Donnelly, something she'd been toying with ever since her narrow loss last fall. (Walorski blames Donnelly's one-point escape on the five percent a Libertarian Party candidate managed to snag.) Of course, two huge, inter-related questions remain here: What will the 2nd CD look like after redistricting, and will Donnelly seek re-election or try his hand at higher office? Stay tuned... for a while.
• NY-26: Janie's got an ad: Republican Jane Corwin is out with a second spot (her first was a bio ad) that hits themes as old as the hills: Dem Kathy Hochul wants to raise taxes, and she's a clone of Nancy Pelosi. NWOTSOTB, but the Corwin campaign claims that the ad is "is airing districtwide on broadcast," according to The Hill.
• OH-10: With his seat potentially headed for the carving board, Dennis Kucinich is obviously trying to win over as many friends as possible before the state legislature starts up the redistricting process. Kucinich said in an interview on Monday that President Obama's decision to order air strikes on Libya "would appear on its face to be an impeachable offense." (By the way, check out that PPP item up above - Kucinich has 27-40 favorables statewide.)
• PA-07: Now this is damn interesting. At that recent DCCC fundraiser in Philly we mentioned the other day, Steve Israel reportedly met with former Safe Schools Advocate Jack Stollsteimer about a potential run against freshman Rep. Pat Meehan, who took over Joe Sestak's old seat last cycle. Stollsteimer confirms he met with "party leaders," and says he's giving the race "serious consideration." But what makes all this so unusual is that Stollsteimer served as Meehan's press spokesperson for many years while Meehan was Delaware Co. DA and later U.S. Attorney! It's only been a few months, but Stollsteimer says he has "serious problems with what [Meehan]'s already done as our Congressman." Could be good!
• PA-08: That don't impress-a me much: the NRCC put out a press release attacking ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy for something or other, perhaps because they're concerned he might run for his old seat again. (That's possible, though he might also run for state AG.) But press releases are cheap, and who knows how many carbon-copy releases the NRCC put out, seeing as they don't put them all up on their website.
• LA-St. Sen.: They switch parties in Louisiana like Denny Hastert changes underwear-which is to say, not every day, but perhaps with some frequency. It should come as little surprise that the latest state legislator to don a not-so-fresh pair of tighty-whities is moving from D to R. But a diarist at Daily Kingfish points out that Norby Chabert (great name) isn't exactly some crusty Dixiecrat playing out the string-he's a freshman who has said publicly he voted for Obama, and was relentlessly attacked on that score during his first election campaign in 2009. It'll be interesting to see if the whole mess of recent converts like Chabert wind up getting teabagged to death.
• Philly Mayor: A judge denied Mayor Michael Nutter's request to remove wacky opponent Milton Street from the ballot, and Nutter said he would not appeal. (Nutter said that Street violated the city's residency requirements, which say you have to live in Philadelphia for three years before seeking office, because Street was serving out a sentence in a federal prison in Kentucky.)
• Wisconsin Recall: The RSLC-that's the Republican State Leadership Committee, the GOP equivalent of the DLCC-is going up with new television ads against Democratic state Sens. Jim Holperin and Dave Hansen, who sit in the two most Republican districts held by Dems and are the target of recall efforts. Neither district is really red, though-they were both lost by Kerry but won by Obama, making them more swingish than anything else. Politico notes that the RSLC has already been running ads against Holperin, and that the new buy is expect to cost $50K a week, while the anti-Hansen campaign will run "six figures over several weeks."
How is this for awesome, though? One Wisconsin totally busted the RSLC for using stock footage so fake, it was actually watermarked with the words "FILE FOOTAGE" in the bottom corner!
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: It was only a matter of time-and not that much. The WMC-Wisconsin's version of the Chamber of Commerce-is preparing to run ads in support of Republican David Prosser's campaign to stay on as justice. (I'm guessing these will be attack ads against JoAnne Kloppenburg.) Progressive groups are already on the air with a spot that equates Prosser with Gov. Scott Walker.
Meanwhile, in a candidate forum yesterday, Prosser's already infamous "I'll destroy you, bitch" comments of course came up-and he once again repeated his defense that, well, a bunch of women made him do it, by (as the AP put it) "ganging up on him." He also apparently failed to apologize for his remarks.
• Alaska: Yes, Alaska! While the state obviously doesn't have to worry about congressional redistricting, it does have to re-do its legislative maps. And believe it or not, the state actually has something of a Democratic gerrymander, since last time around, Dem Gov. Tony Knowles controlled key appointments to the panel responsible for producing new maps. This time, of course, Republicans control all the levers of power, so payback is expected.
• Maryland: MD has long been a popular target at SSP for redistricting plans, so I'm not sure there's much new here in Aaron Blake's latest state-by-state installment. But you geeks tell me!
• Mississippi: Dems in the state House voted to join that NAACP lawsuit I mentioned yesterday, which is seeking to enjoin the state from holding elections this year under the old district lines-something which could happen if the legislature stalemates on new maps, which is looking increasingly likely.
• FL-Sen: A group of Holocaust survivors - now very elderly, of course - plan to protest Sen. Bill Nelson's fundraiser with Barack Obama this week. The survivors say that Nelson promised to push legislation which would allow them to directly sue insurance companies who have withheld payments on life insurance policies sold before World War II. Nelson claims he only promised to hold a hearing on such a bill (which has been introduced in the House in the past).
• MA-Sen: I really have to believe Deval Patrick just shot his mouth off in that National Journal interview, and has probably earned himself a few glares from would-be Democratic challengers to Sen. Scott Brown the next time they see him. Now Alan Khazei, whom Patrick said was "for sure" in the race, is - like Newton Mayor Setti Warren - saying that he's merely "looking at it carefully" but hasn't made a decision yet. Meanwhile, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll tells the Boston Phoenix that she is at least several weeks away from a decision, and that a Warren entry wouldn't impact her.
And speaking of another Warren, some top Republicans have been saying kinder things about Elizabeth Warren's chances of becoming the permanent director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. Of course, House Financial Services chair Spencer Bachus doesn't get a vote, but he thinks that "the Senate may approve" a Warren nomination (if one were to be made). If this came to pass, it would almost certainly remove Warren from any possibility of running for the senate.
• ND-Sen, ND-AL: Freshman Rep. Rick Berg hasn't ruled out a run for Kent Conrad's now-open senate seat, and Eric Cantor seems to think he might make the leap. The House's no. 2 Republican said of Berg: " "I'm trying to convince him to make sure he stays in the House right now."
• NM-Sen: From the horse's mouth - which is where I prefer to get my news: Dem state Auditor Hector Balderas confirmed reports that he is looking at Jeff Bingaman's open senate seat, saying he's been talking to the DSCC and is "strongly considering entering" the race.
• VA-Sen: Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (god that is a mouthful) sounds like he's dialing himself out of any possible senate run. He says he's going to seek re-election to his current post this fall, and will "possibly" make a decision on whether to seek Jim Webb's open seat "early next year." He's seriously going to enter a competitive primary against Felix Allen no earlier than January of 2012? Shah.
• NC-Gov: Tom Jensen tells me something I always love to hear: an establishment Republican might have tea-related problems. In particular, PPP's latest poll has 43% of GOPers saying they'd prefer someone more conservative than former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, while 29% firmly support him. Of course, I think probably 20% of Republicans would say they want someone more conservative than Republican Jesus. But McCrory does have something of a libruhl track record (like I've said, it's hard to be a super-conservative mayor), including support for socialist, freedom-destroying light rail for his hometown. Tom points out that McCrory won his 2008 primary with less than 50% of the vote "against a weak field" - but this time around, no one's really emerged from the woodwork to challenge him. Yet.
• WI-Gov: Tom also has the rest of the goods on PPP's WI-Gov poll, which consistently shows small pro-labor margins on a variety of unions vs. Walker questions (and larger margins on questions of general collective bargaining rights). On the question of recall, it's an exact 48-48 split.
• AZ-06: We missed the news a couple of weeks ago that former GOP state senate majority leader Chuck Gray said he was entering the race to succeed Jeff Flake (who of course is running to succeed Jon Kyl). One other Republican name considering the race is the current Speaker of the state House, Kirk Adams.
• CA-36: AFSCME's California political arm, called "California PEOPLE," is endorsing Janice Hahn, making them the latest in a string of labor unions to do so. Meanwhile, Debra Bowen tweeted that she could fit into her daughter's jeans.
• IL-01: Roll Call takes a detailed look at the personal finances of Rep. Bobby Rush, who has been the defendant in nearly two dozen mostly debt-related lawsuits since the 1980s - and who has somewhat questionably left off all of these cases and debts from the financial disclosure forms he's obligated to file as a member of Congress. While this isn't the first time the media has examined Rush's finances, this strikes me as the sort of thing that could make the incumbent vulnerable to a primary challenge, especially since his district will have to take on a bunch of new territory to compensate for population loss.
• NY-10: The New York Observer offers an interesting profile of Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who hasn't ruled out a primary challenge to Rep. Ed Towns (D), and who apparently has been ramping up his political activity of late.
• OR-01: Steny Hoyer (still the no. 2 Dem in the House) says it's "premature" to talk about a David Wu resignation. But surely he wants this problem to go away, right? Also of note, The Hill observes that Wu only had $7,500 in campaign cash at the start of the year, versus $61K in debt. Can't imagine he's finding a lot of willing donors these days.
• PA-04: PA state Dem chair Jim Burn says he thinks Rep. Jason Altmire could face a primary challenge from the left next year, but admits he hasn't heard of any actual, you know, names being circulated. Anyhow, who even knows what this district will look like.
• Las Vegas Mayor: Jon Ralston has obtained a poll taken for a group of realtors showing Carolyn Goodman (I) at 30%, Larry Brown (D) at 17%, and Chris Giuchigliani (D) at 11%, with other candidates in the single digits. Note that this poll asked a TON of issue-y questions before finally getting to the horserace in Q15. Also, as Ralston pointed out on the Tweeter, this poll was taken a few weeks ago, before the TV air wars were joined.
Census: Couple of cool census-related mapping widgets. The Journal Star of Nebraska lets you drill down to see population change by county for each state where data's been released so far. The Chicago Tribune offers a Google Maps-based interface which lets you drill down to see individual census blocks across the entire state of Illinois.
• Crossroads: Announcing fundraising goals is easy, which is why I usually don't remark on them. But when Crossroads GPS/American Crossroads, the satanic spawn of Karl Rove, says it plans to raise $120 million to destroy America, I pay attention - and I worry, because they probably really, really mean it.
Votes: There've been a couple of interesting votes with Republican outliers in the House recently. One was the stopgap spending bill that cut $4 billion in spending over the next two weeks; six Republicans defected on that one, including freshman teabagger Justin Amash, Michele Bachmann, and a few other true believers. (Walter Jones was probably the exception there.) On the flipside, seven GOPers voted against denying funding for Planned Parenthood - click the link for the list.
On the same topic, Politico has an interesting-looking vote study out on the GOP freshman, seeing how often they vote together as a group. Unfortunately, as per usual with the likes of Politico and similar organizations, I can't see that they've posted the full list anywhere - they just offer a few tidbits. (Why go to all that trouble if you don't even want to share all your numbers?) Anyhow, the aforementioned Justin Amash, who I guess really wants to take teabagging to new heights, has voted against his class more often than anyone else, 30% of the time. But the next three guys on the list are all semi-moderate New Yorkers - Chris Gibson, Mike Grimm, and Richard Hanna.
• WATN?: Sometimes I just need to channel my inner Holden Caulfield and declare: what a phony. After flatly saying the one thing he wouldn't be doing after retiring from the senate was lobbying, ex-Sen. Chris Dodd just took a job as... a lobbyist, for everyone's second-favorite intellectual property goliath, the MPAA. (I'm gonna assume the RIAA is still first.) Anyhow, check out the amusing Twitter hashtag #ChrisDoddMovies for some lulz.
• Polltopia: Go tell PPP where to poll. Don't let the Paultards win!
• Redistricting: A Columbia Law School class is trying to create "an internet depository for nonpartisan congressional maps for the entire country." I thought the SSP diaries section already was one! Anyhow, click the link if you are interested in submitting your work.
• NJ-12: I have seen the last, best hope of mankind, and his name is Rush Holt. In a major blow against Skynet Watson, the rocket scientist-turned-congressman defeated the Jeopardy-playing robot by a score of $8,600 to $6,200. The losing contestant, Rep. Jim Himes, was seen being turned into fuel to power the Matrix.
• AZ-Sen: Maybe, just maybe, this will be the last time we'll hear ridiculous speculation about, Joe Arpaio, the thug sheriff of Maricopa County, running for higher office. The 78-year-old Arpaio said he won't seek Arizona's open senate seat, following his announcement a few weeks ago that he won't seek re-election as sheriff, either. I'm wondering if the two developments are not unrelated - Arpaio can silence the senate gossip because he no longer needs to use it to raise money for his next local race. Anyhow, I'll be glad to be done with this guy.UPDATE: My mistake. I misread a line in the link and thought Arpaio was finally retiring, too - but only Kyl is, unfortunately. Still, Arpaio did say that he will not seek Kyl's seat.
In other AZ news, what if you threw a teabagger convention and the Republican senate candidate didn't come? Jeff Flake was a no-show at the Tea Party Patriots' confab in Phoenix this past weekend, and the 'baggers seem happy he stayed away. Unlike, say, Maine's Olympia Snowe, Flake doesn't appear to be interested in making nice with the nutters. I'm convinced that a more suitable (to the movement conservatives) candidate will emerge.
• FL-Sen, FL-13: Not quite sure what to make of this - John Boehner was just down in Sarasota, FL, headlining a high-dollar fundraiser for a guy who hardly needs the money, super-rich car dealer Vern Buchanan. Is this Boehner trying to convince Buchanan to seek re-election to the House and avoid a throw-down with fellow Rep. Connie Mack? Or just the Speaker earning chits while playing a few rounds of golf during a Congressional recess?
• HI-Sen: This piece on the Hawaii senate race is worth reading in full. The nominal hook here is Sen. Dan Inouye's comments that, as Chair of the Appropriations Cmte. (and President Pro Tem of the senate), he won't have as much time to raise money for his old buddy Dan Akaka, who is facing re-election next year. But there are a whole host of other questions implicated here: Is this just Inouye trying to kick Akaka's ass into gear? (Akaka only has $66K on hand and faced a serious primary challenge from Rep. Ed Case in 2006.) Will Akaka (88 yo in 2012) actually even run again? Is former Gov. Linda Lingle going to run? If Akaka steps aside, who might take his place on the Dem side? Again, click the link to see the state of play.
• ME-Sen, ME-Gov: Eliot Cutler, the independent candidate for governor last year who came in just a couple of points behind the winner (Republican Paul LePage), says he is "unlikely" to challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe, proclaiming he has "no desire to live in Washington." He also says he isn't ruling out another gubernatorial bid in 2014. Also, one possible Dem candidate, former AG Janet Mills, just joined a law firm, suggesting she probably isn't interested in a senate race. (Mills became the first woman AG of Maine in 2009, but because the position is selected by the legislature, she was replaced by a Republican after the GOP swept into power last fall. NB: This is how you avoid Kelly Ayottes.)
• MI-Sen, MI-15: Rob Steele, last seen losing to Rep. John Dingell by 17 points in 2010, says he's considering a challenge to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (who lacks any real high-profile opposition at the moment). Steele also says he doesn't think he'll run again Dingell again, whose district might get re-drawn to still include heavily blue Ann Arbor.
• MO-Sen, MO-02: I thought Rep. Todd Akin had definitively said "no" to a senate bid, but in response to some renewed chatter about a possible run, he would only say: "Some people want to draft me for Senate but you know engineers. It's just one thing at a time." You know engineers! Anyhow, if there's a chance Akin might get in, this could help explain former state GOP chair Ann Wagner's recent remarks that she might run for MO-02. (Wagner, of course, is also in the mix for the senate race.)
• RI-Sen: State GOP chair Gio Cicione says he won't take on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, citing (like Cranston Mayor Matt Fung before him) the high cost of a race. These guys think a Rhode Island senate race would be expensive? They ought to check things out a state or two to the west. Anyhow, Dave Catanese caught up with former Providence mayor (and well-known felon) Buddy Cianci, whose name surfaced in PPP's most recent poll of the race. Cianci hasn't completely ruled out a run, but says it's not "realistic." Also of note, PPP has a report card out on Rhode Island politicians' job approval ratings.
• TX-Sen: Former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, who resigned just a few days ago, made it official: He's running for senate.
• VA-Sen: The already-painful Tim Kaine watch - is it a pimple or a boil? - will soon be over: the DNC chair promises he'll make a decision in a week, according to the AP's Charles Babbington. (I predict "gummy bear.") On the other side of the equation, ultra-far-right insano-Republican, state Delegate Bob Marshall, says he's considering another run. Marshall almost stole the GOP nomination for VA-Sen in 2008 from the super-sad Jim Gilmore, but that near-upset took place at a Republican convention - this time, the party's nominee will be selected in a primary.
• MO-Gov: Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder says he'll make an announcement "this spring," and if it's anything other than, "I'm running for governor," I think people will be shocked. Anyhow, mark your calendars - this means Kinder might open his trap again any time between March 20th and June 21st!
• NC-Gov: Since North Carolina is their home state, it looks like PPP will be testing NC-Gov just about every month. Incumbent Dem Bev Perdue trails almost-certain opponent Pat McCrory 49-37. (Last month it was 47-40.)
• CA-36: 2010 and 2006 primary candidate Marcy Winograd announced she's entering the special election for departing Rep. Jane Harman's seat. The CW says Winograd is likeliest to hurt SoS Debra Bowen, but I'm not really sure she's capable of making any material difference in this race.
• CT-05: Former one-term state House Rep. Elizabeth Esty announced she's running for Chris Murphy's now-open house seat. Esty (not to be confused with the DIY craft-selling website) narrowly lost a rematch in 2010 after narrowly winning a traditionally Republican district in 2008.
• NJ-06: Teabagger Anna Little, who won an upset primary victory in 2008 but lost to Rep. Frank Pallone by 11 points in the general election, says she's back for a rematch. The woman Little beat for the GOP nomination last year, richie rich Diane Gooch, is also weighing another bid.
• NM-01: Dem state Sen. Eric Griego says he'd "seriously consider" running for Rep. Martin Heinrich's seat if Heinrich makes the jump to the open-seat senate race.
• NY-26: Well, that explains that. In other news, Conservative Party chair Mike Long seems to be tipping his hand that his party will in fact support GOP nominee Jane Corwin.
• MO-SoS: MO SoS Robin Carnahan says she's running for re-election to her current post. Republican state Sen. Bill Stouffer, who lost a primary last year to Vicki Hartzler (who went on to beat Ike Skelton in the general), also says he'll run for the post.
• Census: Our friends across the pond in England and Wales will take their census this year. What makes this interesting is that for the first time, Britons will be able to submit their census forms online.
Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso has the goods on tomorrow night's special elections:
After the excitement of last week, this week is a bit of a letdown. There are three seats up: Florida's SD-33, formerly held by Frederica Wilson, is merely a formality, with the Democrat likely going to win 80-20 or so. There's also a formerly Dem-held Senate seat in Mississippi, SD-12; despite no party ID being on the ballot, I'm pretty confident in guessing all three candidates running are Dems (it's along the Mississippi River, so in heavily-Democratic territory). And in Maine, HD-11, an extremely Republican seat, is up. It would be helpful if Dems picked this one up, as the Republicans only have a slim majority in the House, but this was a seat that went 3-1 for the incumbent in 2010. There was apparently a split among Republicans, so there's a Republican running a write-in campaign, but it would still be one hell of a long shot.
• FL-Sen: Meg Whitman seems like a strange place to start talking about the Florida Senate race, but hear me out. She's in the news today for the outrageously large sums of money she paid to her top campaign staff (although, to be fair, in her particular frame of reference, I'm sure those seemed like outrageously small sums of money), including $948K paid to her campaign manager, Jill Hasner. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, she's the wife of former Florida state House majority leader Adam Hasner, currently making trips to DC to lay groundwork for a run in the GOP primary. If that $948K gets plowed straight into Hasner's bid, that's a pretty significant nut to start out with. Money is also the reason you keep hearing Rep. Vern Buchanan's name associated with this race, even if he hasn't said anything publicly indicating his interest for 2012; he has $956K in his House account, second most of all the Florida House delegation, which would give him a head start if he transferred that over to a Senate bid.
• MA-Sen: Not content to rest on his already-tops-in-the-2012-class $7 million cash stash, Scott Brown has set a fundraising target of $25 million for his Senate race. Whether he actually can hit that is an open question, but the fact that he can even credibly lay down a marker like this is a reminder that this race is no gimmee for the Dems. Also, here's a neat story that's more about the meta of reporting on campaigns in their formative stages, and how, in the absence of useful information, we're all pretty much just talking in circles about rumors that quickly become unclear where they started. It's a piece from a central Massachusetts blog that investigates where the heck the idea of Fitchburg mayor Lisa Wong running for Senate came from and how that bubbled up to the national level, despite her having done nothing to indicate any interest in the race... and today, closing the circle of meta, Politico, the main purveyor of such campaign-rumor grist, reported on the story. I don't know whether to be ashamed or pleased that Swing State Project is cited as one of the key players in this particular game of telephone; either way, clearly we've hit the big time.
• MI-Sen: Buried in a Roll Call article that does a lot of pointless Debbie Stabenow/Russ Feingold comparing are two names from potential GOP candidates I'd never heard of, although, without knowing more about their self-financing abilities, they seem to be at the Some Dude end of the spectrum. They cite businessman Al Pease, and former juvenile court judge Randy Hekman (who seems to be working a social con angle).
• NE-Sen: Ben Nelson's most recent statement on the Senate race was only that he was "leaning toward" another run, which isn't very confidence-inspiring considering that he'd previously said that he was running. But here's a more clear tell that he is running; he just re-hired his 2006 CM, Paul Johnson, as campaign manager.
• NJ-Sen, NJ-Gov: Quinnipiac is out with some New Jersey numbers, although it's approvals only... and, in what seems like an unusual departure from tradition, they actually find New Jerseyites, dare I say, liking their politicians?!? Is the giant nationwide wave of bile actually starting to ebb as the economy improves? At any rate, Bob Menendez (44/36), Frank Lautenberg (45/40), and Chris Christie (52/40) all sport positive approvals.
• SC-Sen: PPP fleshes out the 2014 Lindsey Graham situation with some more detailed numbers among Republicans, which they already hinted at with how his approvals broke down in their general electorate sample. His approvals among that group are 42/40, but he also has re-elects of only 37/52. He beats ex-Gov. Mark Sanford easily in a hypothetical primary (52-34), but against a non-Appalachian-Trail-hiking opponent, Rep. Joe Wilson, he trails 43-41.
• NC-Gov: It hadn't occurred to me that Republican former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory might not seek a rematch against Bev Perdue in next year's gubernatorial race; when asked about whether he'd run at an appearance Friday, his answer was just "I hope to."
• CA-36: Los Angeles city councilor Janice Hahn rolled out more endorsements today, most notably former NBA player Magic Johnson, whom I understand may have some goodwill of some sort in the LA area. She also boasts the endorsement of Assemblyman Warren Furutani (a rumored candidate for a day or two) and ex-Asm. George Nakano, as well as a slew of other city councilors in LA and its southern suburbs. The big question is whether Hahn will get the endorsement of Jane Harman herself; recall that Hahn was Harman's guest at the State of the Union last month, for what that's worth. There's also one other GOPer to add to the list: Redondo Beach city attorney Mike Webb.
• IN-06: With Mike Pence likely to run for Governor and leaving behind an open red district, look for this crowd to grow. Republican Henry County Councilor Nate LaMar is now actively telling local party chairs that he intends to run.
• NY-26: I'd file this more under general "schadenfreude" than a definite Congressional career-killer, but this little indiscretion can't make things any better for sophomore GOP Rep. (and possible redistricting truncation victim) Chris Lee.
• Chicago mayor: The big story here may not be that Rahm Emanuel keeps gaining in the polls -- he's at 54% in the new poll from Richard Day Research, taken for ABC-7, which is enough to avoid a runoff -- but that Carol Mosely Braun is in complete free-fall. In the wake of calling a minor opponent in the race a crackhead and various other lesser gaffes, she's down to 6%! While there aren't trendlines from this pollster, based on where other polls have been, Emanuel seems to be the main beneficiary of this flight, as Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle are still hanging far back, at 14 and 8 respectively.
• Votes: Here's an interesting bit of left/right convergence against the middle, on one of those rare common-ground issues: the Patriot Act. The House failed to renew the Patriot Act by a 277-147 margin, with 26 GOP nays joining 122 Dems. (For some reason, the leadership was doing this under suspension of rules, which means they needed 2/3rds to pass it. It looks like they'll simply do it again and pass it under normal rules.) Knee-jerk pundits have been presenting this as a triumph of the tea partiers newly elected to Congress, but a more detailed look between the lines finds less than half of the Tea Party Caucus voting against it, and only eight of the GOP freshmen voting against it. Interestingly, two GOP House members more on the establishment end of things who are likely to be running for Senate in 2012, Connie Mack IV and Dean Heller, voted against it, showing the amazing progress in the Patriot Act's transition from legislative slam-dunk ten years ago to a potential electoral liability now.
• VRA: The Dept. of Justice seems to have kicked things into high gear with redistricting and off-year elections approaching. They just granted VRA preclearance to California to proceed with its nonpartisan citizen redistricting panels (not a controversial proposal, certainly, but still requiring preclearance because of four California counties), and to Louisiana to restore its jungle-style primary at the federal level in addition to the state level.
• Voter suppression: Welcome Tennessee to the growing club of states with Republican-controlled legislatures who are getting on the bandwagon of requiring voter IDs. The proposal cleared a state Senate committee yesterday.
This North Carolina gubernatorial poll from PPP was unremarkable enough that it got buried under a pile of other stuff last week, but with the news that the Democratic National Convention for 2012 will be held in Charlotte, it's worth a look. It still shows incumbent Dem Bev Perdue (whose 2008 victory over Pat McCrory was pretty unconvincing, probably owing her limping across the finish line to Barack Obama strongly contesting the state and driving minority and youth turnout) trailing McCrory in a rematch, but not as badly. The previous poll was right before the Nov. election, which is one more data point (along with, say, rebounding approval numbers for both parties) that the move to divided government took a fair amount of pressure off the Dems in general, by virtue of them not being the only ones left holding the bag anymore.
At any rate, while the Charlotte decision makes it clear that North Carolina is at the top of the Dems' pivot-point considerations for 2012, what effect it has for the downballot races is unclear (and bear in mind that NC doesn't have a Senate race that year, so the gubernatorial race is the main game in town after the presidency): does this help Perdue by giving a ground-game boost to her bid? Or does it hurt her by nationalizing the race? (The same questions could be asked of Missouri, where St. Louis was the losing contender. Does that conversely hurt Claire McCaskill, with Missouri clearly lower on the Dems' leverage priority list this year, or help her by giving her a little breathing room from the national party?)
• AK-Sen: With the book about to close on 2010, so too is the last outstanding race of 2010, the Alaska Senate race. Today the state is planning to certify Lisa Murkowski as winner of the race, including hand-delivering the certification papers to Washington DC so there won't be any possible obstacles to Murkowski's swearing-in next week (and ensuing temporary loss of state clout). This, of course, follows a legal one-two punch to Joe Miller's hopes: last week's loss at the Alaska Supreme Court, which upheld the trial court's decision that the write-in votes for Murkowski were properly counted, and then this week's ruling by a federal district court judge dismissing his related federal suit and lifting the hold on the race's certification. Miller will not stand in the way of the certification, although he says he is still considering whether to continue litigating the matter (which, if he did, would feature the 9th Circuit as the next stop).
The most ironic part of the whole tale is that the Tea Party Express, in their ill-advised RINO hunt, seem to have only succeeded in making Murkowski into more of a free agent. If you've noticed that Murkowski seems to be toeing the GOP line less since winning the election without running under the GOP banner, you're not alone: she was the only Senate GOPer to vote with the Dems on all four big action items during the lame duck session (the tax compromise, DADT repeal, START, and the DREAM Act).
• DE-Sen: SSP isn't about re-litigating old elections, but this is indeed relevant because Christine O'Donnell, looking to capitalize on her newfound celebrity, may yet be a fourth-time candidate for the Senate against Tom Carper in the future. That fourth run might be more difficult, though, if she's in prison... perhaps possible as it seems like the federal government has decided it's had enough of her once-every-two-years grifting tours and is now criminally investigating her use of campaign funds for personal purposes during her 2010 campaign. Anyway, she put out a truly epic statement today on the matter that ought to have you reaching for your copy of the DSM, so laden with paranoia and delusions of grandeur it is.
• MA-Sen: While everyone seems to be wondering which U.S. Rep. will step into the gap if nobody named Kennedy runs for the Senate, there's always the outside possibility that someone with a business background and lots of his own money tries to move to the head of the pack in the Bay State. Robert Pozen may fit that bill, and he's apparently been talking to party insiders about the possibility. The investment banker-turned-Harvard Business professor has some liabilities, though: he served briefly in Mitt Romney's cabinet, which may help his bipartisan bona fides but could be poison in a primary, and his personality has been described as [John] "Silberesque," which would just be all-purpose poison.
• MI-Sen: If the NRSC ever had any interest in Tim Leuliette as their Senate candidate in Michigan, that probably evaporated this week. The auto-parts magnate just said that he's not comfortable with self-funding his campaign and wouldn't put much of his "large fortune" into a run. Considering that that was the main (if not only) selling point for a candidacy from an otherwise unknown political newcomer, that should pretty much be end-of-story.
• MO-Sen, MO-Gov: A poll from Republican pollster Wilson Research (commissioned by consulting firm Axiom Strategies) has (big surprise) good news for Republicans in it, most notably Jim Talent. The ex-Sen. has a significant lead in a rematch against Claire McCaskill, ahead 51-40. Talent seems to have a big electability edge over Sarah Steelman, who's tied 44-44 with McCaskill. McCaskill's approvals are 48/45. They also look at the Governor's race, finding a more competitive race than PPP did but not the lead that a Peter Kinder internal showed. They find Dem incumbent Jay Nixon leading Kinder 45-42, with Nixon's approvals at 52%. Worth noting: the poll's a little stale, taken Dec. 1-2.
• ND-Sen: It's starting to look like Kent Conrad will face some serious opposition from Republicans this cycle (assuming the 62-year-old runs for re-election), although it's not clear exactly from whom. Perhaps the heaviest-hitter available, the state's ex-Gov. and the former Bush administration Agriculture Secretary, Ed Schafer, has just ruled it out. For now, the likeliest-sounding one right now seems to be Brian Kalk, one of the state's three Public Service Commissioners, a statewide elected position. Kalk says he's giving it "serious thought," which contrasts with oft-mentioned AG Wayne Stenehjem's statement that he doesn't have "any plans" (although not closing "any doors" either) and with newly-promoted Gov. Jack Dalrymple, for whom it's the "last thing" on his mind.
• NE-Sen (pdf): In case you weren't sure whether or not Ben Nelson's in trouble for 2012, um, yes, he's in trouble. Republican pollster Magellan is out with a poll finding Nelson with an overall 29/59 re-elect, and trailing GOP AG Jon Bruning 52-38. He's also trailing state Treasurer Don Stenberg (not yet a candidate, but sounding likely to run as well) 46-40. Hopefully we'll get a look from PPP at this one soon for confirmation. It seems like the Dems are already treating Bruning as a serious threat, though, with the state party trying to throw obstacles in his path by filing FEC and IRS complaints against Bruning over shoddy campaign-committee setup.
• VA-Sen: So apparently all you have to do is append "Tea Party Activist" to your job description, and all of a sudden you're magically promoted from Some Dude to Very Serious Candidate Worthy of National Media Attention. Or at least that's the case with the campaign announcement from Jamie Radtke, head of the Judean People's Front People's Front of Judea Virginia Federation of Tea Party Patriots, whose main claim to fame seems to be organizing a gathering of 3,000 'baggers in Richmond. At any rate, Radtke is the first actually announced GOP candidate. Meanwhile, Jim Webb seems to be moving closer to making a decision on whether to run for re-election (though no clues on how he feels), saying he'll sort it out over the holiday break and make an announcement in the first quarter of 2011.
• IN-Gov: This comes as a surprise, since there had been a lot of buzz about her as the nominee, with increasing moves from Rep. Mike Pence toward a presidential run instead. But Becky Skillman, Indiana's Lt. Governor, recently announced that she wouldn't run for Governor in 2012, citing "minor health issues." Does this make likelier a Pence gubernatorial run, now that he'd have an easy stroll to the nomination? And if Pence doesn't run, that seems to point to a truly wide open field, as no one seems to have contemplated a GOP field that didn't include Pence or Skillman. Who else might step up? (I hear Mike Sodrel may still be looking for a job...)
• NC-Gov: Rounding out the troika of Republican polls showing Dem incumbents in trouble is one from North Carolina from Civitas, who have coordinated with a variety of pollsters and this time went straight to the big daddy of GOP pollsters, POS. The poll finds GOP former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory cruising in a rematch against Dem incumbent Bev Perdue, who never really seemed to gain her footing after a narrow 2008 win: he leads her 51-36 (with Perdue getting only 64% among Democrats).
• WA-Gov: Two interesting developments mean this race isn't as open-and-shut as I'd thought. One is that there's increasing buzz linking Dow Constantine, just elected in 2009 as King County Executive, to the governor's race. I've regarded Constantine (who's 47) as a very likely Governor starting in 2020, but with Dems seeming a little edgy that none of their biggest-name candidates (Rep. Jay Inslee, whose WA-01 is centered in suburban Snohomish Co., Snohomish Co. Exec Aaron Reardon, Spokane-based state Sen. majority leader Lisa Brown) are from their stronghold of King County while likely GOP candidate Rob McKenna is, there might be some pressure on Constantine to move up his timetable. (It's worth noting that Gary Locke became Gov. in 1996 after three years as King Co. Executive.) The other develompent is that Chris Gregoire isn't categorically ruling out an attempt at a third term, which she's legally entitled to do but Just Isn't Done. (Although she might point out that the last time it was tried, 1972, Dan Evans was successfully re-elected... in fact, the last time a Republican was re-elected Governor in Washington.) She registered as a 2012 candidate with the Public Disclosure Commission, in order to "keep her options open." (UPDATE: Big h/t to meekermariner, who points out in comments that this Gregoire article is nearly two years old, leaving me to wonder why Politico was linking to it with such enthusiasm. At any rate, the Gregoire committee remains open today, although that in itself isn't much of a suggestion that a third term may be in the offing.)
• WV-Gov: This week was the deadline for filing briefs for the lawsuit that's attempting to move up the special election to replace Joe Manchin up to 2011. We still don't have an answer to when it will happen, but at least we know who's on what side in the case: the state's major unions (including the AFL-CIO and WVEA) want it sooner, and so does likely candidate and Dem state House speaker Rick Thompson. State Auditor Glen Gainer supports the expedited election too, while SoS Natalie Tennant (another possible Dem candidate) has basically punted on the issue. And if you're wondering about Joe Manchin's decision to duck DADT and DREAM Act votes in order to enjoy family holiday festivities, it seems like it wasn't, first and foremost, a self-protecting profile in cowardice. With Manchin having survived probably his toughest challenge, he's more interested now in clearing the way for ally and acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and not interested in provoking a social issues-based civil war within the state Dem party that could undermine Tomblin's shot at getting elected to a full term.
• OH-01: Guess who's sounding like he's gearing up for a rematch? Steve Driehaus, in an interview with the Cincinnati paper, took a variety of potshots at Steve Chabot, calling him a Boehner "follower" and saying he shouldn't "sit too easy." Driehaus has previously said he's "open" to another attempt. (This is Cincinnati-based district is notorious for steep dropoff in African-American voting in off-years, so if any time would be the right time for Driehaus to try again, 2012 would be it.)
• LA-St. House: There was a long period of threatening and flirting, but now it's official: state Rep. Noble Ellington switched to the Republican Party, formally flipping control of the state's lower legislative chamber to the GOP for the first time since Reconstruction. Functionally, it may not make much perceptible difference, since there was already a Republican speaker, and many Dems were already quite conservative.
• NY-St. Sen.: Looks like the end of the line in one other outstanding race (which ultimately had the balance of the New York state Senate in play): the state's Court of Appeals said no thanks to incumbent Dem Craig Johnson's appeal of a lower court decision that said there didn't need to be a hand recount of machine votes in New York's 7th District. GOPer Jack Martins had been declared the winner in the race by several hundred votes, handing the state Senate back to the GOP by a 32-30 margin.
• PA-St. Sen.: Pennsylvania's state Senate has been even more stubbornly Republican over the years than New York's, and it looks like the Dems are going to have play a bit more defense there in an upcoming special election. Democratic minority whip Michael O'Pake (the state's longest-serving legislator) died several days ago at age 70, leaving a vacancy in SD-11 that will need to be filled by special election at some point between March and May (date TBD). On paper, this looks like the kind of district that would be a major test case for whether the Dems are going to continue their run of bad luck in the Keystone State from the 2010 election: while it works out to about D+4 (going 59/40 for Barack Obama and 51/48 for John Kerry), it also gave 55% of the vote to Tom Corbett and 50.6% to Pat Toomey this year. However, this may all boil down to bench strength in a traditionally-Dem district (centered on the blue-collar city of Reading, although made purple by inclusion of its suburbs, too): insiders from both parties are treating Democratic former Berks Co. Commissioner Judy Schwank as "prohibitive favorite."
• Approvals: PPP does us the favor of consolidating all their year-end Senate approval ratings and gubernatorial approvals in one (or two, really) places. In the Senate, the most popular Senator overall, in addition to most popular one up in 2012, is Amy Klobuchar (59/29); while outgoing Roland Burris is the overall goat, Joe Lieberman is in worst shape of anyone up in 2012 (33/54). Among the few governors facing 2012 re-election, Jack Markell is tops at 50/32 (with Jay Nixon not far behind at 44/30), while Chris Gregoire fares the worst, in case she actually runs (although this might dissuade her sudden interest in a third term); her 40/53 is actually a worse spread than Bev Perdue's 35/44.
• Redistricting: The Fix has a good piece on redistricting out, that should pretty much serve as the last word on why GOP purely-redistricting-related House seat gains are likely to be limited to the single digits for 2012: thanks to their 2010 overperformance, they're thoroughly maxed out in the big four prizes where they have total control (Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania). That's compounded by, in Florida, the new Fair Districts initiative, and in Texas, the need to create at least two more VRA districts while still protecting Blake Farenthold. Also, here's one other redistricting implication that's gotten totally overlooked in all the last few weeks' discussion: although California didn't lose or gain a seat, there's been enough population shift within the state (thanks to stagnation in the Bay Area and rapid growth in the Inland Empire) that the net result will be the moving of most of one district from NoCal to SoCal. It'll be interesting to see whether the new independent commission is able to do that in a way that lightly shifts boundaries southwards and protects the jobs of all 53 incumbents, or if someone from the north actually gets turfed out and an effectively new seat opens up in the south.
• Chicago mayor: A lot has happened in the Chicago mayoral race since we last checked: first, Rahm Emanuel cleared the first hurdle in ascertaining that he is, indeed, a Chicago resident and not a Kenyan (although there will be inevitable courtroom appeals for weeks to come, with opponents willing to go to the state Supreme Court). The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners last week rejected claims that Emanuel had abandoned his Chicago residency when he went to work in the White House. Also, we've seen two of Emanuel's erstwhile opponents drop out of the race, narrowing the number of African-American candidates but still leaving that part of the field split between Danny Davis (last seen publicly urging Bill Clinton against coming to Chicago to campaign for Emanuel) and Carol Mosely Braun. State Sen. James Meeks dropped out, saying he didn't want to further split the black vote, and Roland Burris also withdrew, via press release, from the race (although it's unclear whether he ever really was in the race, since he never made any public appearances). Finally, we got another poll of the race from We Ask America, which may be most noteworthy for showing Gerry Chico in position to make the runoff. They find Emanuel at 44, Chico at 12, Braun at 8, Davis at 7, Miguel Del Valle at 6, and Meeks at 4.
Bev Perdue nosed beat former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory two years ago by a little over 3%. Now, two solid years into the shittiest economy in the better part of a century, Perdue's job approval sucks hard (33-49) and McCrory is looking good. I think it's pretty safe to say Perdue would have been blown out of the water had she been up for re-election this year - obviously the million-dollar question is whether she can recover before Nov. 2012. I don't feel too good about that prospect.
Pat McCrory (R): 37
Tom Fetzer (R): 12
Virginia Foxx (R): 11
Sue Myrick (R): 6
Fred Smith (R): 4
Cherie Berry (R): 3
Patrick McHenry (R): 3
Phil Berger (R): 2
Someone else/undecided: 22
McCrory is also looking pretty good in a hypothetical GOP primary (PDF), with former Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer and batshit crazy Rep. Virginia Foxx way behind in the low teens. But as PPP suggests, McCrory may not even face a challenge for the Republican nod.