• IN-Sen: Chris "Count" Chocola, head of the Club for Growth and himself a Hoosier, says his organization may step in to help oust apostate Sen. Dick Lugar. The CFG has already talked to Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and if they get involved, they could make up for his lackluster fundraising so far.
• MA-Sen: Remember when ThinkProgress busted Scott Brown for sucking up to David Koch for donations while he was publicly saying he wasn't even thinking about 2012? His pitch worked, I guess: Koch Industries coughed up a $2,500 donation to Brown's campaign last quarter.
In other MA-Sen news, why does Barney Frank keep doing this? On Monday, he repeated his remarks that he thinks Newton Mayor Setti Warren shouldn't run for Senate, this time to local blog Newton TAB. I honestly think this is a bit embarrassing for Frank, and makes him look like a jackass. It's an admission that his private suggestions to Warren haven't been well-received, and that he's had to take to the press to accomplish what he apparently doesn't have the power to do on his own. It's ugly, and what's more, I don't even see the percentage in it. Why does Frank care so much whether Warren runs? Really, just enough.
• MN-Sen: Former state Sen. and unsuccessful 2010 SoS candidate Dan Severson says he might seek the Republican nod to challenge Amy Klobuchar, who so far has drawn no opponents. Severson says he'll decide by May. Also, attorney Chris Barden, another unsuccessful statewide candidate last year (he ran for AG), says he may attempt a Senate race, too.
• MO-Sen: It's getting' mighty crowded in here... well, maybe. Wealthy businessman John Brunner (who can at least partially self-fund) says he might join the GOP field to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Reps. Todd Akin and Blaine Leutekemeyer are also still weighing bids, while former Treasurer Sarah Steelman and teabagger fave Ed Martin are already in the race.
• TX-Sen: This is just weird. Ashwin Madia (who you may remember as the Dem candidate in MN-03 back in 2008) is also chair of the progressive veterans group VoteVets. His organization put out a statement the other day in which he said it was "encouraging" to see Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez considering the Texas Senate race as a Dem. It's strange, as Adam Serwer points out, because Sanchez had a very suspect record on torture during his tenure as US commander in Iraq, while VoteVets has been very critical of torture. Another spokesman for the group hurried to say that VoteVets was not issuing a formal statement of endorsement, just an attaboy for a fellow servicemember.
• VA-Sen: Teabagger Jamie Radtke raised just $55K in Q1 and has only $47K on hand. I'm betting that if George Allen does wind up dealing with a serious speed bump on his way to the GOP nomination, it's going to take the form of Del. Bob Marshall, not Radtke. Still a big if.
• VT-Sen, VT-AL: Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $770K in Q1 (not bad for the 49th-largest state in the nation) and has over a million in the bank. The Burlington Free Press pegs an uptick in donations to Sanders after his now-famous eight-hour speech on the Senate floor in which he blasted tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Welch now has a million on hand.
• NJ-Gov, NJ-Sen: Chris Christie's starting to smell like a plate of scungilli left out in the sun after a July picnic. His job approval has dropped to 47-46, according to Quinnipiac, from 52-40 just a couple of months ago. Sen. Bob Menendez isn't doing so hot either, 42-40, but those sorts of numbers are nothing new for him (and are actually better than what he was getting last year). In news of more immediate importance, Dems improved to 47-39 on the generic legislative ballot, up from 43-41. (Thanks to andgarden for spotting that question, tucked away at the very end of the poll.) Also fun: Q asked respondents for an unprompted, open-ended one-word description of Christie. The number one response, by far? "Bully," with 140 mentions.
• AL-05: This is just odd. Freshman Republican Mo Brooks cancelled a town hall and replaced it with one-on-one meetings with constituents-by appointment only. What makes this extra-weird is that these meetings are scheduled to take place across the state line in... Tennessee. Reminds me of this infamous incident from the classic MS-01 special back in 2008.
• IA-04: Some great number-crunching from G-squared: The new 4th CD went for Terry Branstad 59-37 in 2010, 50-48 for GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle in 2006, and 49-48 for Tom Vilsack in 2002. I'll go one further and tell you that Vilsack lost the new 4th in 1998, 47-52. Greg also says that Rep. Steve King currently represents 47% of new CD.
• IL-03: Politico has a profile of John Atkinson, the Democratic businessman who may challenge Rep. Dan Lipinski from the left. Atkinson, who has already raised a boatload, hasn't formally declared yet (and may be waiting on redistricting), but a main theme for him is Lipinski's vote against healthcare reform.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon, recently speaking to the Bay Ridge Democratic Club, definitely sounds like he's leaning toward a comeback. The linked piece from the Brooklyn Eagle contains McMahon's ruminations on why he lost last year, but I'm not sure I understand what he thinks the reasons are. On the one hand, he says "[t]here was a drop-off in progressive voters." On the other hand, he cited a memo from Third Way (ugh, but what do you expect) which polled Obama "switchers" and "dropouts." The memo claims that "[s]witchers were eager to vote in this election, whereas droppers didn't come out for a multitude of reasons, none of them being they were upset with Democrats."
What this misses out on, of course, is that Democratic organizations who were pissed with McMahon's vote against healthcare reform were less inclined to bust their asses for him and drag apathetic voters to the polls on his behalf-something members and officials of the Bay Ridge club made plain to him. (The article says some attendees used "harsher language," so since this is Brooklyn we're talking about, enjoy a moment or two imagining what this sounded like.) I'm not sure what McMahon thinks the solution is for next year, if he runs again, but it doesn't sound like he's ready to take back his anti-HCR vote. I think he'd be wise to do so.
• RI-01: Former Republican state Rep. John Loughlin, who lost by six points to now-Rep. David Cicilline last year, says he's considering a rematch, but first he's serving another tour of duty in Iraq. I wonder if Cicilline's self-inflicted wounds regarding the financial woes of Providence (the city of which he used to be mayor) will make him vulnerable-if not next year (which of course is a presidential year), then at some point in the near future... or in a primary.
• WI Recall: Republicans say they will file recall petitions against three Democrats today: Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, and Robert Wirch. Meanwhile, Greg Sargent says that Dems will file petitions against a fifth Republican, Alberta Darling, also today.
• WI Sup. Ct.: Yesterday, JoAnne Kloppenburg asked for a recount, which will come at state expense since the final margin of 7,316 votes was less than 0.5%. I'm pretty surprised at the decision, since overturning that kind of result seems almost inconceivable.
• Alaska (PDF): Dave Dittman, a pollster and former aide to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, tested Alaskans' feelings about local pols last month. Sen. Mark Begich, up for re-election in 2014, has a 57-33 job approval rating, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski is at 71-27 and Rep. Don Young is at 63-32. Joe Miller, who says he might run against Young next year or against Begich next cycle, has a hilariously awful favorability rating of 18-73. (FWIW, Sarah Palin is at 36-61.) Note that the poll had oddly long field dates: March 3 through March 17.
• Demographics: Aaron Blake has another good piece looking at the changing demographics of majority-black districts.
• House Majority PAC: The new Dem "super PAC" is out with its first-ever media buy (which they claim is "substantial"-you better be telling the truth), hitting ten GOP freshmen who voted for Paul Ryan's budget plan with radio ad. You can listen to a sample spot against Sean Duffy here. Click the first link for the other nine names.
• DCCC: Speaking of ad buys, props to Dave Catanese for busting what turned out to be a comically bullshit media "blitz" by the DCCC. I groused about this one yesterday, complaining that the size of the buy was sure to be "quite small," but I had no idea that it would be this comically small: The total purchase was just $6,000 across twenty-five districts, with just $40 (yes, $40!) spent against Larry Buchson in IN-08. Of course, it was the NRCC which provided this info to Catanese, which I'm not sure is such a smart move, since they play this stupid game, too. But my bigger concern is whether local reporters who wrote about these ads will be insulted by the joke dollar values and ignore the D-Trip in the future. I sure as hell would.
• Colorado: After instantly descending into a whole bunch of acrimony (mostly, it seemed to me, from the GOP side) after the first batch of maps were produced, both parties agreed to go back to the drawing board and start with a clean slate. Republicans sound a lot more excited about the prospect than Dems, but we'll see if this actually produces any kind of agreement... or if a stalemate eventually leads to court-drawn maps.
• Pennsylvania: No surprise here: The Republican majority on the PA Supreme Court picked a Republican superior court judge to serve as a tiebreaker on the panel which will re-draw Pennsylvania's state legislative maps. This is a direct consequence of a shameful loss of an open Dem-held seat on the court in 2009.
• Texas: A new plan for the Texas state House passed a House committee yesterday. The map increases the number of Latino districts from 28 to 30, but Democrats seem convinced that there are serious VRA issues with it.
• HI-Sen: Very slow fundraising quarters from Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa, despite Dan Akaka's retirement announcement on March 2. Hirono raised around $100K and has $291K on hand, while Hanabusa took in a mere $33K and has only $72K in the bank.
More interestingly, despite Ed Case's attempts at rapprochement, Sen. Dan Inouye still has hard feelings about Case's primary challenge to Akaka in 2006 - and he didn't hesitate to say so in a recent interview. He all but said that Case lied to his face when he asked him lo those many years ago if he'd run against Akaka, and then added a few remarks that made it sounds like Case had definitely not succeeded in making amends. So unless Inouye is playing some weirdly deep game here, then it looks like my fears that he'd subtly back Case seem unfounded. Good.
• KY-Sen: I don't know if I care about this, or whether it even matters, but glibertarian maniac Rand Paul filed for re-election yesterday. I guess this means he thinks the United States won't collapse into anarchy by 2016, but he's probably still hoarding kruggerands (and toilet paper) just to be on the safe side.
• MN-Sen: It's sort of easy to forget that Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election this cycle. Dedicated and hard-working, she doesn't showboat and is a consummate team player. The fact that she crushed in her debut campaign with 58% of the vote and no Republican opponents loom even in the distant horizon definitely have the effect of putting this race on the mental back burner. But true to form, she's taking her campaign very seriously, raising $1 million in Q1 and holding on to $2.5 mil in the bank.
• NJ-Sen: Is Republican biotech millionaire John Crowley thinking about a Senate bid - again? Roll Call notes that Crowley is stepping down as CEO of his pharma company, which could be a sign he's interested in taking on Sen. Bob Menendez. But for some reason, the article fails to point out that Crowley was heavily recruited to run against Sen. Frank Lautenberg in 2008, and backed out at the last moment - twice. He was also talked about for a gubernatorial run in 2009 (which he obviously didn't pull the trigger on). So we'll see if he has the fire in the belly to actually do something this time.
• TX-Sen: Did you know that there's already a declared Democrat in the race? I didn't, but Some Dude Sean Hubbard is apparently running.
• WA-Sen: Sen. Maria Cantwell raised $1.2 million in Q1 and has about the same amount in the bank.
• KY-Gov: Gov. Steve Beshear raised an impressive $1.3 million in the first three months of the year and has $3.3 million on hand.
• WV-Gov: Treasurer John Perdue is up what I think is the first negative ad of the Dem primary. He principally after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for taking money from utility companies who have charged jacked-up prices, accusing him (and also Natalie Tennant and Rick Thompson) of being "in the pocket" of the big energy firms. Using smokestacks as negative imagery in a state like West Virginia is certainly an unusual choice, given how many people there rely on "smokestack industries" for their livelihoods. But I guess whoever wins this multi-way primary is expecting to do so with only a relatively small plurality.
• AZ-06: We previously mentioned that Republican ex-Rep. Matt Salmon was thinking about a bid to reclaim his old House seat, with Jeff Flake running for Senate, and now he's made it official. Salmon, a member of the GOP's class of '94, honored a term-limit pledge and declined to run for re-election in 2000. However, he did run and lose against Janet Napolitano in the governor's race in 2002.
• FL-14: This seems unexpected: Chauncey Goss, son of former Congressman and CIA Director Porter Goss, says he's thinking about challenging Rep. Connie Mack in the Republican primary. Goss acknowledges that such a fight would be an "uphill battle," but also suggests that he could wind up running in an open seat. It sounds like he thinks that a new seat could be drawn by splitting Lee County (currently the bulk of the 14th CD), but I still wonder if Mack might wind up retiring. (By the way, the current 14th was in fact the elder Goss's seat before he was tapped to run the CIA in 2004.)
• IA-04: Ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack told a gathering of state Senate Dems that they should "stay tuned" regarding his wife's political ambitions. That sounds to me like Christie Vilsack is very much leaning toward a run against Republican nutter Steve King. Tom also promised the race would be a "holy war," a phrase which I sure as hell hope he a) doesn't repeat for public consumption and b) means that Christie plans on seriously taking King the woodshed.
• MI-11, MI-Sen (?): The AP canvassed all 15 House incumbents in Michigan, and all but one confirmed they were seeking re-election. The holdout? 11th CD Republican Thad McCotter, who is in his fifth term. I've hesitantly flagged this item as MI-Sen as well, since it's possible that McCotter is hedging because he's thinking about challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow, though he hasn't really been talked about much.
• NM-01: Dem state Sen. Tim Keller, only 33 years old, says he won't seek Rep. Martin Heinrich's open House seat but will instead seek re-election next year.
• NY-10: Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who hasn't ruled out a primary challenge to Rep. Ed Towns, says in a new interview that he wants the chance to serve alongside Barack Obama. So that means he's either a) gotta run next year b) run in 2014 or c) get the Constitution amended.
• IN-SoS: It looks like Republicans have found a pretty simple way out of the Charlie White mess: change the law. If White, the Republican Secretary of State who is currently under indictment, gets removed from office, the next-highest vote-getter in the last election, Democrat Vop Osili, would take his place. But a bill moving through the state lege would give the governor the power to appoint a replacement instead. (It also would let the GOP avoid any related fallout from having recorded zero valid votes in the SoS contest, a race to which many other electoral perks are tied.) Sucky for Dems, but whatcha gonna do.
• NJ-St. Sen.: Republicans are challenging Olympian Carl Lewis's residency status, trying to get him thrown off the ballot. Lewis says he's owned homes in New Jersey since 2005, but has voted and paid taxes in California until last year. The Secretary of State will rule by Thursday, but that decision can be appealed.
• Philly Mayor: This is definitely unusual. Former Mayor John Street just changed his party registration from "Democrat" to "independent," which could allow him to challenge Mayor Michael Nutter for his old job, something Street refused to rule out. Also unexpectedly, Street's wacky ex-con brother Milton, who is in fact running against Nutter in the Dem primary, got three big union endorsements last week. Seems impossible to imagine him winning next month, though, no?
• WI Recall: As expected, petitions were filed against Sheila Harsdorf yesterday, making her the fourth Republican state Senator to achieve this dubious status. And in more good news, state Rep. Fred Clark is planning an announcement for Thursday, very likely to declare a run against Luther Olsen, against whom petitions were filed on Monday. On the flipside, Republicans say they will file signatures in three Dem-held districts this week, but time is running out for them: Their deadlines are mostly April 25 & 26 (ours aren't due until May 2).
• DCCC: I'm getting kind of tired of these "DCCC launches campaign against 25 Republicans" (and the mirror images from the NRCC), mostly because I think the amounts being spent are quite small, but anyway, here's another one, this time about Medicare.
• Passings: William Donald Schaefer, the iconic four-term Democratic mayor of Baltimore and two-term governor of Maryland, died on Monday at the age of 89. The Baltimore Sun has wall-to-wall coverage of Schaefer's passing, whose legendary career is hard to summarize, but you can start with the obituary at the first link.
• California: Newspaper editorial pages are usually filled with some of the worst goo-goo anti-gerrymandering handwringing, so I found this op-ed by George Skelton in the LA Times to be particularly delightful. Skelton wryly observes that California Dems can't get a tax deal done with Republicans because a key tool in their arsenal - offering to draw recalcitrant legislators good districts, and threatening them with bad ones - has been taken out of their hands. In other words, like a lot of California's supposedly well-meaning ballot initiatives, the independent redistricting commission is also having some unintended consequences. In the end, Skelton seems to come down on the side of the commission anyway, but I think he's right: When you limit legislators' ability to legislate, you limit their ability to do good things as well as bad.
• Iowa: We're done: Iowa is now the third state to complete a new congressional map, with Gov. Terry Brandstad signing off on the plans yesterday. At the bottom of the linked article, you'll also find a list of all state House and Senate incumbents who have been thrown together in the same district.
• Missouri: Some interesting backstory on the Dem side of redistricting in Missouri. Apparently, things got nasty between Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay just a couple of weeks ago: Carnahan asked Clay (and Emmanuel Cleaver, MO's other Dem member of the House) to help him ask Gov. Jay Nixon to veto the state legislature's new maps which throw Clay and Carnahan into one district together. (The seat would be heavily black, which would favor Clay.) Clay refused, leading to a heated moment on the House floor, but now apparently Carnahan has agreed not to run against him in a primary. Instead, Carnahan is supposedly being pushed toward a run in what would become the new 3rd CD, which at present is largely Todd Akin's district. That seat could open up if Akin runs for Senate, which I'd currently say is more likely than not.
Republicans, however, have not made any peace agreements and in fact appear to be in meltdown mode. Yesterday we mentioned that Republican leaders and congressmembers were gathering to discuss the impasse between competing maps, a meeting which reportedly became "acrimonious." I'll let Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum of the St. Louis Beacon summarize the key points of contention:
The Republican members of Congress generally want the Senate to drop consideration of its map and take up the map already passed by the Missouri House. But Senate leaders dislike some of the House's proposed boundaries. They also say they don't have the votes for a veto-proof majority of the House map.
I strongly suggest reading the entire Beacon article if you're interested in this topic - it's definitely one of the sharper tradmed pieces I've seen on redistricting in general this year. In any event, Republicans want a shot at over-riding a possible Nixon veto before the current legislative session ends on May 13, so time is running short here.
• New Jersey: With the Garden State losing a seat this decade, Aaron Blake runs through five different scenarios involving various incumbent-vs-incumbent matchups.
• Oklahoma: Yesterday, the state House unanimously passed a new congressional map (which makes very minimal changes to the existing district lines). Given that all five members of Congress have signed off on the plan, I'd be surprised if it doesn't breeze through the Senate as well - but we've already had more than our share of redistricting surprises this cycle, so I've stopped calling my bookie.
• Virginia: A committee in the Republican-held House made some minor tweaks to their map, which Gov. Bob McDonnell had previously vetoed. I'm sure this is just cosmetic b.s., because McDonnell really only cares about the Dem map that the Senate produced. In McDonnell's world, the first is a work of unparalleled bipartisanshippy beauty, while the second is a hideous Demmycrat gerrymander FROM HELL. That's fookin' politics for ya.
• FL-Sen, FL-Gov: Suffolk University does a little poking around in the Sunshine State and finds that Sen. Bill Nelson winds up with rather good 43-24 favorables (including strong 30-39 marks among Republicans). Rick Scott, though, not so good... he's gasping at 32-47 overall. (President Obama stands at 48-44.) Suffolk also tested the GOP Senate primary (see Q.14 on p. 3), but no one scores higher than 7% in their kitchen sink head-to-head hypothetical, so I can't say it's worth very much.
• NE-Sen: Dem Sen. Ben Nelson says he raised over $1 million in Q1 and has $2.3 million on hand.
• NJ-Sen: Dem Sen. Bob Menendez apparently raised $1.6 million in Q1 and had about $4 million on hand.
• NV-Sen: Interesting: Aaron Blake is telling his WaPo colleague Felicia Sonmez that the DSCC is formally endorsing Rep. Shelley Berkley in her bid for Senate. This is probably a message to Byron Georgiou that he might want to think about finding something else to do.
• PA-Sen: Dem Sen. Bob Casey took in $1.1 million in Q1 and has over $2.1 million on hand.
• PA-Gov: Tom Jensen loves the re-do polls, and so do we, of course. This time, it's Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who would lose in a hypothetical rematch to Dan Onorato by a 49-44 margin. Corbett's job approvals are at a sucky 34-44, which is interesting because unlikely the other Republican governors PPP's been testing, Corbett hasn't been caught at ground zero in labor-related disputes or (ala Rick Scott) in endless conflagrations with legislators in his own party.
• RI-Gov: Brand-new Gov. Lincoln Chafee says he might run as a Dem if he seeks re-election in 2014 - and also says he might not endorse President Obama for re-election. At first I imagined he was trying to preserver wankerish "moderate" credentials, but if you read the linked article, you'll see he actually criticizes Obama from the left for giving away too much in the recent government shutdown showdown.
• IA-03: Could the truly crazy Rep. Steve King really be scoping out a potential run in the proposed new 3rd CD? King, as you know, would be thrown into a new 4th CD with fellow Republican Tom Latham if Iowa's new maps pass into law, as expected. That's not a particularly appealing choice, but would a matchup with Dem Rep. Leonard Boswell in the new 3rd be any better? Blogger desmoinesdem, who lives in the 3rd, says she received a robocall from King asking if she supported a "total repeal of Obamacare." Another commenter at Bleeding Heartland says he, too, received the same call - but he's in the new 2nd, so it may just be that King is trying to raise money from Obama haters throughout the state. (The call included options for offering to donate to King.)
• LA-03, LA-07: With Louisiana's new maps becoming law (see bullet below in Redistricting Roundup), the big issue now is what happens between Republican Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry. The CW has long been that Landry, a teabagger who beat an establishment GOPer for the seat, would be left out in the cold. But I'm starting to wonder if maybe the knives will be out for Boustany instead. Boustany, you'll recall, very nearly derailed the entire redistricting process late in the day, prompting all five other Republican congressmen to ask that mapmaking be delayed for an entire year. An angry state legislature refused to entertain that possibility, but there was still a lot of ill will toward Boustany. Indeed, Rep. John Fleming said of Boustany last week: "I don't feel like I can trust anything he says. Everything he told me, he reneged on." In any event, Boustany says he raised a not-especially-impressive $230K in Q1. I'll be very curious to see what Landry took in.
• MT-AL: Republican businessman Steve Daines announced he raised almost $200K and will report $330K on hand as he pursues Rep. Denny Rehberg's open seat. Dem state Rep. Franke Wilmer said she's only raised $10K so far, but adds that she hasn't been able to fundraise as much as she'd like because she's in the middle of the legislative session.
• NV-02: Now things are getting interesting. Retired USS Cole Commander Kirk Lippold officially announced his entrance into the race for Dean Heller's open seat, making him the second Republican to get in. I say it's interesting because we might soon have at least three serious (well, "serious") candidates in the race, giving Sharron Angle a plausible shot of capturing her party's nomination. (The other expected entrant is Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who said he'll wait until the legislative session ends in June to announce.)
• NY-26: Dem Kathy Hochul has a new ad up touting her leadership in the War on Tollbooths. It's actually her third ad; her second is an attack ad, going after Republican Jane Corwin for being a phony on spending cuts. NWOTSOTB.
• PA-11, PA-17: Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien, who staged a rather unsuccessful primary challenge to now-ex-Rep. Paul Kanjorski last year in PA-11, basically ruled out another run for Congress, and said he definitely won't challenge Rep. Tim Holden in a primary if Lackawanna gets drawn into Holden's 17th CD.
• DCCC, NRCC: Despite having gotten its ass kicked last year and having sixty fewer members to lean on for donations, the DCCC had a monster first quarter, raised $19.6 million and cutting its debt by more than half, from $17.3 million to just $8 mil. By comparison, the NRCC took in just $18.1 million and has the same amount of debt - but it started off with much less. Republicans have twice our cash-on-hand, though ($9 mil to $4.6 mil). We'll bring you a full chart with all the committee numbers once they all report.
• VETO: I don't really have a good place to put this, but you just gotta click the link and check out the pics of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoing a bunch of Republican legislation. Pure awesome.
• Iowa: Both houses of the state lege have now approved Iowa's new maps by very broad margins, and they go to Gov. Terry Branstad for his signature - or veto. He has three days to decide, but it would be quite the bombshell if he chose to nuke things at this stage, especially since he's said he hasn't heard a "compelling reason to reject" the plans. Also, a great data point from Greg Giroux:
Braley now reps 48% of population in proposed CD1, Loebsack 54% of CD2, Boswell 57% of CD3, Latham 50%/King 47% of CD4
• Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal signed his state's much-fought-over new maps into law yesterday, and now they go to the Dept. of Justice for pre-clearance. The Legislative Black Caucus says it will oppose the maps (citing problems with all three: state House, state Senate, and congressional) and ask the DoJ to deny approval. However, the chair of the Legislative Democratic Caucus says " "Nothing jumps out at me and says [preclearance] will be a problem." Needless to say, quite a lot of folks at SSP disagree! Once the maps are submitted (likely in the next few weeks), Justice has 60 days to make a decision.
• Missouri: New redistricting plans, crafted by the Republican-controlled legislature, are getting closer to Dem Gov. Jay Nixon's desk, but he hasn't yet said whether he'll veto them. Republicans sound divided as to what they think Nixon will do. To over-ride a veto, they'd have to bring a few wayward members of their own team back into the fold, and buy off a couple of Dems. I suspect they can pull that off.
• Oklahoma: Just call it No Drama Oklahoma - so far, anyway. A state House committee passed a new map (PDF here), and the district lines for OK's five CDs have barely changed. (Helpfully, the map shows both the old lines and the new boundaries, so you can see just how minimal the differences are. It's still possible, though, that the Senate or the governor could try to push a plan which screws the state's lone Dem, Dan Boren. But it seems like legislators are more concerned with re-doing their own maps.
• Texas: They might be our mortal enemies, but the folks who draw the lines in the Lonestar State share our penchant for ruthlessness when it comes to map-making. Like a mother eagle shoving her own babies out of her nest, Republicans in the legislature are dealing with the problem of unwanted teabaggers by drawing them out of their districts - and into districts with one another. Indeed, a plan by the chair of the state House redistricting committee would pit no fewer than 14 Republicans against one another, allowing the GOP to create a whole mess of new open seats in other areas. This isn't cat fud so much as it is the cat stuffing her mangiest kittens into the dryer herself.
• Virginia: Bill Bartell of the Virginian-Pilot takes a detailed look at what the Democratic plan to turn the 4th CD into a majority-black district would mean, particularly for the seat's current inhabitant, GOP Rep. Randy Forbes.
So, our friends over at RRH think they've found a flaw in the way PPP are conducting their polls. Too many liberals and not enough independents they say. The assumption is they are somehow skewing their results in favor of Democratic candidates. Since November we haven't really seen much polling from firms other than PPP. But there have been some, particularly with regard to Senate races. I thought it might be worth bringing them all together here to compare and contrast.
Florida - Incumbent Bill Nelson (D) In December PPP found Nelson leading Connie Mack by 8, Mike Haridopolos by 12, Adam Hasner by 16 and George
LeMieux by 11.
• 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.
• AZ-Sen: One more fundraising number to report from Q4: Republican #2 and potential retiree Jon Kyl raised $106K, leaving him with $682K CoH. That's a difficult number to assess as a tea leaf: it's too much for him to look like he's clearly about to hang it up, but also not enough to make it look like he's actively engaging his race yet.
• CT-Sen: Rep. Chris Murphy looks like he can count on a lot of hometown backing in his bid for the Senate (where the real challenge may be getting out of the Dem primary). He just rolled out the endorsement of 60 Democratic leaders from around CT-05, including three state Reps.
• IN-Sen: State treasurer Richard Mourdock confirmed over the weekend at the Tippecanoe County Republican Women's Club that he'll be challenging long-time incumbent Richard Lugar in the GOP Senate primary in 2012, although he didn't serve up much tea-spiked red meat in doing so, instead ladling on the praise of Lugar but touting the need for competition of ideas. He specified Feb. 22 as the official date of his campaign launch, though.
• MI-Sen: Saul Anuzis (who I've just noticed is one typo away from being the Egyptian jackal god... maybe getting tough on grave robbers will be at the top of his agenda) is now the subject of a draft website, encouraging him to get into the Michigan Senate race.
• MN-Sen: Buried deep in this article about Amy Klobuchar is some pretty clear indication that Rep. Michele Bachmann isn't going to run for Senate in 2012; the GOP state party chair says that Bachmann was "very emphatic" to him that she wasn't going to run. (Does she have any mode other than "very emphatic?")
• MT-Sen: In case you were hoping that all those leaks and rumors last week about Denny Rehberg announcing for the Senate were some sort of gigantic miscommunication, sorry, no such luck. The Republican Rep. officially announced his bid against Jon Tester on Saturday.
• NJ-Sen: That Woody Johnson-for-Senate rumor a few weeks ago is continuing to get some continued oxygen, with revelations that the New York Jets owner dined at Drumthwacket (sorry, I just like saying "Drumthwacket") with both Chris Christie and Mitt Romney several weeks ago. To me, this seems more like Johnson, a big Republican donor (although a John McCain backer in 2008) being there on Romney's behalf than a Senate tea leaf. (Just found out he's actually "Robert Wood Johnson IV," as in the do-gooding Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and big pharma company Johnson & Johnson.)
• SC-Sen: Lindsey Graham -- not up until 2014, so this is mostly academic at this point -- is sporting some rather Olympia Snowe-ish approval numbers in the way they break down. He's at 40/37 overall in PPP's South Carolina sample, but at 31/38 among Democrats and only 43/36 within his own party. He's looking better positioned to win the general in '14 than to win his own primary.
• UT-Sen: Orrin Hatch is grinning and bearing it: eager to avoid the fate of fellow Senator Bob Bennett, who ignored the tea partiers at his own peril, Hatch will participate in an online town hall sponsored by Tea Party Express (whose Sal Russo offered Hatch some rhetorical cover last week). He'll be the establishment odd-man-out, sharing face time with Rand Paul, Michele Bachmann, and Steve King.
• KY-Gov: Republican state Senate president David Williams, the establishment canddiate in the Kentucky gubernatorial GOP primary, looks to be pretty safe from a teabagging, if his own internal poll is any indication. A poll from Got Focus shows him at 47, with Bobbie Holsclaw at 10 and tea-flavored businessman Phil Moffett at 9.
• PA-Gov: Here's an intriguing rumor, although one that doesn't have much to it beyond eavesdropped rumblings at the state Democratic committee meeting: ex-Rep. Joe Sestak for governor in 2014. Can he be the one who stops the state's clockwork alternation between the parties for 8-year gubernatorial terms?
• WV-Gov: You can count Republican zillionaire John Raese, who lost the 2010 Senate race by an unexpectedly wide margin, out from this year's gubernatorial special election; he said "no thanks" (after already having declined a 2012 senatorial rematch against Joe Manchin). And the election dates are finally official, with acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signing off on the compromise legislation that set the primary on May 14 and general on Oct. 4.
• FL-25: The hits just keep coming for freshman Rep. David Rivera. On top of the $500K in mysterious dog track money and the $60K in mystery expenditures while a state legislator, now the AP is reporting on an entirely separate $150K paid from the Miami-Dade Republican Party to a key ally of Rivera (to consultant Esther Nuhfer for "media" expenses) without any of the usual paper trail. $35K was used to purchase radio ads, but the whereabouts of the remainder is anybody's guess.
• LA-03, LA-07: While we reported on Friday that Jeff Landry was considering a state AG run as a way out of his likely redistricting-related demise, it looks like he's still fighting to keep a viable House district for himself too. He and LA-07's Charles Boustany are publicly at odds over the state's new redistricting map. Landry wants a district that spans the whole coastline of the state (which would put him on a collision course with the Lafayette-based Boustany), while Boustany says there needs to be one district for the New Orleans suburbs (which would probably wind up pitting Landry against Steve Scalise in current LA-01 instead).
• MI-09: It sounds like Democratic Rep. Gary Peters may also have a Plan B in the event of the elimination of his district via redistricting. Based on the war of words emerging between Peters and Republican Oakland Co. Executive L. Brooks Patterson, it's possible that Peters is eyeing a 2012 run to become head of the state's second largest county. Oakland Co. is one of those prototypical mostly-affluent inner-ring suburban counties that has moved pretty solidly into the Dem column at the presidential level but still has a lot of Republican strength further down the ballot; MI-09 currently occupies most of the county.
• MO-05, MO-06: In that one or two weeks where it looked like Rep. Sam Graves was going to run for Senate (thus opening up the 6th), that prompted Republican state Rep. Jerry Nolte to officially throw his hat into the ring for the presumably open seat. Now that he knows Graves is sticking around, though, Nolte apparently isn't going to let his newly-opened federal account go to waste. He says he might run against Emanuel Cleaver in MO-05 instead. (Nolte lives in Gladstone in the KC suburbs, currently in the 6th but a possible inclusion in the 5th after redistricting, as the 5th will need to gain a lot of population.)
• Redistricting: The Fix's ongoing series of profiles on state redistricting turns to Pennsylvania this week, the state whose 2002 map became almost synonymous with one of our favorite words here: "dummymander" (i.e. a map that looks like a coup at first but is so flimsy that it blows up in your face the minute the political winds turn against you). The state GOP, in charge of the process again in 2012, seem to have learned from their mistakes and don't plan to get so "greedy" this time. As we've mentioned here, the likeliest approach to lose the one seat will be to draw western PA Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz into one district. The alternative would be to try to take out the seemingly-indestructible Tim Holden in PA-17, although reddening his already GOP-leaning district would probably make things even worse for Lou Barletta, whose PA-11 is currently D+4.
• 2012 Prez: Jake McIntyre's presidential cattle calls have been a rich tradition over at Daily Kos for years now, and this one is no exception. (It's so good we're actually breaking the first rule of Swing State Project: no talking about presidential politics.)
• MI-Sen: Peter Hoekstra, having just started as a "senior adviser" at Dickstein Shapiro, let Politico know that, despite all appearances associated with his new job, he hasn't ruled out a 2012 Senate bid, saying he's keeping his options open. (I know that on my first day on the job, I like to loudly tell everybody that I may not be working there much longer. Really helps you get off on the right foot with your boss.)
• MT-Sen: Jon Tester wasted no time in going after newly-announced Denny Rehberg, drawing connections between Rehberg and Michele Bachmann (and her proposed $4.5 billion in VA cuts). Bachmann will be a featured speaker at the event on Saturday where Rehberg formally announces. Tester raised $128K in Q4 with $562K, a decent amount for the small state of Montana but not much different from Rehberg's $553K war chest.
• TX-Sen: You might remember talk from a couple years ago where ESPN analyst Craig James was interested in running for what was then expected to be a Senate special election to replace a resigning Kay Bailey Hutchison. That faded into the mists of time, but here's the first statement of interest I've seen from him since the race re-opened up thanks to her retirement. It comes up in the context of him saying that, yes, he believes people in Lubbock would still vote for him despite his role in getting Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach fired.
• UT-Sen: An interesting piece about Orrin Hatch focuses mostly on how he's trying to avoid the fate of Bob Bennett by reaching out and engaging the local tea party crowd as much as possible; a local 'bagger comments that Hatch shouldn't expect their endorsement but his efforts will really limit the outrage that seemed to overwhelm Bennett. (Hatch also has an interesting selling point to offer them: if he's defeated but the GOP takes the Senate, that puts Olympia Snowe in charge of Finance.) Buried in the story is a provocative comment from Bennett's vanquisher, Mike Lee, who only says that he'll "fully support" the GOP nominee without saying anything about backing Hatch.
• AK-AL, NY-13: Here are two House races where the potential challenger has the financial advantage, according to new Q4 numbers. One is the possible GOP primary for Alaska's at-large seat, where Joe Miller has $825K left in the bank, thanks to money he didn't get a chance to spend on his legal defense, whereas Don Young has $170K CoH. (Miller, of course, hasn't said anything specific about a race against Young in 2012, but he and Young have publicly traded some barbs.) The other is NY-13, where surprise Republican victor Michael Grimm actually finds himself in debt, with a net minus-$36K while Democratic ex-Rep. Mike McMahon, who seems to be laying groundwork for a rematch, has $17K CoH leftover.
• IN-05, IN-06: Roll Call looks at the slowly-developing race to replace Mike Pence in the 6th. Most (if not all) the action is on the GOP side so far, with former Wayne Co. Sheriff Matt Strittmatter the only one with a campaign account open so far (which contains $39K). Other GOPers include 1990s-era ex. Rep. David McIntosh, Henry County Council president Nate LaMar, '10 Senate primary loser Don Bates, and '10 IN-05 primary loser Luke Messer... but it sounds like Messer, who almost beat the unloved Dan Burton, may be running in the 5th again, seeing as how Roll Call got Burton's office to confirm that Burton (frequent subject of retirement speculation) plans to run for re-election. One other wrinkle: Republican redistricting efforts to redden Joe Donnelly's IN-02 may wind up making IN-06 less Republican, so that might encourage Dems to at least consider playing in the 6th.
• MT-AL: With Montana's at-large House seat suddenly looking like it's on track to be an open seat, we may actually get some decent Democratic candidates in the race. It's occasionally been a competitive seat, currently at R+7, though not really hotly contested since the last time it was open, in 2000. Democratic State Rep. Franke Wilmer of Bozeman is already floating her name for the race. (If she won, she'd be the first woman in the seat since the legendary Jeannette Rankin.)
• SD-AL: Now this is interesting: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (haven't heard anything about a rematch, but this might perk up her ears) is actually leading a hypothetical rematch by one point (46-45) against new Republican Rep. Kristi Noem, according to PPP. PPP points out that she lost by three in 2010, so that small shift is consistent with the small nationwide bump upwards for the Dems over the last month or two. Herseth Sandlin's favorables are 55/36, compared with Noem's 38/35 approvals. Over on the Senate side, Tim Johnson (who isn't up until 2014) is at 47/41 approval.
• LA-AG: We've seen a couple dozen legislative party-switchers from the Democrats to the Republicans in southern states in the last few months, in the wake of several states' chambers finally completing their realignment all the way down to the state level, but nobody at a statewide level doing so... until now. Louisiana AG Buddy Caldwell, facing a potentially tough general election, plans to switch to Republican status. (I'd invoke the cautionary specter of Parker Griffith, but Louisiana uses a jungle primary so switching to a potentially tough primary instead may not be the kiss of death.) Since Caldwell was already the only Democratic AG who had joined the multi-state lawsuit against healthcare reform, his "Democrat" status was pretty negligible at this point.
• MA-St. House: This may be one of the largest constituencies where I've seen a race end in a tie (although I'm sure someone in the comments can come up with a historic example of an even bigger race that tied). The November election in Massachusetts's 6th Worcester district in the state House was just declared a tie by a superior court judge, and (rather than flipping a coin, drawing lots, or sending them to Thunderdome) a do-over special election was ordered. Democratic incumbent Geraldo Alicea and GOPer Peter Durant both got 6,587 votes. No date has been set yet, but we'll all be on pins and needles that night, seeing as how Dems control that chamber by only a 128-31 margin.
• CA-Referenda: A statewide special election is planned for some point in June, as Jerry Brown seeks a public mandate for extending increases in three different taxes (and he seems to think he has a better shot getting this through a public vote than the legislature). This is likely to be an entirely vote-by-mail affair, presaging a potential California shift in the direction of its west coast brethren. Somewhat counterintuitively (since vote-by-mail is usually considered to boost Dems), though, observers think this might skew the election toward older, whiter voters, as mail delivery is "unreliable in spots" (?!?) in heavily-minority Los Angeles County and voters there still tend to rely heavily on polling places. On the plus side, though, a recent PPIC poll found more support for extending the taxes among the 55+ set (56 yes/38 no) than among the entire population (where there was 50 yes/48 no support). Have the most seriously tax-hating seniors all fled to Arizona?
• Fundraising: The Fix has a bunch more Senate fundraising numbers to report, building on the numbers we gave you yesterday. For the Dems, Bob Casey Jr. seems to be fully engaged with his race, pulling in $621K in Q4 for $1.3 million CoH, while the publicity surrounding FiliBernie seems to have been a big cash cow for Bernie Sanders, who raised $485K for $536K CoH. Bob Menendez raised $237K for $2.4 million CoH, while freshly-elected Joe Manchin seemed to take a breather from fundraising, raising only $18K for $377K. Among not just vulnerable Republicans but basically everybody else in the Senate, Scott Brown is still the unstoppable money machine, in terms of both cash raised and CoH: $734K raised for $7.2 million CoH. Richard Lugar raised $173K for $2.35 million CoH, while Olympia Snowe raised $79K for $1.2 million CoH.
• Census: We're still waiting for this week's released of detailed 2010 data for Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia, but the Census Bureau is letting us know that next week they'll be out with four more: Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, and Maryland.
• WATN?: Rod Grams somehow managed to be one of the least memorable Senators of my lifetime who managed to serve a full term (surprisingly swept in in Minnesota in 1994, easily turned out in 2000), and now he's working a job that seems befitting his anonymity. He's working as a Hill staffer, and not even on the Senate side: he's the new chief of staff to new MN-08 Rep. Chip Cravaack. (Recall that Cravaack did what Grams couldn't do in 2006: knock off Jim Oberstar, in what was a strange comeback attempt by Grams.)
• MO-Sen: Most likely you already saw this story yesterday, but the big story in the Missouri Senate race is that Politico's Dave Catanese seems to be the recipient of various leaks that ex-Sen. Jim Talent will announce soon that he isn't going to run for Senate. We won't start jumping up and down and honking our clown horn until we actually hear it from Talent, but this isn't a surprise, based on previous rumors out of the Show Me State and Talent's seeming decision to focus on hitching his wagon to Mitt Romney's star instead. Without a dominant establishment candidate in the field, it looks like even more GOPers are starting to sniff out the race: MO-08 Rep. Jo Ann Emerson is now on the record as at least "considering" a run. Emerson, who's had some mavericky moments in the House, would easily be the most moderate GOPer in the field if she ran (and may see a path there, with multiple tea partiers seeming poised to cannibalize each others' votes). Emerson's potential departure would create an open seat in the currently R+15 8th, an area that actually went for Bill Clinton but has fallen off the cliff for Dems in recent years, most recently with the fizzle of the touted Tommy Sowers campaign last year.
• NJ-Sen: PPP, while "cleaning out their fridge" as they said, found some week-old GOP Senate primary numbers from their New Jersey sample. They find state Sen. and 2006 candidate Tom Kean Jr. in good shape, with support from both moderates (which is probably what he would qualify as) and conservatives; he leads Lou Dobbs 42-30 with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno at 7, "someone else" at 6, and 15 undecided.
• KY-Gov: Filing day came and went without any last-minute shenanigans in Kentucky. Steve Beshear will get a totally free ride in the Democratic primary (looks like that primary from the scrap metal dealer didn't materialize), and will face one of three GOP opponents: state Senate president David Williams, teabagging businessman Phil Moffett, or Jefferson Co. Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw. The general election field in the AG race is already set; Jack Conway and Todd P'Pool didn't draw any primary challengers. The most activity seems to be in the Ag Commissioner race (vacated by Richie Farmer, who's running for Lt. Gov.), with 5 Dems and 2 GOPers running.
• MN-08: This probably isn't a surprise, but after his upset loss last year, 76-year-old Jim Oberstar has decided to opt for retirement rather than a rerun against new Rep. Chip Cravaack. Two other high-profile Dems, Duluth mayor Don Ness and state Sen. Tony Lourey have also recently said no. Two DFLers who are considering the race, though, are Duluth-based state Sen. Roger Reinert and Daniel Fanning, Al Franken's deputy state director.
• Omaha mayor: Omaha mayor Jim Suttle narrowly survived a recall attempt in last night's special election. He won 51-49. Suttle vows to do a better job of communicating with voters in the election's wake, although it remains an open question whether he runs again in 2013.
• Redistricting: Here's a new wrinkle in the fight over the Fair Districts initiatives in Florida: Rick Scott seems to be stalling implementation of the new standards (which would limit the state legislature's ability to gerrymander districts). The state "quietly withdrew" its request that the federal DOJ approve implementation of the initiatives, which jeopardizes whether they'll be in place in time for the actual business of redistricting. Florida, as a one-time part of the Deep South, is one of those states that requires DOJ preclearance for changes to its electoral regime under the Voting Rights Act.
Politico also has an interesting article today about the Congressional Black Caucus and redistricting, which will reshape many of their districts, seeing as how some of their members' districts have had the biggest population losses of any districts in the nation (OH-11, MI-13, MI-14, and MO-01 in particular). These districts seem like they can absorb some suburban votes without losing their lopsided Dem advantages, but they're probably more worried about members getting pitted against each other (as might happen with the two Detroit districts) or against another Dem (possible for Marcia Fudge and Lacy Clay). Other lingering questions are whether Sanford Bishop's GA-02 (the only CBC-held district that's legitimately swingy) gets shored up or made worse, and whether South Carolina can be compelled to eke out a second VRA seat.
• Turnout models: I rarely get the chance to say this, but if you look at only one scatterplot today, it should be this one. It's a remarkably-clear slope showing how predictable presidential approval is across demographic groups, and more evidence that the swing in the 2010 election was uniform across groups in response to macro factors (i.e. the stupid economy) rather than a failure of microtargeting. And here are some further thoughts on the matter from Larry Sabato's new book, pointing out the really steep dropoffs in 2010 turnout for the groups I tend to label the "casual voters" (reliably Dem lower-information voters, mostly young and/or people of color, who turn out for presidential races but not the less compelling stuff in between), and how the 2010 model isn't anything like what the 2012 model will resemble.
• CT-Sen, CT-Gov: OK, we can probably scratch Republican ex-Ambassador and rich guy Tom Foley from the list of likely Republican candidates for Joe Lieberman's Senate seat, if only by virtue of the fact that he's rhetorically moving himself up to the front of the line for the 2014 gubernatorial race (which would be a rematch against Dan Malloy). He says he'll keep intact his political operation from last time, where he lost narrowly. Meanwhile, I can't see this ever becoming reality, but a little wish-listing can't hurt: Connecticut liberals are already starting a draft movement to get the newly-available Keith Olbermann to think about running for the Senate seat.
• MI-Sen: The idea of Saul Anuzis (the state's former GOP party chair, and recent RNC election loser) stepping out from behind the curtain and running for Senate still seems a little odd, but it sounds like he's moving that way, dropping more public statements of interest and apparently polling the field now too. Meanwhile, this isn't really Senate related unless Debbie Stabenow mysteriously decided to retire and a Dem replacement was needed (and even then it probably isn't a good idea, considering how unpopular she became), but ex-Gov. Jennifer Granholm says she's permanently done with politics and moving on to academia with a new position at UC-Berkeley's school of public policy.
• MO-Sen: Ed Martin (whose main claim to fame is that he lost in MO-03 last year) has been doing everything he can to stay in the public eye, and it seems there's a method to his madness: he seems to be moving more decisively toward a Senate run. That seems a likely route toward getting flattened by someone known statewide like Jim Talent or Sarah Steelman, but he probably figures he has a couple advantages: one, if Talent doesn't run, Martin would be the only GOP primary candidate from the state's largest media market (St. Louis), and two, Martin is tight with the state's tea party grassroots, and while the Beltway astroturf types like the Club for Growth are big on Steelman, the actual teabagger boots on the ground have a lot of antipathy toward Steelman and are looking elsewhere.
• NJ-Sen: There are lots of politicians who are able to get away with having one penis reference in their names, but it seems like too much to overcome for someone with two penis references in his name. At any rate, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is considering the race, although insiders concede he isn't likely to go for it. Johnson has been a major Republican donor for years, and, as of yesterday, has some more time on his hands to consider the race.
• NV-Sen: More signs that John Ensign is moving full speed ahead on running for re-election: he's convened a meeting of his re-election steering committee for Feb. 1. The invitation for the meeting (to be held at the NRSC) comes from his main fundraisers (indicating that, yes, he still has fundraisers working for him).
• VA-Sen: I suppose George Allen making it official that he's running for Senate is big news, but we've known this for a week; it's gotten so meta that there have been leaks about upcoming leaks about his candidacy. At any rate, he actually sent out his official e-mail announcement to supporters today and unveiled a new fully operational website for his Senate campaign. Jim Webb's folks simply say that Webb's decision about whether or not to run for another term will happen sometime "this quarter."
• KY-Gov: When Jefferson Co. Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw started making noises about running for the GOP nomination in Kentucky, I assumed she was trying to leverage her way into getting the field cleared for her for a lower statewide office, but it looks like she's actually following through on her long shot gubernatorial bid, which pits her in the primary against establishment fave David Williams and tea party-backed businessman Phil Moffett. Filing deadlines in Kentucky are tomorrow, so the field looks pretty set. (Dem incumbent Steve Beshear has only some token opposition in the Dem primary, and I'm not making this up: scrap metal dealer Otis Hensley.)
• MS-Gov: Even if SoS Delbert Hosemann doesn't follow through on rumored plans to run for Governor, we'll still have at least one candidate with a name that seems to have emerged straight from a Faulkner novel: Pearl River County Supervisor Hudson Holliday. He officially joined the field in the GOP primary, where he seems like he'll be the third wheel against Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and businessman Dave Dennis.
• NH-Gov: We already have a poll out of the Republican primary field in the 2012 gubernatorial race, from a never-heard-of-'em-before firm called Strategic National. It looks like Ovide Lamontagne, if he's interested, may get a second whack at the governorship (remember he was the 1996 candidate, before falling off the map for a long time before re-emerging to almost win the 2010 GOP Senate primary); he leads the field at 37, with losing '10 candidate John Stephen at 14, state Sen. and ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley at 13, and Manchester mayor Ted Gatsas at 4.
• CT-05: Here are a few more Republican names that have bubbled up, that might get into the field in the now-open seat in the 5th, beyond the obvious re-run from state Sen. Jim Sam Caligiuri. Both the losers in the 2010 primary are also likely to run again, ex-Rob Simmons aide Justin Bernier and rich guy Mark Greenberg. State Sen. Andrew Roraback is also saying he's interested, while another state Sen., Rob Kane, is sounding pretty lukewarm about it.
• MI-09: Ex-state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski says he's planning on a rematch against Rep. Gary Peters, after losing narrowly in 2010. However, Raczkowski openly realizes he has some potential problems there (that go beyond his own weaknesses as a candidate): Peters may not have a district left to run in, either. With Michigan losing a seat, Republicans controlling the process, the bulk of the state's depopulation happening in the Detroit area, and the probable need to keep having two Detroit-area VRA seats, Peters is the likeliest target. (On the other hand, Peters could find himself drawn into a seat stretching across Detroit's northern suburbs with Sandy Levin, which might prompt the elderly Levin to retire, and that seat probably would be much more Dem-friendly than Peters' old seat.)
• NY-25: This strikes us as a disappointing move, given that he defended his progressive voting record pretty strongly during his campaign (although, unfortunately, most strongly in his concession statement): ex-Rep. Dan Maffei has taken a position with post-partisan centrist group Third Way. (Although, if nothing else, it points to the paucity of truly left-leaning think tanks and non-profits where Dems can park themselves and stay engaged within the Beltway for several years; there's no shortage of Heritages and Catos on the right, but this may have been the best option Maffei could find.) No indication on whether Maffei intends to make a 2012 rematch (although he'll probably want to wait to see whether the 25th winds up being the upstate district that gets chopped).
• UT-02: This may give a clue to the GOP's plans for redistricting (where their choices are to create four GOP seats in what may risk being a dummymander, or to decide to tolerate Jim Matheson's continued existence and create a Dem vote sink for him to strengthen their other districts). Incoming state GOP chair Thomas Wright has two goals for the cycle: raise $1 million, and beat "that rascal Jim Matheson." (At least he didn't call him a scalawag or a mugwump. Them's fightin' words.)
• CT-St. Leg.: There's a total of nine special elections pending in the upcoming months in both houses of Connecticut's legislature, all of which are seats that were previously held by Democrats (with eight of them heading off to join the Malloy administration and one of them heading to jail). To my eye (looking at the very helpful map provided by the Hartford Courant), these all look like they're in Dem-friendly areas (with the possible exceptions of HD-36 and HD-101?), but Republicans are hopeful they can make some gains somewhere.
• PA-St. Sen.: The fields have been picked (by the party committees in Berks County) for the upcoming special election to replace Michael O'Pake in the light-blue SD-11. Dems, as expected, picked former Berks County Commissioner Judy Schwank, while the GOP picked Berks County Register of Wills Larry Medaglia. (Interestingly, PA-06 loser Manan Trivedi was one of the other names considered for the Dems.) The Mar. 25 election theoretically will be a big test of whether the state GOP has any more continued momentum in SE Pennsylvania suburbs after their gains in November, although there are rumors of polling showing the locally-well-known Schwank leading in the 20-point realm against all potential opponents.
• State parties: One of the big stories over the weekend was that assorted tea partiers won three of the four state GOP chair races that were being contested. Maybe the most attention-getting one, because of '12 presidential implications, was the victory of Jack Kimball (who lost the '10 gubernatorial primary to John Stephen) over the Sununu dynasty's handpicked choice, Juliana Bergeron, in New Hampshire. However, the win of talk radio host Kirby Wilbur over incumbent Luke Esser in Washington also has substantial implications, inasmuch as former state Sen. Esser was a key ally of Rob McKenna (they both hail from suburban Bellevue and are among the last remnants of the state's moderate establishment tradition), and this may presage increased willpower on the right to mount a strong primary challenge to McKenna in the '12 gubernatorial race, despite the near-certainty that McKenna is the only Republican capable of winning the general election. Arizona also elected Tom Morrissey (against the wishes of both John McCain and Jon Kyl!). Oregon was the only state to buck the trend, electing Allen Alley (a moderate who lost the '10 gubernatorial primary, although he actually got most of the tea party support in that primary against the also-moderate-but-vapid Chris Dudley, geriatric John Lim, and laughable Bill Sizemore, and still seemed to have some goodwill reserves among that set).
• Voter suppression: With Wisconsin and Minnesota's Republican-held legislatures moving to maintain their power (by making it more difficult for Democrats to vote for Democrats, by imposing strict voter ID laws), the floodgates seem to be opening, indicating that the GOP's main priority isn't jobs but fighting the nonexistent rising tide of alleged voter fraud. Similar legislation is now emerging in legislatures in Texas, Kansas, and Iowa. It's also becoming clearer that a voter ID law is just one step in the process in Wisconsin where the ultimate goal is elimination of Wisconsin's fairly unique (and Dem-friendly) quirk of allowing same-day registration.
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 44
Tom Kean Jr. (R): 34
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 40
Michael Doherty (R): 30
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 47
Kim Guadagno (R): 26
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 41
Joe Kyrillos (R): 29
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 44
John Crowley (R): 30
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 42
Jennifer Beck (R): 29
Local pollster Fairleigh Dickinson's first look at the 2012 Senate race finds Bob Menendez leading his little-known Republican potential rivals by double digits, ranging from margins of 10 (against his 2006 opponent, Tom Kean Jr., and also against state Sen. Michael Doherty, who's apparently a particular fave to the tea party types) to 19 (against current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who may be at a low point right now since most people's current impression of her involves her being out-of-state during the nor'easter cleanup). FDU doesn't offer an approval rating for Menendez for some reason, but he's polling not out of the danger zone, in the mid-40s and, as they point out, his fortunes are probably deeply tied to those of Barack Obama (who's at 47/41) and those of the broader economy.
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 41
Tom Kean Jr. (R): 39
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 47
Lou Dobbs (R): 35
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 45
Kim Guadgano (R): 30
FDU's numbers contrast a bit with those from PPP, who find a much closer race between Menendez and Kean (although they find a similar blowout against Guadagno as with FDU). I'd commented a few weeks ago that Menendez's approval numbers (which are 37/38 in this poll) reminded me a bit of Richard Burr's at this point two years ago -- a surprisingly large number of people don't know him, and those who do know him feel prety "meh" about him -- and I think that's still the case here. In fact, I'll predict the whole cycle here may parallel NC-Sen '10, with polls continuing to show definite incumbent weakness but the state's lean (plus a likely underfunded opponent) probably giving the incumbent a decent win in the end.
As a throw-in, PPP also looks at the 2013 gubernatorial race (it's only two and three-quarters years away!). While if you read only the rightosphere, you'd think that Chris Christie was ready to not only graduate from being governor right now but even to skip that whole Presidency business and move straight on to running for Galactic Emperor, here in the real world, things are a little less clear-cut. The blustery and mass-transit-destroying Christie only manages a tie with Cory Booker, the attention-grabbing Democratic mayor of Newark. Christie's still above water with 48/45 approvals, but it's a Dem-leaning state and Booker has nothing but upside at this point with 46/16 favorables.