• CA-26: More eliminationist rhetoric from the right (not that they'll ever cease): Anthony Portantino, the Democratic Assemblyman running against Rep. David Dreier, is featured on some second amendment-related Old West-style "WANTED" poster.
• LA-02: Daily Kingfish says that Public Service Commissioner Lambert Boissiere III (son of a former state senator of the same name) is rumored to be interested in a primary challenge to Rep. Cedric Richmond in the newly-redrawn 2nd CD. The post points out that Bossiere's PSC district has a lot of overlap with the new borders of the 2nd, including a dog-leg up to the Baton Rouge area. (Bossiere, like Richmond, is also African-American.)
• NH-02: It's nothing like the town hall craziness of 2009, but it's nice to see idiots like Charlie Bass take heat in public forums for voting for Paul Ryan's Medicare-killing budget. Pretty pathetic political instincts on the Bassmaster's part. This vote will haunt him - and it's already haunting several other colleagues, like Bob Dold!, Lou Barletta, and Paul Ryan himself.
• NM-01: Oh no. I really had hoped we were done with Marty Chavez, but the maddening former Albuquerque mayor is apparently considering a run to replace Martin Heinrich, and is even supposedly meeting with the DCCC. The good news, though, is that ex-LG (and 2010 gubernatorial nominee) Diane Denish is also thinking about entering the race. This could be a very crowded primary.
• NV-02: You know Jon Ralston is enjoying this one. After a report came out in the Las Vegas Review-Journal (which Ralston not-so-affectionately refers to as a "newspaper," in scare quotes every time) that state GOP chair Mark Amodei was planning to seek the 2nd CD seat being vacated by Dean Heller, Ralston spoke with Amodei who says he didn't announce anything. In the LVRJ piece (which oddly quotes Amodei himself, so I don't know how they got the story wrong), Amodei also said that Republican state Sen. Greg Brower told him he also planned to join the race (and Ralston confirms via Twitter.)
Of course, who knows what's going to happen with this seat, given the unsettled legal questions about how a special election should be conducted if Gov. Brian Sandoval taps Heller for John Ensign's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.
• TN-06: I wonder what's up with Diane Black. The GOP frosh gave her own campaign two-thirds of a million bucks in Q1 - not a loan, an outright donation. I'm guessing that she's trying to ward off a potential primary challenge, given that she won the open-seat Republican primary last year with just 31% of the vote (her two nearest competitors both got 30%, so there must have been much gnashing of teeth).
• NJ-St. Sen.: An administrative law judge ruled that Olympian Carl Lewis, who is running as a Democrat, does indeed meet state residency requirements. However, it sounds like Republicans plan to appeal this ruling.
• WI Recall: All sorts of recall news. First up, Dem state Rep. Fred Clark says he'll challenge Luther Olsen in the expected recall election, another strong get for Team Blue. Democrats also filed a huge 30,000 signatures against their fifth recall target, Alberta Darling. That leaves just three eligible Republicans left: Rob Cowles, Glenn Grothman, and Mary Lazich, the latter two of whom are in very red districts (so I wouldn't be surprised if they don't get hit with a recall).
Republicans also finally filed signatures against three Democrats: Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, and Robert Wirch. Democrats, though, charged that the GOP's petition-gathering efforts were sloppy and flawed, and vowed to challenge the signatures.
• California: California's new independent redistricting commission is set to release a draft set of maps by June 10th, with final maps due on August 15th (after a period of public comment).
• Colorado: Things don't seem to be going so swimmingly in Colorado's attempt to go back to the redistricting drawing board, with a special committee begging for more time to finish a new set of maps. The Republican co-chair says he thinks they can produce new plans in 10 days, but as Al Swearengen says, announcing your plans is a good way to hear god laugh.
Meanwhile, Gov. John Hickenlooper sounds like he has no intention of vetoing any map that the legislature sends him. Since Dems control one body and Republicans the other, this means they'll have to produce a compromise map - or no map at all, and kick it to the courts. I think Hick's hands-off approach (which is totally in-character for him) increases the likelihood of the latter, because it eliminates a key piece of Dem leverage which could be used to force an agreement.
• Missouri: Utterly embarrassing: Barely more than a day after finally agreeing to a conference committee to resolve differences between Republicans in the state House and Senate, work has ground to a halt, and nothing more will happen until Tuesday. One state Rep. offered this hilariously nonsensical assessment: "I think we're close, but obviously we're far." Meanwhile, the House passed a new map this morning that supposedly tries to address some Senate concerns, but given that there is no actual agreement, I'm guessing this is just a negotiating tactic.
• New Jersey: Teabaggers are suing to block implementation of NJ's new legislative map. It's not quite clear what the grounds are, but WNYC summarizes: "The suit alleges that the commission over-packed the southern half of the state and 'illegally split Newark and Jersey City from three districts each to two.'"
• Louisiana: The state House submitted its own map to the DoJ for pre-clearance, which I believe makes it the first such plan to go before Justice this cycle. The hotly-contested congressional map, though, has yet to be sent in.
• Victims: Dave Wasserman and Julia Edwards try their hand at the most likely redistricting victims this cycle, with separate lists for the 10 most endangered Democrats and Republicans.
• 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: Dem Sen. Bill Nelson said he raised over $2 million in Q1 and would report somewhere between $4.5 and $5 million on hand. Republican Mike Haridopolos said he raised $2.6 million and would show $2.5 mil in the bank.
• HI-Sen: So that weird SMS poll we showed you yesterday which only pitted Ed Case vs. Mufi Hannemann in a Dem primary had another, more useful component. They also included favorables for a whole host of Hawaii politicians. Mazie Hirono was best (62% fave), while Linda Lingle was worst (44% unfave). Click the link for the rest. (And no, we still don't know who SMS took this poll for. They're just saying it was a private client.)
• MI-Sen: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) raised $1.2 million in Q1 and has $3 million on hand.
• MO-Sen: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) raised over $1 million in Q1 and has about $1.8 million on hand.
• NM-Sen: Teabagging businessman Greg Sowards raised $150K in Q1... but it sounds like that's all his own money. The writeup is unclear, though - it's possible he raised $150K from outside sources and threw in an equal amount on his own.
• NV-Sen: Wealthy Dem attorney Byron Georgiou raised $1.1 million in Q1, with $500K of that coming from his own pockets.
• ME-Gov: We previously mentioned a proposed constitutional amendment in Maine that would require gubernatorial candidates to receive 50% of the vote (a hurdle almost no one has reached in recent decades). That proposal just died in the state Senate, so it's basically dead for this term.
• MT-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Larry Jent officially announced he is running for governor. He faces fellow state Sen. Dave Wanzenried in the primary. State AG Steve Bullock may also run.
• AZ-06: Ex-Rep. Matt Salmon, who served in a similar seat in the 1990s, says he's now thinking about running for Jeff Flake's open seat. Salmon previously said he was considering a run for governor.
• CA-03: Dem Ami Bera, seeking a rematch against Dan Lungren, says he raised over $230K in Q1. If this haul only dates to the time of his official announcement (just two weeks before the end of the quarter), it's nothing short of un-fucking-believable. However, he gets a demerit for emailing me a press release without putting it on his website so that I can link to it directly. Boo!
• CA-06: Activist Norman Solomon became the second Dem to file in Lynn Woolsey's district, in the event that she retires this cycle.
• CT-05: Dem Dan Roberti, a 28-year-old public relations exec whose father Vincent was a state rep, officially announced his entrance into the race to succeed Chris Murphy. On the GOP side, businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley, who sought the Republican nomination for Lt. Gov. last year, also said she was getting in.
• FL-22: Lois Frankel announced she raised $250K in Q1. Previously, we mentioned that fellow Dem "no not that" Patrick Murphy said he raised $350K.
• IN-02: Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly announced he raised $363,288 in Q1, his best single quarter ever. Dude's not going down without a fight.
• NM-01, NM-Sen: An unnamed advisor to state Auditor Hector Balderas says he won't seek Rep. Martin Heinrich's now-open House seat (something that insiders apparently were encouraging him to do, in the hopes of avoiding a contested primary). According to this advisor, Balderas is still considering a Senate run. Personally, I think it was a mistake for Balderas to say he was almost definitely going to run, only to be upstaged by Heinrich, who of course said he was actually going to run. I think Heinrich has the advantage in a primary, but Balderas needs a way to save face here if he doesn't want that fight any longer.
• NY-19: Freshman GOPer Nan Hayworth announced she raised $330K in Q1 and has a similar amount on hand. Question of the day: Do you think Hayworth could get teabagged to death?
• NY-26: Dem Kathy Hochul announced she raised $350K for the special election coming up on May 24th.
• OR-01: It took a little time, but Dems are now finally drawing out the knives for Rep. David Wu in earnest. Oregon Labor Commissioner (an elected position) Brad Avakian is putting together a team of political advisors and is likely to challenge Wu in the Dem primary. Another Dem elected official, Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman, also apparently became the first Democrat to openly call for regime change (though he says he isn't interested in running). All eyes will certainly be on Wu's fundraising report, due on Friday.
• PA-07: Republican frosh Pat Meehan raised $325K in Q1.
• WI-07: Former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow has formed an exploratory committee for a possible challenge to freshman GOP Rep. Sean Duffy. Kreitlow served a single term in the Senate after defeating a Republican incumbent, before losing in last year's red tide. This could be a pretty good get for us if he goes through with it (which seems likely, just reading this article).
• NJ Lege: Johnny Longtorso has a good summary of the candidate filing for New Jersey's legislative races this November. Out of 120 seats, only four total are unopposed (though there may be signature challenges).
• Suffolk Co. Exec.: Will seriously no one hire Rick Lazio? Perennially a contender for Saddest Sack of the Year, Lazio is apparently considering a run for Suffolk County Executive, now that the seat will be open in the wake of Steve Levy's unusual plea agreement with law enforcement (which involved him not seeking re-election).
• Dark Money: Dems are finally starting to play catchup with the David Kochs of the world. Ali Lapp, a former DCCC official (and wife of one-time DCCC ED John Lapp) will head up a new "Super PAC" called the House Majority PAC. Such groups are actually not all that shadowy - they do have to disclose their donors. But they can raise and spend in unlimited amounts, and engage in direct "vote for/vote against" advocacy.
• EMILY's List: EMILY announced four new GOP targets: Bob Dold (IL-10), Frank Guinta (NH-01), Adam Kinzinger (IL-11), and Steve Stivers (OH-15). The group only endorses women, and there are no declared Dems in any of these races yet, but I note with interest that they claim "there is major Democratic female talent waiting in the wings." In NH-01, they could be expecting a rematch from ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, and I guesss maybe Debbie Halvorson in IL-11 and Mary Jo Kilroy in OH-15, but those seem very unlikely. Any ideas?
• Iowa: It looks like Iowa's new maps will indeed pass into law very shortly. A state Senate committee approved them unanimously, and now the full body is deliberating. The state House will take the issue up today. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad hasn't yet said whether he'll support the new plans, but it'd be pretty explosive if he nuked the maps in the face of widespread backing among legislators. This has all been a very interesting process to watch, especially since after the initial federal map threw both Republican congressmen together, it was easy to imagine that the GOP would want to go back to the drawing board. But the fear of the unknown has pushed politicians to accept what they have before them, rather than risk something worse.
• Indiana: With the new GOP maps looking very much like reality (how Bobby Jindal must envy Mitch Daniels), the state legislator shuffle is set to begin. The AP notes that the new state House map "has three districts that put two current Republican legislators together, three districts with at least two Democrats and four districts with a Republican and a Democratic incumbent," which doesn't sound so bad, but Democrats point out that "five of their House members from Indianapolis were drawn into just two districts."
• Michigan: The MI lege is about to start the redistricting process. State law says maps have to be drawn by Nov. 1st.
• Texas: Republicans in the lege have introduced a bill that would require any new maps (or voter ID bills) to get litigated before a three-judge panel in D.C., rather than go through the DoJ for pre-clearance. Rick Perry apparently is already interested in this alternative. As I've speculated before, he may be hoping for a more favorable hearing from potentially conservative judges. However, I'll note that you can still sue even after the DoJ renders a pre-clearance decision, so I'm not sure why you wouldn't just take the (cheaper and easier) free shot first.
Also of note, the Latino civil rights group MALDEF released two proposals for nine majority-minority districts in Texas. (They deliberately did not offer a map that covered the entire state.) MALDEF is no random organization: They were part of the LULAC v. Perry litigation in 2006, in which the Supreme Court forced Texas to redistrict yet again because Tom DeLay's map had improperly diluted Hispanic voting strength.
• Virginia: So what's going on with this supposed deal? In a rather public bit of horse-trading, Dems (who control the state Senate) and Republicans (who control the state House and the governor's mansion) agreed that each body would get to gerrymander itself (that sounds kind of dirty, huh?), and would also agree to an incumbent protection map for congress, which would of course lock in the GOP's 8-3 advantage. But now Republicans and Democrats have each produced separate federal maps, and they are quite different, with the Dems deliberately trying to create a second district likely to elect a minority.
The oddest part of this deal is that the legislative parts of the deal have already passed - the congressional map is now an entirely separate beast, which I don't really get, since they each seemed to constitute one leg of a three-legged stool. I guess that's why the Senate Dems felt free to reject the House's federal plan, which suggests that the agreement has fallen apart. But Republicans don't seem to be howling that the Dems have somehow reneged, so maybe we didn't understand this deal properly in the first place. In any event, we're very much at an impasse here, but sometimes these logjams break apart very abruptly (see Louisiana and Arkansas).
• AZ-Sen: So what the heck happened with Trent Franks? The Arizona Guardian is reporting that the Republican Congressman had been promising people jobs on his pending Senate campaign, and that his people had even gone so far as to ensure proper media risers were available at the hotel where Franks was supposed to make his big announcement. Yet it all vanished in a heartbeat when Franks unexpectedly pulled the plug. Says the Guardian: "The good thing is, there's still another year-and-a-half to get the full story before the 2012 elections." Also, in case you haven't seen it yet, Dave Catanese penned a piece explaining the backstory on how he got burned by Franks' consultant. It just adds to all the weirdness.
• FL-Sen: Tucked inside that Quinnipiac poll which showed tough numbers for Obama was this nugget:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who like Obama is on the 2012 ballot, is in better shape, with a 47-26 percent approval rating, a 43-39 percent lead over an unidentified Republican and voters saying 43-35 percent that he deserves another term in the Senate.
• MI-Sen (PDF): A week or so ago, Republican-affiliated pollster Market Research Group offered some better-than-everyone-else approval ratings for Gov. Rick Snyder. Apparently, they also polled the Senate race at the same time, pitting Dem Debbie Stabenow against Some Dude Randy Hekman. Amusingly, the polling memo says the Senator has a "slim" 11-point lead over Hekman, 45-34. But the real problem is the sample, which is 26 R, 26 D, 43 I - in other words, nothing like reality.
MRG also polled a hypothetical state Supreme Court matchup between incumbent Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, which had Zahra up 38-33. (Moving from the statehouse to the high court is not unheard of in Michigan.) Speaking of Granholm, she was supposedly under consideration to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Board but says she withdrew her name (and likes Elizabeth Warren for the job). It sounds like Granholm is keeping pretty busy, and the article notes she's teaching at UC Berkeley, so perhaps she's enjoying the weather out in Cali a bit more than back home. But Granholm is a former state AG and was even supposedly a possible Supreme Court pick, so perhaps a judicial run is plausible.
• PA-Sen: Sam Rohrer, the teabaggy ex-state Rep. who got pounded by Tom Corbett in the PA-Gov GOP primary last year, says he's "50-50" on running against Bob Casey this cycle. Rohrer has the perfect pedigree: He runs the Pennsylvania chapter of the malevolent David Koch front group Americans for Prosperity.
NBC 4's reporter-anchor Craig Melvin is a tall African-American. Which apparently led to this exchange with former Sen. George Allen, according to Melvin's Twitter account Tuesday night:
"For the 2nd time in 5 months, fmr. gov. and sen candidate George Allen asks me,"what position did you play?" I did not a play a sport."
Actually, I changed my mind. If you still don't think George Allen is a racist fuck, read this coda from ThinkProgress writer Lee Feng. And no, Allen didn't apologize - he offered a classic bullshit "I'm sorry if I offended you" response. That's bullshit.
Anyhow, Roanoke College released a poll of the race, showing Allen leading Tim Kaine by 45-32 - a rather different picture than what we saw from PPP. However, the WaPo ran an above-the-item update warning readers to be "cautious" about this survey because "[r]esults were adjusted only for gender, and the resulting sample is not representative of Virginia's racial composition, its age structure or regional population densities." It also looks like the horserace question was asked after about a bajillion issue-related questions (PDF), some of them kind of weird.
Finally, in Some Dude news... some other Some Dude (an African-American minister named Earl Jackson) decided to get into the GOP primary, a race with a lot of Some Dudes already in it.
• GA-Gov: PPP did a re-do poll in Georgia, too, and found Dem ex-Gov. Roy Barnes would edge actual Gov. Nathan Deal by a single point today, 46-45. Tom says that this isn't a case of voter disgust with Deal (he has pretty meh ratings, not downright radioactive ones like Scott Walker), but rather a clear sign of last year's enthusiasm gap that will forever haunt us. There's also a smorgasbord of other Peach State odds-and-ends at the link.
• KY-Gov: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is out with his first radio ads of the campaign, touting his small-town roots, a week after his likely Republican opponent, David Williams, also went up on radio. Unlike Beshear, Williams faces a primary on May 17th, so he's also going up on cable TV with a new ad you can watch here. NWOTSOTB for any of these.
• MS-Gov: Turns out PPP did in fact test the Republican gubernatorial primary in Mississippi. Click through if you really, really care. (Hint: You won't.)
• UT-Gov: State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, a teabagger fave to challenge immigration apostate Gary Herbert for the governor's mansion, says on Facebook that he has "no plans or intentions to run." (Yes, it would be more awesome if his name were Stephen Sandstorm.)
• WV-Gov: In case you weren't sure where all the players in the Democratic primary field stand on the ideology spectrum (something we'll be rectifying with a more in-depth post shortly), this is a helpful guidepost: Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was endorsed by the WV Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber also endorsed the only two legit Republicans running, Betty Ireland and Bill Maloney.
• CA-26, CA-06: Assemblyman Anthony Portantino is getting some high-profile fundraising help: Steve Israel is coming out to Pacific Palisades this weekend for a breakfast event. The same piece also notes that Assemblyman Jared Huffman raised $120K for a federal account in Q1; Huffman is interested in 73-year-old Rep. Lynn Woolsey's seat, if she retires. Woolsey apparently will decide whether to seek another term by June.
• IL-08: I'm not exactly broken up by this news: Ex-Rep. Melissa Bean, whose race was the closest in the nation last year (she lost by 290 votes to a real piece of work), says she won't run again. She's now CEO of something called the Executives Club of Chicago, which doesn't really give off a man-of-the-people vibe, now does it?
• MI-09: If there's one guy repeatedly written off as a redistricting victim who I'd really love to see find a way to survive, it's Rep. Gary Peters. Despite what must have been an exhausting last several years raising money, the Michigan Dem wasted no time getting right back into the game, pulling in over $400K in Q1. He has half a mil on hand.
• NM-01: This Roll Call piece (also linked below in a redistricting item) mentions a few Dem names we hadn't discussed here before: state Rep. Al Park, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, who lost the 2008 primary for this seat.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon will join the "government relations" (i.e., lobbying) group at a mid-sized NYC law firm. He's apparently being brought on as "counsel" status, rather than as a partner, so this could just be a way-station to allow him to pay the bills as he weighs a re-match... but of course, he risks getting hit with the lobbyist taint.
• PA-17: Activist Sheila Dow-Ford confirms the rumors that she's considering another run against Rep. Tim Holden, against whom she took 35% in the Democratic primary last year. Holden could get a bluer district when all is said and done, so a challenge from the left is a real possibility - but as Dow-Ford herself notes, others are interested, and I wouldn't be surprised if some bigger-name candidates got in if the seat became markedly more Dem.
• UT-02: Huh - I can't exactly accuse the Salt Lake Tribune of burying the lede, since they put this in the second graf, but Rep. Jim Matheson says he's waiting to see what the new district lines look like before deciding whether to run again, or instead if he'll seek statewide office. A statewide run doesn't seem like a particularly appealing escape hatch, but both Gov. Gary Herbert (see item above) and Sen. Orrin Hatch could wind up damaged by teabaggers, so you never know. A couple of other statewide offices Matheson could see (Treasurer, Auditor) are up as well.
Also, Some Dude Chuck Williams, an Air Force vet who lost a couple of GOP primaries for Congress... in California... says he plans to challenge Matheson for his House seat, and that he'll run regardless of where the lines get drawn.
• VA-11: Via FEC Kenobi, Some Dude Christopher Perkins just filed as a Republican to challenge Gerry Connolly. That's a pretty un-Google-able name, so I can't tell you much about him... though I do know his home is worth $743,130!
• WV-01: Freshman Rep. David McKinley (R), who won a close race last year, says he's raised over half a mil in the first quarter. Note, though, that he still has $670K in campaign debt from last cycle.
• Allegheny Co. Exec.: PoliticsPA, via Municipoll, has a race out on the Allegheny, PA County Executive's race. I'm gonna admit straight off the bat that I don't know the players here, but click through for details.
• IN-SoS: So a judge allowed a Dem challenge to SoS Charlie White's eligibility to serve in office to proceed, but really, you just need to read Bob Bobson's summary of where things stand - and where things will head now. (Bob's been doing an awesome job of staying on top of this oftentimes-complicated story, so pay attention to him.)
• Champaign, IL Mayor: Here's a nice little election result that we otherwise missed: The avowedly teabagging mayor of Champaign, Illinois was narrowly defeated by a political newcomer on Tuesday night, the first time, in fact, that he'd ever been opposed in 12 years in office. I'm a little surprised that the university town of Champaign would have elected such a wingnut in the first place, but this is still good news.
• Specials: Johnny Longtorso:
Democrat Kevin Johnson won a 5-point victory over Republican Sonny Sanders in South Carolina's HD-64.
[On whether this seat was supposedly a Dem stronghold:]
I took another look at it; it's almost all of a county that Obama got around 56% in along with one or two precincts of an adjacent county, and it's about 50/50 white/black, so black turnout may have been low. So he just did a few points worse than Obama's numbers in 2008.
• Wisconsin Recall: Dems filed over 22,000 signatures to recall state Sen. Randy Hopper yesterday. Republicans claim they are close to filing petitions for Sen. Robert Wirch, one of the more endangered Dems on the list.
• WATN?: Ethan Hastert, son of ex-Speaker Denny the Hutt and victim of a genuinely impressive teabagger-fueled anybody-but-Ethan movement to deny him the GOP nomination in IL-14 last year, has managed to win elective office this year. He earned a council seat in the village of Elburn, IL, which has a population that is actually a few thousand smaller than my census tract. Don't call it a comeback!
• Arkansas: Total impasse: The state House rejected the state Senate's congressional redistricting plan, complementing the Senate's recent rejection of the House plan. Some procedural maneuvers may be used to try to get things moving forward again, which lawmakers are probably eager to do, since the legislative session was scheduled to end over a week ago.
• California: Look, it's basically impossible to find a law firm that knows anything about redistricting which has never had any prior political involvement. So I don't understand why it's coming as a surprise that Gibson Dunn, the firm hired by the redistricting commission, has a political fund and has used it to make donations. Oh wait, I think I do - it's because most (but by no means all) of those donations were made to Democrats, so the GOP is continuing its plan to do everything it can to "discredit" the entire process. It's especially silly, because the firm specifically tasked one Dem attorney and one Republican attorney to lead the effort... but then again, the GOP is especially silly.
• Louisiana: Nathan Gonzales has a good piece untangling the wreck that is Louisiana redistricting, and offering some insight into the behind-the-scenes process. I strongly encourage you to click through the link for the full flavor. (As an inducement, there's a bowl full of cat food inside.) Apparently, a compromise plan is in the works, but Nathan says that if an agreement isn't reached by next week, the lege will have to wait until next year to finish its work. (They can't call a special session?) Anyhow, like I say, read the whole thing.
• New Mexico: Though legislators won't hold a special session on redistricting until the fall, apparently a plan is brewing among Democrats to excise GOP-leaning Torrance County from the 1st CD. The problem, though, is that while Dems control the lege, Gov. Susana Martinez is, of course, a Republican - a very similar situation to the last round of map-drawing in 2001, which eventually ended up in court.
• Texas: You can play with various Texas map proposals at the link.
• Virginia: Two Virginia items. First, the House of Delegates approved the Republican gerrymander for that body, though most Democrats were actually stupid enough to vote in favor of the plan. (Hasn't anyone ever heard of a symbolic protest vote to at least signal to your supporters that you know you're getting the shaft, even if it's for the greater good?) Second, a (the?) congressional plan was released, and it's potentially not as bad as it could be. Have a look-see.
• AZ-Sen: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) will apparently announce a haul of more than $1 million in Q1.
• OH-Sen: A spokesman for Treasurer Josh Mandel says he'll file paperwork with the FEC "very shortly," but it's not clear from the writeup whether this means an exploratory committee (what I'm guessing) or if it's the real thing. Also of note: Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), whose name first came up as a possible candidate less than a week ago, quashed any notion that he might run against Sherrod Brown last Friday.
• VA-Sen: If you want to believe CNN's sources, Tim Kaine will announce a Senate bid in the next two weeks.
• WA-Sen, WA-10: Sue Rahr, the conservative King County Sheriff who inherited the job from now-Rep. Dave Reichert, said through a spokesman that she has no intention of running against Sen. Maria Cantwell - a rumor that seems to have gotten shot down before we'd ever heard of it here at SSP. However, a political consultant of Rahr's thinks the sheriff (who supposedly has crossover appeal) could run in Washington's new 10th CD, if a district emerges out of Reichert's 8th centered in the area north of I-90.
• ME-Gov: Will Paul LePage be the next Rick Scott? Like Florida's governor, Republican members of LePage's own legislature are starting to turn on him; eight state senators penned an op-ed declaring : "'Government by disrespect' should have no place in Augusta, and when it happens, we should all reject it."
• MO-Gov: I think it's going to get worse before it gets better for Republican LG Peter Kinder. Trying to push back against revelations that he spend taxpayer money to spend two months a year in St. Louis luxury hotels to attend baseball games, society balls, and teabagger conclaves since 2006, Kinder claimed that his office had been reviewed by two different state auditors, both of them Democrats: Susan Montee and Claire McCaskill (yes, her). The problem? Montee's audit faulted Kinder for "numerous mathematical errors and inconsistencies" regarding employee pay, and McCaskill's found that Kinder used a state-owned care for personal use. I'm sensing a theme here.
• WA-Gov: Could Christine Gregoire's claim to be undecided about seeking a third term really just be a way to ward off lame-duck syndrome? That's Jim Brunner's guess. The Seattle Times reporter points out that campaign finance filings show the Democrat had just $44K on hand at the end of February. At the comparable reporting deadline during the prior election cycle, she had $1.2 million in the bank. Meanwhile, other likely candidates are flush: Republican AG Rob McKenna has raised $800K and has $400K on hand, while Rep. Jay Inslee (D) had $1.2 million in his congressional account at the end of last year. The piece also notes that another possible Dem candidate, state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, has recently discussed a potential run for Lt. Gov. instead. (She'd have to primary Brad Owen, who has been in office since 1997, or push him into retirement.)
• FL-22: Whoa, I was definitely wrong to dismiss "no not that" Patrick Murphy as a Some Dude. One article described him as a 28-year-old accountant, but he's got family money - and, evidently, good connections. Murphy says he raised a majorly impressive $350K in less than a month, and only $30K of that is his own money. Even fundraising machine Ron Klein raised "only" $153K in the comparable quarter in 2005 (before he was first elected).
• NM-01: Terry Brunner, a former state director for the retiring Jeff Bingaman, had previously said he was thinking about running for his old boss's seat, but now says he's considering a run for the 1st CD instead.
• NV-01: Jon Ralston thinks former 3rd CD Rep. Dina Titus will run for Shelley Berkley's seat if the latter runs for Senate, but this is definitely a case of Schrödinger's Seat.
• OR-01: Former state Rep. Greg Macpherson is the first big-name Dem to say he's considering a primary challenge to embattled Rep. David Wu. He wants to wait until the district lines become clear, saying he'll only run if he lives in the district. (He doesn't live there now, but I suppose he could move even if redistricting doesn't help him, so I'm not sure how big an obstacle that is.) He also says he's considering a primary challenge to state AG John Kroger, the man who beat him in the Dem primary for that office in 2008.
• WI-07: Feeling the heat, Rep. Sean Duffy offered a half-assed non-apology, saying his "words were admittedly poorly chosen" when he whinged about getting paid only $174,000 a year as a member of Congress.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: Surprise, surprise: "Citizens for a Strong America," the potemkin right-wing group responsible for several attack ads in the race (including one even PolitiFact rated "pants on fire") turns out to be just a clone/offshoot of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' arch-evil front group.
• Special Elections: After a few weeks without any state lege races, Johnny Longtorso is back:
While everyone will be focused on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election (which is a phrase I never thought I'd type), there is one special occurring on Tuesday in South Carolina's HD-64, though it's in a safe Democratic seat. Democrat Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Manning, will face off against Republican Walter Sanders.
Also, a quick shout-out to Republican Mike "Pete" Huval, the newest member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from HD-46. He defeated another Republican (no Democrat ran) on Saturday for the seat vacated by now-State Sen. Fred Mills.
• Maps: The National Journal has an interesting set of maps which focus on a theme that DCCyclone has been hitting in comments: Namely, because of population growth among minorities, the share of the white vote that Obama needs in 2012 is lower than it was in 2008, assuming minority support for Obama stays the same. In a very pessimistic scenario where his minority support falls 10%, Obama would only lose three states he otherwise won in 2008 (FL, IN & NC), assuming he keeps the same share of the white vote. (But note that that latter assumption is unnecessary: Even under the reduced minority support scenario, Obama's white support could also drop considerably in many states and he'd still win.)
• Votes: A new study (full paper here) says that Dems who votes "yes" on healthcare reform saw their reelection margins reduced from 6 to 8 points. Something about this study seems incomplete to me, though, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I'll be really curious to read your thoughts in comments.
• VRA: This is interesting: Black lawmakers in Georgia have filed a lawsuit challenging to dissolve the charters of five very white cities in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. The plaintiffs argue that these cities, all formed between 2005 and 2008, were created to dilute minority voting power, and hence violate the VRA. Apparently, this is a novel application of the Voting Rights Act, so we'll see how it unfolds.
• Passings: Very sad news: Former Rep. John Adler, a longtime state Senator who served one term in NJ-03 before losing last year, passed away at the age of 51. Last month, Adler contracted an infection which led to heart disease from which he never recovered. His father also died young of heart disease, something Adler would mention on the campaign trail when describing his family's struggles after his father's death. As a state legislator, one of his signature accomplishments was a smoke-free air bill which banned smoking in many public places. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
In other news, former TN Gov. Ned McWherter also passed away yesterday. McWherter, who was 80, served two terms as governor in the late 80s and early 90s. One of the things McWherter is probably best known for is the creation TennCare, the state's expanded Medicaid program. His son Mike ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year.
• Arkansas: Rob Moritz of the Arkansas News Bureau has a good rundown of what's going on with Democrats' controversial redistricting plan, dubbed the "Fayetteville Finger." The plan has passed in the House but has stalled in the Senate, where a vote won't come until Thursday at the earliest. At the end of the piece, Moritz details several different alternate proposals pending in the Senate.
• Louisiana: A piece from Sunday's Times-Picayune said that votes were possible on Monday in the House and Senate on congressional maps, but I've not yet seen any subsequent coverage.
• Michigan: Aaron Blake's redistricting series takes him to Michigan, where he has a good explanation of just how difficult it will be for the GOP to shore up its current situation.
• Missouri: Check out this Google Maps version of the state House's proposed new federal district lines.
• New Jersey: Republicans started bitching and moaning about the state's new map even before it was officially chosen, but so far, they haven't said whether they'd challenge the map in court. Not really sure what grounds they'd have even if they wanted to give it a go.
• Nevada: The LVRJ has a piece on the debate in Nevada over whether to create a majority-Hispanic district, or whether to keep Hispanic voters spread out to keep all districts more Dem or more competitive. Most Republicans obviously like the former idea, while Dems (including some Latino lawmakers) are understandably skeptical. Also, it looks like abgin must have trekked all the way from Basque Country to make a presentation at a public hearing in Vegas last weekend: The LVRJ says that "[s]everal interest groups presented proposed maps, including one that likely wouldn't pass legal or political muster because it would create four new vertical congressional districts stretching from North to South."
• Texas: Ah, redistricting cat fud - it has a stench all its own. GOP Rep. Lamar Smith is apparently taking the non-insane view that Hispanic growth and the VRA require that two (well, at least two) of Texas's four new districts be majority-minority, and he's been working with Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar to create a compromise map. This has infuriated fellow Republican Rep. Joe Barton (aka Smokey Joe), who insists that at least three if not all four of the new seats be Republican-favored. And folks, the cat fud is real. Sayeth Politico:
Barton has harshly criticized Smith during Texas GOP delegation meetings, launching a profanity-laced tirade at Smith during one session early last month, and he's privately tried to oust Smith as the lead Republican negotiator on redistricting.
Politico's sources say that Smith is still favored among members of his own party, but that Gov. Rick Perry may be leaning toward Barton. Perry's alleged plan is to skip DoJ pre-clearance and go directly to federal court, perhaps hoping for a friendly conservative panel (backstopped by an unquestionably conservative Supreme Court), so that could turn Barton's dream into a reality... but I still think it's a serious stretch. The piece also reports that proposed maps have been circulated among Republicans, but of course, no one's sharing any copies.
That's the story according to a couple of dudes that the Associated Press spoke to, at least:
U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich plans to run for the Senate seat being vacated by longtime Sen. Jeff Bingaman, two New Mexico Democrats close to the congressman and familiar with his political plans said Friday.
The two state Democrats, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid upstaging Heinrich's formal announcement, told The Associated Press that Heinrich will announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Saturday. Heinrich, 39, is the first prominent Democrat to jump into the race as his party seeks to hold onto the seat that has been held by Bingaman since 1982.
Heinrich spokeswoman Whitney Potter declined to comment Friday on the congressman's political plans.
When he announces, Heinrich will be the first New Mexico Democrat of any stature to formally launch a campaign for retiring Dem Sen. Jeff Bingaman's seat. (State Auditor Hector Balderas is expected to run, but he hasn't yet made his plans public.) It would appear that Heinrich, in his second term in the House after a stint serving as an Albuquerque city councilman, would have the jump on his would-be Democratic primary opponents -- at least according to a recent but meagrely-sampled poll by Tulchin Research for the Defenders of Wildlife. Heinrich led the field with 32%, followed by ex-Lt. Gov. Diane Denish at 25%, 3rd CD Rep. Ben Ray Luján at 15%, Balderas at 5% and 24% undecided.
Heinrich will leave behind an extremely swingy open seat in the House, but if a solid replacement candidate can be found, the Obama turnout machine should be a formidable advantage for Team Blue here.
"I am seriously considering entering the Congressional race, but need to discuss my final decision with my family, my employer, and of course my supporters," Griego said in a statement sent to the media. "This is an important decision not just for me and my family, but for our whole community and it warrants serious soul searching and a sober review of what kind of Democrat we want fighting for us in Washington."
In addition to his position in the Senate, Griego currently is the Executive Director of the non-profit New Mexico Voices for Children.
"It is a very critical time for our state and our country," Senator Griego said. "We need a Democratic Congressional candidate who will unapologetically stand up for working families and take on those who would put large corporate interests ahead of our children, our environment and our local businesses."
UPDATE 2 (David): Heinrich makes it official, with a video (and transcript) on his website:
Former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson will announce her Senate candidacy Monday, two Republicans inform POLITICO.
Wilson is expected to be the first official candidate in the race since five-term Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman announced his retirement on Feb. 18.
I'd be shocked if Wilson were not the recipient of a mighty teabagging. In comments, I saw someone suggesting she could run for her old seat in NM-01 if Rep. Martin Heinrich got into the senate race. Do you think that drop-down could happen?
• 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.
• ME-Sen: The attempt to primary out Olympia Snowe by the state's various fractious Tea Party factions seems to be sputtering, partly for lack of a credible challenger to rally around (with Some Dude Scott D'Ambroise the only one officially in the race right now) but also as the various Judean People's Front and People's Front of Judea wings of the 'baggers start to increasingly turn their fire on each other rather than on Democrats and alleged RINOs.
• MI-Sen: Joining a major law firm after an electoral loss isn't, in itself, dispositive of future political runs a few years down the line. But observers are taking the decision by former AG Mike Cox (who lost last year's GOP gubernatorial primary) to join a Detroit law firm as an indicator that he isn't considering the 2012 Senate race.
• MO-Sen: There are increasing signals that Jim Talent may not run for Senate in 2012, after all. Dave Catanese talks to various Show Me State insiders who say that Talent hasn't been doing the behind-the-scenes reaching-out that one usually does at this point, and they point to him not only having got caught off guard by Sarah Steelman's abrupt early entry into the primary but also his close relationship with Mitt Romney. Talent is currently traveling with Romney in an advisory role in Afghanistan, and there's speculation his 2012 plans may involve hitching his wagon to Romney in the hopes that he's the next President and that a Cabinet role (SecDef?) may be in the offing.
• OH-Sen: With Mike DeWine having passed on a rematch against Sherrod Brown, the speculation has turned to newly-elected Lt. Gov. and former Auditor Mary Taylor. It sounds like she's game; local insiders are saying she's at "90%" in terms of likelihood of running. She may not have the field to herself even if she does, though; another newly-elected statewide GOPer, 33-year-old state Treasurer Josh Mandel has been impressing the local GOP in his first week on the job and is starting to attract some buzz for a quick promotion.
• WY-Sen: Wyoming promises to be the least dramatic state in the 2012 election, so PPP's decision to poll here this early seems a little odd. At any rate, they find Wyomingites love their politicians: outgoing Dem Gov. Dave Freudenthal gets a 71/18 approval, making him the nation's most popular governor, while the state's two GOP Senators, John Barrasso (69/25) and Mike Enzi (63/24) are the nation's two most popular Senators. Despite his popularity (and, well, despite the fact that he's never expressed any interest in running for federal office), Freudenthal loses a hypothetical 2012 matchup against Barrasso, 56-36, thanks to the GOP's huge registration advantage here.
• RI-Gov: There's already one Dem reportedly gearing up for the 2014 Governor's race: state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who's build a war chest and getting friendly with DC consultants. (Alternatively, she could also be running for Senate in 2014 instead, if Jack Reed isn't running again.) No mention of whether she'd be challenging new indie Gov. Lincoln Chafee (last seen more or less declaring war on local talk radio) from the left or the right (as Frank Caprio tried to do, and failed).
• FL-14: With Rep. Connie Mack IV looking like one of the House's likeliest retirements right now (in order to pursue a Senate bid against Bill Nelson), speculation has already begun about who'll fill his seat. One thing is pretty predictable, given the Fort Myers-area district's R+11 bent and lack of any Dem tradition or bench: it'll be a Republican. GOP names to watch include ex-state Rep. Dudley Goodlette and Lee Co. Commissioner Ray Judah. The most prominent name, though, may be former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp (though he might have trouble getting out of a GOP primary unless he can find a way to wash the stank of the Charlie Crist administration off his suit). State Sen. Garrett Richter (whose district closely overlaps the 14th) says no thanks to the race.
• HI-01: GOP ex-Rep. Charles Djou, seeming a bit testy after the abrupt end to his very short tenure in the House, seems to have thrown all that feel-good ohana crap out the window in his exit press conference, blaming Dem successor Colleen Hanabusa in advance for expected future failures. He may feel free to speak his mind as he also says he has "no plans to run for any political office ever again."
• NM-01: Rep. Martin Heinrich has already drawn some seemingly-credible Republican opposition for 2012, although he has the kind of district that seems much safer for a Dem in a presidential year than last year's narrow win. Republican Albuquerque city councilor Dan Lewis has formed an exploratory committee.
• State legislatures: Two state House speaker elections are in the news today. The big one may be in Texas, where an expected coup from the right against GOP speaker Joe Straus didn't ever seem to materialize. He got the support of 70 of 100 GOP House members in a pre-vote caucus, and then was easily elected to another term by the whole House. Meanwhile, in Oregon, an unusual power-sharing arrangement was cobbled together with a surprising degree of civility and equanimity, as the parties figure out how to grapple with a never-before 30-30 tie. GOPer Bruce Hanna and Dem Arnie Roblan will be co-speakers, handing the gavel to each other on alternating days.
• Special elections: Two southern states have special elections scheduled today, although there should be very little drama in any of the elections, as these are Republican-leaning districts replacing promoted Republican legislators in lightly-contested races (and icy conditions should reduce turnout to microscopic levels). In Mississippi, the races are to replace Alan Nunnelee in SD-6 and Steven Palazzo in HD-116. (With a recent party switch by state Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the GOP is poised to tie the state Senate with today's election.) In Virginia, the races are to replace Robert Hurt in SD-19 and Morgan Griffith in HD-8.
• Primaries: In a nice bit of symmetry, two states are going in very different directions with their primary election rules. In Idaho, where the GOP seems fearful of meddling in its primaries by the state's Democrat (I think his name is Jerry), the state GOP is pushing to change from open primaries to closed primaries. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, after a period of closed primaries for federal-level offices (which was extremely confusing, since they kept using open primaries for state offices), they're expecting federal approval of a switch back to all open primaries this month. The state legislature has already approved it, but as a VRA state, they're waiting for DOJ preclearance.
• Redistricting: Finally, here's some redistricting news. Bob McDonnell has thrown a bone to fans of redistricting reform with the creation of a new redistricting commission with 11 members. It's not a very interesting bone, though, since the commission's role is purely advisory and the commission doesn't even have a budget. Meanwhile, the Hill looks at what might happen to the House districts in New Jersey, a state where the hard work is actually done by commission (which has traditionally focused on incumbent protection, but has to eliminate one seat this year). For now, everyone is waiting for more complete Census figures to see if the population stagnation was more concentrated in the state's north (which would probably hit the Dems) or the state's middle (which would hit the GOP).
Martin Heinrich (D-inc): 48 (47)
Jon Barela (R): 41 (41)
Undecided: 11 (12)
Harry Teague (D-inc): 45 (45)
Steve Pearce (R): 46 (42)
Undecided: 9 (13)
Here's another state where things are staying pretty consistent over the last month. Over the course of September, Susana Martinez's lead over Diane Denish has remained at 7, as they've both made gains from undecided, but Martinez is getting dangerously close to 50. (The basic story of this election is: what sounds better on your resume, "district attorney" or "Bill Richardson's #2?")
Likewise, things barely budged in the 1st, where Martin Heinrich added one point to his already decent-but-not-decisive lead. (It's looking more and more like that SurveyUSA poll that gave a lead to Jon Barela a few months ago was quite the outlier.) The needle moved only a little more in the 2nd, where the polls have shown a true tossup... but the movement was enough to drop Dem incumbent Harry Teague from a surprising 3-point lead to a 1-point deficit (exactly where he was in a PPP poll a few weeks ago, too).