Rick Thompson (D): 38
Bill Maloney (R): 28
The West Virginia gubernatorial special election (which, remember, is being held on Oct. 4, not on Election Day in November) looks like it's shaping up without much drama: to replace popular conservaDem Joe Manchin, who moved on to the Senate, it looks like fellow popular conservaDem (and Manchin ally) Earl Roy Tomblin has a strong inside track. Tomblin, whose name rec has improved significantly in the months since PPP's previous (and only other poll) of the race, is now putting up very big margins against the Republican opposition.
Tomblin's favorables are 49/24, including a plurality, 39/33, among Republicans, and his 'not sures' are down to 27%, from 39% in January. His endorsement this week from the NRA ought to only help solidify his standing among right-of-center voters. The other less-known Democratic options (SoS Natalie Tennant's at 36/29, Treasurer John Perdue is at 27/27, and House speaker Rick Thompson is at 25/24) put up less convincing numbers, but thanks to high Democratic registration advantages, all also win, usually by comfortable margins. That's a turnaround from January, where Perdue tied Ireland and Thompson lost; only Tennant finds herself in worse position than before. (Bill Maloney, a mining industry businessman without political experience, wasn't polled by PPP in their January poll, so the trendlines are only partial.)
Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 32
John Perdue (D): 17
Natalie Tennant (D): 16
Rick Thompson (D): 15
Jeff Kessler (D): 5
Arne Moltis (D): 1
Betty Ireland (R): 31
Bill Maloney (R): 17
Clark Barnes (R): 8
Mitch Carmichael (R): 8
Mark Sorsaia (R): 4
Ralph William Clark (R): 2
Larry Faircloth (R): 2
Cliff Ellis (R): 1
The more important story for now, though, is the primaries, which will take place on May 14 (a Saturday, three weeks away). Unlike with the generals, this is PPP's first look at the primaries and assumedly will be their last; it's also our only primary poll outside of candidates' internals. Again, name rec carries the day: Tomblin has a sizable advantage. In fact, as Tom Jensen points out, despite the clutter in the Democratic field, Tomblin actually has a bigger lead there than does ex-SoS Betty Ireland on the GOP side (although watch out for that giant MoE in the GOP poll!). Maloney has set the pace on advertising on the GOP side, leaving Ireland playing catch-up. Maloney's latest ad, in fact, plays his ace in the hole: his firm's connections to the rescue of the Chilean miners earlier this year. (One other ad of note: John Perdue's newest ad actually features a jingle! That's such a throwback it's almost a little charming.)
For more on where the Dem candidates fit on the left-right spectrum, check out this excellent primer. This poses an interesting question for Democratic armchair quarterbacks, in terms of who to pull for (which is probably just a question of rooting, as this race certainly isn't much of a magnet for netroots dollars). Is it better to hope for the slam-dunk candidacy of Tomblin, or to go with a bit more of a roll-of-the-dice in the general to get someone, like Thompson or Tennant, who's a bit more to the left?
• HI-Sen: Both Rep. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa have confirmed to Roll Call that they are looking at the Dem primary to replace retiring Sen. Dan Akaka, and Hanabusa says she's meeting with the DSCC, presumably soon. She also says that the DS "has made it known it wants to speak with anyone interested in running, but it is not actively recruiting any one candidate" (Roll Call's phrasing).
• IN-Sen: So GOPer Richard Mourdock raised $157K, not much better than the $125K or so he predicted (in an obvious attempt to ensure he "exceeded analysts' estimates," as they might say after a Wall Street earnings call). But I flag this item because Roll Call says Mourdock plans to "raise money from a national donor base starting next year." Does this mean he's going the Sharron Angle/Michele Bachmann/Allen West BMW Direct-type direct mail scammery? (See related bullets below.) If so, then perhaps Dick Lugar is in better shape than he might have hoped.
• MO-Sen: This is news to me: Sophomore GOP Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer is apparently thinking about a Senate bid, and has reportedly even met with the NRSC about his intentions. Dave Catanese says that "uncertainty about redistricting" is spurring Luetkemeyer to consider other options, but I'm not sure I buy that, seeing as the new maps being considered by the Republican-held legislature offer him a very comfy seat. The real puzzler is why he's doing this when six-term Rep. Todd Akin seems to be gearing up for a Senate run, since there's almost no way the two would want to fight it out in a primary. Maybe Lute thinks he can be Plan B if Akin demurs.
Another reason cited by Catanese (which applies equally well to both congressmen) is ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman's crappy fundraising. She pulled in just $186K in Q1, which would be unimpressive for a supposedly serious candidate in almost any state. If Akin gets in, I think there's a non-zero chance that she'd drop out.
• MT-Sen: Nice: Sen. Jon Tester (D) raised $1.2 million in Q1 and has $1.5m on hand. His Republican opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg, raised less than half that, $580K, but has $932K in the bank.
• NE-Sen: Sen. Ben Nelson raised $1 million in Q1 and has $2.3 mil on hand. His chief Republican rival, AG Jon Bruning, raised $1.5 million and has $1.2 in the bank, but Nelson pointed out that $600K was transferred from Bruning's 2008 Senate account (when he briefly sought to primary Chuck Hagel; after Hagel announced his retirement, Bruning was squeezed out by former Gov. Mike Johanns).
• OH-Sen: Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin, whom we'd mentioned previously as a possible candidate, has filed paperwork for an exploratory committee, joining Treasurer Josh Mandel in this in-limbo category in the GOP primary.
• TN-Sen: I feel like there's an alternate universe not too dissimilar from our own where a Republican dude named Bob Corker is also freshman in the U.S. Senate, and he's also up for re-election, except Corker Prime is actually vulnerable. Here on Earth, though, it really seems like Corker is well out of reach for us. He raised an impressive $1.9 million in Q1 and has over $4 million in the bank - and there are no Democratic candidates on the horizon.
• MO-Gov: Gov. Jay Nixon lapped his likely Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, on the fundraising circuit, pulling in over twice as much money over the last six months, $1.7 million to $770K. Nixon also has a big cash-on-hand edge, $2.1 mil to $900K.
But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show? Well, pretty terrible, actually - Kinder's had just an awful few weeks in the press. After the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed his penchant for spending taxpayer money to stay in luxury hotels to attend baseball games and society balls, Kinder promised to reimburse the state $35K... but two weeks later, he still hasn't. That nimbus definitely isn't moving anywhere just yet, and it's his own damn fault. Let's hope he runs the rest of his campaign the same way.
• NC-Gov: This just doesn't seem good. Gov. Bev Perdue, whose public image has already suffered enough damage, was out-of-state Saturday afternoon when a series of deadly tornadoes touched down in North Carolina. She was attending a horse race in Kentucky and didn't make a public appearance back home until 11pm that night. I'm not going to predict what this will mean for Perdue, but it can't be helpful.
• WV-Gov: SoS Natalie Tennant's first ad is a hokey spot set on a farm, in which she decries politicians wasting money... and a cow can be heard to moo. (Or a bull. I don't know. It has horns. But small ones. So maybe still a cow? Do bulls moo? I'm from the city - sue me.) Tennant is generally seen as the candidate with the greatest appeal to liberals (yes, there are some in West Virginia), so she's clearly trying to play against type here.
• AZ-08: Rep. Gabby Giffords raised $358K in Q1 and has $556K in the bank.
• CA-19: Freshman GOP Rep. Jeff Denham (I admit it - I had already forgotten who he was and had to Google him) is already making a name for himself. That name is "idiot." He staged a mega-lavish DC fundraiser in January when he was sworn in which featured singer Leann Rimes and spent an amazing $212,250 on the event. Total raised? $212,900 - which means he netted exactly $650. That's quite the feat. It's even more amazing when you consider it was all supposed to benefit a joint fundraising committee for 11 GOP frosh. To rub it in, Michael Doyle of the Modesto Bee archly observes: "If the $650 netted from outside contributors were to be divvied up evenly, each of the 11 GOP lawmakers would receive $59."
• CA-36: Janice Hahn outraised Debra Bowen in Q1, $273K to $195K, and has about double the cash-on-hand, $171K to $93K. Surprisingly, Marcy Winograd managed to raise $50K. (And if you care, Republican Craig Hughey lent his campaign $250K.)
Bowen also put out an internal from the Feldman Group. In a test of apparently all the candidates who have filed, she and Hahn tie for 20, with Republican Mike Gin the next-closest at 8 and Winograd at 6. The memo also says that in a two-way runoff, Bowen leads 40-36 with 16% undecided. The poll also claims that Hahn's unfavorability rating is "double that of Bowen," but a self-respecting pollster really shouldn't include such tripe, because the refusal to release actual numbers means we're talking about something like a 12-to-6 comparison (i.e., meaningless). As mi hermano G.O.B. Bluth would say, "COME ON!"
• FL-08: Hah! Does Daniel Webster want to lose? The GOP freshman raised just $30K in Q1, but the really funny part is that the guy he defeated, Alan Grayson, raised more! Grayson took in $38K, apparently from small donors who hope he'll make a comeback bid.
• FL-22: Allen West raised a seemingly-impressive $434K in Q1, but as you know, he's a major practitioner of the churn-and-burn style of shady direct-mail fundraising, and it really shows in his burn rate. He spent an amazing $266K last quarter, which both as a raw total and a percentage rate is exceedingly high... but see the MN-06 and NV-02 items below.
• IA-04: Interesting, though not surprising: Politico says that DCCC chair Steve Israel warned Christie Vilsack off of challenging Dave Loebsack in the new 2nd CD, assuring her that the D-Trip would back the incumbent. He also apparently promised to support her if she took on Rep. Steve King (as she supposedly might do), though who knows what kind of $ that might translate into.
• IL-03: Insurance exec John Atkinson, who is apparently challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary, raised $535K in Q1, including $312K from his own pockets. Lipinski raised just $138K but has $637K on hand.
• MN-08: Freshman GOPer Chip Cravaack raised just $121K in Q1 - so why are we having such a hard time finding a Dem willing to take this guy on?
• MN-06: Michele Bachmann raised a MIND-OBLITERATING $1.7 million in the first quarter... and yes, I'm being sarcastic, because she also managed to spent $756K. Of course, netting a million bucks ain't bad (and she has $2.8 mil on hand), and if she truly pulls the trigger on a presidential run, I'll bet the spigots will open even wider. But that's still quite the burn rate.
• NV-02: Sharron Angle makes Allen West look as parsimonious as Scrooge by comparison. Everyone's favorite nutter (okay, it's a multi-way tie, but you know you love her) raised an amaaaaaaaaazing $700K in Q1, but spent an actually amazing $550K, mostly to BaseConnect, the scam artists formerly known as BMW Direct. She has only $176K in the bank.
• NY-26: Republican Jane Corwin is not fucking around: She raised just $102K in Q1, but gave her own campaign a whopping million dollars. Yow. Meanwhile, Crazy Jack Davis has raised zilch, but has loaned himself $1.5 mil and already spent $1.4 mil.
• Denver Mayor: SSP commenter Kretzy has a really good run-down on the May 3rd Denver mayor's race, necessitated by John Hickenlooper's ascension to the governor's mansion. I won't try to summarize it - you should just click through. Timely, too, because SUSA has a poll out on the race, showing James Mejia and Chris Romer tied at 22, with Michael Hancock next at 18. Again, read Kretzy's summary if you want to know more about these people.
• Wisconsin Recall: Signatures were filed yesterday to force a recall election for a third Republican state senator, Luther Olsen, and Dems expect to file petitions for Sheila Harsdorf today. (Number of Dem state sens who've had petitions filed against them so far: 0.) Also, the state's Government Accountability Board says it will try to consolidate the recalls into as few elections as possible.
• DSCC: In an item about Herb Kohl raising $0 last quarter (he can cut himself a fat check any time he pleases, so this isn't meaningful), Dave Catanese says that DSCC chair Patty Murray said "she was confident all of the remaining incumbents were running for reelection." Kohl is the most obvious candidate for retirement, and of course Murray could be wrong, but maybe this is it.
• Fundraising: The NYT has a list of fundraising by freshman Republicans, and also notes that IN-08 Rep. Larry Bucshon took in just $45K. Not really wise for a guy whose district is likely to be made at least a bit more competitive. The Fix also has a fundraising roundup.
• LCV: The League of Conservation Voters is launching a $250K radio ad campaign targeted at four members of the House who voted in favor of a bill that would bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The ads are hitting two Republicans running for Senate, Denny Rehberg and Dean Heller, as well as Energy Cmte Chair Fred Upton (R) and Jason Altmire (D). Here's a sample ad (targeted at Heller), which I actually find kinda weird and confusing.
• Passings: Former Rep. Harold Volkmer, who represented mostly rural northeastern Missouri's 9th CD for ten terms, passed away at the age of 80.
• Colorado: Now this at least is a fight that makes sense: Republicans control the Colorado House, while Dems control the Senate - and tempers have already exploded with the release of proposed redistricting plans from both sides. (See yesterday's digest for the maps.) Speaker of the House Frank McNulty flipped out, accusing Democrats of drawing districts that would benefit two legislators in particular: Senate President Brandon Shaffer and Sen. Morgan Carroll.
However, Carroll said she has no plans to run for Congress, while the Dem point-man on redistricting, Sen. Rollie Heath, pointed out that the new 4th CD (which McNulty thinks Shaffer wants to run in) has a 10 percent GOP registration edge... in other words, not the kind of seat you'd drawn for yourself if you were an ambitious Democrat. So either McNulty is just a garden-variety moran, or he's just trying to cast fact-free aspersions against the other side. We've seen a lot of this kind of crap from Colorado Republicans already, so door number two is a definite possibility (but of course, it's not mutually exclusive of door number 1).
• Missouri: Trying to unlock a stalemate that seems remarkably picayune to outsiders such as myself, Republican power brokers in Missouri met yesterday to talk things over. Among the participants were most of the Republicans in the state's congressional delegation, the heads of the state House and Senate, and the chair of the MO GOP. No sort of deal has been announced as yet.
• Virginia: Hah - so much for lawmakers racing back to work to deal with Gov. Bob McDonnell's veto of their redistricting plans. Legislators had planned to be off this week, so rank-and-file members declined leadership's entreaties to show up.
Probably the biggest Democratic primary of the year is coming up soon: the West Virginia special gubernatorial primary, on Saturday, May 14th. I felt like we weren't getting great insight into the key players, though, from traditional media accounts, so I asked a friend who is well-versed in Mountain State politics if he'd give us a neutral primer on all five serious Dem contenders. His guest-post, for which I am very grateful, is below.
First, let's accept as a given that all the candidates are running on a platform of more jobs, expanded energy production, and improving education in one order of priority or another. Here is a listing of the principal candidates in roughly right-to-left order on the ideological spectrum... though, based on their rapid scurrying as the primary nears, their positioning may shift a bit.
EARL RAY TOMBLIN
Tomblin is a 59-year-old veteran legislator, long-time President of the WV State Senate, and currently is acting Governor following Joe Manchin's resignation. From Chapmanville in the southwestern corner of the state, Tomblin is pro-life and aligned with the business-friendly wing of the West Virginia Democratic Party (WVDP). Running on a platform of "more jobs... lower taxes," Tomblin essentially offers a continuation of the Manchin Administration under new management. Tomblin draws wide support from the energy and other heavy industry, the Chamber of Commerce wing of the WVDP, and Manchin loyalists in the party apparatus at the state and county levels.
Tomblin's supporters say as Governor he will build on Manchin's progress in improving the business climate in West Virginia to create the jobs West Virginians need. They cite Tomblin recently forcing a cut in the state sales tax on food while keeping the state's budget in balance and the announcement by companies like Toyota and Macys of new and expanded operations as evidence Tomblin's approach works and illustrates his effective leadership.
Some of Tomblin's opponents say Tomblin favors business at the expense of working people. They claim Tomblin is a Democrat in Name Only and is in the pocket of out-of-state energy interests like American Electric Power and Dominion Resources, which plunder the state's natural resources and export the profits. Others claim as a 36-year legislator with ethical baggage, Tomblin is part of the problem, and not the solution, as his recent veto of health care measures in the state budget while retaining subsidies for gambling interests illustrate. Others argue Tomblin is too down-home to run strongly enough in the general election in the Northern and Eastern Panhandles.
Jeff Kessler is a 55-year-old trial lawyer, a four-term WV State Senator, and currently serves as interim WV Senate President while Tomblin acts as Governor. From Glen Dale in the Northern Panhandle, Kessler is pro-life, an advocate for gay rights, transparency in government reforms, and firmly in the pro-business camp of the WVDP, though he falls in the middle on labor issues. Kessler is running on a pro-business platform while highlighting his track records on ethics reforms, including the first state-level effort to regulate 527s. Kessler is endorsed by the WV Fraternal Order of Police.
Kessler's supporters say his vision, ethical leadership, and realistic focus on creating jobs through expanding the existing energy industry are what West Virginia needs in these uncertain times. They cite his proposal to create the West Virginia Future Fund, which would divert 25% of severance tax collected on natural gas to provide tax relief for working West Virginians as well as endow efforts to diversify the state's economy as evidence Kessler balances the needs for economic development and social needs. They argue Kessler offers a continuation of the Manchin Administration under new management without the ethical concerns and cornpone manner of Tomblin and, as a Casey-style Democrat, Kessler would be a stronger candidate in the general election in the swing regions. As a centrist, they argue, Kessler will be able to unite the bickering factions within the WVDP.
Some of his opponents say Kessler is just more of the same old Extraction Industry politics of exploit the land and export the profits. They say his strong support for expanded Marcellus Shale drilling involves needless environmental damage while only diverting a small portion of state revenues collected to public use. Others say the ambiguity inherent in his balanced stance between the interests of business and labor indicates a lack of depth and intensity to his commitments. Some argue Kessler's abandonment of his Chamber of Commerce wing allies to emerge as interim WV Senate President show he is a typical ambitious career politician who will sacrifice principle for expediency.
John Perdue is a 60-year-old former WV Department of Agriculture employee, a top aide to former Governor Gaston Caperton, and is currently serving his fourth term as State Treasurer. From Boone County and currently residing in Kanawha County, Perdue is pro-life, proud of maintaining the state's credit rating through the international financial crisis of the last several years, and generally has been considered a conventional center-left politician and an indicator of the center of gravity within the WVDP. Running on a platform of "investing in people," Perdue has recently taken a more aggressively populist line, calling for a freeze and eventual rollback on utility rates. Having held high position in state government for two decades, Perdue has significant support among government workers and has been endorsed by the Teamsters, WV Farm Bureau, and the WV Troopers Association.
Perdue's supporters say his performance as WV State Treasurer demonstrates his competence. Others cite his willingness to stand up to the powerful utility interests as showing his priorities are in order and he has the fire in the belly to fight for the little man. Others view his proposing the formation of a state-chartered Small Business Bank to meet the needs of WV businesses choked off from credit by the mistakes and greed of Wall Street as a taste of the innovative leadership Perdue could provide as governor. They note none of the other candidates have the executive experience and financial competence to guide the state through troubled times while building for the future.
Some of Perdue's opponents say he has done a poor job as State Treasurer as the state's budget crisis clearly shows. They say Perdue did and said nothing while the state's unfunded liabilities for pensions and other post-employment benefits soared to crippling levels and will only get worse in the future. Other opponents say Perdue, as a career bureaucrat and politician, is out of touch with how business works and thinks real people need government to tell them how to lead their lives. They say his attacks on the utilities are merely election-year posturing since he sat back and said nothing while rates went up in the first place and show Perdue is only speaking out now because he is behind in the polls and is desperate to shake things up. Others say Perdue's non-telegenic style is an electoral liability and his blandness is a sure-fire prescription for a general election loss.
Natalie Tennant was the first female Mountaineer (WVU's sports teams' mascot), a former television news anchor, and is currently serving her first term as WV Secretary of State. From Fairview in the north-central part of the state along the I-79 Corridor, Tennant is pro-choice and supported by EMILY's List. Running on a platform of change, Tennant cites the need for "a new way forward." Recently Tennant has declared support for the public employee causes in Wisconsin and Ohio. Her campaign and supporters have lately taken to characterizing her as "the most liberal" candidate in the Democratic field. Tennant has wide support among women generally and runs strong with younger professionals in the small cities of the state.
Tennant's supporters say as governor Tennant will bring a fresh perspective and innovative approaches to problem solving. They cite her private sector experience as a journalist and running her own media firm as well as her relative youth in comparison to the rest of the field as showing Tennant is not tainted with the Good Ol' Boy System, wheeling-and-dealing politics of the past. They say Tennant is the candidate best suited to break up the old ways of doing things which have kept the state mired in corruption. Tennant's supporters say as the only woman and only pro-choice candidate in the field she best reflects the views of the majority of WVDP voters.
Some of Tennant's opponents say Tennant is too inexperienced to serve as governor, citing her mishandling of the Byrd succession as evidence she is not ready for prime time. They note that in the low-risk and high-profile post of Secretary of State, she had only one hot potato land in her lap and fumbled it, misinterpreting the state's election laws and having to be bailed out by the Attorney General's office and a special session of the state legislature. Others say Tennant is deliberately unclear on the issues and is more interested in being all things to all people and getting elected rather than actually leading. Others point to her support from out-of-state pro-abortion groups while garnering few endorsements within the state as demonstrating she is out of touch with core West Virginia values.
Rick Thompson is a 58-year-old trial lawyer, former assistant prosecuting attorney, and currently serves as Speaker of the WV House of Delegates. From the Fort Gay area of Wayne County along the western border with Kentucky, Thompson is pro-life and strongly pro-labor, having been the go-to guy for the unions in dealing with the state legislature for a decade. Running on a theme of "West Virginia owes me nothing; I owe this state everything," Thompson's campaign focuses on the emotionally powerful goal of ending the generations-long migration of young people from West Virginia seeking work elsewhere. Thompson is the candidate of choice for most of the industrial unions as well as a favorite of the trial lawyers, having earned the endorsements of the United Mine Workers, the AFL-CIO, and both of the state's teachers' unions as well as being a favorite of the trial lawyers.
Thompson's supporters say, as governor, Thompson - with his blue-collar background and accomplished legislative track record - has the vision to level the playing field between business and labor while still creating the jobs West Virginia needs, not taxes. They note his economic program focuses on rolling back taxes on the small and mid-sized businesses which are the engine of job growth rather than subsidizing big out-of-state corporations. They say Thompson has always been a fighter for the little man and cite his recent victory over acting Governor Tomblin over granting public employees salary raises rather than a one-time bonus as proof of his effectiveness and ability to get things done in Charleston.
His opponents say Thompson is a rabble-rousing union hothead and a throwback to the bad old days when labor and management were always in conflict rather than working together. They claim Thompson is in the pocket of the unions and trial lawyers and will make decisions as governor favoring their interests rather than those of the state's population as a whole. Others say, if elected, Thompson will reverse the improved business climate in West Virginia achieved under Joe Manchin and cause the state to lose jobs to other states and overseas. Others say Thompson's track record of supporting almost every proposal for state spending and overly generous raises for state employees shows he is a tax-and-spend liberal who will bankrupt the state. Others are concerned, like Tomblin, Thompson might also be a bit cornpone for both Panhandles in the general election.
• RI-Sen: Dem Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse raised over $1 million in the first fundraising quarter, which in Rhode Island terms is a buttload. He now has $1.6 million in cash on hand, which hopefully will act as a nice deterrent to any Republican stupid enough to consider this race. You know I love concern trolling, but even I can't work myself up to goad the GOP into this one.
• TX-Sen: Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said he raised $1.1 million and threw in another $1.6 million of his own money. There are a ton of other GOP candidates, both actual and potential, in this race, so I expect this primary to be wildly expensive.
• WV-Gov: Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who is seeking his current job on a more permanent basis, released an internal from the Global Strategy Group. It shows him at 36% and SoS Natalie Tennant at 22%, but the National Journal's writeup doesn't mention numbers for the other two or three legit Dems. The NJ also says than neither Tomblin nor Tennant have gone on the air, while Rick Thompson and John Perdue have, as we've mentioned previously.
• IN-08: The man I like to call F.E.C. Kenobi (aka Greg Giroux) brings us yet another candidate filing. This time it's Terry White, whom Greg describes as a "Dem lawyer/activist," seeking to run against GOP frosh Larry Bucshon. I'm pretty sure this is him. Looks like he has a background in criminal law, so apparently not a wealthy plaintiff's attorney (though he may be well-off).
• IN-SoS: Today, a judge is expected to rule on whether a lawsuit challenging Republican Secretary of State Charlie White's eligibility to serve in office can proceed. White, the guy supposed to be protecting the integrity of his state's elections, is accused of fraudulently registering to vote.
• LA-LG: Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser says he's thinking about challenging fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne this fall. If you watched a lot of cable TV news last year during the BP oil spill, you probably saw Nungesser's vocal complaints about the response to the crisis.
• Washington: Vote-by-mail is now a legal requirement for all of Washington state. This isn't a big deal, though, as Pierce County was the only jurisdiction which still conducted in-person voting - the rest of WA had long gone to all-mail. Notably, the legislation still allows for ballots to be postmarked on election day, which means the state will continue its frustrating tradition of seeing election results trickle in over a period of many days. (Neighboring Oregon, the other mail-only state, requires ballots to be postmarked arrive or be or turned in on election day.)
• WATN?: Ex-Rep. Curt Weldon was always a sick, crazy piece of work, and we should all be thankful that Joe Sestak turned his sorry ass out of Congress. I honestly don't think I would have ever cared enough about him to feature him in a Where Are They Now? item, except that he's managed to show up in Libya, of all places, and has written an op-ed in the New York Times in which he calls for "engagement" with Moammar Gadhafi. Reminds me a bit of Tom DeLay saying "give peace a chance" when Slobodan Milosevic was massacring Kosovars, except I think Weldon really means it. Why do I say that? Well, hop into my time capsule and take a deep dive into the SSP archives. That amazing photo-within-a-photo shows Weldon pinning a medal on Gadhafi's chest! Because the mastermind behind the Lockerbie bombing is exactly the sort of person an American elected official wants to be honoring. (I also encourage you to read that entire post just to see how twisted Weldon is.)
• Arkansas: Even though Dems control both houses of the state legislature (and the governor's mansion), things are at an impasse. The state Senate rejected the House plan, dubbed the "Fayetteville Finger," and adopted a different map of its own. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a very helpful page where you can mouse over each of the various proposals that are under consideration, including the new Senate map. Now some heads will have to be banged together to reach a compromise.
• Delaware: Don't laugh - mighty Delaware is starting up its redistricting process. Obviously this pertains only to the state lege, and lawmakers are accepting public comments and proposed plans through April 29th. So if you've worked something up in Dave's App, email House.Redistricting@state.de.us. The lege's ultimate deadline is in June.
• Iowa: Leaders on both sides sound like they're coming around to the new maps created by Iowa's independent commission. The situation here reminds me of gym class in middle school. Our stereotypically sadistic teacher would ask us if we wanted to play, say, basketball - and we had to either accept the choice right there, or decide to risk taking door #2, with no chance of going back. The alternative could be dodgeball (yes!)... or it could be running laps. Faced with the possibility of doing suicide drills (that is to say, a much worse second map from the commission), Republicans and Democrats alike seem ready to play a little b-ball instead.
In any event, an advisory commission will issue recommendations on the maps by April 11th, after which the lege has three days to decide whether to accept them. If no, then the process starts all over again.
Illinois: An interesting article about an unusual tool that Dem Gov. Pat Quinn has in his arsenal, called the "amendatory veto." It sounds like it's a particularly fine-grained type of line-item veto, which could be used to make direct changes to any redistricting maps the legislature sends to the governor. Of course, Illinois is one of the few places where we're large and in-charge, and it seems that Quinn has had a productive relationship with lawmakers so far, so it's unlikely Quinn would have to use it.
Also, some SSP mapmakers have been getting love from around the Internets lately. Silver spring's awe-inspiring map gets a nice shout-out from Chicagoist, and see our Oregon item below for another one.
• Louisiana: Louisiana continues to be the most vexing state to follow. On Tuesday, the state Senate adopted a "horizontal" congressional map (full-size PDF here) that was, believe it or not, authored by a Dem. (Yes, Republicans supposedly have a majority, but the President, selected by the governor, is a Dem. This is endlessly confusing.) The Senate also rejected a plan preferred by Gov. Bobby Jindal, while the House in turn rejected the Senate's map. Jindal threatened to veto any map that doesn't maintain two districts based in the northern part of the state, which suggests that the Senate plan is a non-starter. So even though Republicans would appear to control the trifecta, it seems that Louisiana's loose sense of partisan affiliation makes that mean a lot less than it would in other states.
• Missouri: The GOP-controlled state House approved its new map, which essentially eliminates Dem Russ Carnahan's 3rd CD, by a 106-53 vote. This falls three votes shy of a veto-proof margin, meaning that Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, could potentially wield veto power here. Three Republicans defected, but four African American Dem legislators sided with the GOP, apparently believing this map is good for Rep. Lacy Clay, who is black. (The Senate plan is very similar.)
• Mississippi: A pretty amazing story, if true, from Cottonmouth blog:
This afternoon in a closed door meeting of Republican Senators, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant told the crowd that 5th Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones would "take care of" legislative Republicans because Gov. Haley Barbour handled her nomination to the 5th Circuit when he was in the Reagan White House. Bryant went on to regale the caucus with his opinion that Chief Judge Jones would likely appoint Judge Leslie Southwick as the judge from the 5th Circuit, and that if that happened, "Democrats would come to us looking for a deal."
In a letter to House Speaker Billy McCoy, Bryant denied making these statements, but his denial contained some weird language. Specifically, he said: "My point was that Democrats appoint federal judges and Republicans appoint federal judges, but all judges take an oath to decide cases fairly based on the law and the facts." Was he honestly giving a civics 101 lesson to benighted members of his own caucus? Why discuss this kind of thing at all?
• New Jersey: The first casualty of NJ's new map is state Sen. John Girgenti (D), who earned the wrath of progressives - and a legitimate primary challenge from activist Jeff Gardner - for his cowardly vote against marriage equality in 2009. Girgenti's hometown was placed into a district largely belonging to another incumbent, Bob Gordon. Gardner will now run for Assembly instead.
• Nevada: Republicans in Nevada, like the Dems, have now filed a redistricting lawsuit, but I'm not getting it at all. If you click through to the PDF and scroll down to the prayer for relief on page nine, all you'll see is that they want to bar any elections from happening under current district lines. Nevada isn't some Southern state in the 1950s, refusing to undertake redistricting, so what gives?
• Oregon: Want to give your input into the Beaver State's redistricting process? Blue Oregon has a list of public hearings. Also, Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian gives some props to SaoMagnifico's proposed map, saying they show "it's possible to draw maps that do a good job of following county lines while achieving a partisan result."
• Pennsylvania: PA's state (not federal) maps are drawn by a five-member commission, whose first four members (2R, 2D) have to agree on the fifth. Pretty lulzy notion, of course, and the selection deadline has passed, so the choice will now fall to the state Supreme Court. Unfortunately, thanks to a loss a few years ago, Republicans control the court.
• Texas: Another lawsuit, though this one makes a lot more sense to me. Hispanic lawmakers are suing to enjoin Rick Perry and the legislature from conducting any redistricting activities because they allege that Latinos have been undercounted by the Census, and they want those numbers corrected. I'm pessimistic about these kinds of suits succeeding, though.
• Utah: State legislators are also cranking up the redistricting process here. Obviously issue #1 (and 2 and 3 and 4) will be how the new congressional map treats Dem Rep. Jim Matheson. The article doesn't say what, if any, deadlines lawmakers face, though.
• Virginia: At least some Republican legislators are hopping mad about the proposed state Senate map, and are considering filing suit to block it (dunno on what grounds). If the GOP is pissed off at this plan, isn't that a good thing?
• MO-Sen: Well, it looks like Claire McCaskill has been trying to make me look like an idiot. After this site's repeated smack-downs of the "airplane" story as Politico-fueled b.s., it turns out that there is quite a bit more to it: McCaskill now says she owes $287,000 in unpaid property taxes on the plane. That's quite a bit. Of course, she says she's paying them, and she's also having her husband sell the plane - and she further notes that this problem only came to light because she reviewed the plane's records herself. But how do you forget to pay over a quarter mil in taxes? Man.
In other MO-Sen news, former state GOP chair Ann Wagner was in DC last week meeting with the NRSC about her bid. She still claims her first preference is to run for Senate, but based on the quotes in Roll Call's piece, it's sounding more and more like Rep. Todd Akin (R) will get in and she'll run for his seat. Of course, who knows what MO-02 will look like in a few months....
• PA-Sen: The National Journal's Alex Roarty says that Ed Stack, longtime CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods and Pittsburgh native, is thinking about seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Bob Casey. Stack is, of course, very rich.
• ND-Gov: Horse's mouth: Ex-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) is leaving the door just slightly ajar to a gubernatorial run, saying "I am not excluding anything nor am I focusing on politics right now." But he repeatedly told the Fargo-Moorhead Forum that he was concentrating on his new legal/lobbying job at Alston & Bird in DC.
• WV-Gov: SoS Natalie Tennant released a poll from GQR showing acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin leading the Dem primary field with 31, but with herself just behind at 27. Treasurer John Perdue is at 14, while state House Speaker Rick Thompson and state Sen. Jeff Kessler take 5 apiece.
• CA-36: Debra Bowen got her first endorsement from a member of Congress: Rep. Judy Chu, who filled Hilda Solis's 32nd CD seat when the latter became Secretary of Labor. Several other local officials have also endorsed. Also of note: The Courage Campaign is holding a candidate forum on Thursday, and if you click the link, you can submit a question.
• IA-03: Longtime SSPer (and blogger in her own right) desmoinesdem points out that Nancy Pelosi is coming to Iowa to do some fundraisers with Rep. Leonard Boswell, including one at the home of 2010 Dem Senate nominee Roxanne Conlin. Is this a suggestion to Christie Vilsack that perhaps she ought not run?
• KS-04: One political scientist is calling him "the congressman from Koch" - and you'll probably want to as well. Mike Pompeo, a loathsome man hated by many fellow Republicans, took in $80K in donations from Koch employees, was supported by the Koch front group Americans for Prosperity, and, for good measure, hired a Koch Industries attorney as his chief of staff. (Or more like, David and Charles installed a fixer to make sure their new paisan did as he was told.) Pompeo's been delivering: He's promoting legislation to defund a new consumer complaints database, and an EPA catalog of greenhouse-gas polluters. Personally, I think this dickbag could be very vulnerable to a GOP primary.
• NY-26: Crazy Jack Davis and David Bellavia both filed signatures to appear on the ballot as independents - but of course, now the fun can truly begin. If you weren't already aware, New York has just about the most draconian requirements for petitions in the land - they can be invalidated for as little as using the wrong color ink. I'd be pretty surprised if the GOP didn't try to nuke both of these guys from orbit, though Davis might be invulnerable, since he said he submitted over 12,000 petitions. Bellavia's camp would only say that they submitted "more" than the required 3,500. Unless he has at least double that number, once Christian Szell starts asking "Is it safe?", it's a good bet that Bellavia won't survive scrutiny.
• OR-01: Kari Chisholm of Blue Oregon has an excellent roundup of recent OR-01 stories, so I'm going to recommend you click through for his summaries and links. Two items of note: Republican state Sen. Bruce Starr says he won't challenge Rep. David Wu, and Wu is apparently starting to actively fundraise again, with an event this week in Portland. I've gotta ask: Who the heck would want to show up to such a thing?
• AZ-St. Sen.: A recall effort is underway against notorious Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, the architect of Arizona's infamous anti-immigrant legislation known as SB1070. The leader of the best-organized group claims they have thousands of signatures and are meeting their goals, but they aren't releasing any actual numbers.
• NYC-Mayor: Another Republican campaign, another fortune embezzled. Mike Bloomberg hired John Haggerty to forklift over a million bucks to the state's Independence Party, but instead, Haggerty laundered most of the cash through a consulting firm he owned and spent $750K on a home in Queens. Now a judge says that the evidence of Haggerty's guilt is "overwhelming." Can't say I feel too bad for Bloombo! (Other recent similar incidents involved Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and ex-Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut.)
• California: California Republicans are doing their best to ruin whatever advantages the state's new top-two primary system might give them - on purpose. While the top-two might free more moderate GOPers from the ultra-conservative stranglehold on primaries, the activist base wants none of that. Starting in 2014, the party will conduct "pre-primaries" by mail and award their formal endorsement to whoever wins those beauty contests. These people will get assistance from the state party and will also be listed as the "official" GOP candidate for that race. David Atkins thinks, though, that this is a feature, not a bug: The CA Republican Party needs just 1/3 of the members of one of the chamber of the state legislature to maintain California's absolutely dysfunctional system of state governance, and this helps ensure that they elect uncompromising crazies to the few seats they do win - which is all they require.
• California: Good news: The Republican firm that was a finalist to serve as the redistricting commission's mapping consultant was unanimously rejected in favor of an Oakland company called Q2 Data and Research. And while Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, which was selected as the panel's law firm, does have some well-connected Republican partners in their DC office (like Ted Olson and Miguel Estrada), it's big enough that you'll probably find the entire gamut from good to evil working under their umbrella (so let's hope we get "good").
• Louisiana: This Times-Picayune piece details the backroom wrangling going on over Louisiana's congressional map, which painfully has to shrink from seven to six seats. Scroll down to that grey call-out box on the left for links to actual maps. I believe we linked the Gallot maps before, but the Kostelka and Jackson maps should be new. (You'll find them at the end of some very long PDFs.) I note that of these plans seem to keep one Dem district by marrying New Orleans with Baton Rouge.
• New Jersey: NJ legislators are being weirdly good about not sharing their proposed state maps with the public, but folks who have seen them are chatting up reporters. One such person, Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray, thinks that the GOP is running afoul of the edicts set by commission boss Alan Rosenthal, and could get in trouble for their attempts to over-reach.
• AZ-Sen: After some rumors yesterday that she wasn't getting much traction with her phoning around, DHS Sec./ex-Gov. Janet Napolitano confirmed today that she wasn't going to run for the open Senate seat in Arizona, preferring to remain in the Obama administration. (Roll Call has a list of some of the weedier Dem possibilities, beyond the top tier of Rep. Gabby Giffords and Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon: Rep. Ed Pastor, Board of Regents vice chair Fred DuVal, former state party chair Don Bivens, 2010 AG candidate Felicia Rotellini, and current state party chair/2010 Treasurer candidate Andrei Cherny.) On the GOP side, Rep. Jeff Flake seems already positioning himself for the general while opening himself up for a challenge from the nutty right, telling the birthers to "accept reality." Flake also just picked up an endorsement from a similar budget-focused, social-issues-downplaying prominent House member, Paul Ryan.
• IN-Sen: State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who plans to soon announce his GOP primary challenge to Richard Lugar (with next Tuesday the more-or-less official launch date), leaked a few poll numbers from an internal. He says that "just over half" of GOP primary voters are inclined to re-elect Lugar, while Lugar pulls in only 27% support among self-described tea-partiers. The poll didn't "include" a head-to-head between Mourdock and Lugar, which I'll assume means they aren't reporting results that were pretty heavily in Lugar's favor, rather than that they just accidentally forgot to poll that particular question. Here's new one piece of ammo that tea partiers can use against Lugar to make their point that he's gone Washington, though: a revelation that Lugar stays in a hotel when he visits Indiana (Lugar owns a farm in-state, but conditions there are "rustic").
• PA-Sen: Quinnipiac is out with another Pennsylvania poll, one that finds Bob Casey Jr. in better shape than their previous poll, where he was in decent shape too. He beats a Generic R 45-35 (up from 43-35 in December), and his approvals are up to 44/24 (from 39/29). Voters approve of Barack Obama (51/44) and Pat Toomey (41/21) as well, in another indication of ebbing anger.
• VA-Sen: Tell the ground crew to break out the tarps, because we've got a Kaine delay. Ex-Gov. Tim Kaine, at the top of the Dem establishment's wish list for the open Senate seat, is announcing that he won't have anything to announce when he addresses tomorrow's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. He still sounds genuinely conflicted; expect an announcement "later in the month or early next month."
• VT-Sen: He stopped well short of actually announcing anything, but Dem-turned-Republican state Auditor Tom Salmon seems to be moving apace toward an uphill challenge against Bernie Sanders, saying he'll announce his decision on March 4 or 5. He's looking more committed in that he's leaving his day job: he also just announced he won't run for another term as Auditor.
• WV-Gov: The overcrowded (and likely low-turnout) Democratic primary in West Virginia may be decided by a few thousand votes, so any possible advantage counts here. And here's one for SoS Natalie Tenannt, the only Dem woman running: she just got the endorsement of EMILY's List.
• CA-36: The Republicans have managed to scrape up at least one credible candidate for the special election in the dark-blue 36th, where the main battle in the top 2 primary will be fought between Democrats Janice Hahn and Debra Bowen but conceivably he could sneak into the final round if he consolidates all the district's GOP votes. Mike Webb is City Attorney for Redondo Beach (popu. 63K).
• MN-06, MN-08: This is an interesting possibility for ex-state Sen. Tarryl Clark, who lost last year to Michele Bachmann in the GOP-leaning 6th... although it's entirely dependent on the redistricting pen. There's the possibility that her town of St. Cloud (to the west of the Twin Cities) may get appended to the 8th, which starts in the metro area's northern exurbs and heads up to Duluth. A run against vulnerable GOP frosh Chip Cravaack in a Dem-leaning district in a presidential year would be a much better bet for her. The question would be, though, whether Clark would have much luck in the DFL primary if she has to run against someone from the Iron Range, which tends to be insular-minded and would still be the bulk of the district's population.
• SD-AL, FL-02: I don't know how many of you were pining for a 2012 rematch from Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (about which there were some rumors this week), and I really can't imagine that any of you were hoping for a return engagement from ur-Blue Dog Allen Boyd, but it's looking like neither one is on track to happen. Both are rumored to be about to take on K Street lobbying jobs instead, which is, of course, not the usual comeback path.
• AZ-Sen, AZ-06: Rep. Jeff Flake, who announced his bid today, had to wait only a few hours before getting a valuable (for the GOP primary, at least) endorsement from the Club for Growth; he's a natural fit for them, given his draconian budgetary views and laissez-faire social views. Even before Flake had announced, his potentially strongest rival for the GOP nod, ex-Rep. John Shadegg had announced that he wasn't going to run. Shadegg's AZ-03 replacement, Rep. Ben Quayle confirmed that he won't be running either. The same goes for another Republican freshman, Rep. David Schweikert (that article also helpfully points out that famous Arizona residents Meghan McCain and Bristol Palin, who've both accomplished so much in the social media sphere in their short lives, are both too young to run for Senate). Former NFL player Kurt Warner has also taken himself out of consideration.
Buried in a Roll Call article on the whip race to replace Jon Kyl are a few more interesting bits: Trent Franks is "not expected" to run, while state Senate president and prime mover behind SB 1070 Russell Pearce is "out," but "plans to run" for AZ-06, being vacated by Flake. There's not much to report on the Dem side today, but there are further reports that ex-Gov., and current DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (who didn't poll well against Kyl according to PPP a few weeks ago, although they didn't test her against Flake) has been calling around to gauge her support.
• CT-Sen: Ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz rolled out her own long list of endorsements from local Dems, in response to a list unveiled several weeks ago by primary rival Chris Murphy. While Murphy's list was heavy on the 5th District, naturally, Bysiewicz's list is heavy on the 2nd District (which is interesting, as it may be an indication that Rep. Joe Courtney has decided against running... or it may be a preventative shot across Courtney's bow). Bysiewicz is from Middletown, which is in the 2nd although kind of on its periphery. In terms of the Republican field, there was a straw poll taken of state Tea Party Patriots members this weekend. Given the sample size of 54 and the self-selecting nature of the nuttiest of the nuttiest, it's barely worth mentioning, but they found Linda McMahon only barely winning with 15 votes, compared to Peter Schiff's 14. Rob Simmons and Tom Foley each got 6, with state Sen. Scott Frantz at 5 and Danbury mayor Mark Boughton at 4.
• FL-Sen, FL-13: Like I've said before, don't count out Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan for the Senate; the owner of numerous car dealerships is sitting on a big campaign account, has wealthy friends, and can self-fund too. And now he's publicly saying he's "not ruling it out."
• MO-Sen: Over the weekend in Joplin was the first public joint appearance between the two announced GOP candidates so far, Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin. While they superficially only attacked Claire McCaskill, Martin sneaked in some anti-Steelman attacks by implication, saying that he'll support "tort reform every time" and "take on the public sector unions." (While Steelman has the support of the DC-based tea party astroturfers, the local teabaggers are skeptical of her insufficient purity on those two issues.)
• NV-Sen: Given behavior lately that might charitably be described as "erratic," I've pretty much given up on trying to figure out Sharron Angle's plans (her travel schedule seems to take her mostly to early presidential states these days, in case you had any doubts about the scope of her delusions of grandeur). But now she's talking about Nevada Senate again, saying that she'd like to talk to John Ensign before deciding whether or not to challenge him in the primary.
• NY-Sen: As she becomes better-known to New Yorkers, Kirsten Gillibrand's numbers keep going up. Siena's newest poll finds her at 57/18 favorables, with a 52% re-elect (including even a plurality among Republicans). Liz Benjamin also notes that two Republican 2010 Gillibrand challengers - Joe DioGuardi (whom Gillibrand flatted) and David Malpass (whom DioGuardi beat in the GOP primary) - are both still considering the race. Ex-LG "Batshit Besty" McCaughey (who once ran for governor on the Liberal Party line) was also down in DC this past weekend, once again relishing her role as healthcare fabricator-in-chief at the loonier-than-thou CPAC conference - and also possibly trying to raise her profile for a potential run (something we noted a couple of weeks ago). Bring it on!
• OH-Sen: Newly elected state Treasurer Josh Mandel got some buzz at some point last month, and here's some more for him: the Plain Dealer, in a longer piece wondering why the Republican field (in what could be a pickup opportunity with the right candidate) isn't taking shape at all, points to him as a possible alternative in the face of disinterest from the A-list. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor seems to be working on building her portfolio (taking over the state Dept. of Insurance), suggesting a plate too full for a Senate bid, while Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve LaTourette are enjoying their newfound majority. Mandel seems to have the best fundraising chops of anyone beyond that initial top tier.
• VA-Sen, VA-01: Here's one more Republican name to add to the list in Virginia, and it's kind of an unexpected one, in that usually low-profile guys with safe red districts in the House tend to stay where they are. The 1st's Rob Wittman is saying he's "considering" the race, along with the requisite "never say never."
• WI-Gov: The AFL-CIO is already weighing into Wisconsin, even though the next gubernatorial election is three and three-quarters years away. In response to Scott Walker's ham-fisted attempt to limit collective bargaining rights for most state employees, the union is taking to the airwaves with TV spots. Obviously, the target isn't the next election but swinging public opinion against the members of the state legislature, who'll have the final say on the matter. (As a more general question, though, I've gotta wonder if we'll see much more of this type of issue advertising in off-years in the future, as we move more and more into "permanent campaign" mode and the ground needs to be seeded for the on-years.)
• WV-Gov: With Saturday's filing deadline come and gone, we have an official list of all the candidates in the gubernatorial special election, and with 14 names total, it's a doozy. Not much in the way of surprises, though; the only person expected to run who, in the end, didn't seems to be Dem state Sen. Brooks McCabe. For the Democrats, it's acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Sen. Jeff Kessler, SoS Natalie Tennant, state Treasurer John Perdue, state House speaker Rick Thompson, and some dude Arne Moltis. For the Republicans, it's ex-SoS Betty Ireland, Putnam Co. Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia, state Sen. Clark Barnes, state Del. Mitch Carmichael, ex-state Del. Larry Faircloth, and some dudes Bill Maloney, Cliff Ellis, and Ralph William Clark. National Journal's Sean Sullivan makes a good observation that in fields this crowded and in a state without runoffs, ballot position (which studies have shown can add 1-3% to a candidate's vote) may actually wind up making the difference here. The positions were determined by random draw; for the Dems, Tomblin is at the top while co-frontrunner Tennant is at the bottom. For the GOP, Ireland is 7 out of 8, while Maloney is listed first.
• CA-36: LA city councilor Janice Hahn keeps rolling out more endorsements in her attempt to get an early lock-down on the Dem nomination in the special election. Three big ones: two very relevant to California (new Assembly speaker John Perez, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein), one, um, not so much (Dick Gephardt).
• NY-10: Gov. Andrew Cuomo just tapped Democratic Assemblyman Darryl Towns to be the state's new Homes and Community Renewal agency. Ordinarily, a special election in the remarkably-blue AD-54 would be too far in the weeds even for us, but you may recognize his name: he's the son of long-time Rep. Ed Towns. The 76-year-old Towns is routinely viewed as a candidate for retirement (and his son a likely replacement), so this move is a puzzle: is it a sign that the elder Towns isn't going anywhere (perhaps permanently fastened to his House seat by all the moss growing there), or perhaps a way for the younger Towns to burnish his credentials a bit and differentiate him a bit from his somnolent dad?
• NY-26: One more name to strike off the Republican list in the 26th (not that I'd known he'd been on the list): Assemblyman Dan Burling said he wouldn't run, and threw his support behind fellow Assembly member Jane Corwin for the nomination.
• Redistricting: This local news piece on redistricting in Indiana exposes the most mind-numbing and tedious part of the process, one that gets easily overlooked: the process of turning census data into precinct data, seeing as how precincts exist in their own little world apart from blocks and tracts. Even though Indiana was one of the earliest to receive their data, this data-cleaning process is expected to take several weeks before the legislature can even begin tackling the numbers. Also, Indiana is one of the states that will allow citizens to get their hands on the data to try making their own maps... but because of licensing issues of some sort, they won't be making the data available online. If you're in-state, you can drop into one of a number of stations they'll be setting up around the state where you can tinker with the data in person, though.
• Site news: DavidNYC here. I'm back from my vacation and I've had the chance to read through all of the comments (every last one) in the post where I announced our impending move to Daily Kos. While many of my replies are "thank yous" for the very kind expressions of support you offered, I also did my best to answer specific questions where I could. Rest assured that this won't be the last I'll have to say on the subject before we make the changeover. I'll also take this opportunity to encourage you to create an account over at Daily Kos if you don't have one already, and to play around with the new site (DK4 just launched this past weeked). (D)
• AZ-Sen: As the dust settles from Jon Kyl's retirement, the biggest name on the Dem side may also be the biggest question mark: Rep. Gabby Giffords, who it turns out had been telling her staff that she'd planned to run for Senate in 2012 if an open seat arose, but whose recovery timetable is entirely unclear at this point. Local Dems are saying she has "the right of first refusal," but it may be a while till we get a decision out of her, so the Dem field is very much up in the air. One other major Dem is publicly expressing his interest, though: Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, who's termed-out of his job this year. (The same article also finds former Arizona Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez declining a run; not sure why he was being asked in the first place.) On the GOP side, Gov. Jan Brewer acted quickly to quash any speculation that she might run. However, J.D. Hayworth, last seen getting creamed by John McCain in the 2010 primary, says he's interested in another run, while another unappetizing leftover, ex-Gov. Fife Symington, says he won't rule it out (as well as floating the name of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner). If you want to see all the many potential names in one place, here's The Hill's mega-rundown.
• FL-Sen: Scratch one more of the state's myriad GOP House members from the list of possible Senate candidates. FL-16's sophomore Rep. Tom Rooney says the Senate may be an eventual goal someday, but he'd rather focus on building up his credentials in the House first.
• ME-Sen: It seems like his extended period of talking to himself is over, as local tea party leader Andrew Ian Dodge announced (at CPAC, instead of in Maine) that he will in fact challenge Olympia Snowe in the GOP primary. I'm not sure if Snowe is really shaking in her boots, though, if this is the best that the teabaggers can find: Dodge, though able to self-fund, is a bit of an iconoclast (and one might charitably describe his appearance as "scruffy"), and doesn't really seem to fit in with any of the various subconstituencies within the tea party umbrella. He's uninterested in social issues (he's pro-gay and indifferent to abortion) and more of a fiscal hawk, but doesn't have much common cause with the Paulists either, breaking with them on foreign policy. If he loses social con votes to the other teabagger in the race, little-known Scott D'Amboise, that split basically ensures Snowe another nomination. Further complicating matters, Dodge is allied with Tea Party Patriots, archenemy to the DC-based astroturf-flavored Tea Party Express. For what it's worth, TPX officially declared that Snowe is one of their top targets for 2012 (um, was there any doubt about that before yesterday?), but there's no word on who they plan to back in the race, and I can't imagine it being Doge.
• MI-Sen: Former state party chair Saul Anuzis may be getting cold feet about a Senate run all of a sudden, if his new comments are any indication: he said he'd rather see someone else run. One name he dropped as a preferred alternative to himself is (no surprise) ex-Rep. Peter Hoekstra, but another is perhaps the one potential candidate with even less name rec than Anuzis (and also the likeliest person to run, it seems): wealthy businessman Tim Leuliette.
• NM-Sen: In case Jeff Bingaman does (contrary to current expectations) resign, don't look for a Bill Richardson run to succeed him. The ex-Gov. leaves office under a cloud according to PPP, with a 34/55 approval, and 50% saying they'd never vote for him for anything again. Everyone else in New Mexico is pretty popular; Tom Udall is at 56/31 and new Gov. Susana Martinez is at 53/29.
• UT-Sen: Looks like Orrin Hatch, who's in full cozy-up-to-the-tea-party mode this week, can't count on any help from his new colleague Mike Lee; Lee just confirmed that he'll remain neutral in any primary that Hatch might face. Hatch, for his part, at CPAC today, just said that he's sorry for his bailout vote, but that the bailout helped prevent a depression. So... he's sorry about having helped prevent a depression?!? Let me sit and ponder that one for a bit.
• VA-Sen: Here's some good news: ex-Rep. Glenn Nye says he has "absolutely no interest" and has made "zero calls" about the Senate race on the Dem side. (That contradicts yesterday's reports that he was calling around; the "absolutely no interest" part may be true though, inasmuch as that's what he got on the other end of the line.) However, Rep. Gerry Connolly isn't doing anything to downplay his name; he isn't ruling it in or out, but is pitching himself as "viable." (Woooooo! Viable!!! The audacity of viability! We have nothing to fear but inviability itself! Mr. Gorbachev, this wall is not viable!) Connolly blanches at the pricetag though, saying this will likely be a $25 million race.
• MT-Gov, MT-Sen: Well, this pretty much makes it clear that Denny Rehberg will have a stroll to the Senate nomination. Military/security-complex businessman Neil Livingstone was one of the two initial non-Rehberg names associated with the GOP side of the Senate race; with Steve Daines now in the House race, Livingstone now has decided to announce for the gubernatorial race instead. He doesn't face anyone of Rehberg size there, although ex-Rep. Rick Hill is still a pretty imposing obstacle.
• WV-Gov: With tomorrow's filing deadline for the gubernatorial special election fast approaching, it's worth noting how few people (of the many, many possibles) have actually signed up. All we have so far are Natalie Tennant, Earl Ray Tomblin, Rick Thompson, and a Some Dude candidate (Arne Moltis) on the Dem side, and Clark Barnes on the GOP side. Betty Ireland was planning to file today, though, and there will probably be a rush tomorrow.
• NY-26: Kathy Konst isn't the only Dem who seems to be moving forward with seeking the nomination in the upcoming special election; Erie Co. Clerk Kathleen Hochul is interested, too. (She lives slightly outside the district's boundaries in Hamburg.) Meanwhile, lots of GOPers took their names out of contention: ex-Rep. Tom Reynolds, Assemblyman Jim Hayes, state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, and state Sen. Joe Robach. (With George Maziarz also apparently a no, that's pretty much all the GOP state Senators who'd been floated, lessening the likelihood of more 31-31 fun.)
• Mayors: There are mayoral polls in both Chicago and Philadelphia, neither one offering a surprise. In the Windy City, Rahm Emanuel finds himself just shy of clearing the runoff hurdle in a poll from Chicago Tribune/WGN; he's at 49, with 19 for Gery Chico, 10 for Carol Mosely Braun, and 8 for Miguel del Valle. (Last month's Tribune poll had Emanuel at 44 and CMB at 21.) In the Hey, Up Yours City, incumbent Michael Nutter wins easily despite some ambivalent approvals, according to Franklin & Marshall. His approval is 50/32 (60/24 among whites but only 42/41 among African-Americans, who, despite the fact that he's African-American himself, tend to be his weakest constituency); despite that, 53% say he doesn't deserve to be re-elected. Nutter beats Tom Knox 46-28 in a general election matchup (which is odd because Knox isn't a Republican, although I guess he could become one to avoid another primary loss to Nutter, which is what happened in 2007). Nutter's only announced opponent so far is former state legislator Milton Street, the brother of ex-mayor John Street; Street has a bit of a liability, though, in that he's currently on supervised release after spending 20 months in federal prison for tax evasion.
• Dark money: The billionaire Koch brothers have, over the last year, suddenly gone from anonymous rich guys who like to fund right-wing think tanks to, with their efforts to move more into funding activism and advertising, public enemies #1 on the dark money front. They've set a new target for the 2012 cycle that shows just what we're up against money-wise: they plan to contribute and raise $88 million for funding micro-targeting efforts as well as ads. It's not clear whether that would all happen under the aegis of their Americans for Prosperity, or if that money would get spread around the dark money universe, but Politico's article makes it sound that the secretive Kochs aren't closely allied with, if not directly in competition with, other groups like American Crossroads.
• CT-Sen: This is starting to sound like a broken record, but Rep. Joe Courtney is in the news again for saying that he's still vaguely interested in getting into the Dem Senate primary. At least he has a somewhat more definite timetable, saying he'll decide "by the end of this month."
• FL-Sen: Quinnipiac is out with its first Florida poll of the 2012 cycle, and it's remarkably similar to the other polling they've been doing so far this cycle (like OH and PA): they find a surprisingly high number of people with no opinion about the incumbent Democrat, and find him polling in the mid-40s on a generic ballot question, but still winning by an OK margin. Bill Nelson's specific numbers vs. Generic R are 41-36; his approvals are pretty good at 45/21 and his re-elect is 43/33. On a related note, Nelson has the most cash of any Dem heading into 2012, in what, if only by virtue of the state's population, may be 2012's most expensive Senate race; he has more than $3 million CoH.
• MA-Sen, MA-04: I was a little surprised to see Barney Frank's name even on the long list of potential candidates for the Massachusetts Senate race - he's 70 years old and, if for some reason there's a Democratic wave election in 2012 he could get his gavel back - so it's not unusual to see his announcement today that he's running for another term in the House in 2012.
• MN-Sen: Courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio, here's a long list of additional Republicans who aren't running for Senate in Minnesota. (The list of ones who are running would be more interesting but is much shorter, since it has zero names on it, with the possible exception of Harold Shudlick, who lost the 2006 Senate nomination with a proto-teabag candidacy.) Most notably it includes former state Rep. Laura Brod (who's apparently on the short list to become a Univ. of Minnesota Regent instead), but also state Sen. Julie Rosen, state Sen. David Hann, Hennepin Co. Sheriff Rich Stanek, attorney Ron Schutz, and Bill Guidera, who is the state party's finance chair but is employed as "lobbyist for News Corp." A Roll Call article from several weeks ago buried a few other "no thanks" too: businesswoman Susan Marvin, former T-Paw CoS Charlie Weaver, and former state Rep. Paul Kohls. (H/t Brian Valco.)
• MT-Sen, MT-AL: After a lot of rumors last week, it's official as of today: Republican Senate candidate Steve Daines is dropping down to the open seat House race, where he probably becomes something of a frontrunner (rather than a speed bump for Denny Rehberg). He can transfer over the $200K he raised for his Senate race. The Fix has some additional names who might consider the House race (in addition to Democratic state Rep. Franke Wilmer, who started floating her name several days ago): businessman Neil Livingstone and state Sen. Roy Brown for the GOP, and state Sen. minority whip Kim Gillan, state Sen. Larry Jent, up-and-coming state Sen. Kendall Van Dyk (netroots candidate, anybody?), or attorney Tyler Gernant.
• WI-Sen: Is this the opening salvo of the 2012 Senate race? It comes from a familiar face (one who lost the 1998 Senate general election and 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary), ex-Rep. and real estate development magnate Mark Neumann. He engaged in the traditional pre-announcement tactic of penning an op-ed attacking the incumbent, in this case Herb Kohl and his vote against HCR repeal. If so, it would set up the battle of the self-funders.
• WV-Sen: The NRSC is out with its first ad of the cycle, and they're getting right to work going after Joe Manchin, after he surprised at least some people by keeping ranks with the Dems and voting against HCR repeal. No trucker hats or plaid here... instead, they seem to be taking that "San Francisco values" (read: gay gay gay!) tack pioneered by Sam Graves in a notorious MO-06 ad in 2008, by comparing joined-at-the-hip pals Barack Obama and Joe Manchin to other legendary campy duos, like Sonny and Cher, and Siegfried and Roy.
• IN-Gov: Somebody's not waiting for Mike Pence to make his move on the Indiana governor's race! I say "somebody" because I really have no idea who this guy is, although he's one step up from Some Dude by virtue of having been a Hamilton County Commissioner. Jim Wallace is the first to actually say he'll seek the Republican nomination; he's touting his business background (as a consultant to health insurance companies).
• WV-Gov: I'm not sure I've ever seen such a chaotically-planned election before, but now the state House and Senate in West Virginia can't agree on what date they're going to set for the special election to replace Joe Manchin. The House moved it up to Sep. 13, but then the Senate's bill kept it at Oct. 4, which was the date proposed by Earl Ray Tomblin. At least they're in agreement on the primary date, June 20. (There's also a rundown on filings so far: the three Dems to file are the one's you'd expect (Tomblin, Natalie Tennant, and Rick Thompson), while in addition to two expected GOPers (Betty Ireland, Mark Sorsaia), there's also one whose name I hadn't heard before, state Del. Patrick Lane.
• FL-25: You know you're in for a short stay in the House when the Beltway media is already compiling lists of likely successors during your first month on the job. The Fix's list of possible Republicans who might pick up after David Rivera in the event of a resignation/expulsion includes state Sen. Anitere Flores, former state Sen. Alex Villalobos, state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo, and former state Rep. J.C. Planas.
• MS-LG: With Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant the likeliest person to become Mississippi Governor in 2011, the jockeying to become Lt. Gov in 2011 (and thus probably become Governor in 2019) is underway. Republican state Treasurer Tate Reeves is the first to announce his bid.
• DCCC/Crossroads: The announcement that they were targeting 19 vulnerable Republicans this early in the cycle was a good move for the DCCC, but a lot of the wind subsequently went out of their sails when it was revealed (courtesy of Nathan Gonzales) that the effort was really more of a press release backed up by tiny radio ad buys, with a total of about $10,000 spent, working out to about $500 per member (and as low as $114 in VA-05, which is a cheap market, but still...). That was met by a retaliatory buy from the Karl Rove-linked GOP dark money outfit American Crossroads, where the clearly telegraphed subtext was "You're broke; we have money." They spent $90,000 to air radio ads in those same markets, which at less than $5,000 per member is still chicken feed but, in terms of The Math, noticeably larger. Of course, that $114 is a pretty good return on investment, if it got Robert Hurt publicly backpedaling on just how much he wants to cut infrastructure spending.
• Mayors: The Las Vegas mayoral race just took an interesting turn yesterday, when former school board president (and more notably, wife of outgoing mayor-for-life Oscar Goodman) Carol Goodman reversed course and said that she would, in fact, run for mayor. By virtue of name rec, that may catapult her to the front of the line.
• Redistricting: This may be our first-ever episode of Swingnuts in the News, but Josh Goodman (now writing for Stateline) has an interview with Dave Bradlee (of Dave's Redistricting App fame) in his new article on the rise of DIY redistricting in general. (He also briefly cites abgin's now-legendary map of New York state.) He also points out that at least two states, Idaho and Florida, will make similar applications available online for tinkerers, as well as the Public Mapping Project's efforts to create a more comprehensive public service.
• Census: The 2010 data for Louisiana, Missisippi, New Jersey, and Virginia is out... at least in cumbersome FTP form. American FactFinder won't have the data until later today or tomorrow. (Looks like Dave Wasserman's already cracked open the data and has tweeted one interesting tidbit: New Orleans' population came in 29.1% lower than 2000, and even 3.1% below the 2009 ACS estimate.
• AZ-Sen: Could we actually see a retirement from the GOP's #2, Jon Kyl? Seems hard to believe, but there seems to be increasing chatter about it, at least to the extent that it's now a "real possibility." Local sources refer to his fundraising as being in a "holding pattern." Kyl promises a February deadline for deciding whether or not to run again.
• FL-Sen: He doesn't have the name rec of ex-Sen. George LeMieux or Rep. Connie Mack IV, but don't discount former state House majority leader Adam Hasner as a potential force in the GOP Senate primary. While he's little-known, insiders point to him having the best-built network for fundraising and activist mobilization among the GOPers. (Also worth noting: his wife just finished running Meg Whitman's campaign. Although I don't know if, at this point, that's a plus or a minus.)
• IN-Sen: Seemingly having learned from the 2010 Republican Senate primary, where two candidates split the hard-right vote and let warmed-over establishmentarian Dan Coats stroll to the nomination, Indiana tea partiers seem to be trying to coordinate their efforts better this time in order to beat Richard Lugar. 180 leaders met to summon three potential candidates (the already-oft-mentioned state Sen. Mike Delph and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, but also 2010 IN-02 loser Jackie Walorski) to appear before them so they can unify behind one of them. (The article's worth reading too for some provocative pushback from Lugar's camp, including some thoughtful mention from them of the Latino vote, a growing demographic even in Indiana.) Meanwhile, faced with redistricting-related uncertainty in his House district, Rep. Joe Donnelly is continuing to "look at his political options" regarding a statewide run (where, theoretically, a Senate run could be more appealing, if odds are starting to look like the Gov. opponent will be Mike Pence and the Sen. opponent will be a little-known teabagger).
• MA-Sen: Cat fud doesn't get any better than this: the National Republican Trust PAC, which spent $95K on IEs to get Scott Brown elected in 2010, is now vowing to defeat Brown in the next Republican primary in order to "protect its brand." The last straw for them? START, of all things. While I can't see such a primary likely to succeed (especially since these guys seem like kind of small-ball players... I mean, $95K?), the prospect of angry right-wingers staying home in November makes the general election that much more interesting. Meanwhile, Rep. Michael Capuano, who lost the special election Dem primary, still sounds like the Dem likeliest to make the race, although he's now saying he won't have a formal decision until summer. Another potential candidate, Rep. Stephen Lynch, is out with some comments that somehow don't seem likely to endear him any more to the party's base, saying that liberal activists should steer clear of primary challenges in 2012 (Lynch, of course, was recipient of one of those challenges). He stopped short of saying that they should steer clear of primary challenges to him in the Senate race, though, so that doesn't give much insight into his 2012 plans.
• MI-Sen: With Peter Hoekstra having made some vague noises about being interested in the Senate race last week, now it's Terry Lynn Land's turn. The former Republican SoS says she's "considering it," but interestingly, plans to meet with Hoekstra next week before making a decision.
• TX-Sen: This isn't much of a surprise, but west Texas's three interchangeable Republican House members (Mike Conaway, Randy Neugebauer, and Mac Thornberry) announced en masse that they weren't interested in running for the Senate seat. Makes sense... why give up the safest job in the nation (GOP House backbencher in a district that's R+25 or more) for the chance to get flattened in a primary by David Dewhurst and/or a teabagger to be named later?
• VT-Sen: Republican State Auditor Tom Salmon seems to have an amazing new quantitative scheme for gauging his interest in running for Senate: currently he says he's "65 percent in," and that "when I hit 75 percent it will commence exploratory." He also lets Politico know (I'm not making this up) that he "needs to be an authentic self-utilizing power along the lines of excellence." I guess he switched from being a Democrat to a Republican last year because he felt more welcome in the GOP, given their long-standing tolerance of Sarah Palin's gift for word salad.
• WI-Sen: This seems like a pretty good indicator that long-time Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, who prefers to write his own checks rather than work the fundraising circuit, is planning another run in 2012 rather than retirement. He just loaned $1 million into his campaign account in the fourth quarter of 2011.
• WV-Gov: PPP is out with the primary election portions of its gubernatorial poll from last week. On the Dem side, there are two clear favorites but they're neck and neck: acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (at 25) and SoS Natalie Tennant (at 24). Further behind are state Treasurer John Perdue at 16, state Sen. Jeff Kessler at 7, state House speaker Rick Thompson at 6, and state Sen. Brooks McCabe at 4. On the GOP side, if Shelley Moore Capito does show up (which she says she won't), she's a shoo-in, at 72, with ex-SoS Betty Ireland at 10, state Sen. Clark Barnes at 5, Putnam Co. Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia at 1, and state GOP chair Mike Stuart at 1. They also try a Capito-free version, in which Ireland becomes the heavy fave at 46, with Barnes at 11, Sorsaia at 9, and Stuart at 4. There's also word of one more GOPer who isn't interesting: former astronaut and 1996 gubernatorial candidate (who lost the '96 primary to Cecil Underwood) Jon McBride says he won't run this time.
• IN-01, MI-14: Two Democratic old-timers who may be faced with less favorable districts after redistricting (or at least dark-blue districts that contain a lot of new territory) and have some ethical problems hanging overhead both announced that they're running for re-election. Peter Visclosky and John Conyers both are looking to get an early start on their races.
• WA-08: Here's a new House filing from a fairly prominent local Democrat to go against perennial target Dave Reichert: state Rep. Roger Goodman has set up a committee to run in the 8th. This requires some reading between the lines, though, because a Goodman/Reichert matchup is highly unlikely in the end; Goodman just needs a federal committee set up for, well, somewhere. Goodman lives in Kirkland, which is about a mile to the north of the 8th's boundaries; he actually lives in WA-01, where he probably doesn't want to look like he's mounting a primary challenge to Jay Inslee, although it's widely-assumed that Inslee will be vacating the 1st to run for Governor in 2012. That doesn't mean that Goodman running in the 1st is a done deal, either; under the likeliest redistricting scenario, Kirkland is likely to be part of a new Dem-friendly district that's based on the true Eastside (whether it's the 8th or 10th remains to be seen), with Reichert, who's based down in Auburn, getting his own friendlier district based in SE King County and eastern Pierce County. So, I'd say, it's likelier than not that we'll see both Reichert and Goodman in the House in 2013; the main question is the district numbers.
• DCCC: Here's something we like to see; not only is the DCCC is getting an early start on offense this year, seeding the ground to try to get some early momentum going against the most vulnerable House GOPers, but they're explicitly doing some progressive framing here, highlighting the links between infrastructure spending and job growth. They're running radio ads in 19 districts, most of which aren't a surprise by virtue of their swinginess: targets include Lou Barletta, Charlie Bass, Ann Marie Buerkle, Steve Chabot, Chip Cravaack, Bob Dold!, Sean Duffy, Blake Farenthold, Mike Fitzpatrick, Nan Hayworth, Joe Heck, Robert Hurt, Patrick Meehan, Dave Reichert, David Rivera, Jon Runyan, Joe Walsh, and Allen West. The wild card? Thad McCotter, whose continued presence in the House seems to have more to do with his ability to not draw tough opponents than it does with a connection to his district.
• Redistricting: The Fix has an interesting look at Virginia redistricting, where the Dem control of the state Senate probably means an 8-3 compromise map protecting current incumbents. There's one wrinkle, though: congressional redistricting could be pushed back until after the 2011 legislative election in the hopes that the GOP takes back over the state Senate, which would give them the trifecta. (Obviously, they couldn't delay legislative redistricting, though, meaning the GOP won't have the leverage over the map that would shape the results of the 2011 legislative election.) Although it's hard to see what they could do to VA-11 that wouldn't cut into VA-10, the GOP could conceivably push for a 9-2 map if they got that advantage. (The Rose Report is out with a much more in-depth series on Virginia redistricting this month that's worth a look.) Meanwhile, in New Jersey (another early state where the work is done by bipartisan commission), there's already some disagreement within the commission over whether or not they need to have an 11th, tie-breaking member appointed so they can move forward. (H/t to Taniel for noticing the delightful headline: "N.J. redistricting commission argues over whether it is at an impasse.")
• Census: Speaking of Virginia and New Jersey, and their early redistricting efforts, the Census Bureau will be rolling out the first big batch of complete, detailed data from 2010 for the first four states that need it early (for 2011 legislative election purposes)... Louisiana and Mississippi as well. They don't have a specific date set, but keep watching this link because they'll be available at some point this week.