• CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons has previously sounded unlikely to run (and rather sulky about it), but now he's saying he's "considering" the race and will make a decision by March. He's also seeking to replace state GOP party chair Chris Healy, who he thinks favored Linda McMahon during the nomination process. Simmons also had some kind words for state Sen. Scott Frantz as an option in case he himself doesn't run.
• FL-Sen: Already having the backing of the man he replaced as state Senate president (John Thrasher), now Mike Haridopolos got the endorsement of the Republican leader of the other chamber, state House speaker Dean Cannon. (Not that those kinds of endorsements move a lot of actual votes, but this could be harmful in the behind-the-scenes game to former state House majority leader Adam Hasner if he runs, as he'd probably have expected Cannon's help.)
• MA-Sen, MA-06: Rep. John Tierney didn't sound much like a candidate in the Senate race when asked about it at an appearance with area high schoolers, saying he's focused on his current job and plans to run again. That, on top of Barney Frank's announcement yesterday that he's running again (and the months-ago announcement from John Olver that he's running again) point to an increasing likelihood that two of the state's 10 Dem Congresspeople will have to face off in a primary (unless either Mike Capuano or Stephen Lynch roll the dice on a Senate bid). One other total wild card here that came into sharper relief today: John Kerry seems to be amping up his lobbying to become Secretary of State. While there's no indication that Hillary Clinton is in any hurry to leave, that does raise the specter of another special election if there's a changing of the guard at SoS after the 2012 election. That possibility, and the chance at an open seat run instead of going up against Scott Brown's millions, might induce Capuano and Lynch to keep their House jobs for now.
• NE-Sen: PPP gives AG Jon Bruning a substantial lead in the GOP Senate primary, for the right to take on Ben Nelson. He leads state Treasurer Don Stenberg 47-19, with throw-ins Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer at 7 and 6 apiece. Bruning's faves among Republicans are 57/12.
• VA-Sen: Jamie Radtke, the principal tea party opponent to George Allen in the GOP Senate primary so far, has shown she can compete, at least on the financial front. She raised $100K in the fourth quarter; Allen didn't report anything since his candidacy didn't launch until the new year.
• WA-Gov, WA-AG: Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee is launching some rhetorical salvos in Republican AG Rob McKenna's direction over health care reform in what's very likely the beginnings of the 2012 gubernatorial general election; McKenna is one of the few blue-state AGs who signed on to the multi-state suit against HCR implementation, a possible foot-shooting move that seems more oriented toward fending off primary opposition from the right than enhancing his electability in November. By the way, if you're wondering about who's planning to replace McKenna in the AG slot, there's word that ambitious King County Councilor Bob Ferguson is about to announce his candidacy next week. His likeliest GOP opponent is fellow King County Councilor (and progeny of WA-08's Jennifer Dunn) Reagan Dunn.
• WV-Gov: It looks like we finally have some consensus on when that pesky special election for Governor is going to be. The state House and Senate ironed out a compromise that will hold the primary on May 14 and the general election on Oct. 4. Acting Gov. (and candidate) Earl Ray Tomblin has agreed to sign off on the deal, even though it contains a different primary date than he wanted.
• IA-03: Here's some more evidence that 77-year-old Leonard Boswell is seriously gearing up for a 2012 battle to stay in the House, despite possibly facing two major opponents (first Christine Vilsack in a Dem primary, then Tom Latham in a redistricting-forced general). He named his former campaign manager Julie Stauch as his new chief of staff. (His fundraising may say otherwise, though; see below.)
• LA-03, LA-AG: Jeff Landry, who's been in the House all of one month, is the likeliest Rep. to get squeezed in a 6-district map of Louisiana, by virtue of his lack of seniority and depopulation in his district (and the need to keep next-door LA-02 a VRA district). So, it seems sensible that he's already contemplating some alternate plans. Rumors are flying now that the reason that AG Buddy Caldwell is planning switch over to the Republican party is because Landry is looking at challenging Caldwell in this year's AG race (although Caldwell's switch would just move that challenge to the primary, if it goes through). David Rivera might not even have the shortest stay among this year's freshman class, if Landry wins the AG race and leaves the House after one year.
• Fundraising: This Politico piece on fundraising among House members has some interesting red flags from Q4 that may portend retirement. On the GOP side, CA-41's Jerry Lewis raised $1,700, while MD-06's Roscoe Bartlett raised all of $0. For the Dems, NY-05's Gary Ackerman raised $924, NY-28's Louise Slaughter raised $320, and MI-05's Dale Kildee raised the strangely specific sum of $1.42. They also point to how fundraising may have dried up for several likely casualties of redistricting, including MI-09's Gary Peters (down to $88K CoH), IA-03's Leonard Boswell ($66K CoH), PA-12's Mark Critz (net negative-$36K), and LA-03's Jeff Landry (net negative-$24K).
• Redistricting: As expected, the battle over Florida's Fair Districts initiative is moving into the courts, starting with a new suit filed by the amendments' backers (including the League of Women Voters and NAACP) demanding that Rick Scott re-engage the process of seeking VRA preclearance for the chances to Florida's system. (Scott has apparently been dragging his feet on preclearance in hopes that the initiative's requirements won't be in place by the time of 2012 redistricting, which could let the GOP legislature gerrymander to their hearts' content.) Meanwhile, the GOP legislature in Georgia is already consolidating their power to take advantage of their control of the trifecta there: they removed primary responsibility for map-drawing from the nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute at UGA, and instead are creating a new Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office more directly under their control.
• Census: If you tried to open the ftp version of the new Census data yesterday and found yourself looking at incomprehensible txt files (that, if you scroll through them quickly enough, look like you're able to see through The Matrix), fear not. They're available via American FactFinder now, and even through interactive widget form.
• FEC: I'm not sure how many max-out donors we have among our readership, but the FEC has raised contribution limits for this cycle, meaning you can give a little more to your favorite candidate or committee before hitting the ceiling. You can now give up to $2,500 per candidate and $30,800 per committee.
• Trivia: I had absolutely no idea this number was so low: there have been only four open seat Senate races in Texas since the 1920s. (Not only do Senators there tend to have long tenures, but vacancies tend to manifest themselves in special elections.) The races were in 1948, 1952, 1984, and 2002.
AK-Sen: Joe Miller is taking a vow of omertà, insisting that he simply won't answer any more questions about his personal background. He's also taking a page right out of the Sarah Palin playbook, whining that he's been the victim of "journalist impropriety," and making up stories about reporters gaining access to his "confidential file," in "violation of the law." I despairingly think that Miller won't pay the price for this that he ought to - look at Rick Perry, who refuses to meet with newspaper editorial boards, as an example.
Also of note: Miller is trying to unring that Seventeenther bell a bit - but not really. His stance now is that a constitutional amendment to eliminate the direct election of senators is not "practical," but sure sounds like he'd love to do it if he could. What a weirdo.
NV-Sen: Clinton alert! The Big Dog will be in Nevada today to campaign with Harry Reid.
WV-Sen: Clinton alert (retroactive)! Bill Clinton was in Morgantown yesterday, campaigning for Joe Manchin. He made a point of saying that the "hick-y" ad "burns me up."
KS-Gov: This creeptastic story is finally getting some play in the Kansas gubernatorial race. Back around 2002 or so, Sam Brownback was roommates in Washington, DC with a radical cleric named Lou Engle. You might remember Engle as the Talibangelist who led a "prayer" rally in Uganda right when the country was debating passage of a bill which would have implemented the death penalty for homosexuals. Though he later tried to distance himself from the measure, at the time, Engle "praised the country's 'courage' and 'righteousness' in promoting the bill. In the past, Engle has also donated to Brownback's campaigns, and Brownback has done events with him as recently as last year. Seemingly caught off-guard by all this, the Brownback campaign had no statement in response.
NY-Gov: When you've lost Rudy Giuliani... His Dingusness attacked fellow Republican Carl Paladino over his anti-gay remarks, calling them "highly offensive" and saying Paladino should apologize. Not really sure what Rudy's angle is here, though.
TN-Gov: Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Haslam poured in another $2.8 million of his own money in the third quarter, for $4.3 mil total. He's also raised a pretty amazing $12.5 million from outside donors, all told; combined, this apparently makes for a new Tennessee record. (Recall that Haslam had a very competitive GOP primary.) Dem Mike McWherter hasn't released 3Q nums yet, but he's raised just a fraction of what Haslam has.
FL-22: Barack Obama did a fundraiser last night at the home of former NBA great Alonzo Mourning (which we mentioned to you back in SSP Amazing Digest #88). The event raised a million bucks, split between the Ron Klein campaign and the DNC. In attendance were Miami Heat players Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade (but not LeBron James), as well as Magic Johnson.
ME-02: Looks like Jason Levesque is going to have to beg his mom for rides to campaign rallies: the Republican just got his license suspended, after three speeding convictions in the past year. Lifetime, he has 18 driving-related convictions (including nine for speeding), and his licenses has been suspended three times.
NV-03: Joe Heck has a serious problem wrapped around his neck like a twenty-pound goiter. It's called Sharron Angle, and he just doesn't know what do with it. When asked directly by a voter whether he planned to vote for his own party's senate nominee, Heck responded: "I'm waiting to see all of the evidence before I make my choice."
NY-01: Biden alert! The VPOTUS is coming to NYC to do a fundraiser for Tim Bishop on Oct. 26th. Seems awfully late in the game to be raising scratch, but I suppose a Biden event is such a sure thing that Bishop can max out the campaign credit cards against the expected take.
OH-09: As he watches his candidacy circle the drain, Rich Iott lashed out at the top-ranking Jewish Republican in the Milky Way, Eric Cantor, who had repudiated him a day earlier:
"I think that Representative Cantor did what so many career politicians do. He reacted before he had all the facts. He didn't know the whole story. He didn't understand what historical reenacting is all about, or the education side of it. And he just made a decision without all the facts. My opponent here is cut out of the same cloth. Those are the people who passed the health care bill before they knew what was in it. The same folks who passed the stimulus bill...."
Because comparing the minority whip to Democrats is a good idea for a Republican candidate with a future, right? Anyhow, for those of you who perhaps wanted to hold out hope that Iott was just some weird LARPer (but I repeat myself), please review this paragraph taken from the website of his fellow Nazi re-enactors:
Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a "New and Free Europe", free of the threat of Communism. National Socialism was seen by many in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and other eastern European and Balkan countries as the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life, despite the true underlying totalitarian (and quite twisted, in most cases) nature of the movement. Regardless, thousands upon thousands of valiant men died defending their respective countries in the name of a better tomorrow. We salute these idealists; no matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free.
OR-04: There's no direct quote here, but the Douglas County News-Review reports that Rep. Peter DeFazio "says he favors replacing Pelosi as speaker if Democrats retain their majority." DeFazio has long had an antagonistic relationship with Pelosi, most recently coming to a head with his refusal to vote for the stimulus, allegedly from the left.
OR-05: These Republicans have no respect for Godwin's Law, do they? Speaking of the healthcare reform bill, Scott Bruun said:
"From a social perspective, it's right up there, I would argue - probably the fugitive slave law was worse. But still, the healthcare bill was pretty darn bad."
The Fugitive Slave Act, which "required any runaway slaves who had escaped their bondage and were living free in the Northern states be returned to their owners" - and was one of the causes of the Civil War. Right on!
PA-03, PA-12: Biden alert (retroactive)! The VPOTUS did a fundraiser in Pittsburgh with both Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper and Mark Critz in attendance. The Hill makes a big deal out of the fact that this event didn't take place in Critz's district - but I'm just going to guess that there are a lot more wealthy Dems in the P'burgh area than in the 12th CD.
PA-06: Can an internal ever be too good? Well, you tell me if you believe this Susquehanna survey that Jim Gerlach is touting, which has him up by a massive 61-31 spread. Still, now would be a good time for Manan Trivedi or the DCCC to show us something different.
PA-11: If Paul Kanjorski somehow, improbably, survives once more, he will owe his fortune yet again to the realtors, who have already spent three-quarters of a million on ads on his behalf, after spending a million bucks last time.
Polltopia: Time to help PPP pick their next state to poll.
FL-Gov: In a move we've seen a few times this cycle, Alex Sink is trying out the long-form political ad, this time with a 2-minute spot detailing Rick Scott's Medicare fraud and his attempts to hide from it
WA-08: In her third ad, Suzan DelBene hits Reichert on raising taxes & shipping jobs overseas
AFSCME: Throws down $750K against Republican roofer Reid Ribble (WI-08) and $628K against GOPer Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
NRA: Almost $3 million in senate buys (here & here)
• AK-Sen: The Tea Party Express is reloading in Alaska, with Lisa Murkowski having popped up again as a target. They're launching a new ad blitz starting Monday, although no word on how much they plan to spend on this go-round.
• CA-Sen: It seems like the NRSC can read the handwriting on the wall in California: they've canceled a $1.9 million ad buy on Carly Fiorina's behalf for the last week before the election (probably sensing that money's more valuable in West Virginia). They're, of course, framing it as "advancing in another direction," saying they wanted to give her flexibility to spend the money "around the state and not just in one city."
• CO-Sen: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for DSCC (9/22-26, likely voters, no trendlines):
Michael Bennet (D-inc): 48
Ken Buck (R): 46
The DSCC has the first publicly-offered poll in a while giving Michael Bennet a lead, here up 2 on Ken Buck. (The last poll with a Bennet lead seems to be that joint POS/Fairbank Maslin poll from early September, which had him up by 3.)
• DE-Sen: Wow, Christine O'Donnell's resume (on her LinkedIn profile) is falling apart like it was made out of balsa wood and chewing gum. After getting called on not having actually taken any classes at Oxford yesterday, now it turns out that she never took any classes at Claremont Graduate University. And she's offering a really strange denial, the kind of thing you might expect from a first-grader rather than a 41-year old: that Linked In profile with her name on it? Yeah, she's saying she didn't put it up and doesn't know who did.
• LA-Sen: I don't know if anyone has compared this yet to that epic-length R. Kelly video that has him hiding in closet and there's a dwarf apropos of nothing? At any rate, Charlie Melancon is out with a new ad that's not the first time he's broached the issue of David Vitter's, um, personal failings... but this one goes on for two whole minutes, chronicling the whole thing in great detail. Given its remarkable length, it should be no surprise that it's only running on cable.
• NC-Sen: Public Policy Polling (pdf) (9/23-26, likely voters, late Aug. in parentheses):
Elaine Marshall (D): 36 (38)
Richard Burr (R-inc): 49 (43)
Michael Beitler (L): (6)
Undecided: 11 (13)
The movement toward Richard Burr (thanks to his seemingly-effective advertising, paid for with his huge financial edge) shown by other pollsters is corroborated by PPP, who've tended to see a closer race here in their home state than anyone else. He leads by 13, instead of 5 like last time. One galling number, indicating this could be a real race if Elaine Marshall had any money (not forthcoming, since the DSCC is playing so much defense elsewhere), is that Marshall actually leads 47-45 among those who have an opinion of her.
• NV-Sen: Jon Ralston continues to pummel Sharron Angle, this time over her strange attempts to walk back claims that she wants to privatize the VA. "Walk back" may not even be the right word, since her seem to involve the argument that she never actually said the words that she previously said in May. Meanwhile, here's the level of message discipline they have over at Camp Angle: her own spokesperson is criticizing Angle's latest ad on immigration as "propaganda," in her side gig as chair of the Nevada Republican Hispanic Caucus!
• WA-Sen: Who's the most popular politician in America these days? Bill Clinton, believe it or not. So it's no surprise he's in demand as Democratic surrogate, and he's even coming to Washington on Patty Murray's behalf, headlining a Boeing-themed event in Everett on Oct. 18.
• CA-Gov: This story seems to be developing as the day goes on: Meg Whitman's camp has had to cop to the fact that she once employed a housekeeper who was, gasp, an illegal immigrant. The fight... which will probably determine how much of a story this becomes (if any) over the next few days... seems to be over how much Whitman personally knew about her status (although the non-matching social security number seems like it should've been a tipoff).
• CO-Gov: Wow, this might actually help Dan Maes climb his way out of polling in the low teens! Today he offers some exculpatory evidence that he did too sorta-kinda work as an undercover officer for a small-town police department in Kansas. (Of course, it also shows that he was in fact fired for leaking information about the probe to the relative of a target.)
• OH-Gov: Benenson for Campaign for the Moderate Majority (9/25-27, likely voters, no trendlines):
You might apply a little salt as this is a poll by a Dem pollster for Dem-sounding group, but this is still the first we've seen this in a long, long while... a poll with Ted Strickland in the lead. With a trio of polls in the last few days showing Strickland down by either 1 or 2, there's some definite late closing in this race. (One strange item, though, is that "other" candidates are eating up 6% of the vote here. I'd be surprised if that continues.)
• CO-02: Magellan (9/29, likely voters, no trendlines):
Jared Polis (D-inc): 48
Stephen Bailey (R): 36
I'm not sure why Magellan fired up their crack team of robo-dialers to test this race, not really on anyone's radar screen -- maybe they're prospecting for unusual targets. As one would expect, Jared Polis isn't in particular danger in this D+11 district, although thanks to the drag of the national climate his numbers seem softer than the district's heavy lean.
• NC-07: SurveyUSA for Civitas (pdf) (9/24-26, likely voters, no trendlines):
Mike McIntyre (D-inc): 45
Ilario Pantano (R): 46
SurveyUSA takes a look at NC-07, as part of the Civitas Institute's rotating cast of pollsters. The (not very comforting) good news is that this is SurveyUSA, which has been putting out very GOP-friendly polling in House races, especially in North Carolina. (See their NC-11 polling, compared to other sources.) The bad news is that this race is pretty low on people's watch lists, although the NRCC has started to spending some money on ads here.
• VA-02: POS for Scott Rigell (9/26-27, likely voters, no trendlines):
Glenn Nye (D-inc): 35
Scott Rigell (R): 42
Kenny Golden (I): 5
On top of the NRCC internal poll leaked yesterday (giving Scott Rigell a decent if not-awe-inspiring 45-40 lead over Glenn Nye in an Ayres McHenry poll on 9/23-26), now Rigell's out with his own internal poll from POS giving him a slightly bigger lead. There's one very strange detail here, though: the voters going for tea-flavored indie Kenny Golden seem to be coming out Glenn Nye's column, as that subsample has 59/23 Obama approvals. The MoE on that subsample is probably astronomical, but still, there seems to be some message confusion here about who's who.
• WI-07: POS for Sean Duffy (9/21-22, likely voters, no trendlines):
Julie Lassa (D): 43
Sean Duffy (R): 47
With Julie Lassa having released a poll yesterday showing her down by 1, Sean Duffy retaliated with a poll showing, well, not much difference: his poll has Lassa down by 4. This gets a little confusing, because the NRCC is out with a totally different internal poll today giving Duffy a better result (see below). At any rate, the polls taken in combination seem to give him a definite advantage here.
• NRSC: Here are some McCain Bucks that are actually worth something in the real world! Apparently feeling confident in his general (having survived a bigger challenge in his primary from J.D. Hayworth), John McCain just kicked $1 million over to the NRSC. (Alternate title: Good news! From John McCain!)
• NRCC: In addition to those couple candidate-released internals, the NRCC leaked five more internals of its own today to the Hotline, the majority of which confirm the expected trouble in three Midwestern open seats, but one showing a sleepy race is a live one and one with flat-out awful numbers for the Dem:
WI-08: Steve Kagen (D-inc) 39%, Reid Ribble (R) 57% (OnMessage, 9/15-16)
IL-17: Phil Hare (D-inc) 43%, Bobby Schilling (R) 44% (Tarrance Group, 9/23-25)
WI-07: Julie Lassa (D) 38%, Sean Duffy (R) 52% (Fabrizio, McLaughlin 9/15-16)
MI-01: Gary McDowell (D) 24%, Dan Benishek (R) 40% (Hill Research, 9/19-22) (um, no polling on Glenn Wilson?)
IN-08: Trent Van Haaften (D) 20%, Larry Buchson (R) 41% (OnMessage, 9/13-14)
• American Crossroads: Money's flowing out of American Crossroads as fast as it flows in, from their handful of billionaire donors: they're launching TV ad buys worth $724K in CO-Sen, $618K in IL-Sen, $346K in NV-Sen, $267K in PA-Sen, $492K in WA-Sen, $384K in MO-Sen, and also $247K in direct mail in FL-Sen. (Here's a peek at their WA-Sen ad.)
• NFIB: Committees? Who needs 'em? The National Federation of Independent Business is getting straight into the IE business, too, and in a big way. They have a new PA-Sen ad out (see the link). They're also starting to advertise in NC-Sen, WI-Sen, IN-08, WI-07, ND-AL, OH-16, NM-01, NV-03, FL-08, SC-05, VA-05, and WI-08.
• State legislatures: Louis Jacobson, writing for Governing magazine, updates his state legislature projections, with almost every move in the Republicans' favor. 25 of the 28 chambers "in play" are Democratic-controlled. The most alarming moves include moving the Dem-held Pennsylvania House and Ohio House to Lean Republican, and the North Carolina Senate and Colorado House to Tossup. The one remaining viable pickup opportunity for Dems is the Texas House.
• Polltopia: There isn't exactly anything new in this Politico piece from Maggie Haberman, but it does convey that professional pollsters and poll watchers in the Beltway are throwing up their hands in frustration about wildly vacillating, inconclusive polling this cycle as the rest of us are... showing that, really, nobody has much of a clue as to what's about to happen. Just to help everyone take a deep breath and keep things in perspective here...
• SSP TV:
• FL-Sen: The winning ad of the day comes from the Florida Democratic Party, on Kendrick Meek's behalf, letting Charlie Crist do all the talking about how he's really a conservative Republican
• WI-Sen: I actually agree with the Fix here that this is an effective Ron Johnson ad, letting him play the outsider in the same way that Russ Feingold did 18 years ago
• WV-Sen: The NRSC contrasts at-home Joe Manchin vs. Washington Joe Manchin
• FL-Gov: The FDP is also out with two different ads in the Governor's race, hitting Rick Scott on his Columbia/HCA tenure and contrasting that with Alex Sink's uncontroversial time at Bank of America
• MA-Gov: The RGA keeps hitting Tim Cahill (on the lottery this time), knowing full well that less Cahill means more Charlie Baker
• MD-Gov: Martin O'Malley is one politician embracing instead of fleeing Barack Obama, in a new radio ad
• FL-22: Ron Klein is out with another anti-Allen West ad, but it's back to the tax liens instead of dipping into the well of crazy
• IA-01: AFF is out with a mondo-sized ad buy against Bruce Braley in a race that no one else but them seems to be paying attention to (for $800K!) (h/t desmoinesdem)
• KS-03: Stephene Moore is finally out with her first TV spot, which is mostly an attack on Kevin Yoder (though self-narrated, which is unusual for that)
• NH-02: Ann McLane Kuster's out with an ad hitting Charlie Bass for wanting to "pick up where he left off"
• NV-03: Here's a link to that Dina Titus "peas in a pod" ad that we mentioned this morning, tying Joe Heck to Sharron Angle
• PA-12: Mark Critz's first ad talks about his own hardscrabble roots, and about outsourcing
• WI-07: As cool as it is to watch, how many more ads is Sean Duffy going to keep playing lumberjack in?
• OH-Sen: Lee Fisher (D) 42%, Rob Portman (R) 51%
• DE-Sen: Christine O'Donnell's radio interview on a local station yesterday should answer any doubts about whether or not the new Tea Party fave is ready for prime time (the answer: she isn't). Mostly it's notable for how testy it got, but also for O'Donnell pushing back on rumors that Mike Castle is gay - rumors that apparently no one has ever heard until O'Donnell brought them up in the first place. At any rate, Castle isn't content to just stand back and let her dig her own hole: not wanting to fall into the Lisa Murkowski trap, his camp confirms that his last-minute pre-primary ad buy will be negative against O'Donnell. He also said he won't be debating with (or otherwise even talking to) O'Donnell... ordinarily a safe decision for a quasi-incumbent, but who knows, maybe a mid-debate implosion by O'Donnell would be all Castle needs to put this one away.
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist's out with an internal today from Fredrick Polls, and while it gives him the lead, it's a small enough edge compared with his rather robust leads pre-Dem primary that it shouldn't fill anybody with much confidence about where his trendlines are headed. He leads Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek 35-34-17. That comes against the backdrop of getting squeezed in both directions, with the NRSC "pledging" (I don't know what that means, but it's not actual reservations) $2.5 million for the race, and Meek airing a new radio ad going after Crist's GOP past, airing Crist's own words, including calling himself "pro-life" and a "Jeb Bush Republican." At least Crist is getting some backing from one rather unusual corner: state Sen. Al Lawson, who just lost the FL-02 primary to Allen Boyd, just endorsed Crist.
• NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: Maybe I should've been patient yesterday instead of complaining about Quinnipiac's lack of New York primary numbers, because they rolled them out today. At any rate, they find, as I'd suspected, things tightening in the GOP gubernatorial primary: Rick Lazio leads Carl Paladino 47-35. ("Tightening" may not be the right word, as this is their first look at the NY-Gov primary, but it's what other pollsters have seen.) In the Senate special election, Joe DioGuardi leads David Malpass and Bruce Blakeman, 28-12-10. And in another sign that Democratic voters are only dimly aware that there's an election this year, fully 77% of Dem voters have no idea who they'll vote for in the Attorney General's race. Kathleen Rice leads Eric Schneiderman by a margin of 4-3. (That's not a typo.)
• WI-Sen: Ron Johnson has been outspending Russ Feingold 3-to-1 on the TV airwaves, which goes a long way to explaining why this is a tied race, but that may not matter much if he keeps stepping on his own free-market-fundamentalist message. Johnson found himself, in a recent radio interview, tying himself into knots by praising Communist China for having a more favorable investment climate for business than America, in part because of its "certainty." So, let's see... to stop America's descent into socialism, we need to become more like the Communists, because the path to freedom is actually through the kind of "certainty" that comes from a command economy? Finally, this is probably too little too late, but Terence Wall, the guy who dropped out in a huff from the GOP field after the state convention, is now publicly touting the idea of a write-in campaign in the upcoming primary. I don't know if he actually thinks he has a shot against a stumbling Johnson or is just engaged in some last-minute sour grapes.
• WV-Sen: Joe Manchin continues to rake in the bucks in the West Virginia Senate special election. (Facing self-funding John Raese, the money issue is the main threat to Manchin... well, that, and the perilously low approvals for national Dems here.) He reported raising $393K last week, bringing his total to $1.5 million. Raese reported $717K, but $520K of that was self-funded, with only $22K from donors.
• AZ-Gov: This may not get much press in the wake of her amazing debate performance, but Jan Brewer is also engaged in an interesting strategy of retaliation, pulling her campaign ads off the local CBS affiliate, whose news department dared to question Brewer's relationship with a key advisor who's also connected to private prison company Corrections Corporation of America, which stands to make significant money incarcerating illegal immigrants rounded up under Arizona's SB 1070. That's not the same station whose reporter aggressively questioned Brewer post-debate last night... my advice to Brewer would be to go ahead and stop advertising on all local network affiliates as punishment. That'll show 'em!
• CO-Gov: This may be kind of repetitive, but Dan Maes againturned down calls to drop out of the race today, after former state Senate president John Andrews withdrew his endorsement and told him to get out. Andrews wasn't alone in the endorsement rescinding department: it looks like the whole ooops-no-I-actually-wasn't-an-undercover-cop-in-Kansas thing was the fridge too far for former GOP Senator Hank Brown, who is now saying he's "looking around" for a new candidate. Meanwhile, on the touchy subject of water law, maybe Maes should take a page from Scott McInnis and just plagiarize all his work on the subject, as at least that way he wouldn't appear completely ignorant of the law. He just introduced an entirely new water law doctrine with his proclamation that "If it starts in Colorado, it's our water" - ignoring the 7-state compact on use of Colorado River water and the whole concept of prior appropriation. As much as I'd like to see Jan Brewer using the Arizona National Guard to invade Colorado and reclaim its water, I don't think the courts would let it get to that point.
• FL-Gov: Alex Sink is expanding her current TV advertising buy, throwing another $600K into keeping her introductory spot on the air in a number of non-Miami markets. Oddly, Rick Scott has been taking the week off since the primary, at least from advertising.
• OR-Gov: John Kitzhaber has finally decided to go negative on Chris Dudley... it might be too little too late, but at least he's recognizing what he needs to do (as recently as last week, he negged a DGA ad that went negative on Dudley... and this is the first time he's aired a negative ad since 1994). The ad attacks Dudley for having "never managed anything" and never "shown much interest in Oregon" before (as seen in his decision to live in income-tax-free Washington while playing for the Trail Blazers).
• CT-04: Republican state Sen. Dan Debicella offers up a recent internal poll, via National Research. It has him within 4 points of Rep. Jim Himes, trailing 42-38 (the same 4-point margin seen in the recent round of AAF polling).
• FL-25: Here's an offensive opportunity for House Dems that nobody should be writing off. Joe Garcia posted a lead in a recent internal poll (taken in wake of the primary, and revelations about various unsavory moments from Republican opponent David Rivera's past) for his campaign. Garcia leads by 4 points in the poll from Benenson, 40-36 (with 5 for the Tea Party candidate and 1 for the Whig).
• MO-03: Republican challenger Ed Martin got the endorsement of the Missouri Farm Bureau, a change from their backing of Russ Carnahan in previous cycles. Carnahan didn't show up for his meeting with the Farm Bureau, although it's unclear whether that's why he didn't get endorsed or if he felt the endorsement was already lost.
• NH-02: EMILY's List, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL are all coordinating their efforts in favor of Ann McLane Kuster ahead of the Dem primary in the 2nd, where's she's running against Katrina Swett, who has supported parental notification laws. In addition to a joint rally, they're sending out a joint mailer together.
• PA-12: The NRCC is out with a poll, via POS, of the 12th, giving Tim Burns a small lead in his rematch against special election victor Mark Critz. Burns leads 48-43, quite the reversal from Critz's 53-45 win in May. (Bear in mind that POS's final released poll before that election gave Burns a 2-point lead.)
• AK-Sen: Scott McAdams (D) 44%, Joe Miller (R) 50%
• FL-Gov: Alex Sink (D) 44%, Rick Scott (R) 45%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 46%, Dino Rossi (R) 48%
• AR-Sen: As predicted, labor doesn't look like it's going to kiss and make up with Blanche Lincoln. The SEIU says it won't back Lincoln in November, if nothing else, seeing as how they have races with better odds elsewhere that they need to deal with. PPP's Tom Jensen reinforces that point in a piece entitled "Write Off Lincoln," listing a handful of total sleeper races where the polls have been better for Dems than Arkansas.
• CT-Sen: Campaigns don't usually release internal polls showing them down by 13 points, but when all the public pollsters are showing you down by more than 20 after your blockbuster move failed and it's a last ditch effort to get contributors to not write you off, I suppose it makes sense. A Moore Information poll finds Linda McMahon trailing Richard Blumethal "only" 51-38.
• IL-Sen: Glad to see that the mainstream environmental groups are starting to see the big picture of how Washington works instead of reflexively endorsing moderate Republicans who occasionally pantomime throwing them a bone (see also Reichert, Dave). The Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters, who've backed Mark Kirk in the past in his House races, will be going with Alexi Giannoulias instead this year.
• NH-Sen: This seemed more like a cry for attention than a well-thought-out campaign pre-announcement when it happened last week. So it's not surprising to hear that whistleblower/former state Securities chief Mark Connolly, after floating his name last week, has decided against running against Paul Hodes in the Dem Senate primary. (The same link also has a list of filings for New Hampshire's state Senate... although Blue Hampshire has that data in helpful table form. Most notable: a troubling Dem-held open seat in a R+4 district.)
• SC-Sen: That didn't take long at all, for the Democrats' baffling new Senatorial nominee, Alvin Greene, to slide into Scott Lee Cohen territory. With revelations this morning that he's facing felony obscenity charges, the state party is calling on Greene to drop out of the race. Mother Jones has some more detail on Greene that really plumbs the depths of his sheer unpreparedness for what he's gotten himself into. I have no idea whether he's a GOP plant (who got fronted the $10K filing fee to be a speed bump for Vic Rawl and wound up winning instead) or just a naif who accidentally wandered into the corridors of power, "Being There"-style, but either way, it makes for a great story.
• AL-Gov: It's official; Robert Bentley finished in 2nd place in the GOP gubernatorial primary, earning him a spot in the primary, and, as expected, Tim James will file for a recount. AG Troy King just issued an AG opinion clarifying the whole issue of whether an automatic recount applies here: no, it doesn't apply to primaries, so James is responsible for the cost of the recount himself. James still plans to do it, though, despite the cost of at least $300K.
• MI-Gov: Republican AG Mike Cox got endorsements from two key GOP power brokers: from the state Chamber of Commerce, and also from Dick and Betsy DeVos. I was a little surprised that the Grand Rapids-based Amway cult leaders didn't go with their in-house western Michigan U.S. Rep., Pete Hoekstra, but Hoekstra claims not to be surprised, probably suggestive of some interpersonal tension with the DeVos family.
• MN-Gov: Here's one more place the SEIU won't get involved: the DFL gubernatorial primary in Minnesota. All three contenders seem to be friendly with labor, so the SEIU didn't seem to want to play favorites in a field that's basically a tossup.
• OR-Gov: Now this is odd... while Oregon has a rather New England-influenced politics, there's no track record of quirky moderate independents running and winning there. Nevertheless, prominent local attorney John DiLorenzo is reporting a $150K loan from himself to his exploratory committee, in apparent preparation for a gubernatorial run.
• SC-Gov: I don't think the RGA could tip its hand any further than it did last night, all but endorsing Nikki Haley, who still has to get past a runoff against Gresham Barrett, saying "the voters made a clear choice" and "the outcome is certain." Barrett, for his part, is brushing that off and continuing to fight on.
• VT-Gov: You may remember Anthony Pollina, who ran as a Progressive and then independent in several gubernatorial races, going as far as to finish 2nd in 2008. Good news for Vermont Dems: Pollina isn't making a third-party bid, or even running for governor at all this year; instead, he's running for a state Senate seat. Also, it sounds like the local Dems and Progressives are getting smarter about not canceling each other out, as they plan to avail themselves more of "fusion voting" this year. (H/t terje; the whole comment is well worth a read.)
• AR-01: With the ink barely dry on Chad Causey's victory in the Dem runoff, the Rick Crawford campaign released an internal poll showing them with a lead over Causey. The poll by POS gives the GOP nominee a 40-34 lead. While the district has a strong Dem tradition, Obama's 54% disapproval in the district gives Crawford an opening.
• IN-03: There's a tally of 15 different Republicans seeking the GOP nod for the special election to replace the recently-resigned Mark Souder; the local GOP will meet on Saturday to choose somebody. The most prominent name is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who recently lost the IN-Sen primary, but the list also includes IN-03 primary loser Bob Thomas, two state Reps., Randy Borror and Wes Culver, and even a local TV anchor, Ryan Elijah.
• IN-09: Biden alert! The fundraiser-in-chief has added Baron Hill to his list of beneficiaries, and will be appearing on his behalf in Jeffersonville on June 28.
• PA-12: For his rematch against now-Rep. Mark Critz, Tim Burns is going to try a different campaign manager. Having lost by 9 in the special after seeming to lose the ground war, he parted ways with former chief Tadd Rupp.
• NRSC: John Cornyn admits that the NRSC's wide playing field this November isn't all good news, because their limited resources (currently $17.1 million) will be stretched thin. Somewhere Dino Rossi is thinking "Now he tells me..."
• Polltopia: Maybe the biggest story that people are following today is the quick decision, in the wake of the AR-Sen runoff polls (as well as MA-Sen, PA-12, and the AL-Gov D primary...), by Daily Kos to part ways with hired pollster Research 2000. However, Markos says the decision was more based on 538's aggregate pollster ratings than any one poll. There's no word yet on which pollster will be wearing the orange in the future. Mark Blumenthal has more on the decision, including R2K head Del Ali's response.
Reasonable minds can disagree on what the single most important state legislature this November is going to be, whether it's from the perspective of affecting redistricting or just from good governance, and whether it's from the perspective of trying to pin down a Democratic trifecta or prevent a Republican trifecta. If you'd said it was trying to take over the Texas state House, in order to keep the GOP from having a lock on the Lone Star State and forcing something of a compromise map, I'd say that was a great pick. And if you'd said defending the New York state Senate, that's a great pick too, as controlling the trifecta there going into 2012 will result in a much better congressional map. Holding the Ohio Assembly, picking up the Michigan Senate, or even focusing on California to push those chambers past the 2/3s mark to overcome that state's ridiculous budget requirements; those are all great too.
But, at least for now, I've settled on the Keystone State's House as the key legislative chamber. With the state Senate not in a position to flip away from GOP control this year, and with the distinct likelihood of losing the gubernatorial race (if nothing else, given the state's well-documented eight-year itch), holding the state House is the Dems' last line of defense in the redistricting trifecta, and the best way to make sure that a compromise map is on the table for 2012. Not that the 2002 map worked out that well for the GOP -- it turned out to be something of a dummymander that fell apart when a strong wind blew the other direction -- but we obviously don't want to take the chance that they might get it more right next time.
With three vacancies having been just filled via special elections on Primary Day, the Democrats currently control the House by a 104-97 margin. That's better than the previous 07-08 cycle, where the Dems had a 102-101 edge, but still one where a stiff wind could blow control back in to GOP hands, seeing as how they need to flip only four seats to take control. (You might notice that, at 203 members, this is one of the nation's largest legislative bodies, although they've still got nothing on the New Hampshire House. Constituencies are only about 60,000 residents each, meaning that the races are usually low-dollar affairs dominated by the ground game instead, and by the machines, where they're present.)
With the primaries having wrapped up, we also have the matchups set in place for November. In addition to that generic stiff wind, here's one other way Dems are at a disadvantage this cycle: they have a lot more open seats to defend than do the Republicans. Rather than give you one giant table of every single district, I'm going to break them down by category. Most districts aren't even going to get discussed, seeing as how nearly half of all races -- 39 Democratic seats and 46 Republican seats -- aren't being contested by a major party, and how nearly two-thirds of all seats fall outside what I think of as "swing district" territory, i.e. with a Cook PVI between D+5 and R+5. (If you're wondering how I calculated PVI at this level, Pennsylvania has made available both 2004 and 2008 presidential data for all precincts, so thanks to jeffmd we were able to calculate percentages for all its legislative districts.)
Obama/ McCain %
Kerry/ Bush %
'08 House D/R %
Columbia Montour Northumberland
Lackawanna Luzerne Susquehanna Wyoming
We'll discuss Republican open seats below the fold, but there are only six of them, compared with twelve Dem seats. There are two bits of good news, though: two of those GOP open seats are in blue districts, compared with four here in Republican-leaning turf, so there may be some offsetting. And more importantly, three of these R+ seats here are in old-school rural Dem areas where there seems to be a sizable Democratic registration advantage, so similar to the PA-12 special election, a conservative Dem might be able to take advantage of the historic Democratic dominance at the local level even as the areas trend away at the national level.
HD-48 is very much a case in point; in fact, it's in Washington County to the south of Pittsburgh, one of the hearts of PA-12, and its 49/49 split in 2008 and 51/49 split in 2004 very closely mirrors how the 12th (the only Kerry/McCain district in the nation, as you've no doubt heard) as a whole broke down. In HD-48, there were 7,488 votes for the various Dems in the primary, while there were 4,461 Republican votes. In addition, in two seats in northeastern coal country, HD-107 had 5,818 Democratic votes for the various candidates in the primary, while there were 4,088 Republican votes, and HD-122 had 6,166 Dem votes and 3,855 GOP votes. The exception among the four is HD-137, which is a more suburban seat outside of Bethlehem in the Lehigh Valley; this area, like many southeastern suburbs, moved rapidly in the Dems' direction at the presidential level between 04 and 08, but there's still a historic Republican advantage at the county and legislative level. Even here, though, there were 3,847 Dem votes to 3,439 GOP primary votes.
Now let's turn to seats that aren't open, but where a Democrat is sitting in a Republican-leaning district.
Obama/ McCain %
Kerry/ Bush %
'08 House D/R %
Beaver Butler Lawrence
Allegheny Beaver Washington
These are, I would expect, for the most part conservative Dems who are well suited to their districts in rural areas or Pittsburgh's collar counties. Between that and disparities in party strength in some of these counties, most of them have been easily re-elected in the past (see their 2008 totals) or left unopposed. In fact, note that four of them are unopposed this year; these are the ones with asterisks next to their names. This even goes as far up as R+5, where Joe Petrarca drew a pass. (Before we start patting ourselves on the back too much, there are some even more glaring omissions in terms of Republicans going uncontested in blue seats, which we'll get to later.) Also worth a note, some of the ones who are in swingier districts (like Barbin, Dermody, and Levdansky) were the ones with the really close races in 2008, and may, depending on the quality of their challengers this year, be in more trouble than the Dems in redder districts.
Let's look at one more table of Democrats, this time ones who are in Democratic-leaning districts but who still had close races in 2008 ("close" meaning a less than 10% margin of victory).
Obama/ McCain %
Kerry/ Bush %
'08 House D/R %
Fayette Greene Washington
Note that this is a very different batch of counties than the ones in the R+ districts. Most of these Dems are in Philadelphia's suburbs and were either elected for the first time in either 2008 or 2006, so they're still getting entrenched in counties where, if you look below the presidential toplines, there are still a lot of historic and organizational advantages for the Republicans. These seats will be a big test of whether these counties continue their decade-long demographic-driven march toward the Democrats, or if the national environment reverses that trend. There's also one seat here that doesn't really match: the district of former Speaker Mike Bill DeWeese, in the state's southwestern corner. DeWeese is an old-timer (in office since 1976) who's gotten badly tarred with the Bonusgate brush, which probably hurt his 2008 totals and has probably only made things worse lately. Residents of this district probably got saturated with tons of ads from the next-door WV-01 primary, so they too may be primed to be in the mood to rid themselves of a long-time but shady Rep.
Seats where Democrats are on the offense over the flip...
• CT-Sen: Where's the New York Times when you need them? At least we have the Post to go there: way back when she was applying for an appointed seat on Connecticut's Board of Education, one of Linda McMahon's selling points was that she had a degree in education. Nope, it quickly was revealed that her degree was in Freedom French (which, to my mind, is a lot harder to parse away through semantic obfuscation than "in Vietnam" -- I mean, this is just a flat-out lie). Jodi Rell still picked McMahon for the board.
• IL-Sen: Where's the New York Times when you need them, Part II? Mark Kirk has had to admit that previous claims about his military experience weren't "precise," when it turned out that the "Naval Intelligence Officer of the Year" award went to Kirk's entire unit, not himself as stated on his website's bio.
• TX-Sen: Remember when gubernatorial candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison promised to resign her Senate seat as soon as she tied up those last few legislative loose ends? After dragging that out to finish her term instead, now she's making noises about just continuing on like nothing ever happened and running for another full term in 2012. Questions remain as to whether she'd attract high-profile primary competition if she stayed; would-be competitors would have to be heartened by her weak performance in the gubernatorial primary.
• CA-Gov: Meg Whitman pretty much ended her viability as a candidate in the general election with her closing argument ad for the GOP primary, where she demands border crackdowns and opposes "amnesty." (In fact, check out the photo at Politico's link; one picture says more than 1000 words could about Pete Wilson handing the Prop 187 turd torch to Whitman. UPDATE: Oops, photo not there anymore, but see here.) To make sure the message gets across to those least likely to be enthused about that, the California Nurses Association is running a Spanish-language ad on Hispanic radio stations that replays her comments.
• MI-Gov: This endorsement isn't exactly a surprise, seeing as how Andy Dillon is widely disliked by Michigan's public employee unions, but still it's an important building block for Virg Bernero. The Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teacher's union with 155K members, gave its nod to Lansing mayor Bernero in the Democratic gubernatorial primary; Bernero also has the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, which includes the UAW.
• NY-Gov: Has anyone ever had to confirm to the media that "no, I'm not dropping out," and then actually gone on to win a race? Steve Levy seems intent on being the first to try to do that. With the mellifluously-named M. Myers Mermel on the verge of getting the backing of the Queens GOP, the GOP/Conservative field is basically collapsing into chaos in the wake of the infighting at the Conservative Party convention, where Levy and Carl Paladino backers forced a placeholder (Ralph Lorigo) onto the Con primary ballot in hopes that Rick Lazio doesn't win the GOP convention. Paladino's camp is even talking up the possibility of creating a whole different "Tea Party" ballot line. There's now also talk of creating a new ballot line out of whole cloth coming from state GOP chair Ed Cox of all places, as a means of helping the GOP's preferred candidates circumvent the Conservative Party's preferences.
• SD-Gov: Polling the fast-approaching (June 8) GOP gubernatorial primary in South Dakota has, oddly enough, not been a high priority for any pollsters, so money may be our main guide here. Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard is the clear winner by that criteria, having raised $1.65 mil over the cycle, more than double the $700K of next-best state Sen. majority leader Dave Knudsen. Interestingly, though, South Dakota is the only non-southern state to use runoffs, and with three other candidates in the running, those two may find themselves facing off again in late June.
• WY-Gov: Our long national nightmare is over: we have a credible Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Wyoming. State party chair Leslie Petersen took one for the team and filed the paperwork to run in the Democratic primary on Aug. 17. The Natrona Co. party chair, R.C. Johnson, had said she'd run if no one else did, so I suppose the state chair running when no one else did is, uh, something of an upgrade from a county chair. The Jackson-based, 69-year-old Petersen (assuming she gets past the several Some Dudes in the Dem primary) will face one of not one but four strong GOPers in November.
• CA-45: Rep. Mary Bono Mack and her opponent, Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet, are on the same stage today to celebrate the new Palm Springs Airport control tower. Both were proponents of the construction project and will no doubt try to claim their share of the credit, although Bono Mack has the slight problem of having voted against the stimulus package that paid more than half the costs of the project.
• PA-12: Turnout numbers seem to contradict the GOP's excuses about how they would have won the special election in the 12th if they hadn't gotten swamped by a surge in Dem turnout motivated by the Sestak/Specter primary. Turnout in the 12th for the special election was 135K, compared with 203K in the 12th in the 2006 general election.
• WA-03: Here's a surprise: state Sen. Craig Pridemore, who'd been carrying the liberal flag in the Democratic primary in the open seat race in the 3rd, is prepared to drop out. Pridemore had been lagging on the financial front compared with self-funding establishment choice Denny Heck (who now has the Dem field to himself), but that hadn't been a deterrent before and it seems like that wasn't what spurred the dropout. Instead, it was leaked over the weekend that the Washington Education Association was prepared to back Heck, and without the state's biggest union on his side, Pridemore didn't have much a route to getting over the top.
• WI-07: It looks like the careful field-clearing for state Sen. Julie Lassa in the Democratic primary in the open seat in the 7th wasn't entirely successful. She'll still have to face Joe Reasbeck in the Dem primary. Reasbeck, an author and consultant who doesn't seem to have held office, seems to be at the Some Dude end of the spectrum, though. He's announcing his campaign kickoff with a ganja break at Superior's Richard Bong Museum.
• New Hampshire: SSPers will no doubt enjoy this... a Blue Hampshire blogger has calculated 2004/2008 PVI for each of New Hampshire's 299 voting wards, not only putting together tables but also a slick map.
• Polltopia: PPP's latest nugget unearthed from their crosstabs is that Democrats are still holding onto moderates pretty well, contrary to what conventional wisdom has been asserting. Tom Jensen finds that Dems are leading among self-identified moderates in all the key Senate race around the country. (The problem, of course, is that there are more self-identified conservatives than liberals, which accounts for GOP leads in a number of these races.)
• History: Here's a very interesting bit of history from Arkansas writer John Brummett, looking at the remarkable parallels between the Blanche Lincoln/Bill Halter race, and the long-forgotten 1972 Democratic primary in Arkansas where upstart David Pryor almost knocked off long-serving conservative Democrat John McClellan.