• CA-Sen: Good news for Tom Campbell, in the form of the Senate half of M4's poll of the California GOP primary: he leads Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore, 33-28-15. (Of course, with his plans to briefly go dark to conserve funds, that gives Fiorina a chance to play catchup when the margin's not that big.) Bad news for Campbell, though: the NRA has him in its metaphorical crosshairs, sending out a mailer to members attacking Campbell and, while not endorsing, offering kind words for Fiorina and DeVore.
• CT-Sen: This is going to make it a lot easier for Richard Blumenthal to make the case that the "in Vietnam" controversy is something of a cheap shot. A longer-form video release of the appearance (provided, ironically, by the Linda McMahon campaign, undercutting their own hatchet job) where the offending phrase occurred have him correctly referring to having "served in the military, during the Vietnam era" in the very same speech. That's not stopping Vietnam vet Rob Simmons, who, sensing an opening, has rolled out web advertising with "Blumenthal Lied About Vietnam" in very large letters.
Blumenthal is getting more explicit backing from Democratic bigwigs now, as his mea culpa/attempt to get back on the offense seems to have had the desired effect. Rep. Chris Murphy, the likeliest guy to pick up the pieces if Blumenthal had to bail out, offered his unqualified support; so too did Howard Dean. And here's one thing that's actually good about Rasmussen's one-day, no-callback samples: they can strike fast. They polled Connecticut, and while the trendlines aren't appealing, they find Blumenthal still beating McMahon even in the heat of the moment before the story has had time to digest, and beating the other, unmoneyed GOP opponents by pretty wide margins. Markos has some really nice pushback against Rasmussen in general, today, asking why they always poll quickly when there's the potential for a good Republican narrative but not when the narrative doesn't fit (as seen in their failure to poll the Sorta Super-Tuesday primaries).
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist has been trying to woo union support, starting with a speech at the state AFL-CIO convention this weekend. It's another indication that he's trying to move squarely onto Kendrick Meek's turf and monopolize as much of the left-of-center vote as he can, now that he's free from his GOP shackles. Meanwhile, quixotic Democratic candidate Jeff Greene has apparently been seen wooing Ukrainian strippers, in 2005 on his 145-foot yacht while cruising the Black Sea. Not so, claims his campaign spokesperson; he was busy traveling with his rabbi at the time instead.
• KY-Sen: In case you needed one more data point on how thin-skinned Rand Paul and how likely a meltdown from him is at some point before November, here's an anecdote from last night: he refused to take the customary concession call from Trey Grayson, at least according to the Grayson camp.
• NC-Sen: Here's a big score for Elaine Marshall: Third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis gave his backing to Marshall in her runoff against Cal Cunningham. This move isn't so surprising, given that Lewis's supporters, like Rep. Eva Clayton, were already gravitating toward Marshall, but it ought to steer much of Lewis's African-American and youth base in her direction as well.
• NV-Sen: Three items, all of which are very, very bad for Sue Lowden. First, the Club for Growth finally weighed into the Senate primary, and they backed right-winger Sharron Angle (maybe not that surprising, since they backed her in the 2006 primary for NV-02). That ought to give Angle a further shot of adrenaline, though, on top of her Tea Party Express endorsement and polling momentum. Lowden is also still bogged down in controversy over her luxury bus, doubling-down on her claims that use of the $100K vehicle was leased despite also having stated elsewhere that the bus was "donated" (which means it would have needed to be reported as an in-kind contribution). That's nothing, though, compared to the (by my count) quintupling-down on Chickens-for-Checkups, simultaneously trying to fight top Nevada journo Jon Ralston on the fact that, yes, people are bartering for health care while trying to claim that she never actually said anything about Chickencare at all.
• NY-Sen-B: The only GOP big name left who hadn't said anything definitive about participating in the GOP Senate primary for the right to get creamed by Kirsten Gillibrand finally said a public "no." Orange County Executive Ed Diana said he'll stick with his current job, to which he was elected in November to a third term.
• UT-Sen: Looks like that teabaggers' victory in Utah might be short-lived. Bob Bennett seems to be more interested than before in running as a write-in in the general (where, despite the complex dynamics of a write-in campaign, he faces better odds with the broader electorate than with the narrow slice of extremists running the GOP convention). We may know tomorrow what his plans are, as he emphasized "Stay tuned tomorrow."
• WA-Sen: If Dino Rossi really is still interested in running for Senate, this isn't a particularly good way of showing it. Rossi is scheduled to make a blockbuster appearance on May 25... to give opening remarks at a dinnertime seminar for local real estate investors focusing on strategies for profiting off foreclosures. Because nothing says "I'm a man of the people" than knowing all the ins and outs of how to profit off the people's misery.
• AL-Gov: Artur Davis is out with an internal poll, that seems mostly oriented toward countering the sense that he's losing ground among his African-American base. The poll shows Davis leading Democratic primary rival Ron Sparks 46-33. It also shows Davis leading 50-25 among African-Americans (despite the defections of some prominent local black groups), while trailing Sparks 42-41 among whites.
• FL-Gov: Bill McCollum is going to have to start taking moneybags Rick Scott seriously, and he's striking hard, sending out a press release calling him an "embarrassment" and a "fraud," presumably in reference to allegations leveled against Scott's health care firm. Scott's ginormous introductory ad buy is now estimating at $6.3 million.
• KS-Gov: Sam Brownback is drawing some heat for taking things out of context. Now, politicians take things out of context all the time, but his sleight-of-hand in attempting to fight efforts to more tightly regulate the business of car loans to military members may be a fridge too far.
"CNN Money on May 13 reported that 'Raj Date ... agreed that the additional (Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection) regulation might cause some dealers to stop arranging loans," Brownback said in the letter.
But Brownback's letter did not include the rest of Date's comment, which was this, "There will be some dealers who say, 'If I have to play by an honest set [of] rules, then I can't be in this business anymore.' I'm not going to shed any tears for these dealers."
• MA-Gov: You may recall last week's Rasmussen MA-Gov poll where, in an effort to find some sort of good news, they found that, if liberal activist Grace Ross somehow beat incumbent Dem Deval Patrick in the primary, she would lost to GOPer Charlie Baker. Well, it's looking like Ross is in danger of not even making it onto the ballot. The state SoS says she has only a little more than half of the 10,000 signatures she needs; Ross promises an announcement tomorrow morning on her next step. (The upside for Patrick, if Ross qualifies for the primary though, would be $750K in public financing for his campaign, which he wouldn't be entitled to if he were running unopposed.)
• ME-Gov: There's been some ongoing controversy in the sleepy Maine governor's race about how Republican candidate Steve Abbott (former CoS to Susan Collins) wound up with GOP voter lists, but this is a strange turn: the state Republican party chair, Charlie Webster, is now saying that Abbott's camp flat-out "stole" it.
• GA-09: The special election to replace Nathan Deal (where GOPers Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins are in a runoff) seems to have winnowed the Republican field for the regularly-scheduled GOP primary, too. Former state Senate majority leader Bill Stephens has dropped out of contention in that field.
• HI-01: Even if something incredibly dramatic happens between now and Saturday's drop-dead date in the special election in the 1st, things are still pretty much cast in stone. In the all-mail in election, now 43% of all ballots sent out have been returned.
• IN-03: State Sen. Marlin Stutzman (whose name rec is sky-high right now after running fairly well in the GOP Senate primary against Dan Coats) says that he's going to strike while the iron is hot, and get into the race to replace resigning Rep. Mark Souder. Other GOPers confirming that they'll run include state Rep. Randy Borror, Ft. Wayne city councilor Liz Brown, and recent primary loser Phil Troyer. Another recent primary loser, Bob Thomas, is a potential candidate.
• OH-16: After having found an excuse to hide behind the door the last time Barack Obama came to Ohio, Rep. John Boccieri was proudly with him when he visited Youngstown yesterday. Perhaps he can sense a bit of a turning of the tide? Troublingly, though, Senate candidate Lee Fisher wasn't present.
• PA-12: PPP digs through the data from their last pre-election poll in the 12th and finds what may really have done the Republicans in. There's one entity in the district even more unpopular than Barack Obama (who had 30% approval), and that's Congressional Republicans, who were at a miserable 22/60. In nationalizing the election, Tim Burns tied himself to the nation's least favorite people of all.
• PA-19: After having surviving his primary last night despite publicly seeking another job, it looks like Rep. Todd Platts exposed himself to all that danger for no reason at all. Platts announced yesterday that the Obama administration had let him know that he wasn't going to be selected for the Government Accountability Office job he'd been angling for.
• CT-AG: Here's one of the weirdest career crash-and-burns I've seen lately: SoS Susan Bysiewicz went in a few months from likely next Governor to somehow not even eligible to run for the lower-tier job she dropped down to. Connecticut's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that she didn't meet the criteria for legal experience required to become AG, reversing a lower court's decision. Former Democratic state Sen. George Jepsen now has the AG job pretty much to himself. At any rate, with Bysiewicz now combing the "Help Wanted" section, that gives the Connecticut Dems a fallback plan for the Senate if Richard Blumenthal does need to bail out (although Bysiewicz may be seriously damaged at this point too).
• OR-St. House: Here are a couple races with interesting implications that I forgot to watch last night: two Republican state Reps. from the high-desert parts of Oregon (the state's Republican stronghold) committed the unthinkable heresy of not only bipartisanship but supporting tax increases to close the state's budget gap. Both Bob Jenson and Greg Smith survived their primaries, though, after teabaggers, right-to-lifers, and even their state House minority leader turned their wrath against them.
• Arizona: One other election result from last night that most people, us included, seemed to overlook was Proposition 100 in Arizona. In a surprise, at least to those people who think that it's a rabidly anti-tax year (which would be those people who didn't pay any attention to Measures 66 and 67 earlier this year in Oregon), the people of this red state voted by a fairly wide margin for a temporary sales tax increase as part of a package of changes to close the budget gap. It's a victory for Jan Brewer, actually, who backed the plan (perhaps feeling safer to do so, having solidified her position with her support for the "papers please" law).
• 1994: When you have a wave, a lot of dead wood washes up on the beach. Prompted by '94 alum Mark Souder's mini-scandal and resignation, Dana Milbank looks back at the wide array of scoundrels and rogues who were swept in in 1994.
• History: History's only barely on the side of Blanche Lincoln when it comes to runoffs. It turns out that the person who finishes first in a runoff wins 72% of the time, but when that's limited only to runoffs in primaries, the success rate is only 55%... and Lincoln's victory over Bill Halter last night was a particularly close one.
Last night was a lot of fun, but with over two dozen races worth watching, it's easy to lose track of some of those important but lesser-heralded contests while getting mesmerized by some of the more marquee races that went down last night. Let's do a brief re-cap of everything:
AR-Sen: The big story out of Arkansas is Bill Halter's strong finish in the Democratic Senate primary against Blanche Lincoln. Lincoln ultimately ended the night with a 45-43 result, which was good enough to send this race to a runoff on June 8. Everyone is aflutter that Paulist weirdo D.C. Morrison managed to scoop up 13% of the vote, a higher mark than the polls expected. While it might be tempting to speculate that Morrison's votes will flock to the more right-wing choice in the runoff (Lincoln), I don't really think that's how it works. I'd expect Halter to pick up a share of these voters based purely on anti-incumbent spite, while others may simply crawl back into the woodwork, dissatisfied with both options. And for what it's worth, Morrison says that he won't be supporting either Dem in the runoff (or the general), and guesses that his supporters will split evenly between the two of them.
On the Republican side, GOP Rep. John Boozman cleared the primary with an easy 53% of the vote over a very fractured Republican field. While Boozman gets the luxury of extra time to refill his war chest, it's not the biggest loss in the world for Dems -- we're only talking about three weeks worth of time here.
AR-01: Ex-state Sen. Tim Wooldridge is headed to a runoff against Marion Berry's former Chief of Staff Chad Causey for the Democratic nomination here. Wooldridge, a fairly conservative fellow whom Bill Halter beat in a runoff for the Democratic Lt. Governor nod in 2006, came in first with 39% of the vote. Causey, who was endorsed by Berry and some labor groups, scored 27%. The winner of the runoff will face Republican radio broadcaster Rick Crawford, who easily beat Princella Smith, a former aide to future ex-Rep. Joe Cao, by a 73-27 margin.
AR-02: Republicans nominated ex-US Attorney and Rove acolyte Tim Griffin over teabagging restaurateur Scott Wallace by a 62-38 margin, while Democrats sent state Sen. Joyce Elliott, a liberal African-American, to a runoff against state House Speaker Robbie Wills. Elliott won 40% of the vote to 28% for Wills. Departing Dem Rep. Vic Snyder's former Chief of Staff, David Boling, came in third with 19%.
AR-03: In a district that is essentially the home base of Republican muscle in Arkansas, it's too bad ex-state Sen. Gunner DeLay didn't manage to force himself into the runoff, if only to give us more opportunities to namedrop him. Instead, Republicans chose Rogers Mayor Steve Womack (31%) and state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (13%) to advance to the runoff out of a very crowded field.
KY-Sen: In a night of amazing finishes, this one caused a lot of bubbly to be spilled in the SSP comments section. While Rand Paul sleepwalked to a 59-35 win over Trey Grayson, Attorney General Jack Conway executed a remarkable surge in the remaining weeks of the campaign, escaping a double-digit deficit to beat Dan Mongiardo by 44-43 for the Democratic nomination. Perhaps surprisingly, though, Mongiardo is holding out for a recanvass of the vote before he concedes. A recount will unlikely do much good for Dr. Dan, especially when you consider that there are still 13 precincts left to count in Conway-loving Jefferson County.
Also, if this is any indication of Rand Paul's campaign skills -- hosting his victory party at an exclusive country club and then defending the choice on Good Morning America as non-elitist... because Tiger Woods brought golf to "the city youth" -- this should be a pretty fun campaign.
KY-03: Here's another mild surprise. Despite a financial disadvantage, Air Force vet Todd Lally crushed Pizza Hut franchise baron and presumed front-runner Jeff Reetz by a 52-17 margin for the Republican nod to take on two-term Dem Rep. John Yarmuth. Reetz, in fact, did so poorly that he finished in third -- right behind real estate investor Larry Hausman, who took 25% of the vote.
KY-06: We initially expected retired coal executive Mike Templeman to give attorney Andy Barr a run for his money for the GOP nod to take on Democratic fixture Ben Chandler, but this race was nothing short of a blow-out. Barr dispatched Templeman by a 64-10 spread.
In Oregon, surprises were few and far between. Polling had given ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber a big edge over ex-SoS Bill Bradbury going into the Democratic primary, and that was borne out by Kitzhaber's 66-30 win. Although Bradbury was rhetorically running to Kitzhaber's left, progressives don't need to be disappointed by the result; Kitzhaber's track record is as a health care innovator, and he's clearly eager to push forward on that now that he has a reliably Democratic legislature and the state-level flexibility afforded by the new HCR law. Kitzhaber faces off against Republican victor Chris Dudley, who won with 40% of the vote in a crowded GOP field (which is still less than his 46% career free throw average in the NBA). Dudley fought off a late surge from Allen Alley, who finished at 32%, after trying to make inroads with the conservative wing once Dudley staked out the same moderate turf where Alley had hoped to compete.
In the Senate race, Dem incumbent Ron Wyden picked up 90% of the vote; he faces a not-very-competitive race against Republican law professor Jim Huffman, the best known out of seven nobodies, who prevailed with 42%. The NRCC got its desired candidates in the two House districts where it's hoping to compete this year. State Rep. Scott Bruun had a solid performance in OR-05, winning with 62%, while Rob Cornilles was a bit more underwhelming, winning with 41% against a teabagger-clogged field in OR-01. (Crisitunity)
PA-Sen: You gotta hand it to Joey Sestak. After months of stagnating in the polls and storing his powder safely in airtight Ziploc containers, he used some well-timed late hits to topple Arlen Specter by 54-46 in the Democratic primary. Given that Sestak has actually been performing more competitively than Specter against Republican Pat Toomey (who won his primary over Peg Lutsik by 63 points), this is probably good news over all for team blue.
PA-Gov: In the end, it wasn't close. Allegheny Co. Executive Dan Onorato beat state Auditor Jack Wagner by 45-24 for the Democratic gubernatorial nod. Two Philly-area candidates, state Senator (and school voucher advocate) Anthony Williams and ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel combined for 31% of the vote. Onorato faces a bigger challenge now in defeating Republican AG Tom Corbett. Corbett beat his no-name opposition with 69% of the vote.
PA-03: Auto dealer and ex-city councilman Mike Kelly narrowly beat well-funded retired businessman Paul Huber by 28-26. Kelly will be the Republican nominee against frosh Dem Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper this fall.
PA-04: Politics ain't beanbag, and Bush-era US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan found that out the hard way last night. Expected to easily clinch the Republican nomination against Democrat Jason Altmire by beltway progs when she entered the race, her ineptitude on the campaign trail resulted in attorney Keith Rothfus pasting her by 33%. Better luck next time, Mary Beth!
PA-06: In a night that gave us some pretty good news all around, this one is particularly special for SSP. Democratic physician Manan Trivedi upset rich guy Doug Pike, who had donated over $1 million of his own money to his campaign effort, by a 51-49 spread. It looks like Pike still hasn't conceded, but he'll have to face the truth sooner rather than later. And here's a nickel's worth of free advice that I'll give to anyone who's interested in running for Congress in the future: You Don't Mess With The Project.
PA-10: Another ex-Bush era US Attorney, Tom Marino, was touted as a strong recruit who'd have little difficulty winning his party's nomination against Democrat Chris Carney. Things got a little dicey last night, but Marino did end up succeeding where Mary Beth Buchanan failed. Marino won the nod with a 41% plurality over chiropractor David Madeira and Snyder Co. Commissioner Malcolm Derk.
PA-11: If there's one race where things didn't really work out for Democrats, it's this one. Crusty incumbent Rep. Paul Kanjorski beat a divided Democratic primary field with only 49% of the vote -- one of the weakest performances we've seen by an incumbent House member this cycle. That probably doesn't bode well for the general election, where Kanjorski will face off with Lou Barletta for the third time.
PA-12: Wow. After all the Republican swagger, did anyone honestly expect Democrat Mark Critz to beat Republican Tim Burns by 53-45 in the special election to replace John Murtha? Certainly Republicans appeared stunned, because I don't think they would have tried to spin yarns like this one if they weren't reeling from the result:
"Republican Tim Burns ran an excellent campaign in one of the bluest of congressional districts," Mr. Steele said in a statement Tuesday night. "Despite the fact that Pennsylvania's 12th District has been a Democratic stronghold for more than 30 years and Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, Republican Tim Burns pushed his Democratic opponent to the wire."
"One of the bluest" CDs? Shah! Right! Obviously Mikey was not reading from the same hymnbook as ex-Rep. Tom Davis:
Tom Davis, a former Republican House member and top party campaign strategist, saw the win by Democrat Mark Critz, a former aide to Mr. Murtha, over Republican Tim Burns as a serious blow to the Republican claim to be within reach of the 40 seats needed to recapture the House.
"If you can't win a seat that is trending Republican in a year like this, then where is the wave?" asked Mr. Davis, who said Republicans will need to examine what went wrong. "It would be a huge upset not to win this seat."
Republicans have no excuse to lose this race. The fundamentals of this district, including voters' attitudes towards Obama and Pelosi, are awful for Democrats. And Democratic party registration advantages here are just as obsolete as GOP's advantages in Upstate New York were last year. Timing is no excuse for Republicans either. This special election, not the competitive statewide Democratic primaries held the same day, will be driving turnout on May 18th.
Meanwhile, Burns managed to win his primary over direct mail scammer Bill Russell by 57-43, which means he gets the pleasure of facing Critz again in November. It's pretty rare for the loser of a special election to win the rematch in the next general election. The last example of such a casualty, that I can come up with, was half-term Dem Rep. Peter Barca, who won a special election against Republican Mark Neumann in 1993. Neumann came back to beat Barca in '94. Otherwise, this type of situation is pretty rare.
PA-17: Democrat Tim Holden seemed to aggravate the base of his party with his vote against HCR, resulting in only a 65% win last night over his no-money primary challenger, Sheila Dow-Ford. On the Republican side, state Sen. Dave Argall only managed to beat veteran Frank Ryan by 1.4%.
PA-19: Despite speculation that semi-sane GOP Rep. Todd Platts was endangering himself by openly seeking an appointment from Barack Obama to lead the Government Accountability Office, Platts dispatched teabagging challenger Mike Smeltzer by a 70-30 margin.
Maybe we can't quite call it the "Super Tuesday" of congressional primary days, but based on the gravity of some of the races that will be decided this week, it wouldn't be far off the mark. Two Democratic incumbent Senators are embroiled in stiff primary fights, and the outcome of both party primaries in Kentucky's Senate race will weigh heavily on the competitiveness of that seat in November. All told, there are 28 elections worth watching today (by our count), with the promise of run-offs in Arkansas on June 8 if no candidate achieves a majority of the vote in their respective races. Also on tap for the weekend is the special election to replace Dem Rep. Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii's 1st District, which is shaping up to be a disaster of Abercrombie's making.
AR-Sen(D): Polling seems to indicate that the odds of Bill Halter coming out ahead of two-term incumbent Blanche Lincoln as falling somewhere between slim and none, but the presence of Paulist weirdo D.C. Morrison on the Democratic ticket may draw enough votes away from Lincoln to force a runoff in June. Outside groups have already spent millions on this race; labor has lined solidly behind Halter while Chamber of Commerce-types have funneled significant resources behind Lincoln, telling you everything you need to know about the ideological fault lines of this primary battle. If a runoff becomes a reality, expect this race to find yet another gear.
AR-Sen(R): Again, first place isn't at all in question here. GOP Rep. John Boozman's superior name recognition has given him a big edge on the other seven dwarves of the GOP field. What is at stake, though, is whether or not Boozman (like Lincoln) can avoid a resource-draining runoff, and if not, which Republican contender will advance to the next round along with him. Boozman has stayed close to the 50% mark in recent polling, with ex-state Sen. Jim Holt (the GOP's '04 nominee against Lincoln) and state Sen. Gilbert Baker clawing for second place.
AR-01(D): With Marion Berry hitting the exits, four Dems have lined up to replace him, making a runoff a safe bet. Ex-state Sen. Tim Wooldridge, a pretty conservative dude who lost a runoff for Lt. Governor in 2006 to Bill Halter, is seen as the front-runner -- a notion confirmed by the lone poll we've seen of this race. However, Berry's ex-Chief of Staff, Chad Causey, leads the money race, and state Sen. Steve Bryles has raised six figures, too. State Rep. David Cook, who is probably the most liberal choice in this race (he favors the public option, according to his campaign site) is also the least well-funded, pulling in just $54,000 through the end of April.
AR-01(R): Republicans made a lot of noise about stealing Berry's seat after he announced his retirement decision, but that sense of optimism didn't result in an upgrade in terms of candidate recruitment. Radio broadcaster Rick Crawford started his race off slowly, but has begun to pick up the pace after Berry hit the exits, and that may be enough to make this a very competitive contest in November. The only candidate to join him the Republican primary is Princella Smith, a former aide to future ex-Rep. Joe Cao. Smith has proven to be something of a dud, only raising $67K for her primary against Crawford.
AR-02(D): The primary to replace retiring Rep. Rick Snyder is a pretty interesting one, with state House Speaker Robbie Wills seemingly leading the way in terms of November electability and insider connections, and state Sen. Joyce Elliott enjoying the support of the district's liberal base. Snyder's former Chief of Staff, David Boling, is also in the race and has raised nearly as much as Wills, so his presence can't be overlooked, either. The Dem field is rounded out by former Clinton School of Public Service programming director Patrick Kennedy and assistant Attorney General John Adams, both of whom have not raised much money are not expected to win a significant share of the vote.
AR-02(R): Rove acolyte and ex-US Attorney Tim Griffin is expected to win this primary pretty easily, seeing as how he's been out-raising Little Rock restaurateur Scott Wallace by a 6-to-1 margin. Wallace, however, tied Griffin at 20-20 in an early April poll of the race, and enjoys the backing of Mike Huckabee.
AR-03(R): Good luck sorting through this orgy of teabaggery. A whopping eight Republicans are duking it out for the right to succeed John Boozman in the House, pretty much guaranteeing that this sucker is going to a runoff in June. That early April Talk Business poll suggested that we're looking at a three-way race between state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, Rogers Mayor Steve Womack, and the aptly-named ex-state Sen. Gunner DeLay, but ex-DEA official Steve Lowry, businessman Kurt Maddox, and ex-state Rep. Doug Matayo could also compete.
HI-01(Special): There's not a whole lot that need be said about this crazy-ass jungle election, where Republican Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou looks poised to steal this seat. He of course faces off against state Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa and ex-Rep. Ed Case, who used to represent the state's other CD. The one final point I do want to make is that I blame this all on Neil Abercrombie. Had he not resigned unexpectedly, we'd never have wound up on this situation. I can appreciate that campaigning for the governorship of Hawaii when you are needed in D.C. can be quite a tiring task, especially for a septuagenarian. But Abercrombie knew he wanted to run long ago. He should either have stuck out his term, or not have stood for re-election in 2008. (DavidNYC)
KY-Sen(D): The Big One. While the tradmed seems to neglect this race in favor of seemingly shinier objects like Arlen Specter's primary in Pennsylvania or Rand Paul's surprising strength among Kentucky Republicans, the Democratic primary is the true race to watch out of Kentucky tonight. 2004 nominee and current Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo had enjoyed a consistent and seemingly impenetrable lead against state AG Jack Conway, the candidate with less baggage to exploit in the general election. However, recent polls have suggested that Conway is coming on strong in the home stretch of this campaign, perhaps making the race a dead heat. Research 2000 had Conway pulling within three points while SUSA only had Conway down by one. This one should be tight.
KY-Sen(R): This one shouldn't be tight. You know things are bad when Trey Grayson is whining like a DUMBocrat about Fox News' apparent preferential treatment of Rand Paul. Despite the best efforts of Mitch McConnell and Dick Cheney, it looks like the teabaggers are poised to make a major victory tonight, as Paul leads by 18 points in the latest poll of this race. A Paul win today will make this a fascinating race in the fall -- one that could potentially yield some major GOP headaches.
KY-03(R): Republicans are truly leaving no stone unturned in their quest to take back the House, and have a couple of warm bodies to take on two-term Dem Rep. John Yarmuth. Jeffrey Reetz, some guy who owns 25 Pizza Hut franchises, is facing off against Air Force vet Todd Lally. Both of these guys have raised six figures for their campaigns.
KY-06(R): After rocking his GOP opponent by 30 points in 2008, Ben Chandler has attracted a pack of mouth-breathers this time around, two of whom are somewhat well-funded. Attorney Andy Barr has been in the race the longest, and has raised over $400K. Retired coal executive Mike Templeman is his chief competition, while four other Republicans have only managed to raise chump change for the primary and are expected to be non-factors tonight.
OR-Gov(D): The main story on May 18 in Oregon may be the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, as there's been little activity that would qualify as volcanic in either party's open seat gubernatorial primary. The Democratic primary has been a low-key and civil contest between two long-time friends, former Governor John Kitzhaber (termed out after two terms in 2002, but angling for a return) and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. Bradbury has big endorsers in his corner (Al Gore, Howard Dean) and gotten local progressives revved up by running to Kitzhaber's left, but polling gives a wide edge to Kitz. (Crisitunity)
OR-Gov(R): After bigger names like Greg Walden and Jason Atkinson passed, the question in the GOP primary was whether anybody other than Allen Alley, a former high-tech CEO who lost the 2008 Treasurer race, was going to show up at all. Eventually Chris Dudley, a former Portland Trail Blazers center from the 1990s, showed up and immediately assumed front-runner status simply by virtue of name rec and money. Most polling has given a lead to Dudley, but Alley seems to be closing in on him, thanks in part to Dudley's (very large) empty-suit-ishness. Both are from the moderate end of the GOP; the more conservative options, ex-state Sen. John Lim and anti-tax initiative grifter Bill Sizemore, are there mostly to provide comic relief. (C)
OR-01(R): Sports industry consultant Rob Cornilles seems to have piqued the NRCC's interest, as they've touted him as the man to take down Democratic Rep. David Wu in this D+8 suburban district. Before he can tackle Wu, though, he has to survive the GOP primary. Stephan Brodhead attracted some attention with his large bankroll, but SurveyUSA's poll of the primary indicates the main rival to Cornilles is teabagging mortgage broker John Kuzmanich. (C)
OR-05(R): Similarly, the NRCC has its favorite pony in the 5th: state Rep. Scott Bruun, a moderate from the wealthy suburban portion of this somewhat rural district. There was some brief hubbub that Bruun was vulnerable to a challenge from Tea Party-aligned retired businessman Fred Thompson (no, not that Fred Thompson), but SurveyUSA recently found that Bruun is on track to nail down the nomination. (C)
PA-Sen(D): The big kahuna. For a long time, a lot of observers (myself included) wondered when - or even if - Rep. Joe Sestak would go on the attack against the party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter. Well, Sestak's certainly proved all the doubters very wrong. Polls are as tight as can be, and while he may not pull it off in the end, Sestak seems to have timed things perfectly. This should be quite the barnburner. (D)
PA-Gov(D): A funny thing happened on the way to the primary: After a year of desultory polling showing pretty much all candidates in the teens and single digits, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato completely pulled away from the pack. According to Pollster's trendlines, Jack Wagner, Anthony Williams, and Joe Hoeffel are all still mired in nowheresville, so unless a lot of polling is very wrong, Onorato will be the Dem gubernatorial nominee. (D)
PA-03(R): There's a crowded field to take on freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, but only two dudes have shown serious scratch - and both because they're self-funders: retired businessman Paul Huber, who raised $200K and loaned himself another $300K, and auto dealer and ex-city councilman Mike Kelly, who lent himself $165K on top of $80K in individual contributions. Other wannabes include Cochranton insurance agent Steven Fisher, teabagger Clayton Grabb, physician Martha Moore, and Some Dude Ed Franz, who have all raised about $30K or less. Both Huber and Kelly have been on the air with TV advertisements. A big question is whether Huber's fundraising edge will outweigh the fact that he was a registered Democrat for 33 years - and only switched parties in 2008. (D)
PA-04 (R): When Bush-era US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan (one of the names that kept cropping up in the US Attorney firings scandal) got into the race, Beltway pundits seemed to think the GOP primary would be a mere formality for her before posing a strong challenge to Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire in this R+6 district in Pittsburgh's suburbs. They didn't count on one thing: Buchanan's apparentineptitude at jumping from legal practice to electoral politics. We don't have any polls to go by, but her anti-establishment opponent, attorney Keith Rothfus has outraised her and is certainly making fewer unforced errors. (C)
PA-06(D): This race pits an SSP fave, physician and veteran Manan Trivedi, against someone we simply aren't very fond of, newspaper publisher Doug Pike. But putting aside our personal preferences, what's going to happen here? It's hard to say, especially since we haven't seen any polls. Pike, thanks to massive donations from himself totaling more than a million dollars, has a big money edge. He's also gotten his share of labor endorsements, though Trivedi has scored some of his own, as well as the backing of some key county committees. I'm rooting for Trivedi, to be sure, but I think he has an uphill fight against Pike's bucks. (D)
PA-10(R): Here's another district where the GOP thought a former US Attorney would be just what the doctor ordered, and they didn't quite get what they thought. Tom Marino was their hyped pick for the race, but questions about Marino's relationship with sketchy developer Louis DeNaples have loomed large over his campaign. Marino's fundraising has been subpar as well; what is likely to help him pull it out in the primary is that his anti-establishment opposition is split, with Snyder Co. Commissioner Malcolm Derk his most prominent foe. (C)
PA-11(D): Even though there's a long-long-time Democratic incumbent here, Rep. Paul Kanjorski, the primary is on the Democratic side, rather than for the GOP (where 2008 opponent Lou Barletta is on tap for a rematch). Up-and-coming Lackawanna Co. Commissioner Corey O'Brien is taking on Kanjorski. While he has only a fraction of Kanjorski's money, he's trying to outhustle the crusty Kanjorski on the ground, and also making electability arguments about the incumbent, who barely beat Barletta in the much-more favorable 2008. Without any polling, it's hard to guess whether we're looking at a WV-01-style unplanned retirement for Kanjorski. (C)
PA-12(Special): This, by rights, should be the main event tonight, as it's the only Democrat vs. Republican matchup anywhere. It has all the makings of a dead heat, not only in terms of polling (most recently a 1-point lead for Republican Tim Burns over Democrat Mark Critz, according to PPP), but also the lay of the land. It's an historically Democratic district with a huge registration advantage, but it's trending in the Republican direction as district's aged population gets its marching orders from Fox News instead of the union hall now. Much has been made of how this R+1 district was the nation's only one to go from backing Kerry in 2004 to McCain in 2008. Critz's close ties to John Murtha, and the fact that the special coincides with the hotly contested Democratic Senate primary, may help Dems win the day, though. (C)
PA-12(D/R): The regularly scheduled primary elections in the 12th for November are also on the same day as the special. While it's likely that, whatever the special election outcome, Mark Critz and Tim Burns will be facing each other again in the general, that's not guaranteed. Critz is likely to beat Ryan Bucchanieri on the Dem side, but Burns is facing a tough challenge from Bill Russell and leading only narrowly according to a recent Susquehanna poll. Russell, who was passed over by the state party for the nomination, was the 2008 candidate; he's best known as frontman for direct-mail scammers BaseConnect, and as such, has had enough money for TV ads. Could we see a Neil Abercrombie-type result where Burns wins a special and loses a primary on the same day? (C)
PA-17(D/R): Most observers expect November to be a matchup of long-time incumbent Democratic Rep. Tim Holden, and top-tier-ish GOP recruit state Sen. David Argall. Both, however, have primaries to get through first. Holden faces Democratic activist Sheila Dow-Ford, who's attacking him over his anti-HCR vote. Meanwhile, Argall (vulnerable over the issue of legislative pay raises) is barely keeping his head above water against fractured opposition, led by veteran Frank Ryan, who's had some surprising fundraising success. (C)
PA-19(R): This has the potential to be a surprise: Rep. Todd Platts is an unusually moderate Republican given the R+12 lean of this rural district, and he's also painted a target on his own back by publicly expressing interest on getting out of that job and moving over to head the Government Accountability Office instead. Opponent Mike Smeltzer is hoping to use that as a basis for giving Platts a good teabagging. (C)
FL-Sen: Anyone else think that Charlie Crist may be risking a long cycle of bad press over his decision not to permit refunds to Republican contributors after all? NRSC Chair John Cornyn sent Crist a letter scolding him for holding onto the money, and the announcement has also generated another round of headlines snarking on Crist for changing his mind about yet another issue. Say what you will about Arlen Specter, but at least he shed his Republican donor money with little drama.
NC-11: It's (almost) official -- there will be no GOP runoff for the right to tackle Democrat Heath Shuler. Businessman Jeff Miller finished the final canvass with 40.25% of the vote, a hair above the runoff line.
NJ-03: Here's something you don't see every day: GOP candidate and former Philly Eagle Jon Runyan has unleashed a hard-hitting oppo research file... on himself. After being dogged in the press recently over a DUI arrest in his college days, his dubious voting record, and huge property tax breaks that he receives after he decided to designate the area around his home as "farmland", Runyan decided that he may as well lance all of his remaining boils. Runyan's disclosures include late property tax payments, two lawsuits and a tax lien.
NY-15: Activist Jonathan Tasini has decided to abandon his unnoticed primary challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and set his sights on the House instead. His new target? Embattled Dem Rep. Charlie Rangel.
PA-12: The DCCC has thrown down another $290,000 on media buys against Tim Burns, bringing their total investment in this race up to nearly $940,000.
PA-19: Todd Platts' Republican primary opponent, Mike Smeltzer, is trying to turn Platts' job application to the Government Accountability Office against him in the primary. In a recent mailer to voters, Smeltzer suggested that Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell will have the power to hand-pick Platts' replacement. Platts is, of course, crying foul at that bit of tasty misinformation.
SD-AL: GOP Secretary of State Chris Nelson, who's competing in a three-way primary for the right to take on Dem Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, had to walk back comments that suggested that he was at least birther-curious. Nelson now says that he firmly believes that Barack Obama was born in the United States.
UT-02: A Republican state legislator got caught scheming on his Facebook account to encourage 2nd CD Republicans to vote to defeat incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in his primary against retired schoolteacher Claudia Wright. State Rep. Carl Wimmer was later forced to apologize for the Limbaughesque suggestion, but some teabagger activist named Chase Everton is leading an online effort to help spread the idea around. I'm not sure how successful all this may be, considering that many 'baggers will likely want to have a say in the Republican Senate primary.
WA-02: Republican John Koster, a former state Representative who lost an open seat race against Democrat Rick Larsen in 2000, has put out an internal poll showing him well within striking distance of an upset in this D+3 district. Larsen leads Koster by 44-37, down from a 48-24 lead in December.
Dealers: USA Today looks at the political headaches that last year's "Cash For Clunkers" initiative is causing for auto dealers-turned-Republican candidates, including Tom Ganley (OH-13), Jim Renacci (OH-16), and Scott Rigell (VA-02).
CA-Lt. Gov: According to his latest round of internal polling, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom leads Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn by 47-26 in the Democratic primary for Lt. Governor.
FL-08: Former hospital administrator Peg Dunmire has left the Republican Party and will officially challenge Alan Grayson as a member of Florida's new Tea Party.
GA-09: The special election for Nathan Deal's now-vacant seat has been set for April 27th. This is an all-party "jungle" election, with the winner needing 50% to win. If no one hits that mark, a runoff would be held on May 25th. With 11 Republicans and only one Democrat (former Navy chaplain Mike Freeman) running, is it completely insane to imagine...? Also note that Georgia has a "resign to run" rule, so folks who hold other offices will have to quit before getting into this race, setting off a domino chain of further special elections.
IN-05: Former state Rep. Luke Messer is on the air with a biographical tv spot. He's one of several Republicans challenging Rep. Dan Burton in the primary.
MA-05: Seven Republicans and four independents have lined up so far to take on Dem Rep. Niki Tsongas. Scott Brown won this district 56-43 in January.
NY-13: The Brooklyn Conservative Party has endorsed former FBI agent Mike Grimm. This has touched off another fight with Staten Island Conservatives who, as they did in 2008, seem inclined to endorse Democratic Rep. Mike McMahon. But back then, the Brooklyn Cons (who represent a much smaller part of the district) engineered a coup at the state party level with the backing of chair Michael Long in order to thwart the will of their SI counterparts. It looks like the same might happen again this cycle.
OK-05: SoonerPoll.com surveyed the GOP primary for the open 5th CD, which Rep. Mary Fallin is leaving to run for governor. They find former state Rep. Ken Calvey leading with 20, while state Rep. Mike Thompson is at 9 and "political newcomer" James Lankford is at 7. State Rep. Shane Jett, who just joined the field, was not included.
PA-04: Could Jason Altmire get Arcuri'd? Thanks to his vote against the healthcare reform bill, Jack Shea, the president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, says he's considering a primary challenge. The problem is that Pennsylvania's filing deadline closed earlier this month, so Shea would have to run as a write-in. Alternately, he could run as an independent (indies have a much later filing deadline).
PA-19: Rep. Todd Platts is expected to be on a shortlist of four possible names to fill the top spot at the Government Accountability Office. The House and Senate are compiling this list and will send it to the White House "soon." President Obama can then select a nominee from this slate, or pick his own. Either way, his choice is subject to confirmation in the Senate.
RI-01: Retired Superior Court Judge Roy Pfeiffer is weighing a run for the now-open 1st CD as a Republican. The GOP actually already has a candidate here, state Rep. John Loughlin.
SD-AL: I'm unsurprised - Obama strategist Steve Hildebrand says he won't challenge Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the Dem primary, even though she voted against healthcare reform.
TN-08: Roy Herron will have the Democratic field to himself: Educator and former John Tanner staffer Luther Mercer has dropped out, citing difficulties in fundraising. On the, well, non-Dem side, meanwhile, the knives are out for GOP frontrunner Stephen Fincher. Teabaggy independent Donn Janes is slamming Fincher for claiming to want to cut DC spending despite having been a big beneficiary of farm subsidies.
VA-05: Ex-Rep. Virgil Goode will appear at a fundraiser on the 25th for state Sen. Rob Hurt, who is seeking to reclaim Goode's seat for the Republicans. Hurt is the establishment favorite in this race, but the teabaggers truly seem to hate him and are determined not to let him win the primary. So it remains to be seen whether Goode can sprinkle him with winger fairy dust, or befoul him with DC stink lines.
WY-AL: Democrats have found a candidate to take on freshman Cynthia Lummis: David Wendt, president of the Jackson Hole Center for Global Affairs. Wendt specifically cited Lummis's vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and also congressional inaction on emissions, as reasons for his run.
Polltopia: The boys at PPP are choosing between AL, IL, MD & WA for their next poll, and you can go over there to vote. I can also tell you that R2K will have a WA poll out this week (as well as polls in AR and WI).
Passings: Fred Heineman, a one term congressman from North Carolina, passed away this past weekend at the age of 80. The Republican Heineman beat Dem Rep. David Price in the 1994 Republican Revolution, but Price won his seat right back in 1996. Heineman's brief tenure had a lot to do with how mind-bogglingly clueless he was, most infamously remarking:
"When I see a first-class individual who makes $80,000 a year, he's lower middle class. When I see someone who is making anywhere from $300,000 to $750,000, that's middle class. When I see anyone above that, that's upper middle class.
• CT-Sen: In an effort to calm fears that he's facing an unwinnable path to re-election, Chris Dodd's campaign released an internal poll that's... well... pretty fugly. The GQR poll has ex-Rep. Chris Simmons leading by 51-46, while Dodd and former WWE CEO Linda McMahon are tied at 46% each. McMahon, for her part, released an internal poll showing her leading Simmons by two in the Republican primary. Mmmm... cat fud.
• FL-Sen: Big trouble in South Florida for Charlie Crist? GOP Reps. Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart have suddenly and unilaterally rescinded their endorsements of Crist's senatorial campaign. The Diaz-Balarts offered no explanation as to why they're leaving Crist to hang, but Lincoln offered this cryptic elaboration: Crist "left us no alternative and he knows why." Is a Marco Rubio endorsement forthcoming?
• GA-Gov: Republican SoS Karen Handel, who is very much the underdog in the GOP primary, announced today that she will be resigning from her office to concentrate on her gubernatorial bid. This will allow her to raise money during the legislative session -- something her opponents currently holding political office will not be able to do.
• IA-Gov: The Terry Branstad comeback express keeps chugging along -- and it picked up another passenger today, as state Sen. Jerry Behn dropped out of the gubernatorial race today and handed Branstad his endorsement.
• RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee will make a "major announcement" sometime after New Year's Day, presumably to make his candidacy for Rhode Island Governor official.
• SC-Gov: InsiderAdvantage takes a look at the Dem and GOP primary fields, and finds some pretty wide-open contests. For the Republicans, the McCain-backed state AG Henry McMaster and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer are tied at 22%, with Sanford protege Nikki Haley at 13%, and the House of Representative's very own "Some Dude", Gresham Barrett, lagging behind at 9%. For the Dems, state Superintendent Jim Rex leads with 21% to lobbyist Dwight Drake's 15%. State Sen. Vince Sheheen has 8%.
• CA-20: Dem Rep. Jim Costa may be facing a legitimate challenger next year... but one whom he already beat. Term-limited state Sen. Roy Ashburn, who lost an open seat race to Costa in 2004 by 7%, said he's considering running for Congress again after ruling it out earlier. Local Republicans don't sound too thrilled, though, pointing out Ashburn's less than completely brain-dead record on opposing tax hikes.
• PA-10: Sophomore Dem Rep. Chris Carney has had a charmed start to his second term up until this point, managing to avoid any serious Republican competition from emerging. However, that streak has ended in recent weeks with the interest of state Rep. Mike Peifer and ex-US Attorney Tom Marino in the race. On the bright side, Peifer announced yesterday that he won't be running, after all, but can we read that as a tea leaf that Marino is pretty serious about making this candidacy happen?
• PA-19: Here's another reason why GOP Rep. Todd Platts should hope that he lands the job as head of the GAO: he's now facing a primary challenge from freedom-loving businessman Mike Smeltzer. Maybe Platts would rather just retire than be forced to defend his Main Street Partnership-style voting record?
• SC-05: Republicans made their list, but now they better check it twice. The office of veteran Dem Rep. John Spratt confirmed yesterday that Spratt will indeed run for another term next year in spite of Republican-fueled speculation that he was looking for the exits.
• Pollsters & Scoundrels: Pollster.com's Mark Blumenthal offers a wrap-up of the strange, strange saga of Strategic Vision LLC.
• Approvals: Seeking approval? Don't look at me -- go talk to SUSA; they've just released a ton of approval ratings for Senators and Governors across the nation. On your station.
• MA-Sen: Rep. Michael Capuano picked up several more endorsements in the special election primary to succeed Ted Kennedy, although the clock is ticking loudly on trying to make up that last bit of ground against AG Martha Coakley. He got the endorsement of the Boston Herald (Boston's smaller daily) and also fellow Rep. Ed Markey, who had seemed a likely candidate initially.
• NJ-Sen: With a Republican moving into Drumthwacket (sorry, I just like saying "Drumthwacket") for four years and Sen. Frank Lautenberg not getting any younger (at 85), Democratic Assembly whip John McKeon has introduced legislation that would change the way that Senate vacancies are filled in New Jersey. Under current law, a governor can opt either to make a temporary appointment or call a special election. The proposed law, however, would require the governor to appoint a replacement within 30 days and it would need to be someone from the same political party as the departed officeholder. The temporary appointment would continue until the next general election.
• IA-Gov: His entry to the race provoked a lot of interest back when the rest of the field was just assorted wingnuts, but with the entry of ex-Gov. Terry Branstad, there wasn't much room for young businsessman Christian Fong. He suspended his campaign today.
• MI-Gov: Lansing mayor Virg Bernero has been on some people's wish list for a gubernatorial candidate, in light of the rather underwhelming Democratic field in Michigan. It sounds like Bernero has been hearing those calls (and noticing the polls showing Lt. Gov. John Cherry not only badly losing the general but not even summoning up much interest in the Dem primary), as now he says that he's switching from "very unlikely" to "seriously considering" a race in the last few weeks.
• OR-Gov: This is the kind of thing that can put a big crimp in your newly-launched gubernatorial campaign. Initiative kingpin (and 1998 gubernatorial loser) Bill Sizemore just got charged with tax evasion for failure to file state tax returns for the previous three years. Although the state has known about this failure for more than a year, the timing may have more to do with the recent expiration of Sizemore's amnesty period to file rather than his announcement last week of his intention to run for governor again.
• PA-Gov: Allegheny Co. Executive Dan Onorato isn't well-known outside the Pittsburgh area, so he's been focusing his early efforts on the Philadelphia area. He's gotten a boost with endorsements from several prominent Democratic legislators in Montgomery and Chester Counties: state Sens. Daylin Leach and Andy Dinniman, and just yesterday, state Rep. Michael Gerber.
• CA-03: The once-crowded Democratic field in the 3rd, to go up against vulnerable GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, has gotten whittled down to one. Bill Slaton, an executive with Sacramento's municipal public utility, dropped out and endorsed Ami Bera. With Elk Grove city councilor Gary Davis also having dropped out a few months ago, Bera has a clear shot; Bera, the former Sacramento County Chief Medical Officer, has been going gangbusters on the fundraising front, sitting on $586K (more than Lungren has). Slaton had loaned himself $300K but hadn't seemed to make much progress beyond that.
• FL-10, FL-12: Two Democratic challengers who have favorable circumstances (an aging incumbent who's barely fundraising in the 10th, an open seat in the 12th) but haven't gotten far at fundraising yet are getting a boost on the money front. Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley is hosting a Tampa fundraiser for state Sen. Charlie Justice, while Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Allen Boyd are hosting a DC fundraiser for Polk Co. Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards (although perception-wise, it's probably not good that it's being held in a lobbyist's office).
• MN-01: Another Republican challenger showed up to take on sophomore Rep. Tim Walz in Minnesota's rural 1st. Unlike former state Rep. Allen Quist (who was at his peak in the 90s), Randy Demmer is a current state Rep.
• NH-02: State Rep. John DeJoie, who's been expected to run, made official that he's getting into the open seat race for the 2nd on the Democratic side. DeJoie has been a firefighter in Concord for 14 years; he joins attorney Ann McLane Kuster and may also be joined by Katrina Swett.
• NJ-03: Jon Runyan might want to be spending the next few months working on his message discipline instead of playing for the Chargers. Runyan, shortly after announcing that he'd be running against freshman Democratic Rep. John Adler after the football season, turned around and told San Diego reporters that he hadn't committed to the race yet and was exploring his options. Runyan's spokesperson then corrected Runyan, saying he's definitely in the race, and bafflingly said that the latter comment was made "in jest."
• PA-06: The Republican field in the open seat race in the 6th just keeps growing; the fifth entrant is Patrick Sellers, a former Republican committeeman. Sellers is apparently a Paulist, and made his announcement at a Philadelphia "End the Fed" rally. He joins state Rep. Curt Schroder, pharma exec Steven Welch, Chester Co. Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello, and long-ago state Revenue Secretary Howard Cohen.
• PA-19: It's not clear yet whether Rep. Todd Platts is even going to get chosen as head of the GAO, but Republicans are already lining up to take over his dark-red seat if he does. Roll Call lists a bunch of 'em, starting with state Rep. Scott Perry, who's already making his interest public. Eyes are also on one of Platts' 2000 primary opponents, York County Commissioner Chris Reilly. The article also lists a slew of other possible state legislators and county officials.
• NH-St. Sen.: Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty really, really wants to do lots of favors for the good people of New Hampshire, and he's starting by hosting a fundraising event for Republicans in its state Senate, who are currently down 14-10 in that chamber. Interestingly, ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley (who downshifted to the state Senate) is on the host committee and a key recipient of the help, which may lead to the question of whether he's looking for leverage for trying something bigger again in the future.
• KY-St. Sen.: Here's a positive tea leaf as we head into the home stretch on the special election in the Bardstown-based SD-14 next week (one of the two seats strategically excised of its Republican occupants by Democratic governor Steve Beshear): Democratic former state Rep. Jodie Haydon has raised more than four times the funds as Republican state Rep. Jimmy Higdon ($546K for Haydon, including in-kind contributions from the state Dems, vs. $131K for Higdon). Much of Haydon's money is coming from the horse industry, which has fallen squarely behind the Dems in recent months as state Democrats seek to allow video slots at horsetracks (something Higdon and most local GOPers oppose). A Dem pickup here would cut the GOP advantage in the state Senate to 19-18 (with one GOP-leaning indie).
• VA-St. Sen.: The special election to fill two vacant, formerly GOP-held state Senate seats has been set for Jan. 12. The race to take over the heavily Republican SD-8 in Virginia Beach (vacated by new Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle) doesn't look to be very interesting; only two Republicans have signed up for it so far. Dems may have a shot at a pickup in the swingy SD-37 in Fairfax County, vacated by new AG Ken Cuccinelli. Democratic state Del. David Marsden has confirmed that he'll run for the promotion. Dems have a narrow 21-19 edge in the Senate, which they'd like to pad in case incoming Gov. Bob McDonnell attempts any Beshear-style poaching.
• Mayors: The Atlanta mayoral runoff is tonight, between white city councilor Mary Norwood and African-American former state Sen. Kasim Reed. (The one public poll of the race gave Reed a small edge.) Norwood's final ad, and the final debate, point to how the runoff has gotten racially fraught as it comes to a close. There are also four legislative runoff elections scattered around Georgia tonight, although two are Dem/Dem and one is GOP/GOP. The remaining one, in HD-141 in Milledgeville, is between independent Rusty Kidd and Democrat Darrell Black.
• CT-Sen: Rumors are popping up that ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, still the GOP Senate primary's frontrunner by most people's estimation but financially outgunned on a variety of different fronts, may switch to the now-open gubernatorial race. Simmons, however, says his plans are "unchanged," and touts his foreign policy background, saying that's much more useful in the Senate. Meanwhile, an interesting CQ piece looks at pro wrestling svengali Linda McMahon's role in the race, and wonders whether her vast fortunes will really help her that much in a state where a convention attended by party insiders (where Simmons would be favored) is decisive in shaping the field. (Although even if she doesn't win the convention outright or meet the 15% threshold for getting on the ballot, she can still get on the ballot by collecting enough signatures -- certainly an expensive process, but one she could pay for with whatever change she finds under her couch cushions.)
• FL-Sen: Here's about as close as you can get to a Jeb Bush endorsement without his lips actually moving. Bush's sons, Jeb Bush Jr. and George P. Bush, are headlining a Marco Rubio fundraiser in mid-December.
• CT-Gov: Ned Lamont is already staffing up, and a familiar face is going to be one of his key advisors: Howard Wolfson. Wolfson was adviser to Lamont in 2006, but is better known for his lead role in Hillary Clinton's campaign last year, as well as Michael Bloomberg's campaign this year.
• MN-Gov: Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak ran into a snafu with his campaign still on the launching pad, as the state's campaign finance board ruled that he spent money on his campaign before he'd filed the campaign paperwork. Rybak paid for a message-testing poll, although it didn't directly ask questions about the governor's race. If you want to see the whole polling memo (not something you usually get to see with internal polls), check it out.
• WI-Gov: Politics abhors a vacuum, and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett is acting quickly to fill the vacuum that has formed on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial race. He says he'll make a decision "one way or the other" by the week's end.
• CO-04: Although state Rep. Cory Gardner is clearly the NRCC's favorite in the Republican field, that didn't deter former Ft. Collins city councilor Diggs Brown, who will be announcing his candidacy on Saturday. He had been considered a likely candidate all year, but was on a year-long Army deployment and unable to announce until now. Univ. of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero rounds out the trio of GOPers seeking to take on first-term Dem Rep. Betsy Markey.
• FL-13: James Golden, an African-American minister, attorney and former Bradenton city councilor, launched his campaign last week against Rep. Vern Buchanan. Golden will face an uphill fight against the self-funding Buchanan -- unless Buchanan, facing ongoing scrutiny over mysterious campaign finance machinations, goes down in a legal implosion.
• ID-01: This may be a surprise, or may not -- state House majority leader Ken Roberts withdrew from the GOP primary race to take on freshman Dem Rep. Walt Minnick. Roberts cited health reasons. Roberts initially would have seemed to have a leg up based on name recognition, but veteran and former McCain campaign official Vaughn Ward seemed to be capturing most of the buzz, including a good fundraising start and NRCC touting.
• IN-03: Democrats have taken notice in the last few cycles of Rep. Mark Souder's decidedly lackadaisical approach to re-election in this dark-red district, but now someone from the teabaggy right is taking notice too, and launching a primary campaign. Republican Attorney Phil Troyer (a former staffer to Dick Lugar and Dan Coats) announced his campaign today. (This seems less like an ideological challenge, as Souder is down-the-line conservative, as just opportunistic, taking advantage of his sloth.) Tom Hayhurst, who narrowly lost in 2006, is on track to the Democratic nod again.
• MN-03: Add a second Democratic challenger to the list in the 3rd: Minnesota PTA president, and executive director of the Minnesota Optometrists Association, Jim Meffert filed to run. He joins psychiatrist Maureen Hackett; they may still both be joined by state Sen. Teri Bonoff, although Meffert says that Bonoff has hinted to him that she's likely to take a pass.
• NJ-03: Best wishes to state Sen. Diane Allen, who is entering treatment for an aggressive form of cancer. The moderate Allen, who lost the 2002 Senate primary and was short-listed for Lt. Governor this year, had been considered a possible candidate against Rep. John Adler in the 3rd.
• NV-02: We've got another Democrat lined up to go against Rep. Dean Heller in the 2nd (after Cindy Trigg dropped out several months ago), and he has a strong resume. Jack Schofield is a member of the state's Board of Regents, and is a former state Senator. Unfortunately, he may not be running the most vigorous campaign in the world, as he was a state Senator in the 1970s, and is a World War II veteran (do the math).
• NY-23: The Washington Post has a nice, human-level retrospective on Dede Scozzafava's collapse in the special election and the difference in how the GOP and the Dems treated her, leading to her Bill Owens endorsement. Meanwhile, things continue to play out, as Scozzafava either stepped down from or was stripped of her leadership role in the Assembly Republicans, depending on who you believe. Start counting down to her party switch (not that the Assembly Dems need the help, what with their 109-41 margin).
• OH-02: What's with all these former Apprentice contestants thinking that's somehow a stepping stone to political office? Surya Yalimanchili is now planning to run as an independent in the 2nd, currently held by GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt. He's sounding centrist notes so far rather than sounding teabaggy, though, so he may not help the Dems too much by siphoning off far-right Republican votes.
• PA-07: One more Democrat is getting into the open seat field in the 7th, although it's unclear whether she'll get much traction against state Rep. Bryan Lentz. Environmental lawyer Gail Conner, an Obama convention delegate last year, threw her hat into the ring.
• PA-11: Third time's the charm? It looks like Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta will give crusty Dem incumbent Paul Kanjorski another challenge next year. Barletta fell just a few points shy of knocking off Kanjorski last year, prompting Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien to enter the Democratic primary for the seat. With pressure from both sides, one has to wonder if Kanjo will hit the eject button. (J)
• PA-17: Here's an example of how voting against health care reform does Blue Dogs a fat lot of good: Rep. Tim Holden got about two days of peace before a Republican state Senator started making noises about a campaign against him anyway. Holden has had little in the way of opposition recently, but now he may face David Argall, who represents Holden's coal-country turf of Schuylkill County. Relatedly, over in Ohio's 16th, a Cleveland Plain Dealer profile of fellow anti-HCR vote John Boccieri shows how he managed to win over exactly no Republicans while ticking off his base.
• PA-19: With Republican Rep. Todd Platts looking to bail on the House and head over to the GAO, candidates are already scoping out the potential special election. Although it's a dark-red district (R+12), one good-sounding Dem is gearing up: Ryan Sanders, real estate developer, president of the Red Lion Area Business Association, and most usefully, an organizer for the Obama campaign in York County.
• UT-02: More fallout from the health care reform vote: Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson (one of the 'no' votes) may, as a result, be facing a primary challenge from the left from state Sen. Scott McCoy (Utah's only gay state Senator and one of its few liberals). The Salt Lake City-based district is still strongly Republican, although it hasn't presented Matheson with much trouble lately.
• MI-St. Sen.: Here's an interesting look at the fight by Dems to reclaim the state Senate in Michigan (currently held 22-16 by the GOP, but where the majority of seats are open next year), which would give them the redistricting trifecta. Even if they don't pick it up (or do while losing the gubernatorial race), the state Supreme Court breaks any logjam, making next year's Supreme Court elections paramount too. The article also contains a map of the Dems' preferred redistricting plan, to turf out Rep. Vern Ehlers by creating a Dem-leaning 3rd District linking Grand Rapids and Muskegon.
• NH-St. Sen.: A special election will be happening in New Hampshire, giving the Dems the chance to add to their narrow lead in the state Senate there (they currently have a 14-10 edge). Republican state Sen. Ted Gatsas is poised to resign after having been elected Manchester mayor. Democratic state Rep. Jeff Goley is set to get into the race, though several other state House Dems are looking at it too.
• Mayors: The Seattle mayor's race has finally come to an end, with as late-breaking ballots are going more toward former local Sierra Club leader Mike McGinn. Joe Mallahan conceded after McGinn's lead pushed up to nearly 5,000, for a 51-49 edge.
• Ads: In the wake of this weekend's health care vote, the DNC is planning to target 32 House Republicans in Obama districts who voted 'no.' They aren't planning on using paid media yet, but will use the OFA campaign e-mail lists to organize in those districts. Meanwhile, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is promising ads against 10 'no' votes, saying it's "payback" time: Barrow, Shuler, Herseth Sandlin, Murphy, Altmire, Nye, Kissell, Adler, Kosmas, and Ross.
• Demographics: If you're like me, you may spend a lot of time wondering how Scandinavian-Americans got so liberal and Dutch-Americans got so conservative. Dreaminonempty takes a look at ancestry and voting patterns in a very interesting diary at Open Left.
• CA-Sen: The Carlyfornia Dreaming commenced today, as former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina officially announced her bid for the GOP Senate nomination. In a development that's both DeLightful and DeLovely as the GOP barrels headlong into civil war, though, SC Sen. Jim DeMint endorsed GOP Assemblyman Chuck DeVore in the GOP primary, in his ongoing quest to have a Senate caucus of 30 pure Republicans.
• DE-Sen: Also on the GOP civil war front, the movement/establishment split is even spilling over into Delaware, which most pundits look at as the GOP's closest to a sure thing. Conservative activist Christine O'Donnell, who lost badly to Joe Biden last year, will stay in the GOP field with or without Castle. O'Donnell is sitting on $2K CoH, along with $24K in debts from her previous run.
• IL-Sen: Also on the GOP civil war front, one of Rep. Mark Kirk's minor-league GOP primary opponents -- not Patrick Hughes, but even lower down the food chain: Eric Wallace -- is looking at Doug Hoffman and saying "That could be me!" Wallace is dropping out of the GOP field and planning to run as an independent -- which could conceivably tip the race to Alexi Giannoulias in a close contest. Kirk, sensing trouble brewing on his right flank, is asking for help from an unlikely source (based on his attacks on her inexperience during the 2008 election). He's asking queen teabagger Sarah Palin for her endorsement!
• NH-Sen: Also on the GOP civil war front, wealthy businessman William Binnie made official his run for the GOP nod in New Hampshire's Senate race. Sounds like lots of Granite Staters aren't buying GOP establishment candidate Kelly Ayotte's smoke-and-mirrors campaign.
• OH-Sen: Finally, one item from what passes for the Democratic civil war. DSCC chair Bob Menendez all-but-endorsed Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in Ohio, by mentioning only him in Ohio when talking about pickup prospects. Fisher faces a primary (for the time being) against underfunded SoS Jennifer Brunner.
• CT-Gov: It looks like Ned Lamont, who beat and then lost to Joe Lieberman in 2006, is going to take a whack at the Connecticut gubernatorial race. Lamont just formed an exploratory committee; he'll face an uphill fight just to get out of the primary, though, against SoS Susan Bysiewicz.
• FL-Gov: So many Kennedys, so little time. Yet another random member of the Kennedy clan is considering a quixotic run for office; this time it's Maria Shriver's brother Anthony Shriver (founder of a disabilities-related nonprofit), considering a race in the Democratic gubernatorial primary (which Alex Sink already seems to have locked down).
• NY-Gov: If there's any doubt that AG Andrew Cuomo is gearing up for a gubernatorial run next year, Cuomo will be holding a big fundraiser in Washington in several weeks, hosted by DC power couple Tony and Heather Podesta.
• CO-04: While state House minority whip Cory Gardner seemed to have impeccable conservative bona fides (running against freshman Dem Rep. Betsy Markey), there's some new information that calls that into question: it turns out in 1998 he was an active volunteer for Democrat Susan Kirkpatrick, who ran against then-Rep. Bob Schaffer in the 4th. (He even gave the seconding nominating speech for her at the Dem convention in the 4th.) In his defense, Gardner claims he was raised a Democrat, but became a Republican convert in college -- but he graduated from college in 1997. Looks like the teabaggers have one more insufficiently pure specimen to add to their hunting list.
• FL-08: The netroots love them some Alan Grayson. Nov. 2's online moneybomb event netted the Florida rabblerouser over $500,000, from over 13,000 contributions averaging $40 each. (The GOP also has an answer site up -- "mycongressmanisnuts.com," a nice third-grade response to "congressmanwithguts.com", as apparently "poopyhead.com" was already taken -- which so far has brought in $4,000.)
• FL-19: Charlie Crist has set a special election date for the election to replace resigning Rep. Robert Wexler (although there doesn't seem to be much drama here in this dark-blue district, as the wheels seem to be greased for state Sen. Ted Deutch). The primary will be Feb. 2, and the general will be April 6.
• KS-04: Republican state Sen. Susan Wagle was considered on the short list for the open seat being left behind by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, but yesterday she confirmed that she won't run for it next year.
• NY-23: The gift that keeps giving. Doug Hoffman is reportedly already sounding interested, via Twitter, in running again in the 23rd. (No clue as to what ballot lines he'd seek to run on.)
• PA-19: Here's a surprise: long-time Republican Rep. Todd Platts may be looking for an exit strategy. He's applying to become the Comptroller General, an appointed position at the top of the government's nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. Platts has been safe so far in his York-based R+12 district, but as a Main Street Republican, he's rather out-of-whack with his red turf and may suddenly not be relishing the thought of having teabaggers using him for target practice in 2010.
• NYC-Mayor: Well, somebody at the White House is feeling defensive over the decision not to get involved in the surprisingly-close mayoral race. When Rep. Anthony Weiner (who'd considered running) asked maybe if Obama should have helped out, an anonymous leaker snarled "Maybe Anthony Weiner should have manned-up and run against Michael Bloomberg."
• NRSC: Having gotten the message from the rabid teabagging hordes, NRSC head John Cornyn is announcing that the NRSC won't be spending money in any Republican primaries next year. The NRSC has endorsed in four primaries so far (Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and Pennsylvania), but it's sounding like they may not endorse in any more, either... Cornyn admits "Endorsements, frankly, are overrated. They can to some extent be a negative." Guess who is coming to play in GOP Senate primaries, though? That's right, the Club for Growth, who are now threatening involvement in Illinois and Connecticut, saying that the best Mark Kirk and newly-converted teabag-carrier Rob Simmons can hope for is to be "left alone."
• NRCC: Pete Sessions Deathwatch, Vol. 2? All over the punditosphere today are proclamations of the NRCC head as one of yesterday's top "losers," as the NRCC's special election losing streak had two more notches added to it. George Stephanopolous makes the case that Sessions actually managed to lose NY-23 twice, once with Scozzafava over the long haul, then over the weekend again with Hoffman.