AR-Sen, AR-01: Bill Clinton is heading back home to Arkansas to do events for Blanche Lincoln (probably not a good use of resources) and Chad Causey (better use of resources). Incidentally, Politico notes that Causey's primary opponent, Tim Wooldridge, still has yet to endorse him. Jeez.
DE-Sen: It's official: The Tea Party Express has spooked Mike Castle into going up on the air before the primary, to a six-figure tune. In fact, the Hotline's Jeremy Jacobs has an unusual level of detail on the nature of the buy, noting that "Castle has purchased $113K worth of airtime for Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 in the Salisbury, MD, media market," as well as "$26K worth of time on cable in New Castle County and $42K on radio."
NH-Sen: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is throwing down for a big buy against Paul Hodes. As the Hotline notes, the Chamber's FEC filing says they're spending $1 million, but apparently the buy is for less - a spokesbot will only say that it's "sizable." You can see their ad at the link.
AK-Gov: Republican Bill Walker, who held Gov. Sean Parnell to just 50% in the GOP primary while taking 33% himself, is talking to the Alaska Independence Party about filling their ballot line, since the AIP's nominee, Don Wright, has withdrawn from the race. Remember that in 1994, Dem Tony Knowles very narrowly won the gubernatorial race because an AIP candidate split the right-wing vote, taking 13%.
FL-Gov: I'm not sure whether these are new names or not, but Alex Sink is trying to stick it to Rick Scott by putting out a list of ten Republican elected officials in central and south Florida who have endorsed her campaign. Speaking of Scott, he's reportedly going to tap state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, an African American legislator from the Jacksonville area, to be his running mate.
NM-Gov: Local blog New Mexico FBIHOP has two new ads, one each from Republican Susana Martinez and Dem Diane Denish. NWOTSOTB in either case.
AZ-03: Dem Jon Hulburd is hitting noted d-bag Ben Quayle where it hurts: on Christian radio. Politico has the audio of the ad, which of course references TheDirty.com, but NWOTSOTB.
CA-47: Ya know, usually when we do an Obama Alert! or a Biden Alert! we're at least a little bit excited at the prospect that the (V)POTUS is doing an event for some Dem or other. But once in a while, it just makes me nervous. This is one of those occasions. Joe Biden is headlining a fundraiser for Rep. Loretta Sanchez in DC on Sept. 15th. I'm thinking a rating change might be in order here soon.
MD-01: Dem Frank Kratovil is up with his first ad of the season. NWOTSOTB.
NJ-12: The so-called "Emergency Committee for Israel," led by jerkass extraordinaire Michael Goldfarb and backed by lunatics like Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer, is now targeting Rep. Rush Holt with their latest bullshit. Holt, for his part, is fighting back, calling the ads "blatant lies" and trying to convince cable companies to pull them.
ND-AL: A break for Rep. Earl Pomeroy: The House's Office of Congressional Ethics said earlier this week that they were dropping an investigation into Pomeroy's fundraising practices.
NY-01: If anything saves Tim Bishop's bacon, it might be the fact that the Republican primary has been a festering pit of raw sewage, with outraged attacks traded among Bishop's GOP rivals daily - or more often. In fact, the three-way nature of the race seems to have tripled the likelihood of open warfare at any given moment - and it also makes things damn confusing at times. Anyhow, it looks like Chris Cox is hitting Randy Altschuler for failing to show up to a debate... but then the third dude, George Demos, also had a staffer show up at Altschuler's offices and catch him on camera, right when the debate was supposed to start. Meanwhile, Cox also won a court ruling allowing him to fight Altschuler for the Conservative Party nomination, but he'll have to run as a write-in.
NY-13: Another nasty New York primary also continues to get nastier. Local establishment fave Michael Allegretti keeps piling on attacks against Mike Grimm, the golden boy of national GOP figures like Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Among other things, Allegretti is pointing out that Grimm has never voted in a single Republican primary in the 13th CD.
OH-17: Jim Traficant got beamed back on to the ballot yesterday, running as an independent. He'll face Dem Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican Jim Graham, who has raised bupkes.
PA-15: PA2010 is reporting that Dem John Callahan is going up on the air with his first ad, perhaps as early as today. NWOTSOTB, and we also don't have a link to the ad yet, but we'll try to bring it to you once it's public.
TX-23: Republican Quico Canseco is refusing to meet with the editorial board of the San Antonio Express-News, claiming they have an "inherent bias" in favor of Dem Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. Only problem: The paper endorsed the last two Republicans who ran against Ciro.
WI-07: Republican Sean Duffy is finally scrambling on to the air with a positive bio spot. Dem Julie Lassa was up with her first ad last week, and the DCCC made its first independent expenditure (anywhere in the nation) here earlier this week. NWOTSOTB, though CQ notes the ad will air "in the Wausau-Rhinelander, Duluth-Superior, Minneapolis-St. Paul and LaCrosse-Eau Claire markets".
WV-03: Republican Spike Maynard is out with a new ad (watch it here) in which he says he wants to "stop the Obama-Rahall-Pelosi war on coal." That a serious mouthful, dude. (James Hell sez: "He should add Rand Paul to the list!") Anyhow, props to the Charleston Daily Mail for these details: "The ad is the first of two ads that will be released by Maynard's campaign as part of a $100,000 ad buy in the Beckley-Bluefield and Charleston-Huntington TV markets."
For Nick Rahall's part, he's apparently going to go on the radio with biographical spots to "familiarize folks with the congressman and his record." Uh, the guy has been in office since before I was born. The paper also reports that Rahall "is expected to run TV ads starting in late September." Can't say I love that pace.
Cat Fud: Think Progress has carefully stacked up an entire pallet's worth of cat fud tins in one of those lovely supermarket displays. They've assembled a long list of Republican primary losers who have refused to endorse the winners. I can think of two more off the top of my head: Pamela Gorman, who didn't want to catch Ben Quayle's cooties in AZ-03, and of course Lisa Murkowski, who maybe kinda sorta doesn't feel all that warmly about the guy who just called her a whore (or a john, take your pick) before the ballot counting was even over. Recall any others?
DSCC/DCCC: This is actually the same link that I got all emo about in that CA-47 item up above, but anyhow, uh, Obama Alert! The POTUS will be in NYC on September 22nd to do a joint event for the two congressional party committees.
FL-Sen: Five Teamster locals, representing union member across the state, endorsed Charlie Crist yesterday. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio is out with a new ad, a positive family bio spot that is about as un-partisan as you can get. The Palm Beach Post suggests Rubio is trying to appear "above the fray" and let Crist and Kendrick Meek go at each other. NWOTSOTB.
FL-Gov: Mark Blumenthal (with assists from Charles Franklin and Harry Enten) has an interesting look at the final five FL-Gov polls, in an attempt to understand why PPP and Susquehanna came closest. (In passing, Blumenthal also points out that the average error in this batch of FL-Sen polls was twice as big as the FL-Gov average, but because several high-profile pollsters "called" the gube race wrong, those polls are getting more attention than the senate polls.)
AZ-03: State Sen. and fifth-place finisher Pamela Gorman, best-known for her ad in which she fires a bunch of guns, says she won't endorse Ben Quayle (at least not yet), on account of the vileness he spewed on TheDirty.com. Second- and third-place finishers Steve Moak and Jim Waring, however, say they will support Mr. Potatoe-son.
AZ-08: Those GOPers really can't shut up about how much they want to destroy Social Security, huh? Check out Jesse Kelly, fresh of his teabagger-fueled upset victory:
"We have to fulfill our promises that we've made to people who are on it now, because the government has stolen their money their entire lives, while phasing future generations off. You have to get the future generations off or you're going to go broke," he said. "Individual accounts is the key to it."
FL-22: Ron Klein is up with his first ad of the campaign season, a spot attacking GOPer Allen West for failing to pay taxes. I'm glad to see Klein going on the attack, but given how much utterly insane shit has come out of West's mouth, it feels a little limp to be going after him on IRS liens. Maybe that issue polled better, who knows. NWOTSOTB.
FL-24: Karen Diebel, one of the crazier GOP candidates in a year just chock-full of `em, has gone AWOL in the wake of her narrow loss to state Rep. Sandy Adams. While third-place finisher Craig Miller has endorsed Adams, Diebel hasn't said a word. With 100% of precincts reporting, she trails by 0.8%. She'd need to get under 0.5% to trigger a recount (unless she can demonstrate fraud), which I suppose is conceivable once absentee ballots are counted. But even if that were to happen, she'd still have to make up a few hundred votes, which seems impossible.
ID-01: Heh. Remember when the RNC gave money to the Idaho GOP to hire two staffers to help out the utterly feeble Raul Labrador? Turns out things haven't quite played out that way. One of the two staffers has been re-tasked to work on state races. As for the other guy, who knows?
MI-07: Yesterday we mentioned that AFSCME was launching a new ad against Republican Tim Walberg. Well, those guys don't mess around. The size of the buy? A cool $750K.
ND-AL: Earl Pomeroy is up with his second negative ad in a week, this one attacking GOP Rick Berg on a somewhat unusual issue. Berg apparently promoted a law early last decade which, according to the ad, would allow banks to sell customers' financial records. The bill was later rejected by voters in a referendum. I call this issue "unusual" because you don't typically see privacy matters make a big impact on the campaign trail. NWOTSOTB.
VA-02, VA-05: This is nice to see: Sen. Mark Warner is spending some time this recess campaigning for both Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello. It sounds like he just did a fundraiser for Nye yesterday, and has some events on tap with Perriello this weekend. Speaking of Nye, he's up with his first ad, touting his work in Iraq and how much he enjoys voting against the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Nye's opponent, GOPer Scott Rigell, is also up with an ad, attacking Nye for... supporting the Democratic Party. Do you get it yet, dude? They're going to attack you no matter what, so you might as well sack up and do the right thing. No word on the size of either buy.
Unions: The AFL-CIO and SEIU, which split apart several years back, are trying to join forces once more. The two labor organizations say that they plan to spend at least $88 million between them this cycle, and perhaps more.
• AK-Gov (R/D): Anything other than slam-dunk wins tonight for incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell and ex-state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz would have to be considered a surprise. Parnell has led his two highest-profile challengers, ex-state House Speaker Ralph Samuels and attorney and ex-Valdez Mayor Bill Walker by huge margins, as has Berkowitz against state Sen. Hollis "October Surprise" French. (JL)
• AK-Sen (R): Could Lisa Murkowski bite it in a intra-party challenge from little-known attorney Joe Miller? In Miller's corner are the Palins, Mike Huckabee, and a half-million from the Tea Party Express. In her corner, Murkowski has the backing of about 1.9 million dead presidents, and a 62-30 lead over Miller in a late July Ivan Moore poll. Of course, that was before the TPX started unloading, but the odds are always long for Some Dudes... (JL)
• AZ-Sen (R): This looked like it was going to be one of the all-time great Republican primary slugfests when it first appeared on the horizon: Mr. Maverick himself, John McCain, versus fiery conservative ex-Rep.-turned-radio-talk-show-host J.D. Hayworth. Some of the initial polling, in fact, was fairly close, before the novelty wore off... but then the novelty wore off, and we were left with three basic realities: a) John McCain had a ton more money than Hayworth and was willing to use it, b) John McCain had absolutely no shame about taking all that Maverick stuff, throwing it in the trash can along with many of his previous policy positions, and remaking himself as a right-wing ideologue in order to survive his primary, and c) J.D. Hayworth is a complete and total clown. The turning point seemed to be the revelation in June that Hayworth had shilled for a Matthew Lesko-style free-government-money infomercial, which destroyed any remaining credibility he may have still had. Polling from July gave McCain leads ranging from 20 to over 40 points. (C)
• AZ-Sen (D): At this point, the Democratic Senate primary in Arizona looks a good bit more unpredictable than the Republican one. The seeming frontrunner is former Tucson vice-mayor Rodney Glassman, a former Raul Grijalva aide and a young up-and-comer with some family money as well. Glassman seemed to have the field to himself after the NRSC's desired candidate, wealthy businesswoman Nan Stockholm Walden, begged off... but once the specter of a race against J.D. Hayworth instead of John McCain appeared, some other late entrants arrived, most notably civil rights activist Randy Parraz and former state Rep. Cathy Eden. What little polling we've seen of this race (a Rasmussen poll from July and a Parraz internal) has given Glassman the lead, but he didn't rise above 20% in either poll. More-frequent polling of the general election has actually given Glassman a good chance against Hayworth... but unfortunately, a McCain match is looking much likelier. (C)
• AZ-01 (R): Eight Republicans have jumped into the race for the right to challenge freshman Dem Ann Kirkpatrick. Notably, rogue dentist Paul Gosar has spent the most, but the field also includes former State Senate majority leader Rusty Bowers and 2008 nominee Sydney Hay (whose abysmal campaign netted her a 56-40 defeat). Gosar seems to have most of the establishment support, including endorsements from the Grizzly Momma and (even though the district doesn't enter it) Maricopa County Sheriff and xenophobe extraordinaire Joe Arpaio. Gosar's internal polling has him in the lead, ahead of Hay by a 30-10 margin. Primary voters would be doing themselves a favor by not nominating Hay; we'll see if Gosar can live up to his polling. (JMD)
• AZ-03 (R): Crowded GOP primaries seem to be the norm in Arizona, with a 10-man field for the open seat of retiring GOPer John Shadegg. Several qualify beyond Some Dude status, including former northern Phoenix State Rep. Sam Crump, former State Senator Pamela Gorman (who represented the same district as Crump), former northern Phoenix/Scottsdale State Senator Jim Waring, attorney Paulina Morris, Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker, and Parker's predecessor as Mayor, Ed Winkler. The two largest warchests, however, belong to Ben "Son of Potatoe" Quayle and self-funding businessman Steve Moak. Moak and Quayle have gone hard after each other, with recent revelations about Quayle's history with what eventually became TheDirty.com taking their toll and Quayle's responses being, perhaps hereditarily, ineffectual. Moak seems ready to occupy the vacuum that Quayle's implosion has left, but the sheer number of credible candidates leaves room for surprise. (JMD)
• AZ-05 (R): Two-term Dem Harry Mitchell will face one of five GOPers, a field that includes a rematch between 2008 candidates David Schweikert and Susan Bitter Smith. Schweikert prevailed then by a 1,000-vote margin out of 48,000 cast and went on to a 53-44 loss to Mitchell. Complicating this rematch are other credible candidates in doctor Chris Salvino and self-funded businessman Jim Ward, both of whom have outraised and outspent Bitter Smith. Schweikert seems to have assumed frontrunner status, going as far as cancelling his last-minute ad buy...before opting in for one again. Will Schweikert's hubris come to haunt him today? (JMD)
• AZ-08 (R): In a common pattern that we've seen this cycle, the primary for the right to challenge sophomore Dem Gabby Giffords has a clear establishment v. outsider rift. However, there is only one teabagger here, Jesse Kelly, who squares off against the "establishment's" former Tucson-area State Senator, Jonathan Paton. Perhaps owing to the fact that there's only one teabaggish-type here, Kelly seems to be favored against Paton, posting a hefty 36-17 lead in recent polling. However, this poll was taken before third wheel Brian Miller headed for the exit, endorsing Paton on his way out. Given Miller's low share of support and Kelly's sole claim to the Holy Teabag, we might finally see the upset of an NRCC golden child here. (JMD)
• FL-Gov (R): All good things must indeed come to an end - and I am going to be very sad when this primary is over. Until mid-April of this year, Bill McCollum, the colorless, unlikeable, ambiguously hairpieced state AG and former House impeachment manager, at least had one thing to keep his sorry ass happy at night: He was guaranteed to be the Republican nominee for governor of Florida. Then, a funny thing happened: Zillionaire asshole Rick Scott decided he wanted the nod more - a whole lot more. In fact, about $40 million more, which is what he and allied groups (aka his wife's checkbook) have spent on the race. McCollum and his allies (if you can imagine such a thing), undoubtedly stunned to have to start spending so early, have fired back, but they've only mustered some $14 million. (Check out this great graphic of both camps' spending.)
Anyhow, this race has gone more negative than googolplex divided by minus one. There isn't much consensus among pollsters on how much damage has been done to both candidates (some show McCollum with worse favorables, others show Scott deep in the doghouse), but I'm going to guess the answer is "a lot." There's also some divergence over who the frontrunner actually is. For a while there, Billy Mac's toplines utterly bombed - you can almost see him in his kitchen, sobbing into his cornflakes, as your eyes traverse that mid-July nosedive. But the problem with zillionaire assholes is that it's very hard for them to stop being zillionaire assholes, and they've also probably done quite a few somethings to deserve that reputation in the first place. McCollum's hit Scott hard over his ultra-shady past in the healthcare business, and while we can't say for sure, it seems to have turned the race around. Most recent polls have show McCollum taking back the lead, with PPP's seven-point Scott lead the main outlier.
It's hard to know whom to root for, though. Do we take Scott, with his deeply tarnished background but willingness to spend every last dime, or McCollum, with his coffers depleted but less scandal-plagued and still the establishment favorite? I think we have to be happy no matter what happens. And either way, I can hear the sound of that cat fud tin popping open: McCollum's already saying it would be "very difficult" for him to endorse Scott should he lose. Let's only hope Scott is willing to return the favor! Anyhow, this one was definitely a primary for the ages. God bless you, Florida Republicans. (D)
• FL-Sen (D): Forget the actual Democratic candidates in this race -- the real star of the summer-long Florida Democratic primary saga was not a person, but an inanimate object: Summerwind, the notorious party yacht belonging to billionaire scuzzball Jeff Greene (also known as the Levi Johnston of boats). If there was one factor that helped turn this race upside-down, it was the steady barrage of drug-fueled, vomit-caked, and used condom-strewn stories of Jeff Greene's adventures on the high seas. Those stories, along with a barrage of hits against Greene's shady practices as a derivatives pioneer, have completely stunted Greene's momentum and returned the lead to congressman Kendrick Meek. A Meek primary win undoubtedly complicates things for Charlie Crist, who has to hope that he can marginalize the Democratic nominee in order to drink their milkshake steal their votes in November, but three-way races are notoriously difficult to forecast. (Oh, and as a footnote, technically, ex-Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre is still in this race, but his campaign has been totally eclipsed by the Jeff Greene freakshow.) (JL)
• FL-02 (D/R): Despite that Rep. Allen Boyd is a pretty entrenched Blue Dog facing a potentially hard race in November in this GOP-leaning Panhandle district, the real race to watch tonight is the Democratic primary. Boyd faces a challenge from the left from term-limited state Senate majority leader Al Lawson. Lawson isn't a raging liberal himself (and, unlike many Dem primary challenges this year, Boyd deprived him of a key piece of ammo by voting "yes" on the second round of health care reform), but he's hoping that the fact that the district's Democratic electorate, which is substantially African-American, can keep him competitive with the much-better-funded Boyd. Lawson posted a small lead in an internal poll way back in Nov. 2009, but we haven't heard any polling details about the primary since then. The likeliest GOP nominee is funeral home owner Steve Southerland, whose fundraising has been adequate enough for the NRCC's Young Guns program and who even put out an internal also showing him leading Boyd. However, there are four other even-less-known GOPers standing in Southerland's way in the primary (with David Scholl the best fundraiser of the bunch, although even he hasn't broken into the six digits). (C)
• FL-05 (R): I don't know about you, but I've got a bad case of Cat Scratch Fever, and there's only one cure... a primary victory tonight by the Rock 'n' Roll Sheriff, the Hernando County Madman, the Ten Terrible Fingers of Local Law Enforcement: Richard Nugent. Current Republican Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, facing only an uneventful challenge from teabagger Jason Sager (whose impetus for getting into the race was Brown-Waite's support for Dede Scozzafava!), unexpectedly bailed out on filing day, letting her designated successor Nugent pick up the flag and sneak into office without a top-drawer Republican opponent, of which there are potentially many in this red district. Nugent still has to get past Sager, though; we'll have to see if Sager is beneficiary of people's discontent over the "selection process." (C)
• FL-08 (R): Rep. Alan Grayson should be a tempting target, given his shoot-from-the-hip style and his freshman-in-a-swing-district status, but his huge stash of netroots cash seemed an active deterrent as the NRCC tried vainly to find a top-tier recruit. Eventually, they settled on businessman Bruce O'Donoghue, who had some self-funding potential, as their go-to guy. Unfortunately, one of the other guys they'd been unenthusiastically flirting with, social conservative state Rep. Kurt Kelly, decided he was going to get in anyway, and that was compounded by the fact that attorney/talk radio host Todd Long, who nearly beat then-Rep. Ric Keller in the '08 GOP primary, wasn't going away. Finally, the guy they wanted all along but who initially blew them off, state Sen. Daniel Webster, decided he wanted to run after all, but came back much too belatedly to clear the field or even get much of a fundraising foothold. Webster does have some key backers (Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush), but with not so much as a leaked internal of the primary from any of the players, there's no clue as to whether he'll emerge from tonight's primary. (C)
• FL-17 (D): This nine-way primary to succeed Kendrick Meek has largely been off the national radar - and that's too bad, because it probably represented a good chance for progressive groups to get involved, seeing as it's an 87% Obama district. In any event, the race features several elected officials, a local community figure, and one wealthy self-funder with a proverbial "colorful past," Rudy Moise. The only recent poll of the race was taken on behalf of a group supporting activist Marleine Bastien, which had her at 22, while state Sen. Frederica Wilson was at 21. Moise was back at 10, and Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson was at 9. No one (apart from Moise) has raised much, with state Rep. Yolly Robertson leading the pack at $336K. The Miami Herald has a helpful run-down on each of the candidates in this wide-open race. (D)
• FL-24 (R): National Republicans have run through a succession of favored candidates in this primary, starting with former Winter Park Commissioner Karen Diebel. Diebel turned out to be crazy (in a call to 911 a few years ago, she said political opponents placed a snake in her pool - and were spying on her home and hacking her computer), so attention turned to state Rep. Sandy Adams. Adams, however, turned out to be a sucky fundraiser, so the GOP recruited Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chief Craig Miller, a first-time candidate. Miller has self-funded less than you might have expected (only about $350K), which might explain his last-minute mailer attacking Diebel's sanity over the Snakes In A Pool incident. If Miller hasn't in fact sealed the deal, then race could be very much up in the air, especially since we haven't seen any recent polling. (D)
• FL-25 (R): State Rep. David Rivera, despite a week of horrible press, is still the favorite for the Republican nomination to succeed district-hopping GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, but it will still be interesting to see if any of the ugly headlines will make a dent at the ballot box. First, we learned that Rivera once ran a truck off the road back in 2002 because it was carrying flyers printed for his opponent, in the hopes of preventing it from reaching the post office on time. Next, Rivera's Republican opponents have resurrected allegations that Rivera was involved in a domestic violence dispute. Damaging as stories like those may be, Rivera enjoys a huge fundraising lead over attorney Mariana "Marili" Cancio and Marine Corps veteran and public-relations consultant Paul Crespo. The real fireworks will have to wait for November, where the GOP nominee will face Tea Partier Roly Arrojo, Whig nominee (!!) Craig Porter, and '08 candidate Joe Garcia, who is the heavy favorite to beat union leader Luis Meurice for the Democratic nod tonight. (JL)
• OK-02 (R): The last we checked in on this race, underfunded GOPers Charles Thompson and Daniel Edmonds received 34% and 28% respectively, setting the stage for a runoff. Both candidates seem to have improved their financial position, with Edmonds now able to claim $1,300 in his campaign account and Thompson up to a whopping $13k! Given this, whoever stumbles out of the runoff tomorrow will end up quite the underdog to incumbent (and oft-frustrating) Dem Dan Boren. (JMD)
• OK-05 (R): In the first round, Christian camp director Jim Lankford edged out establishment pick former State Rep. Kevin Calvey, 34-32, a development that left some at NRCC headquarters scratching their heads. Third-place finisher State Rep. Mike Thompson, who earned 18%, has endorsed Lankford and not his former colleague. This just might give Lankford's more grassroots-oriented campaign the extra push it needs to overcome Calvey's financial advantage; since we last checked in, Calvey's plunked out $780k's to Lankfords $415k. While November in this district won't likely be exciting, true SwingNuts would never give up a chance to see egg on the NRCC's face. (JMD)
• VT-Gov (D): Democrats have a challenge ahead of them in knocking off reasonably well-liked Republican Brian Dubie in November, but they have a giant, five-way primary to get through first. The players include former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, state Sens. Peter Shumlin and Susan Bartlett, and ex-state Rep. Matt Dunne. Markowitz and Shumlin have had the strongest fundraising, while Bartlett has raised the least of the major players. Without any public polling of the Democratic primary -- or even a leaked internal -- it's impossible to say what will happen here. (JL)
• Election results: Yesterday's big event was the special election in FL-19, the first real electoral test after the passage of HCR. The allegedly massive opposition to healthcare reform on the part of the district's many seniors never really materialized. Democratic state Sen. Ted Deutch beat Republican Ed Lynch 62-35, with very little falloff from Obama's 65-34 performance in 2008. (Contrast that with John Garamendi's so-so 53-43 performance in November's CA-10 special election, a similarly 65-33 district in 2008.)
I should also pause to offer a little credit to Texas's Republicans, who voted for the less crazy candidates in the Board of Education and Supreme Court runoffs, and in a bigger surprise to me, for the Hispanic-surnamed candidates in the TX-17 and TX-23 runoffs (which, based on incumbent Victor Carrillo's trouncing in the Railroad Commissioner primary, seemed unlikely to happen). The NRCC has to be pleased to see the wealthier and less wingnutty Bill Flores and Quico Canseco emerge. Rep. Chet Edwards, however, is one guy who knows how to stand and fight, and he wasted no time hitting Flores hard and defining him as a carpetbagger in big oil's pocket.
One other leftover issue from last night: two races in California, as expected, are headed to runoffs. In Republican-held SD-12, Republican Assemblyman Bill Emmerson will face off against Democrat Justin Blake (the GOPers combined got more than 60% of the vote, so this is a likely hold), while in safely-Democratic AD-43, Democratic lawyer Mike Gatto will face off with Republican Sunder Ramani to replace now-LA city councilor Paul Krekorian. Gatto seemed to shoot the gap in this heavily Armenian-American district after the two Armenian candidates, Chahe Keuroghelian and Nayiri Nahabedian, nuked each other.
• AR-Sen: Bill Halter's primary campaign gained more momentum, as he picked up an endorsement from the Alliance for Retired Americans, pleased with his time as a Social Security Administration official. One group that really isn't getting on board with Halter, though, is the Berry family; first outgoing Rep. Marion Berry dissed Halter, and now his son, Mitch, is head of a group, Arkansans for Common Sense, that's running ads attacking Halter on the Social Security front. (Are there any Arkansans who are actually against common sense?)
• CO-Sen: Looks like GOP establishment candidate Jane Norton sees the handwriting on the wall and is taking a page from Democrat Michael Bennet's book: not able to rely on getting on the ballot via activist-dominated convention (where teabagger-fueled Ken Buck seems likely to triumph), she's making plans to qualify by finding 1,500 signatures in each of the state's seven congressional districts. Speaking of Bennet, he's still the fundraising kingpin in this race; he just announced he raised $1.4 million last quarter, well ahead of Norton's $816K.
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist may have sounded Shermanesque last week in his determination not to switch to an Independent bid for Governor, but apparently now there's increasing moves within his inner circle to move in that direction. Unnamed advisors are floating the idea to the WSJ today.
• IN-Sen: Dan Coats seems to be having more trouble making the transition from the free-wheelin' world of high-stakes lobbying back to the humdrum electoral politics world, where you actually have to follow the rules and stuff. He's 10 days overdue on filing his finance disclosure reports with the FEC. One note that the Beltway press seemed to miss though: his main GOP primary opponent, ex-Rep. John Hostettler hasn't made his filing yet either. (Of course, fundraising was never Hostettler's strong suit. Or even his weak suit.)
• NC-Sen (pdf): PPP issued its latest installment in polls of the Senate general election in its home state. Maybe the biggest surprise is that incumbent Republican Richard Burr's approvals are just continuing to fall; he's currently at 32/41 (while likeliest opponent Elaine Marshall is in positive territory at 19/11). Also encouraging, I suppose, is that the actual human Democrats are starting to draw even with Generic D (while previous polls have had Generic D far outpacing them), showing they're getting better-defined. Burr leads Generic D 43-38, while he leads Marshall 43-37, and leads both Cal Cunningham and Kenneth Lewis 43-35.
• NY-Sen-B: With ex-Gov. George Pataki's phantom interest in this race finally having been dispelled, Swing State Project is removing this race from its "Races to Watch" list.
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): One more poll in the rapidly-becoming-overpolled Pennsylvania Senate race, this time from Republican pollster Susequehanna. They use an LV model, and find Pat Toomey with a 48-38 lead over Arlen Specter. Of more immediate consequence, they find Specter leading Joe Sestak 42-28 in the Dem primary. They also polled both primaries in the gubernatorial race, finding Dan Onorato seeming to break away from the ill-defined pack among the Dems. Onorato is at 32, followed by Joe Hoeffel at 13, Jack Wagner at 6, and Anthony Williams at 4. Tom Corbett beats down Sam Rohrer on the GOP side, 50-7. After marshaling his resources, Specter is finally starting to open fire; he's up with his first TV ad of the cycle starting today.
• WI-Sen: The only thing that's sure is that Tommy Thompson likes to see his name in the press. There's been a lot of conflicting reporting about Tommy Thompson today, with many outlets running with the story that he's decided against running for Senate (that all traces back to one leak to a local TV station, although it sounds like Politico got some confirmation from an anonymous GOP source). Other outlets are emphasizing that Thompson's spokesperson says that Thompson hasn't made a final decision, though. Either way, Thompson will be announcing his plans at a Tea Party rally tomorrow in Madison, so our pain will be ended tomorrow one way or the other.
• MA-Gov: Here's more evidence for my expectation that Dem-turned-indie Tim Cahill will be running to the right (or at least to the incoherent-angry-working-class-Catholic-guy-position) of the Republican in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race this year. He's appearing at today's Tea Party rally on Boston Common today, the same one with Sarah Palin that Scott Brown ditched (although MA-10 candidate Joe Malone and GOP gubernatorial underdog Christy Mihos will be there). Likely GOP gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker (from the party's old-school moderate WASP tradition) decided against attending, probably out of fears that he might get jostled by some ruffian and spill some of his gin and tonic on his white Bermuda shorts.
• MN-Gov: Two blasts from the past in the Minnesota gubernatorial race. Walter Mondale weighed in in favor of Democratic state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, while a guy I've never heard of named Al Quie, who claims to have been governor from 1979 to 1983, endorsed Republican Marty Seifert.
• NE-Gov: Via press release, the campaign for Democratic candidate Mark Lakers let us know that he took in $314K, impressive considering his late entry to the campaign.
• AL-07: State Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr. got an endorsement from the United Steelworkers, a union that seems to still have a lot of clout in Birmingham, once a major steel town.
• AZ-03: Now here's some news I didn't expect: the fundraising champ in the 3rd isn't one of the many state legislators running here, but rather attorney (and vice-presidential progeny) Ben Quayle. He pulled in $550K in the first quarter, thanks no doubt to family connections. There are a couple other self-funders in the race too, but the elected officials seem to be lagging: case in point, well-known ex-state Sen. Pamela Gorman, who raised only $37K and ends with $23K CoH.
• FL-24: Rep. Suzanne Kosmas announced a haul of $260K for the first quarter. That's less than the $340K reported by her likely GOP opponent, steakhouse mogul Craig Miller (although a slab of his money was apparently carved out of his own personal funds); Kosmas has a big CoH advantage, though, sitting on more than $1 million.
• GA-07: Retiring Republican Rep. John Linder didn't look far to endorse a replacement for him: he gave his nod to his former chief of staff, Rob Woodall.
• HI-01: Sen. Dan Inouye just transferred $100K of his money to the DCCC, despite appearances that they're actively backing Ed Case, rather than Colleen Hanabusa, who has the support of Inouye (and pretty much everyone else in the local Democratic establishment). Inouye has apparently been working behind the scenes, including reaching out to Nancy Pelosi, to get the DCCC to dial back their Case support, so maybe the cash infusion will give him a little more leverage. (Inouye is sitting on $3.2 million and faces little if any opposition this year.)
• IN-03: Nice fundraising numbers from Democrat Tom Hayhurst, who ran a surprisingly close race against Rep. Mark Souder in 2006 and is back for another try. Hayhurst has racked up $234K CoH, more than Souder ($99K in the first quarter).
• IN-05: Politico has a look at Rep. Dan Burton's difficult primary in the 5th, in Indianapolis's dark-red suburbs. While Burton may actually be safer this year compared with 2008 (since he has four opponents instead of just one), the article traces the roots of the local GOP's discontent with him, and also shows the magnitude of his collapse in support: only 2 of the 11 local party organizations are supporting Burton this time.
• MO-08: Another Dem in a dark-red seat who keeps impressing everybody with his tenacity is Tommy Sowers. The veteran and college instructor, who's challenging Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, raised $295K in the first quarter and is now sitting on $675K CoH.
• NM-02: Ex-Rep. Steve Pearce can write himself his own checks if he needs to, but he may not need to at this rate. Pearce raised $277K in the first quarter, and now sits on $708K. Democratic Rep. Harry Teague hasn't reported yet, but in the duel of wealthy oil guys, he can self-fund too if need be.
• NY-14: With Democratic primary challenger Reshma Saujani having some success on the financial front, Rep. Carolyn Maloney got some top-tier help from Barack Obama, who endorsed her and sent out a fundraising appeal on her behalf.
• PA-11: If this doesn't wake up Rep. Paul Kanjorski from his nap, I don't know what will. Three-time Republican opponent Lou Barletta raised $300K in the first quarter. An important caveat: there was no mention of cash on hand, which is telling because Barletta was still saddled with a lot of debt from his 2008 campaign when he decided to run again. (UPDATE: Barletta's CoH is now $205K.)
• PA-17: Republican state Sen. David Argall raised a tolerable but not-too-impressive $125K in the first quarter. He'll need more than that to battle Rep. Tim Holden, who, if nothing else, has great survival skills (he had the worst district of any freshman who survived 1994, and then survived a 2002 gerrymander designed to rub him out). In fact, he'll need more than that just for his primary; heretofore unknown GOP opponent ex-Marine Frank Ryan raised $70K in the first quarter.
• Redistricting: Maryland beat out New York to be the first state in the nation to enact legislation that will, in terms of redistricting, treat prisoners as residents of their last known address, rather than where they're incarcerated (and thus move the center of gravity back toward the cities from the countryside). Also, on the redistricting front, if there's one group of people who are the target audience for a whole movie about redistricting (Gerrymandering), it's the crowd at SSP. The film's director has a diary up, touting its release in two weeks at the Tribeca Film Festival.
• CO-Sen: 50% is a totally arbitrary mark in the Colorado caucus straw poll, and doesn't mean anything from a legal perspective, but Andrew Romanoff's total has fallen below the magic mark as ballots keep getting counted. Romanoff's at 49.9% to Michael Bennet's 41.9% with 20 precincts left to be counted, which, in the battle of perceptions, takes a tiny bit of shiny luster off his victory.
• IA-Gov: Actually, maybe the departure of Jonathan Narcisse from the Democratic gubernatorial primary isn't the good news for Chet Culver that it originally seemed. The gadflyish Narcisse has decided to run as an independent instead, and if he a) gets on the ballot and b) gets any votes, it seems likelier they might come from Culver's column than that of the GOP nominee (although he does talk a lot of shrinking government, so who knows).
• MD-Gov: Prince George's Co. Exec Wayne Curry has occasionally flirted publicly with the idea of a challenge to Martin O'Malley in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and he's popping up with the idea again today. (O'Malley already faces a challenge from the right in the primary from former state Del. George Owings). Meanwhile, Dems are launching some pre-emptive salvos at possible GOP candidate Bob Ehrlich, accusing him of using employees at his law firm to do campaign work for him.
• NY-Gov, NY-Sen-B: Apparently there's been some behind-the-scenes pressure on ex-Rep. Rick Lazio to get out of the GOP governor's primary, where he's aroused little enthusiasm despite having the field to himself for months, and into the Senate race instead -- to clear the way for ostensibly prized recruit Steve Levy, the Suffolk Co. Exec who appears set to change parties and run as a Republican. Lazio says no way is he switching, though, assailing Levy as a liberal Democrat who called the stimulus package "manna from heaven."
• AZ-03: The John McCain/J.D. Hayworth primary fight is turning into one of the main fracture lines in the primary further down the ballot to replace retiring GOP Rep. John Shadegg. Ex-state Sen. Jim Waring and Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker have both endorsed McCain, while former state Rep. Sam Crump backs Hayworth. Former state Sen. Pamela Gorman says she isn't getting involved.
• GA-07: Looks like GOP state Rep. Clay Cox is sitting in the catbird's seat, as far as replacing retiring Rep. John Linder. Not only did his main rival, state Sen. Don Balfour, drop out of the race (and out of politics altogether) yesterday, leaving Cox alone in the field, but now state Sen. David Shafer (who many initially expected to run to succeed Linder) gave Cox his endorsement.
• ID-01: This is terribly disappointing... ex-Rep. Bill Sali called a big press conference today, just before Idaho's filing deadline, to announce something, hopefully another kamikaze run to get his House seat back. (Or why stop there? Why not a primary run against Mike Crapo?) Unfortunately, it was just to endorse state Rep. Raul Labrador in the primary.
• MA-09: Is Stephen Lynch opening himself up to a primary challenge? Despite meeting personally with President Obama, he says that he is "firmly a 'no' vote" on healthcare reform. Lynch has always received strong support from labor, but with unions whipping this vote with unusual fervor, perhaps things might change on that front. (D) Here's one possible explanation for Lynch mugging for the cameras today... Lynch may be thinking about a challenge to Scott Brown in 2012; he sorta-deflected questions on that front.
• NC-08: Tim d'Annunzio, the self-funding Republican who gets treated as the frontrunner in the GOP field to challenge freshman Rep. Larry Kissell, just keeps on pulling hot-headed stunts that threaten his status as a credible candidate. D'Annunzio got into a physical confrontation with Republican state Rep. Justin Burr (no punching, just lots of poking) and then issued a press release attacking the state party chair, Tom Fetzer, for "coordinated personal attacks" in the wake of the incident.
• NY-24: Speaking of strategically-challenged "no" votes, it looks like the Working Families Party isn't bluffing on its threats to cut loose Rep. Mike Arcuri. They're actively recruiting a challenger to run against him on their own ballot line, and the SEIU is supportive of the effort.
• Fundraising: Here's a really interesting chart, which plots the DW/Nominate scores (i.e. ideological position) of Congress members against what sectors of the economy their contributions come from. The results aren't too surprising: motion pictures, professors, printing and publishing, public schools, and lawyers lean the most left (darned cultural elite!) and oil and gas, auto dealers, construction, energy production, and agriculture lean most right. Health care and real estate seem to be smack in the middle.
• AZ-Sen: As the Arizona GOP Senate primary heats up, ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth has pulled in a prominent backer, one of the state's unfortunately most popular politicians: Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio - a hero of the anti-immigrant set who'd been the subject of calls to get into the gubernatorial race this year - wrote a fundraising letter for Hayworth that's being sent around nationally.
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio got two more endorsements today from the GOP's right flank: from Indiana's Rep. Mike Pence, #3 in the House GOP and a favorite of the social values set, and on the economic-conservative side of the party, bathtub-drowning fan Grover Norquist.
• NH-Sen (pdf): A couple different polls are out today in the New Hampshire Senate race, although both from pollsters in the "take with salt" category. UNH looks at the general election, finding a lead for Kelly Ayotte over Paul Hodes that's about in line with most other pollsters: 41-33. Hodes leads the lesser GOPers in the race, though; he beats Jim Bender 36-27, William Binnie 34-30, and Ovide Lamontagne 38-29. What about that thorny GOP primary, though? Republican internal pollster Magellan has some answers, although it's not clear if this poll was on the behalf of any particular candidate. They see Ayotte at 37%, but contrary to that recent R2K poll, they have Binnie in second place at 23% and Lamontagne back at 12. (Binnie seems to be the most moderate in the field, and gained a lot of attention, at least in the Boston media market parts of the state, for running ads on behalf of Scott Brown in Massachusetts.) In case anyone was wondering about the GOP gubernatorial primary, that's in there too, although nobody has any idea who these candidates are: Jack Kimball beats Karen Testerman 18-5.
• AL-Gov: There's one other interesting poll from a Republican pollster of a Republican primary (this time in Alabama); it's from Baselice, and they're explicit about not working on behalf of any of these candidates. Former higher ed system chancellor Bradley Byrne has a narrow lead, and he has a lot of company. Byrne is at 20, followed closely by wingnut judge Roy Moore at 17. Real estate developer (and gubernatorial spawn) Tim James is at 8, state Rep. Robert Bentley is at 4, state treasurer Kay Ivey is at 3, and former Economic Development Dir. Bill Johnson is at 2.
• AL-05: Democrats now have two candidates lined up to go against Parker Griffith (or whatever other GOPer teabags him out of a job): the new one is attorney (and former Air Force JAG) Mitchell Howie. Howie is young and doesn't have electoral experience, but is the grandson of a well-loved local physician. Prominent attorney Taze Shepard made his candidacy official today as well (via press release).
• AL-07: EMILY's List weighed in with an endorsement in the Democratic primary in the 7th. Interestingly, they showed their hand even though there are two women well-positioned in the field - and they went with attorney Terri Sewell, who's something of the moneyed-interests candidate in the race with ties to outgoing Rep. Artur Davis, rather than the more progressive option of Jefferson Co. Commissioner Shelia Smoot.
• AR-02: Add one more Dem to the field in the 2nd, to replace retiring Rep. Vic Snyder. Assistant Attorney General John Adams launched a bid today, although it's unclear whether he'll pose much of an obstacle to state House speaker Robbie Wills.
• AZ-03: One of the widely-expected candidates to run in the open seat vacated by Rep. John Shadegg has decided not to get involved, after all. Shadegg's former chief of staff Sean Noble said he won't run. The field is already top-heavy with Republicans, including former state Sens. Pamela Gorman and Jim Waring (both of whom resigned to run, per state law), former state Rep. Sam Crump, Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, and former Paradise Valley mayor Ed Winkler.
• CO-03: Hat-tip to Daily Kos's Steve Singiser, who, while rummaging through the used-polls bin, found a stale Republican internal poll of the race in the 3rd that hadn't caught anyone's notice before. It points to a close race in the Republican-leaning, mostly-rural district; Democratic Rep. Pete Salazar leads GOP state Rep. Scott Tipton (who lost the 2006 race to Salazar) 46-44.
• NH-01, 02 (pdf): Both of the New Hampshire House races are looking like tossups, according to the same UNH poll mentioned above. In the 1st, they find Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in bad shape against any of her GOP challengers; she loses 43-33 to Frank Guinta, 36-33 to Bob Bestani, 36-33 to Rich Ashooh, and 39-32 to Sean Mahoney. (Of course, UNH repeatedly showed her in a tight spot in 2008 until the closing weeks of the campaign - although without Obama coattails this year, she may not get that late boost.) And in the 2nd, Dems only win one potential matchup: Katrina Swett beats Jennifer Horn 30-26. Swett loses to Charlie Bass 37-30, while Ann McLane Kuster loses to both Bass (39-28) and Horn (28-25). (One other caveat: these are small samples, with 6.2% MoEs.)
• NJ-02: Add Rep. Frank LoBiondo to the long list of establishment Republicans getting a good teabagging this year. Schoolteacher and tea partier Michael Conte will challenge LoBiondo in the GOP primary. Conte seems most put out about LoBiondo's cap-and-trade vote, and supports opening up the Jersey Shore to offshore oil drilling. (Somehow, I can't see that part being popular.)
• TX-14: The epidemic of own-eating on the teabagging right has reached French Revolution proportions, to the extent that now Ron Paul, pretty much the spiritual forefather of the movement, is facing not one but three teabagging primary challengers. Weirdly, one of their knocks against Paul is that he's "too extreme," and also that he's against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... all pretty suggestive that there's nothing "new" about the Tea Party movement, just that it's a catchall for conservative Republicans who are feeling extra-agitated about things.
• TX-32: The DCCC has been stepping up its attacks on Rep. Pete Sessions, maybe in part to keep the NRCC head pinned down a bit, but also because they may sense this is one of the few places where they have a legitimate shot at playing offense. Between the district's rapidly changing demographics, Sessions' ties to Ponzi schemer "Sir" Alan Stanford, a serious primary challenge from a teabagger, and good fundraising from Dem challenger Grier Raggio, there may be some substance to that.
• IL-LG: With Dan Hynes having taken his name out of consideration for the now-vacant LG slot for the Dems in Illinois, Lynn Sweet runs down the top contenders. First on the docket is state Rep. Art Turner, who finished second to Scott Lee Cohen in the primary and now has state House speaker Michael Madigan's stamp of approval. Other possibilities include state Sen. Rickey Hendon, state Sen. Terry Link, or state Rep. Mike Boland (all of whom fared worse in the primary), or if they want to go with a woman, either state Rep. Julie Hamos (who narrowly lost the IL-10 primary, and is now campaigning for the LG slot) or VA Deputy Sec. Tammy Duckworth.
• CfG: A couple more endorsements, as the Club for Growth picked the zaniest of the bunch in a few competitive primaries in dark-red seats that are open. They endorsed former state GOP chair Robin Smith in TN-03, and businessman Mike Pompeo in KS-04.
• NRCC: Here's a good catch from the Boston Phoenix: the NRCC is really putting the "guns" in "Young Guns," as a whopping total of 4 of the 64 members of its offense program are women - with only one, Martha Roby (in AL-02) looking like she's in position to possibly make it through both the primary and general.
• NY-St. Ass.: There are not one, but four, special elections for open seats in New York's Assembly tonight, all resulting from legislators getting elected to something better-paying in November. The Democrats are defending seats in Queens (although there the Republican lineholder is a lifelong Democrat), Suffolk County, and Westchester County, while the Republicans are defending a Nassau County seat.
• Polltopia: More back-and-forth in the discussion over the polls that SurveyUSA performed for Firedoglake, that we may have accidentally triggered (pointing out the dramatically low young-voter composition of the polls). SurveyUSA's Jay Leve responded "vehemently" (Mark Blumenthal's words) to last week's critique from poli sci professor Alan Abramowitz, while Blumenthal offers some interesting graphs showing the disparity between the SurveyUSA numbers and actual Catalist records. PPP's Tom Jensen offered some qualified support for SurveyUSA, though, by pointing out that even if you "weighted up" the youth numbers to the levels seen in Catalist (the Dems' voter database), it wouldn't tend to impact the topline numbers by a significant amount.
• CO-Sen, CO-Gov: After some flirtation with the idea of switching over to the open seat Governor's race, or even endeavoring to become Lt. Governor, former State House speaker Andrew Romanoff announced yesterday that he's going to keep doing what he's doing (despite having made little headway at it so far): challenging appointed incumbent Michael Bennet in the Democratic Senate primary. Romanoff also threw his support to Denver mayor John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial primary.
• FL-Sen: I wonder if we'll see more of this from insurgent Democratic candidates. Former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre, looking for some sort of angle to use against front-running Rep. Kendrick Meek for the Democratic Senate nomination, has come out against the current health care reform plan (although not against HCR in general), calling it "a special interest plan that raises taxes and favors insurance and pharmaceutical companies."
• KS-Sen: The PMA scandal has mostly left House Democrats tarred with its brush, especially crusty old-school guys from that Appropriations clique, like John Murtha and Pete Visclosky. However, it's now expanding to take in a key Republican member on Appropriations - one who's in a tight battle for a promotion to the Senate and can't afford to get besmirched in any way. The House ethics panel is now looking at the links between Rep. Todd Tiahrt's donations and defense earmarks.
• NY-Sen-B: Rasmussen checks out the race that's suddenly on everyone's mind (and that doesn't even exist yet, although Harold Ford Jr. just took a monthlong leave of absence from Merrill Lynch to "explore" the race - I wonder if he'll be doing most of his recon by helicopter). They find numbers very similar to local pollsters Marist and Siena: Kirsten Gillibrand beats Ford, 48-23 (with a surprisingly large 10 for "some other," presumably Jonathan Tasini although maybe it's more just "anybody else, please"). Where Rasmussen parts ways with the other pollsters is Gillibrand's high favorables (and high knowns, period): they have her at 59/27.
• OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Take this with a bag of quick-melting rock salt, if you choose, as it's a poll commissioned by Ohio Right to Life and conducted by Republican pollster Wenzel Strategies. Still, the numbers clock in pretty close to what Rasmussen has been seeing lately. They see John Kasich with a 43-33 lead in the Governor's race, and Rob Portman up in the Senate race: 37-31 over Lee Fisher and 40-35 over Jennifer Brunner.
• MD-Gov: One more poll, and it actually shows a Democrat in reasonably good shape. Incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley is up 9 points against the GOP's best possible offering, potential candidate ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich, 48-39, according to local pollster Gonzales Research. (Gonzales saw it an 11-point race last September.) O'Malley's approvals (46%) could use some improvement, but considering that Ehrlich hasn't sounded likely to get in (although he might be doing a rethink given last night's events), there are certainly many other races higher on the worry-about list.
• AL-05: If Rep. Parker Griffith thought he'd be welcomed with open arms into the Republican fold, well, he's got another thing coming. The only good news for him from last night's meeting of the Madison County (i.e. Huntsville) Republican Executive Committee was that, in the end, they decided not to attempt to get Griffith removed from the primary ballot as a Republican. The real question of the meeting, though, was whether it would be better strategy for Republicans to try to beat him in the primary or via an independent candidacy in November.
• AR-02: Democratic candidates who sound committed to running to replace retiring Rep. Vic Snyder are already piling up - and we haven't even gotten to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter or ex-Gen. Wesley Clark yet. State House Speaker Robbie Wills today stopped short of saying he's running, but says he's "excited" about running. State Sen. Joyce Elliott also sounds very likely to run, while Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie is in the "seriously considering" stage.
• AZ-03: On the other side of the aisle and of the country, Republicans from the deep local bench are piling into the open seat race in the 3rd, vacated by Rep. John Shadegg. Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker is ending his long-shot gubernatorial campaign and heading over to the 3rd, and he's being joined by state Sen. Jim Waring (who's dropping his state Treasurer campaign to do so). They join already-in state Sen. Pamela Gorman and state Rep. Sam Crump.
• IL-10: State Rep. Julie Hamos and Dan Seals continue to split key endorsements in their primary fight for the Democratic nod in the open 10th. Hamos got the endorsements of both the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, while Seals picked up the smaller-circulation Daily Herald's endorsement.
• ND-AL: Add one more confirmed name to the list of GOPers sniffing out the at-large House seat in North Dakota, hoping John Hoeven's Senate bid gives them some coattails against the entrenched Democratic incumbent, Rep. Earl Pomeroy. Former House majority leader Rick Berg kicked off his campaign yesterday.
• TN-04: Rep. Lincoln Davis has been pretty much assured a bumpy ride, thanks to Tennessee's rapidly-reddening status. He got a new Republican challenger today, in the form of attorney Jack Bailey. It's unclear whether the never-before-elected Bailey will be stronger than physician Scott DesJarlais (or can even get past him in the primary), but he's a former Hill staffer (ex-CoS for Missouri Rep. Scott Akin) so he probably still has a full Rolodex for fundraising purposes.
• TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron keeps looking like he'll have an easy path to the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner. Former state Rep. Phillip Pinion, an oft-floated name, said he wouldn't get into the race.
• OR-Init: Oregon voters have a chance to deal a major setback to the coalescing conventional wisdom that voters prefer service cuts to tax hikes to plug state budget gaps, with Measures 66 and 67. The state legislature passed raises in the $250,000-plus tax bracket and certain corporate income taxes, which are now subject to a people's veto (via an all-mail special election with a deadline of Jan. 26). Well-regarded local pollster Tim Hibbitts, paid for by a coalition of local media, finds both measures passing: 52-39 for 66 and 50-40 on 67.
• Mayors: One other election result from last night: Jefferson Co. Commissioner William Bell defeated attorney Patrick Cooper in a runoff, to become Birmingham, Alabama's new mayor, 54-46. Cooper had won the most votes in the general, but Bell seemed to consolidate previously-split African-American votes.
• Polltopia: One more interesting follow-up on the increasing democratization of polling (on the heels of yesterday's piece by Mark Blumenthal): the Hill looks at the increasing move by groups like Firedoglake and the PCCC toward commissioning polls - and even has an anecdote about PPP's Tom Jensen getting berated by a nameless Beltway person for broaching the unmentionable and polling potential alternatives to Harry Reid.
• Social media: At some point during the flurry of activity yesterday, Swing State Project shot past 1,000 Twitter followers (gaining more than 100 yesterday alone). Not a follower yet? Check us out. You can also receive SSP updates via Facebook, if you're one of those Luddites who like to read things that are longer than 140 characters.
Believe it or not, the world continues to turn today, even outside Massachusetts...
• Site News: A minor site change: We've had to disable HTML on user bio pages (like this one). We apologize if this winds up killing your links or spewing ugly HTML characters in your bio, so you may want to edit yours if so. You can still post links - they just won't be HTML-ized. The reason we did this is because spammers have been exploiting the bio pages to post links to their own sites. It's easy for us to catch them when they post comments or diaries, but harder to stop them from creating new accounts. This takes away their incentive. Suck on it, spammer scum! (D)
• NV-Sen: I don't know what you envision when you see "probe" and "John Ensign" in the same sentence, but this is rich: the FBI is getting involved in the investigation, indicating this may go beyond the Senate Ethics Committee, headed in the direction of a criminal inquiry. The Feds have been contacting former aides about the Hampton affair.
• NY-Sen-B: Ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. just seems to be digging his self-inflicted hole deeper, as he runs damage control from the NYT profile that portrayed him as a helicopter-riding, pedicure-getting richie-rich. For his new interview with the Daily News, he insisted that it be limited to his rationale for running, not "issues" (issues, of course, are for the little people). Still, that contrasts with his defense of the pedicure thing, about which he said: "This race isn't about feet, it's about issues." Meanwhile, observers are wondering if Al Sharpton (who has endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand) is telegraphing a potential switch in sides.
• IA-Gov: Ex-Gov. Terry Branstad is out with an internal poll showing him in commanding position in the Republican primary as he seeks to regain his old job, despite the discomfort some social conservatives have with him. Branstad polls at 62%, followed by Bob Vander Plaats lagging at 18%, with Christopher Rants at 4 and Rod Roberts at 2.
• IL-Gov: Next door in Illinois, though, where things don't seem quite as settled in the Republican primary, three different candidates are citing polls that claim to have them in the lead. State Sen. Kirk Dillard has an internal that has him leading at 22, with state party chair Andy McKenna at 14 and ex-AG Jim Ryan at 10 - which is odd, since the Chicago Tribune's poll several weeks ago gave Ryan a substantial lead and saw Dillard in fourth place. McKenna also claims to have a poll with him in the lead, although he didn't even bother giving any details. Dillard seems to be the "moderate" horse in the GOP race, with endorsements from ex-Gov. Jim Edgar, Rep. Judy Biggert, and even the Illinois Education Association (hopefully only as far as the primary goes).
• TX-Gov: Rasmussen is out with fresh polls of the Texas governor's race, and this time, they're even doing the general, now that it got competitive, with the entry of Democratic Houston mayor Bill White. As one might expect, both incumbent Rick Perry and GOP primary rival Kay Bailey Hutchison lead White, and KBH overperforms Perry. Hutchison leads White 52-37, while Perry leads 50-40. (In the unlikely event White faces off against Paulist activist Debra Medina, he wins 44-38.) More interestingly, Medina seems to be getting a serious foothold in the GOP primary, which seems like it has the potential to push the Perry/Hutchison battle to a runoff, keeping Perry below 50%. Perry leads Hutchison and Medina 43-33-12.
• MI-Gov, MI-13: The amazingly brief gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Hansen Clarke ended yesterday, after about one week in existence. It seems like party insiders steered him in a different direction, saying that he's been offered big financial support if he takes on vulnerable (in a primary) Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick instead, and he says he's strongly considering that race now. Kilpatrick (mother of embattled former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick) nearly lost a 3-way primary in 2008.
• AZ-03: One aspiring House Republican didn't wait long to announce her run to fill the recently-vacated seat of Rep. John Shadegg. State Sen. Pamela Gorman announced her campaign.
• MI-07: One more race that hasn't drawn much scrutiny yet but where it looks like Dems will have to play hard defense is in the 7th. Freshman Rep. Mark Schauer faces a rematch with ex-Rep. Tim Walberg, who is now promoting his own internal poll showing him with 46-37 edge over Schauer. There's been some establishment skepticism over whether the polarizing Walberg is "electable" enough, which may really be the point of the poll: it also shows attorney Brian Rooney, the supposedly more palatable (but currently less-known) GOPer, trailing Schauer 39-31.
• PA-04: Republicans are banking on former US Attorneys to get them back a few House seats in the Keystone State, and they got one of their desired recruits. Mary Beth Buchanan, one of the chief enforcers among the "loyal Bushies," has apparently decided that she'll take on Rep. Jason Altmire in the GOP-leaning 4th in Pittsburgh's suburbs, and may announce her candidacy later this week.
• WV-01: The NRCC had hoped to put a scare into longtime Democratic incumbent Alan Mollohan, frequently drum-beating his name as a potential retirement. Unfortunately for them, Mollohan has filed his paperwork to seek a 15th term in Congress. (J)
• OH-Lt. Gov: Ted Strickland announced today that he's tapping ex-Franklin Co. Judge Yvette McGee Brown to be his running mate. Brown is the president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy, a Columbus organization based at the Nationwide Children's Hospital. (J)
• Mayors: Another election to keep an eye on is a runoff for Birmingahm's next mayor. The seat became vacant in October upon the conviction of Larry Langford on corruption charges. Langford and other insiders have endorsed William Bell (who currently holds Langford's former seat on the county conmission). Naturally, Patrick Cooper is running against Bell on a change platform. The campaign has been full of nasty accusations and innuendo with many glad it's coming to an end. (T)
• Polltopia: Mark Blumenthal looks at the rapidly reducing cost of polling, and only sees even more of a proliferation of it in the near future as robo-calling gets within the reaches of the masses, even the crazy bloggers. Even Rasmussen is getting into the act, with plans to spin off a new service that will allow anyone to poll on anything for a fee of $600. That leaves Blumenthal wondering how to screen in the future for proper quality and against abuse of time-honored standards.
• MA-Sen: With last night's Suffolk poll, there really can't be any doubt any more that the Massachusetts Senate race qualifies as a "Toss Up," so we're changing our rating to reflect that. There's still room for skepticism on whether Scott Brown can in fact pull it out, given not only the difficulty of pinning down a likely voter universe in a rapidly-fluctuating special election, but also the Democrats' structural advantages on the ground in the Bay State. (The Democrats have the advantage of labor and local machines long-skilled at rousting out voters and getting them to the polls, while it's questionable whether the Republicans have, given their long neglect of the state, any ground troops to deploy here, or even up-to-date, refined voter databases.) Nevertheless, given what can actually be quantified, right now the polls balance out to more or less a tie, and that's how we have to treat the race.
The breaking news du jour is that Barack Obama has finally agreed to head up to Massachusetts and stump for Martha Coakley on Sunday. Also, the Coakley campaign is rolling out a second ad for the weekend, to go with their ad showcasing the Vicki Kennedy endorsement; they're also running a populist-themed ad on Wall Street regulation (specifically, the rather narrow issue of the proposed bonus tax on banks). The ad deluge is being bolstered a League of Conservation Voters ad buy for $350K; on the third-party front, that's being countered by a pro-Brown ad buy for $500K from Americans for Job Security.
• CA-Sen: Yesterday I was musing about whether ex-Rep. Tom Campbell's entry into the GOP Senate primary hurt Carly Fiorina or Chuck DeVore more, and we already seem to have an answer. The Campbell camp is touting an internal poll showing them with a sizable lead over both Fiorina and DeVore in the primary: Campbell is at 31, with Fiorina at 15 and DeVore at 12. The few polls of the primary so far have shown Fiorina and DeVore deadlocked in the 20s, so maybe it's safe to say that Campbell hurts them each equally.
• FL-Sen: Which of these is not like the other? There's a new multi-candidate GOP fundraising PAC called the U.S. Senate Victory Committee, which benefits seven different Republicans: Kelly Ayotte, Roy Blunt, Jane Norton, Rob Portman, Rob Simmons, Pat Toomey... and Marco Rubio? Six establishment candidates, and one insurgent. Or is Rubio the new establishment?
• PPP (pdf): PPP looks all the way to 2012 as part of their wide-ranging Nevada survey, and finds that John Ensign may weather his whole giving-a-patronage-job-to-the-cuckolded-husband-of-his-mistress thing, if he runs again. Ensign trails Las Vegas mayor (but probable 2010 gubernatorial candidate) only Oscar Goodman 43-41, but leads Rep. Shelly Berkley 49-40 and SoS Ross Miller 47-36. Of course, Berkley and Miller aren't that well-known yet and would presumably gain ground in an active 2012 race, but again, more food for thought on the idea that Republicans really don't get the vapors over sex scandals after all, so long as they're perpetrated by Republicans.
• MN-Gov: The St. Paul Pioneer Press is out with a poll of Minnesota voters (by a pollster I've never heard of, Decision Resources Ltd.). The poll seemed most focused on the question of whether there should be public funding of the new Vikings stadium, but it did throw in (almost as an afterthought) something we haven't seen before: general election head-to-heads in the Governor's race. The numbers are pretty encouraging for the Democrats: ex-Sen. Mark Dayton leads ex-Sen. Norm Coleman 41-31, and state Rep. Marty Seifert (who, assuming Coleman doesn't get in, is the likeliest GOP nominee) 41-25. State House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher beats Coleman 33-31, and Pat Anderson (who dropped out of the race this week) 33-23. There weren't any numbers for Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, another strong contender for the Dem nod. And yes, if you're wondering, this does take into account the potential spoiler role of Minnesota's Independence Party; IP candidates account for 11 to 13 percent of the vote in each of these trial heats. (H/t alphaaqua.)
• NH-Gov: One other gubernatorial poll has good news for Democrats, and it even comes from Rasmussen. They find incumbent Gov. John Lynch in safe position with 58/38 approvals and, against his no-name opponents, leading social conservative activist Karen Testerman 53-30 and businessman Jack Kimball 51-32.
• OH-Gov: Who knew that John Kasich had the power to transcend the boundaries of space and time? In an effort to court the GOP's restive base, Kasich said "I think I was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party."
• WY-Gov: One more big-name Republican (by Wyoming's small standards) is getting into the gubernatorial race, banking on the assumption that incumbent Dem Dave Freudenthal won't jump through the legal hoops necessary to run for a third term. Auditor Rita Meyer is getting into the race, where potential GOP primary rivals include former US Attorney Matt Mead and state House speaker Colin Simpson.
• AL-05: Rep. Parker Griffith is showing his true colors. The party-switcher has been turning away requests for refunds of contributions that don't meet the requirements buried in the fine print: he says he can't refund donations for the 2008 cycle, only the 2010 cycle, because the 2008 contributions were spent long ago.
• AR-02: Rep. Vic Snyder is in pretty dire shape, if a new poll from SurveyUSA is to be believed: he trails Republican candidate and former US Attorney Tim Griffin by a 56-39 margin. You may want to take this poll with a grain of salt, as it was paid for by Firedoglake, who seem to have an axe to grind in the health care reform debate, and the Snyder numbers seem to be less the main point than engaging in strangely-right-wing-sounding message-testing. The good news is that, even after a variety of anti-HCR arguments have been offered (and Nate Silver does a fine job of picking apart the survey), Snyder doesn't fare much worse (at 58-35); the bad news, though, is that the 56-39 topline question was asked before any of the litany of anti-HCR talking points, suggesting that, HCR or no, we have a major problem in Arkansas.
• AZ-03: Despite Jon Hulburd's surprising cash haul, he may have bigger company in the Democratic primary to replace recently-retired Republican Rep. John Shadegg. Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon is the subject of speculation; he had briefly considered a 2008 run against Shadegg before ruling it out, saying his post-mayoral future would be in the private sector, but all eyes are on what he does now. (Gordon lives slightly outside the district's boundaries.) On the GOP side, there's no clear frontrunner at all. State Rep. Sam Crump has already said he's running. Possible other candidates include state Treasurer Dean Martin (who would have to drop down from the gubernatorial bid he just launched this week), state Sens. Pamela Gorman and Jim Waring, Phoenix city councilor Peggy Neely, former ASU football star Andrew Walter, and, in a shocker, the co-founder of Taser International Inc., Tom Smith. Former state House speaker Jim Weiers has taken himself out of the running.
• NC-11: Businessman Jeff Miller has reversed course and will run against Democratic Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler in the 11th. Miller had been recruited to run, but decided against it; he'll have to face a primary against Hendersonville mayor Greg Newman, who got in after Miller initially declined.
• OH-15: The Ohio GOP is still searching for an Auditor candidate after Mary Taylor decided to run for Lt. Governor instead of re-election. Former state Sen. Steve Stivers has been asked to run for Auditor, but made clear he'll be staying in the race in the 15th (where he might actually have better odds, considering how close he came to Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy last time).