AR-Sen: The Big Dog is coming back home to stump for Blanche Lincoln, the first time he's done so this race. Meanwhile, the SEIU just tossed in another $100K for phonebanking and another $100K for field on behalf of Bill Halter. (There's also an amusing negative $100K entry for "reverse phonebanking.")
CA-Sen: Chuck DeVore is as insane as this ad. A true must-see. In news of the normal, President Obama kept to his promise to return to CA for two more Barbara Boxer fundraisers. The events raised $1.75 million, $600K of which will go to Boxer and the balance to the DSCC.
KY-Sen: Heh, that was quick. Rand Paul is already planning the dreaded "staff shakeup." The only problem is that he can't fire himself. Barring that, Mitch McConnell is telling his least-favorite fellow Kentuckian to shut the fuck up and hide under a rock - "for the time being."
PA-Sen: I agree - this is a magnanimous move. Arlen Specter introduced Joe Sestak to his Senate colleagues at their weekly lunch yesterday. Very gracious.
AL-06, AL-07: Unsurprisingly, corporate lawyer Terri Sewell is the only Democrat airing TV ads in the primary to succeed Rep. Artur Davis, spending about $200K so far. With $783K, she's far outraised her chief competitors, Earl Hilliard, Jr. ($328K) and Shelia Smoot ($100K). Sewell can also count among her contributors Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
Crazily, though, ten-term GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus is also airing ads in advance of his primary in AL-06, some $70K worth. Bachus has spent an amazing $680K on his campaign so far, even though his challenger, teabagger Stan Cooke, has raised just $29K total. This is the reddest district in the nation according to Cook PVI (R+29), which may explain Bachus's anxiety, since he is the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee and voted in favor of the bailout.
AR-01: A similar situation in AR-01 as in AR-02 below, where first-rounder David Cook endorsed the somewhat less-conservative Chad Causey over the extremely conservative Tim Wooldridge in (you might be a little surprised to hear me say this if you don't already know the names) the Democratic runoff.
AR-02: Some runoff endorsements on both sides from the also-rans. Patrick Kennedy and John Adams (great names, huh?) both endorsed Robbie Wills in the Democratic race, while David Boling endorsed Joyce Elliott. I suspect national Dems would prefer Wills over the more-liberal Elliott, but this race is probably too touchy to get involved in.
DE-AL: Joe Biden returned home to do a fundraiser in Wilmington for John Carney. No word on whether he'll also do one for Senate candidate Chris Coons, but it's not like it's a big schlep.
FL-25: The statewide Florida AFL-CIO, following the lead of its South Fla. branch, endorsed little-known longshoreman Luis Meurice in the Democratic primary, rather than Joe Garcia. The union, Florida's biggest, backed Garcia in 2008.
IN-05: This is exactly the kind of weird that Dave Weigel specializes in. Tim Crawford, the teabagging "Democrat" who snuck to victory in the Democratic primary here, abruptly dropped out of the race after an unpleasant meeting with, you know, actual Democrats... and then wrote a long, rambly email saying he was un-dropping-out. Ah well.
IN-09: Speaking of Joe Biden, he'll also be doing a fundraiser in late June for Rep. Baron Hill in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
NC-08: I would really freakin' love to see Tim D'Annunzio pull this one off. The entire NC House GOP delegation just collectively endorsed former TV sportscaster Harold Johnson, terrified as they are of the spastic-fantastic Tim-diana Jones. If you don't know what I'm talking about, click here stat.
RI-01: Scott Brown is coming to Rhode Island for a fundraiser with state Rep. John Loughlin, the GOP's candidate in this open seat. To date, Loughlin's raised about $344K, which might not seem too bad, but in fact he's been running for a long time, since well before Rep. Patrick Kennedy announced his retirement.
VA-11: Businessman Keith Fimian has a new poll from McLaughlin & Associates showing him with a 36-23 lead over Fairfax Co. Supervisor Pat Herrity in the GOP primary. A March poll had Fimian up 29-17. Herrity had his own poll out last month, though, showing him with a 42-21 lead - and pointed out that Fimian claimed his internals had him just three points behind Gerry Connolly before election day 2008, but lost by twelve.
DSCC: Uh, good, I guess. The DSCC has cancelled plans to have EPA chief Lisa Jackson headline an NYC fundraiser next week - but what a retarded idea in the first place. It seems pretty inappropriate to me to have cabinet members doing hackwork like this (can you imagine Hillary Clinton or Eric Holder shilling for dollars?), but it's even worse when you're talking about the head of the EPA in the midst of the oil spill crisis in the Gulf. I also find it unctuous that the original invitation promised that the event would be "intimate, so each of you will have a real opportunity to get to know and to speak to Lisa about issues of concern to you and our nation." Pretty gross when it's our team selling access to the ultra-wealthy. Barf.
Ideology: Alan Abramowitz has a great piece up at the Democratic Strategist, looking at the correlation between ideology (as measured by DW-NOMINATE) and election performance by Republican senators. Using a modified eight-point DW-N scale, Abramowitz finds: "For every additional one point increase in conservatism, Republican incumbents lost an additional three percentage points in support relative to their party's presidential candidate." But shhh... don't tell the Republicans!
Talk Business, a multi-format Arkansas newsmagazine, is conducting a whole bunch of polling on the state's congressional primaries. They are using an outfit I'm not familiar with, with the memorable name of "The Political Firm." They look to be a Republican pollster, but I don't know if they have any skin in the game (or if Talk Business has any axe to grind).
In any event, Talk Business says all the polls were taken April 6-7th, were of registered voters (sort of an unusual choice, given that the primary is on May 18th), and are unweighted. TPF says it uses IVR (aka robopolls). Talk Business also promises two more rounds of polling before the primary.
CA-Sen: No one does weird-ass like Carly Fiorina, who has another web video out that hails from the land of the bizarre.
CO-Sen: Seventh CD Rep. Ed Perlmutter has endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet over Andrew Romanoff in the Dem primary.
FL-Sen: It looks like Marco Rubio is finally starting to come in for some serious scrutiny. The St. Pete Times has a lengthy examination of the corporate money that has flowed Rubio's way, and the irregularities which have riddled his campaign finance reports.
IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias says he's going to return all campaign contributions from, as Politico puts it, "accused bank fraudster Nick Giannis and his family."
IN-Sen: Ah, this is good. Dan Coats is trying to run as hard as he can against the bailout... but back in 2008, he was lobbying the government on behalf of a hedge fund which owned 80% of Chrysler - a huge recipient of bailout funds. (He didn't do a very good job, it seems, considering that the fund, Cerberus, has its equity stake wiped out.) As Texas Dem astutely noted the moment Coats rumors started flying, "Usually retired senators get rich in some unseemly way that makes them unelectable in the future." Sure looks like the case here.
NY-Sen-B: I hope all those Democrats who supported Mike Bloomberg over the years are happy: The NYT has an in-depth look at Bloombo's hostility to Kirsten Gillibrand, and all the candidates he has tried to push into running against her. The latest is his own girlfriend, Diana Taylor. The Times fails to find any rational reason for why His Bloominess has chugged so much haterade, but devtob points out that they ignored a key item: Bloombo was a big backer of Caroline Kennedy, who of course was snubbed in favor of Gillibrand.
RI-Sen: Don't look to retiring Dem Rep. Patrick Kennedy to share any of his spoils with the DCCC. Calling his decision not to seek another term in the House more of a "sabbatical" than a retirement, Kennedy says he plans to transfer his $500K campaign purse into an interest-bearing account, just in case he should need it for a Senate campaign someday. This is total bullshit. (Thanks to SSPer Andrew for this one.) (JL)
ID-Gov: Dem Keith Allred has made it official. Allred, a former Harvard professor, had spent five years running a non-partisan "citizens group" called The Common Interest which he left to pursue a gubernatorial run.
MI-Gov: Virg Bernero locked down another big union endorsement: the AFL-CIO took a vote, and it was "overwhelming" (their words) in Bernero's favor. The United Auto Workers union, itself a member of the AFL-CIO, had already gotten behind Bernero, but now the entire umbrella organization (which also includes AFSCME, IBEW and AFT) is doing so. Bernero's been running exactly the sort of populist campaign his supporters would have hoped, lately proposing that Michigan establish a state-run bank, modeled after the Bank of North Dakota.
NM-Gov: Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez won the support of 47% of the delegates at the state GOP convention this past weekend, while former NM Republican Party chair Allen Weh pulled in 26%. Pete Domenici, Jr. took less than 5%, but still plans to file petitions to get on the ballot. Because Martinez and Weh got over 20%, they only have to file half as many signatures, but as Heath Haussamen points out, no candidate who hasn't scored 20% at the convention has ever come back to win the nomination.
OH-Gov: A voluminous auditor's report on the demise of Lehman Brothers was published last week, documenting all of the company's shady financial practices which led to its doom. Why does this matter to the Ohio governor's race? John Kasich was a managing partner at Lehman for several years, right up until the bitter end in 2008. Ted Strickland is putting some pointed questions to Kasich, whose response so far has been extremely feeble.
FL-08: Sarah Palin's gotten mixed up in the race to take on Rep. Alan Grayson, firing some broadsides at the Democrat during a recent trip to Orlando. Grayson did not let this challenge go unanswered.
KY-03: Tacked on to a Louisville mayoral poll, SUSA included a sort of unusually-worded question about Dem Rep. John Yarmuth's re-elects. They asked voters if they would vote for or against Yarmuth "no matter who else is on the ballot," with a not sure "until I know who else is on the ballot" option. Yarmuth scored 27-23-48. It still seems that Yarmuth's only challenger so far is a dude who owns a bunch of Pizza Huts.
NY-14: EMILY's List has finally done something right: They're endorsing Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a longtime advocate for women's issues, in her primary fight against Some Dude Reshma Saujani.
NY-23: After months of sounding pretty serious about a bid, state Assemblyman Will Barclay has decided to pass on a race against Dem Rep. Bill Owens. Barclay's exit greatly improves the chances of Club For Growth nutter Doug Hoffman in the GOP primary, where his main rival now appears to be investment banker Matt Doheny, who lost the special election nomination to Dede Scozzafava last fall. (JL)
OK-05: The Republican primary to succeed Mary Fallin in the House just gets bigger and bigger. State Rep. Shane Jett is now the sixth candidate in a field that includes state Rep. Mike Thompson, former state Rep. Kevin Calvey, and Some Other Dudes. (JL)
IL-Lt. Gov: The 38 members of the IL Dem central committee will hold interviews with prospective candidates around the state next week and then pick a replacement Lt. Gov. nominee on March 27.
• AZ-Sen: This is good news! For J.D. Hayworth! The right-wing anti-immigrant vote in the GOP primary isn't going to be split. Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox ended his bid and endorsed Hayworth, not having gotten much traction on the polling front even before Hayworth's entry. In a close race, though, Simcox's few percentage points could make all the difference for Hayworth. Bad news, for the GOP, though, is that Hayworth and John McCain are planning to go all Mutually Assured Destruction on each other in the primary, with Hayworth threatening that if McCain brings up Abramoff, he'll bring up the Keating 5. Dems really need a marquee candidate here to be poised to seize the smoldering ruins.
• CO-Sen: Andrew Romanoff is rolling out more endorsements, as he seems to be finally getting his primary challenge to Michael Bennet into gear in the wake of recent polling showing him outperforming Bennet in the general election. He's claiming the endorsement of more than two-thirds of the Democrats in the state House, including current majority leader Paul Weissman, as well as state Senate majority leader John Morse and former House speaker Ruben Valdez. Romanoff, of course, is a former House speaker himself, so he's got an 'in' with the legislative types.
• NV-Sen: I wonder if this is the break that'll save Harry Reid's butt in November? (Especially if Sue Lowden winds up winning the GOP nomination, as she's public enemy number 1 to the state's Paulists.) The "Tea Party" has filed a "Certificate of Existence" (where can I get one of those, for whenever people doubt that I exist?) in Nevada, and will have its own candidate on the ballot in November. Jon Ashjian will reportedly be their candidate; the question still remains just how big a bite he takes out of the Republican column, though. In addition, there will also be a Reform Party candidate on the ballot and as many as five independents.
• NY-Sen-B: Mort Zuckerman? Really? Maybe he's taking a page from friend Michael Bloomberg and realizing that, with enough money, any political office is within reach for a restless billionaire. The 72-year-old Daily News publisher and real estate baron is considering a race against Kirsten Gillibrand, although there's no indication of which party label he'd use. He's known as a Democrat, but it seems likely he'd pursue either an independent or Republican bid to avoid the Democratic primary (where Harold Ford Jr. already seems to be occupying the turf Zuckerman would need in order to win).
• CT-Gov: Here's the top facepalm news of the day: Ned Lamont has hired a campaign manager as he officially kicks off his gubernatorial campaign, and he hired Joe Abbey, last seen... wait for it... helming Creigh Deeds' campaign.
• FL-Gov: This doesn't sound very promising either, as the St. Petersburg Times looks at the growing sense of torpor surrounding the Alex Sink campaign. Sink has had little trouble fundraising and a so-so GOP opponent, but operatives are starting to worry she's walking a Martha Coakley-ish line on focusing on insider connections and with a lack of interest in mixing it up with voters or even developing a resonant message.
• PA-Gov: The GOP state party endorsements came with a lot less drama than the Democrats', seeing as how they've had their candidates locked down for most of a year. AG Tom Corbett easily got the endorsement for governor over state Rep. Sam Rohrer, which was widely expected although it still piqued Rohrer's handful of right-wing supporters. The most drama was actually for the #2 slot; Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley managed to win the Lt. Governor endorsement on the second ballot out of a crowded field. On the Democratic side, Philadelphia-based state Sen. Anthony Williams is still expressing some interest in the race, although he's set a very high bar for entry for himself. He's sitting $1 million already, and he says if he can get that figure up to $4 million in the next few weeks, he'll jump in.
• TX-Gov (pdf): There's yet another poll out of the Texas gubernatorial primaries, from a coalition of newspapers, most prominently the Austin American-Statesman. It's right in line with the other polls out recently, with Rick Perry at 45, Kay Bailey Hutchison at 29, and Debra Medina at 7. (They don't poll runoff matchups, or the Dem primary.) Houston mayor Bill White continues to make this a competitive race for the Dems in the general: he trails Perry 43-37, and Hutchison 42-34. Meanwhile, Debra Medina (who recently seemed to blunt any late momentum by revealing her truly kooky side) may have some good company, in the form of Democratic candidate Farouk Shami: he came out with some statements putting him in truther-curious territory as well. Shami is also about to announce the invention of a blow dryer that actually grows hair. (Why aim low, for merely Governor, if that's true? If it's really true, he's about to become a trillionaire.)
• AZ-03: I'm not sure if this is the family name you really want, when running for office, but a new candidate is in the GOP field in the open seat race in the 3rd: Ben Quayle. The 33-year-old attorney, who hasn't run for office before, is the son of former VP and frequent punchline Dan Quayle.
• FL-24: With the former CEO of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chain, Craig Miller, planning to run in the 24th, Democrats are spotlighting his opposition to tougher laws on drunk driving. (As a restauranteur, he would have a financial interest in getting that extra drink into his guests.) "Once 0.08 becomes law, why not 0.05 or 0.02?" he asked in a 2000 interview.
• MA-10: The William Delahunt retirement rumors aren't going away, and now Glenn Thrush points to a Delahunt-out/Joe Kennedy III-in/Delahunt-endorses-Kennedy master-plan in the works. Kennedy, a Barnstable County prosecuting attorney, isn't the only Kennedy of his generation who's a possible House candidate; Politico helpfully provides a scorecard of various other Kennedys who might run for higher office in the future. At any rate, even if Joe III doesn't wind up in the next Congress, it's likely Congress won't stay Kennedy-free for very long.
• OK-05: There's one less Oklahoma Republican in the primary for the open seat in dark-red OK-05. Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud cited non-life-threatening health concerns in dropping out of the race, although he plans to keep serving in his current job. Six different GOPers are in the field (perhaps most notably, former state Rep. Kevin Calvey), but no Dem has gotten in yet.
• PA-03: One other dropout from a crowded GOP field, this time for the right to take on Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper in the 3rd. Tom Trevorrow, an ophthalmologist who made a splashy entrance recently with a big serving of self-funding and some expensive consultant hires, ended his bid just as quickly, citing his father's illness.
• RI-01: A couple big names have already gotten into the race to replace retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the biggest possibly being Providence's mayor David Cicilline (who surprised many by turning down a gubernatorial run this year). Cicilline would be the fourth openly-gay member of Congress, if elected. He'll have to get past William Lynch in the primary, though; Lynch, the brother of AG and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Lynch, just resigned as the state's Democratic party chair in order to run. Pretty much every prominent Democrat around is also listed as a possible candidate: Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts (who also decided against a gubernatorial run), ex-Rep. Bob Weygand (of RI-02, who lost the 2000 Senate race to Lincoln Chafee), ex-LG Charles Fogarty, and even state Rep. Betsy Dennigan, who's currently running a primary against Rep. James Langevin over in RI-02. (Rhode Island seems like Hawaii, where the boundaries between the two districts seem like they're of little practical importance.) On the GOP side, state Rep. John Loughlin is already in, while former Cranston mayor and Senate candidate Steven Laffey and state party chair Giovanni Cicione are also mentioned.
• TN-08: Everyone has pretty well coalesced around state Sen. (and until recently, gubernatorial candidate) Roy Herron to try to hold retiring Rep. John Tanner's seat. Democratic state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh just announced that he wouldn't run, and in a somewhat encouraging sign, said that his own polling showed that he wouldn't have trouble getting past the various Republicans seeking the seat in the R+3 (but historically Democratic) district. Instead, he didn't see a way past Herron in the primary.
• VA-05: PPP has some follow-up on its previous general election poll of VA-05, looking at the GOP primary, which has the potential to be one of the biggest flashpoints in the establishment/teabagger schism. For now, chalk this one up to the establishment: state Sen. Robert Hurt leads at 22 (leading among both moderates and conservatives), with Albemarle Co. Commissioner Ken Boyd at 12. The various members of the teabagging rabble all poll in the low single digits. With 51% still undecided, though, this is still anyone's game once the ad wars begin.
• CA-LG: So, Arnold Schwarzenegger dialed down his banana-republic dictator act from last week, deciding to resubmit Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado for appointment as Lt. Governor, rather than deciding to swear him in despite not getting enough votes in the Assembly to confirm him. The legislature has another 90 days to decide what to do with him.
A Democratic official says Rep. Patrick Kennedy has decided not to seek re-election for his seat representing Rhode Island in the U.S. Congress.
The official spoke to The Associated Press only on the condition that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak ahead of the official announcement. ...
Patrick Kennedy has been in and out of treatment for substance abuse since crashing his car outside the U.S Capitol in 2006. Still, he has been comfortably re-elected twice since then, after making mental health care his signature issue in Washington.
Kennedy sought treatment as recently as the middle of last year, so his recurring problems may be a reason for his decision to depart. It's also worth noting that a recent poll pegged his re-elects at a not-so-hot 35-28. Republican state Rep. John Loughlin had already announced a challenge to Kennedy; he has $110K in the bank. Presumably, many names will line up on the Dem side, as this D+13 district gave 65% of its vote to Barack Obama and 62% to John Kerry.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov: There have been rumors about this before that didn't pan out, but based on the amount of chatter out there, it's seeming very likely all of a sudden: ex-Rep. Tom Campbell sounds poised to drop his gubernatorial bid (where he's been polling well, but is way financially outgunned) and move over to the Senate race. He sounds likely to announce this on Thursday, seeing as how he has said he will be appearing at a Los Angeles County GOP event then, but "not as a candidate for Governor." Weirdly, this could wind up helping Assemblyman Chuck DeVore in the Senate primary, as Campbell was one of three ostensible moderates (with no right-winger) in the Governor's race, but now Campbell and Carly Fiorina will be splitting the moderate vote in the Senate primary, potentially letting ultra-conservative DeVore crash the gate.
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio has been winning his fair share of county GOP straw polls lately, but this one was more eagerly awaited than most, because it's Charlie Crist's home county. Rubio continues his winning streak, winning the straw poll in moderate-leaning Pinellas County (home of St. Petersburg) by a 106-54 margin.
• IL-Sen: This seems like a good get for David Hoffman, as he seeks to make up some ground on Alexi Giannoulias in the Senate primary: he got the Dem primary endorsements of both Chicago's major papers, the Tribune and Sun-Times (although getting the endorsement of the more conservative and anti-machine Tribune doesn't seem odd for Hoffman, given his reformist message). On the GOP side, Rep. Mark Kirk got an endorsement from one of his fellow moderates from the state delegation, downstate Rep. Timothy Johnson.
• MA-Sen: If you were thinking, in the wake of a couple good polls in Massachusetts, that it was safe to unbuckle your seatbelt and resume walking around the cabin, guess again. Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, taking a page from the Paulists, used the one-day "moneybomb" technique to good effect, raking in $1.1 million and basically ensuring he'll be able to stay on the air up until Election Day. Brown has yet another TV spot up on the air, in response to Coakley's first negative ad; Brown's firing back with the ol' "tsk, tsk on you for going negative" approach. Between the contradictory polls, Brown's fundraising, and other signs of life (like a Boston Herald endorsement for Brown - although that's not a surprise from the conservative Herald), the Beltway Dems have decided to leave nothing to chance, and are getting more involved, as the DNC is sending in some ground troops, and the DSCC is ponying up for $567K for more ad time for Coakley - meaning, in its own way, that the GOP already won a moral victory here by getting the DSCC to pry open its checkbook.
• NH-Sen: I don't know if anyone really cares one lick about what former Vice-President Dan Quayle is up to these days, but he popped up long enough to endorse Ovide Lamontagne in the GOP Senate primary in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, wealthy businessman Bill Binnie is tapping his own personal money to get a head start on the ad wars in the NH primary, with an introductory bio spot.
• NV-Sen: For a while there, it was looking like Harry Reid was even starting to have some trouble within his caucus, as Russ Feingold publicly criticized Reid yesterday over his insensitive language regarding Barack Obama, wondering out loud if he should continue as Majority Leader. Feingold dialed it back a little today, though, saying that he supports Reid staying on it that role. With Chris Cillizza today joining many other pundits in wondering if the fork is ready to be stuck in Reid, there comes word (buried in a longer Politico story), via anonymous sources, of a "a whisper campaign in Nevada that it would be possible for him to step aside and find someone else who could win."
• NY-Sen-B: Ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. is beating the Senate drum a little louder today, saying in a New York Post (interesting choice of venue) that he's "strongly considering" the race. In an interview with Chris Mathews, he also had his version of the "Ich bin ein Berliner" moment, enunciating that "I am a New Yorker, I am a New Yorker." (Although I believe, in the local dialect, that's pronounced "Hey! I'm a fuggin' New Yorker here already, now step off!")
• MA-Gov (pdf): Hot on the heels of the MA-Gov poll from the Boston Globe comes another one from PPP, part of its MA-Sen sample. Their sample finds incumbent Dem Deval Patrick in slightly worse position than the Globe (with an awful 22/59 approval), although he's still in the lead. Interestingly, this poll also sees the Republicans in much better shape than the Globe did, as independent candidate Tim Cahill slouches into third place here. Patrick leads GOPer Charlie Baker and Cahill 29-27-21, while in a Patrick/Cahill/Christy Mihos three-way, Cahill moves into second with a 28-25-21 outcome. (This certainly points to the composition difference between the PPP sample, which may have overweighted Republicans, and the Globe/UNH sample, which may have overweighted Democrats. The Senate special election results may give us a clue which of these MA-Gov polls is closer.) PPP also tested Democratic SoS William Galvin as a replacement for Patrick, finding little difference, with a 26-26-18 race among Galvin, Baker, and Cahill, and a 26-22-20 race among Galvin, Cahill, and Mihos.
• MN-Gov: The Republican field in the Minnesota governor's race may actually be dwindling down into the single digits, as things sort themselves out. Former Auditor Pat Anderson is dropping her gubernatorial bid, and instead is looking at a return to her old job. She'll be running against Democratic incumbent Rebecca Otto, who unseated Anderson in 2006.
• RI-Gov: Things are getting pretty dire for the Reupblicans in Rhode Island, where former Cranston mayor (and 2006 Senate primary candidate) Stephen Laffey decided for the second time that he isn't going to run for Governor. With businessman Rory Smith's dropout, the GOP still has nobody here, although salvation may be coming in the form of current Gov. Don Carcieri's communications director, John Robitaille, who is filling the gap by filing as a candidate. (Robitaille's only political experience is losing a state Rep. race in 2006.) Meanwhile, Josh Goodman has been wondering if independent candidate Lincoln Chafee, while a former Republican, might actually run to the left of the Democrat in this race (telegraphed by his statements on possible tax hikes). A local consultant tells Goodman that Chafee may in fact get labor backing on the race, perhaps depending on which Dem Chafee faces. (Chafee might get labor support if he's against Treasurer Frank Caprio, although the more liberal AG Patrick Lynch would probably have a lock on labor support if he survives the Dem primary.)
• LA-02: The prospect is lessening for a free-for-all Democratic primary in New Orleans for what's likely to be an easy race to defeat GOP incumbent Rep. Joe Cao. State Rep. Cedric Richmond seems to be locking down establishment support as a consensus candidate here, and that was underscored by an endorsement from former Sen. John Breaux. Fellow state Rep. Juan LaFonta is still in the primary, but state Rep. Karen Carter Peterson (who took Bill Jefferson to a runoff in 2006) is running for state Senate instead of LA-02, and none of Richmond's 2008 primary opponents seem to be getting in the race.
• PA-06: After earlier vows that he wouldn't get out the GOP primary in the 6th despite the re-entry of incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach, yesterday state Rep. Curt Schroder saw the fundraising-related handwriting on the wall and got out of the race. With former Revenue Secretary Howard Cohen and Lower Merion Twp. Commissioner Scott Zelov already having stood down, that leaves only self-funder Steven Welch and several some-dudes in Gerlach's way.
• RI-01: Maybe he's been comparing notes with Jim Traficant on how to restart your political career after spending several years in prison. Republican former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci, fresh off of four and a half years in jail over criminal acts while mayor, is now considering a challenge to Rep. Patrick Kennedy.
• VA-09: Despite having dodged a bullet with state Del. Terry Kilgore deciding against a run, Rep. Rick Boucher may still have to avoid some incoming fire in November. The state House's majority leader, Morgan Griffith, said he's "considering" the race and may get in if someone stronger doesn't. (Since the only other person who's probably stronger is state Sen. William Wampler Jr., and it doesn't sound like he'll run in the 9th, as he's probably banking on a Republican takeover of the state Senate soon, in which case he'd become Finance chair, it may in fact fall to Griffith.) Griffith does have one slight problem: he doesn't live in the 9th, although he's apparently within walking distance of the district lines.
• FL-CFO: Florida Democrats finally found a CFO candidate to help round out their slate of candidates: former state Rep. Loranne Ausley, who decided on a CFO run and ended her state Senate bid. The bigger implication is that state Sen. Al Lawson - who's flirted off and on with a CFO bid - is probably staying for good in the FL-02 primary now. (Interestingly, Ausley, like Lawson, hails from the Tallahassee area.)
• OH-Auditor: Buzz in Ohio is that incumbent Mary Taylor (the only statewide Republican right now) is going to drop a bid for another term as Auditor and run as John Kasich's running mate for Lt. Governor instead. This probably strengthens Kasich's bid against incumbent Dem Ted Strickland... but an open Auditor seat is also good news for the Dems, as Hamilton Co. Commissioner David Pepper was already running a strong race against Taylor. Remember that the Auditor is one of the seats on Ohio's state legislative redistricting board, so an Auditor pickup would compensate there for a loss at Governor or SoS (but not both).
• MT-St. Sen.: The Missoulian has a very early look at prospects in the state legislature in Montana. Because of the open seat situation in the Senate, Democrats might have a shot at retaking that body (the GOP controls 27-23). Of the 25 seats up this year, 16 are held by Republicans and 9 by Democrats, with a total of 15 of the 25 being open seats.
• VA-St. Sen.: Two special elections are on tap for tonight, one of which is very interesting. The 37th, a swingy area in suburban Fairfax County, was left vacant by new Republican AG Ken Cuccinelli; it's being contested by Democratic Del. Dave Marsden and Republican former Fairfax Co. School Board member Steve Hunt. There are echoes of the gubernatorial race here, as Marsden is running a moderate-enough campaign that he may be at risk of losing the base's interest, while Hunt is trying to downplay controversial social conservative remarks from his past. Hunt has an internal poll showing him up, and Dem enthusiasm may still be down thanks to the post-Creigh Deeds hangover, so the GOP seems poised to eke this one out, helping them to keep holding the Dems to a narrow 21-19 edge in the Senate. The other race is in the solid-red 8th in Virginia Beach, where GOP businessman Jeff McWaters should have little problem beating Democratic Bill Fleming to replace Republican Ken Stolle, who just became Virginia Beach Sheriff.
• NRCC: The NRCC bumped up four more challengers in their "Young Guns" framework today, most prominently a move to "Contender" (the 2nd of three tiers) for Jim Renacci, challenging Rep. John Boccieri in OH-16. Also entering at the lowest level ("On the Radar") are former FBI agent Mike Grimm, running in NY-13, state Sen. Dan Debicella, running in CT-04, and state Rep. John Loughlin, running in RI-01 against Rep. Patrick Kennedy. That last entry may seem like the longest of long shots; it may in fact be more of a deterrent by the NRCC to keep Buddy Cianci (see above) from running here, and the accompanying bad PR that would go with that.
• Redistricting: Martin Frost's former CoS, Matt Angle, is the center of Democratic efforts to un-gerrymander Texas's House map after the 2010 census. Roll Call looks in depth at how he's built a complex fundraising network that's primarily aimed at Democratic gains in the state House (where they are down only 77-73), so Dems can get a better share of the four seats Texas is expected to add.
• Grant money: People with a professional interest in studying Congress might want to apply for research grants available from the Dirksen Congressional Center. It sounds particularly oriented toward graduate students and fellows, but I'm sure some of SSP's readership fits that bill.
Live from SSP World Headquarters in New York City, it's your daily Daily Digest!
• CA-47: The GOP has heavily touted Assemblyman Van Tran, who is waging an uphill campaign against Rep. Loretta Sanchez in this D+4 district. Tran, however, may face an additional hurdle: businessman & veteran Quang Pham, who just filed papers. Politico explains that there is "lingering anger with Tran's role in a bitter contest for a Board of Supervisors seat in 2007, where Tran denounced the winning candidate as a communist."
• S. Fla.: A couple of entries for the Where Are They Now? files. Joe Garcia, who ran against "Super" Mario Diaz-Balart in FL-25 last year, just accepted an Obama administration job - he'll become Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact for the Energy Dept. Meanwhile, Annette Taddeo, who took on Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in FL-18, has declined to run for CFO to replace the outgoing Alex Sink.
• FL-08: No need for me to summarize: "After saying for weeks that he would let people know by the Fourth of July whether he plans to run for Congress next year, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty has left town on a holiday cruise without making a decision." What a wank.
• FL-12: Despite the GOP's effort to clear the primary for state Rep. Dennis Ross in this open seat being vacated by Rep. Adam Putnam, Polk County Comm'r Randy Wilkinson formally announced his candidacy late last week.
• IL-Sen: Looks like Illinois Republicans are growing tired of waiting for Capt. Kirk to beam back from the planet Vulcan. NRSC officials are meeting with Plan B, aka IL GOP chair Andy McKenna. McKenna previously sought this seat in 2004, coming in fourth in the Republican primary, well behind Dairy King Jim Oberweis. Crain's Chicago Business charitably explains McKenna "never has had much of a following among the party's conservative reform wing."
• NH-Sen: It's starting to look like Sarah Palin is Kelly Ayotte's political mentor in more ways that one. First, Ayotte announces she's going to quit her current job in the middle of her term. Then, responding to the fact that she pledged to complete her entire four-year appointment, she offers this incoherent non-answer:
"I would say that at the time of my reappointment no one could have predicted the political future. The political landscape has changed drastically since then. Clearly the intent was to continue serving, but I think in fairness no one could have predicted the changes that have occurred on the political landscape.
Maybe she was just too busy reading all the magazines to make any sense.
• NJ-Gov: Jon Corzine is up with a new negative ad. Meh. It doesn't do it for me.
• OH-Sen: Haven't we heard this before? SoS Jennifer Brunner has penned a 1,300-word post on her website decrying the "insiders" who supposedly want her out of the primary... and back in May, she also sent a letter to supporters saying she wouldn't quit the race. I don't know why she feels the need to keep saying this. Also, in a sign that things are only likely to get worse before they get better, she includes this flourish: "If this race for the U.S. Senate is about the trappings of insider politics, then I suspect Lee Fisher will be your man." Gonna be a long year.
• OK-01: Rep. John Sullivan, who just returned to work after a monthlong stay at an alcohol rehab facility, said that he would seek re-election. Rep. Patrick Kennedy is also back after receiving similar treatment.
• PA-Sen: Chris Cillizza reports that the AFL-CIO "will almost certainly weigh in" on the expected Specter vs. Sestak primary, but isn't giving any hints about whose side they'll take.
• WI-07: It looks like another former "Real World" contestant is gearing up for a run for Congress. Last cycle, Kevin Powell (season one) got crushed by Rep. Ed Towns in NY-10, but is apparently back for another round. Meanwhile, out in Wisconsin, Real World-er Sean Duffy (season six) is weighing a challenge to Rep. Dave Obey. There is one thing Duffy must remember.
We're going to try out a new feature for weekday afternoons here at Swing State Project: four or five links to various items that we want to get out there but don't feel like investing a diary's worth of effort on. Enjoy the bullet points! (We encourage you to add your own bullet points in the comments, and otherwise treat this as an open thread.)
• UT-Sen: Daily Kos polls the 2010 Utah Senate race, where the action appears to be in the primary, but Bob Bennett looks safe for another 6 years. Bennett beats David Leavitt 44-23 in the primary, and, in the general, manhandles Rep. Jim Matheson 55-32 and Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings 57-21, not that we should expect either of them to run.
• OH-Sen: A third Dem has jumped into the primary field for the 2010 Senate race: state representative Tyrone Yates. He doesn't have the stature of Fisher or Brunner, but as the only African-American and only Cincinnati-area candidate, he may well complicate things.
• WA-08: The first Dem challenger has announced, and it's another wealthy ex-Microsoft executive, Suzan DelBene. Don't look for her to have the field to herself this time, though.
• MN-Sen: In an indication that the Coleman camp has exhausted every possible legal argument that can win in court, he's moved onto arguing that it was basically a tie so let's just have a do-over election. Not the kind of thing that someone who has a hope of winning in court ever says.
• Census: The Congressional Black Caucus is pushing the White House to keep the Census within its portfolio even though reliable Dem Gary Locke will now be taking over at Commerce.
• Blogospheria: Blogger brainpower (including Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, Markos Moulitsas, and Nate Silver) and union bucks come together in the new Accountability Now PAC. The goal is to pressure (and where there's a good target, primary) bad Dems and create more space for good Dems to maneuver on the left.
• RI-01: Republican state representative John Loughlin is strongly considering a suicide mission against challenge to Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy got 69% against no-names in his last two elections, but apparently his approval ratings are softening.
• HI-01: In another district where you might be surprised to know there's an elected Republican, Honolulu city councilor Charles Djou has announced his candidacy for HI-01, which is expected to be vacated by Neil Abercrombie as he goes for governor. Djou claims the endorsement of every Republican in Hawaii's legislature (all 7 of them).
• NC-Sen: Former state treasurer, and gubernatorial primary loser, Richard Moore won't be getting involved in the Dem primary to take on Richard Burr in 2010. The field looks clearer for AG Roy Cooper.