• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon says that she hasn't "made up my mind yet" but that she is "leaning in [the] direction" of another senate run. As Daniel Kelly, ED of the state Dem party rightly points out, she can swamp the GOP field in the primary with her zillions, but she'd be the same tainted goods in the general as she was last year - and, I would add, this time, she'd be running in a blue state in a presidential year. Good luck, lady!
Meanwhile, another much-lesser-known Republican, state Sen. Scott Frantz, says he won't "rule out" a senate bid, but that he has "no plans to run."
• FL-Sen: Obama alert! Barack Himself (and DSCC chair Patty Murray) will host a March 4th fundraiser for Sen. Bill Nelson in Miami Beach, with proceeds to be split between the Nelson campaign and the DSCC. I draw two things from this bit of news. First, if you're facing a competitive race and want presidential help, it's a good idea to live in a swing state. Second, it's nice to see that Nelson isn't shying away from Obama.
On the GOP side, the St. Petersburg Times has an interesting (and lengthy) profile of likely senate candidate Connie Mack. Mack is a hardcore conservative, but remember - it's not just about how you vote, it's about how you belong. And Mack has taken a few stances that put his tribal membership into some doubt, such as "supporting stem cell research, defending WikiLeaks and denouncing Arizona's tough immigration law as Gestapo-like." Still, with the possible exception of the Arizona law, these are mostly second-order concerns for teabaggers, and Mack would still probably have to be considered the favorite in any primary.
• ME-Sen: If Olympia Snowe is going to get teabagged, we finally have a potential name that's a notch of above Some Dude: wealthy real estate developer Eric Cianchette (a cousin of former Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Cianchette) is reportedly considering the race. But the guy who originally broke the news, Dennis Bailey, says that Cianchette may actually be having second thoughts and considering another race.
• NV-Sen: Ah, the blind quotes are out to get John Ensign. "One Republican lobbyist" says he (and everyone else) is supporting Dean Heller, while "another Republican lobbyist" says he's pushing John Cornyn to have Ensign fitted for some new Ferragamo cement wingtips. On the flipside, one lobbyist with an actual name, Kenneth Kies (who is supporting Ensign), claims "Cornyn's been clear that he doesn't get involved in these things." I guess when you're a Republican lobbyist, you are either very good at believing things which aren't true or at least just saying them out loud.
• FL-Gov: Usually, when the headline is "Criminal Behaves Like Criminal," it's not really news. But when that criminal is the sitting governor of Florida, it is. Zillionaire creepster Rick Scott followed through on a campaign promise to sell one of the state's two planes. The problem is, he used the proceeds from the sale to pay off the lease on the other plane - and, says Republican state Sen. J.D. Alexander, it's up to the legislature, not the governor, to decide how to appropriate state funds. It's kind of amazing how frequently Rick Scott has already gotten on the wrong side of his fellow Republicans during his very short tenure. Actually, when I said "kind of amazing," I meant "totally predictable and expected." Florida is damn near turning into a cat fud factory.
• AZ-08: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Adam Smith are hosting a fundraiser for Rep. Gabby Giffords on March 15th in DC.
• FL-25: When Republicans vetted Rep. David Rivera, they must have used the same crew of CHUDS and mole-people who blessed Bernie Kerik's bid for homeland security chief. Now comes word that in just a few short years, Rivera funneled at least $817,000 to a consultant and "close friend," Esther Nuhfer, through an often-complicated series of arrangements that remind me of a South Florida version of BMW Direct. Ferinstance, Nuhfer's firm raised an astounding $1 million for Rivera's state senate campaign (before he switched over to the FL-25 race)... but he burned through $700K by February of last year, and at least a quarter mil of that went to Nuhfer. Also, this.
• IN-02: Jackie Walorski is now saying she'll decide whether to see a rematch against Joe Donnelly (who himself may not run again) in a "couple of weeks." She also says she has no interest in running for Senate or Secretary of State.
• NY-26: I doubt this matters much, since there won't be a primary here, but Kieran Lalor's conservative Iraq vets PAC is pushing one of their own for the GOP nomination: David Bellavia. Even though Assemblywoman Jane Corwin appears to be the frontrunner, Bellavia will be interviewed by local party leaders.
• OR-01: This is deeply, deeply disturbing. Days before the election last year, David Wu's staff confronted him and "demanded he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment." He refused, and went on to win re-election anyway, but as you know, he faced a staff exodus earlier this year. Read the article for the full (and scary) details - excerpting it won't do it justice. Wu seriously has got to go - and has to get the help he needs. Blue Oregon has more.
• PA-10: Did someone crack out of turn? Last week, Steve Israel said he didn't want to talk up potential recruits for 2012 lest they get pre-redistricted into oblivion in 2011. Former Rep. Chris Carney seems like exactly the sort of person who would fall into that category, yet an unnamed source told Politico's Dave Catanese that Carney was just in Washington to meet with DCCC officials about a potential rematch with Tom Marino. Now the GOP will probably try to find a way to move Carney's house to the District of Guam.
• Philly Mayor: 2007 candidate and richie rich Tom Knox said he might change his mind and run in the Democratic primary once again, rather than as an independent (which is what he previously claimed he would do). He says he's waiting on the results of a poll to decide - I like the honesty! He'd face incumbent Michael Nutter in the primary if he chose that route. Also, Milton Street, bother of Nutter's two-term predecessor John Street, said he's getting in the game, too.
• Nassau Co. Exec: On the list of doomed Republicans, Nassau Co. Executive Ed Mangano ranks pretty high. He ran his super-wealthy county's finances into the ground almost immediately after his upset victory over Dem Tom Suozzi in 2009. Just a few weeks ago, the state took control of the county's finances. Now, Mangano is lashing out against unnamed enemies like sweat-drenched victim of night terrors. He's running a campaign-style ad in which he attacks "opponents." Yeah, "opponents." NWOTSOTB, of course, but he's got quite a few more years to keep digging this Death Valley-depth hole down to Dead Sea levels.
• NRSC: Like a bunch of mathletes tired of being picked last for everything in gym class, it seems that Republican senators have managed to give just about everyone who wants one some kind of title down at the No Homers NRSC clubhouse. My favorite are "low-dollar chairs" Johnny Isakson and Kelly Ayotte.
• AK-Sen: The state of Alaska is intervening in the Joe Miller state-level lawsuit over the counting of write-in votes, asking for an expedited ruling. They'd like the whole thing to be over and done with by Dec. 9, so that there's no delay in seating Alaska's next (or same) Senator. The state's filing also, amazingly, says that the court should find for the state "unless Miller provides proof to back up claims of fraud." Actually provide proof of something?!? Sounds like a bunch of lib'rul elitists with all that emphasis on "facts," instead, of y'know, common sense.
• IN-Sen: Richard Lugar is pretty much daring a tea-partier challenge at this point, gladly painting his own target on his back with his own paintbrush. He was the only Republican up in 2012 who voted "no" on the proposed earmark ban that didn't pass the Senate yesterday. (Seven other GOPers voted no, but they aren't up this cycle and are from the already out-and-proud porker side of the party anyway, like Lisa Murkowski and Thad Cochran.) Perhaps most galling to the teabag set, Lugar actually invoked Article I of the Constitution in doing so.
• MI-Sen: While everyone waits on Peter Hoekstra to see if he runs, a random rich guy who's been a big behind-the-scenes donor for the Republicans is making some noises about a 2012 bid against Debbie Stabenow. Tim Leuliette has been "considering" the race and calling around to gauge support. Interestingly, his job until October was CEO of an auto parts distributor, Dura Automotive; wonder how he'll spin the Obama administration's auto industry bailout (without which he'd probably be wearing a barrel and selling pencils on a street corner).
• WA-Sen: I know everyone here likes maps (especially maps with lots of blue on them), so here's an interesting one that shows just what any Republican running statewide in Washington is up against: it's a precinct-by-precinct map of the three Puget Sound counties (King, Snohomish, and Pierce) showing how they voted in the 2010 Senate race. Seattle (which is about 10% of the state's total vote) has simply become the nut that's impossible for Republicans to crack; Patty Murray got 82% of the vote there, and lost 1 out of 960 precincts.
• LA-Gov: A survey from Southern Media & Opinion Research (mmmmm... smores) shows Bobby Jindal's popularity coming down to relatively normal levels from its extreme highs back of his initial years, just in time for his re-election bid in 2011. He has a 55% approval, compared with 77% in 2008, and his re-elects are 39/35, not that there's much of a compelling Democratic bench here anymore to take advantage of those undecided voters. Interesting post-script: the survey was paid for by random rich guy Lane Grigsby, whose individual IEs almost single-handedly defeated Don Cazayoux in LA-06 in 2008.
• MN-Gov: After a second day of recounting in Minnesota, nearly 70% of all the votes have been accounted for. The SoS is saying that Mark Dayton is now down 38 votes from the Election Day totals while Tom Emmer is down 1 (and not going to make up that nearly 9,000 vote margin at this rate). Mark Dayton's team, however, is claiming a net gain of 205 in the recount based on allocation of ballot challenges. Sensing that the recount isn't doing anything to change the outcome, Emmer's team is starting to change the topic to post-recount litigation, perhaps focused on allegations that "reconciliation" (matching the number of votes to the number of voters in each precinct) wasn't properly done. Dayton has raised $1 million so far purely to fund the recount, and Emmer isn't far behind in fundraising.
• VT-Gov: Brian Dubie isn't looking like a likely candidate for the GOP for 2012, as he's taken an informal post in the administration of his former foe, incoming Dem Gov. Peter Shumlin. He'll be the state's de facto "ambassador" to its big neighbor to the north, Quebec. In comments, doug tuttle has a list of potential other GOP challengers next cycle, with Dem-turned-GOPer state auditor Tom Salmon at the top of the list.
• NY-01: It looks like we're finally getting some movement on the challenged ballots part of the equation in the 1st, which is all that remains to be resolved. The tally will begin today, with slightly over 2,000 ballots to be decided (although both parties, meeting with a local judge, have agreed to withdraw around 200 challenges and proposed another 200 withdrawals -- including the notorious challenge to a group of 31 SUNY-Stony Brook students). Tim Bishop's lead is currently 215 votes, and the majority of the challenges have come from Randy Altschuler's camp. UPDATE: Based on today's activity so far, Bishop's camp is actively pushing the journalistic powers-that-be to call the race. Bishop's camp says he picked up an additional 20 votes today. There's also a stack of 162 valid ballots that haven't been added to the count yet that will add another 12 to Bishop's lead. Altschuler has only 1,149 challenges remaining, 649 of which are based on residency.
• OR-St. Sen.: Ordinarily, a recount in a state Senate race, at this point, would be too far down in the weeds for even our purposes. However, when it has the potential to flip the chamber, it's worth a mention. The GOP is seeking a recount in SD-3, centered on Ashland in southern Oregon, where incumbent Dem state Sen. Alan Bates beat Dave Dotterrer by 275. It's outside the auto-recount margin where the state would pay for it, but the cost is only $15K-$25K for the state GOP, so it's low risk, possibility of high gain: if somehow they turn the result around, it'd drop the chamber to a 15-15 tie instead of the 16-14 current Dem advantage.
• Mayors: As far as mayoral races go, Chicago seems to be taking up all the oxygen, but there's a number of other important ones this year. Denver was already scheduled to be up this year in May, but it takes on new importance with popular incumbent John Hickenlooper about to take over as Governor (at which point the deputy mayor will take over for five months). One candidate with a locally-big name has already announced: state Sen. Chris Romer (son of former Gov. Roy Romer).
• Passages: Finally, condolences to the friends and family of Democratic ex-Rep. Stephen Solarz, who represented parts of Brooklyn from 1974 to 1992 and who just died at age 70. Solarz was a major force in foreign policy circles until check-bouncing and redistricting brought his ascendancy to an abrupt end. If you haven't already read Steve Kornacki's fascinating profile of Solarz -- including his relationship with Chuck Schumer, and the confirmation that, no matter how big a deal you are within the Beltway, all politics is ultimately local -- read it now.
• AK-Sen: Joe Miller lost yet another courtroom round yesterday, although this one was kind of inconsequential from a legal standpoint: he'd wanted his court challenges to the election to be held in his town of Fairbanks, but the venue will be the state capital, Juneau, instead. In most states that wouldn't be a big deal, but given the difficulty of getting from one town to the other, that provides one more logistical disincentive for Miller to continue his lost cause.
• FL-Sen: After having spent every day for the last two years laboriously typing out "Alexi Giannoulias" over and over, now I'm going to have to get used to "Mike Haridopolos." The newly minted Republican state Senate President is already acting Senate-candidate-ish, doing the DC circuit today, including a visit to the all-powerful US Chamber of Commerce.
• ME-Sen: Maine-area tea partiers are breathlessly telling everybody that they've found a primary challenger to Olympia Snowe who is "credible" and has the financial resources to become an "instant contender." The problem is, they're stopping there and not saying specifically who the mystery person is, although an announcement allegedly will happen in early 2011. (UPDATE: There's one useful piece of news buried deep in the article, actually: Chellie Pingree says she won't run for the Dems for this seat in 2012.)
• MO-Sen: This may be the most interesting news of the day: despite a likely run from a former one of their own (Jim Talent), the NRSC is actively encouraging Sarah Steelman's interest in the race, with John Cornyn assuring her that they'd stay neutral in a Talent/Steelman primary. As a former state Treasurer, she seems to have more credible chops than the Sharron Angle/Ken Buck axis that cost the GOP a couple seats this year, but still has enough credibility with the tea partiers so that it looks like the NRSC isn't trying to shove them back in the attic; they probably also think a female candidate might match up better against Claire McCaskill.
• MN-Gov: The numbers didn't budge much during the first full day of the Minnesota gubernatorial recount (where Mark Dayton leads by just shy of 9,000): Dayton gained 20 votes, while Tom Emmer lost four, after 44% of the ballots were recounted yesterday. Emmer challenged 281 ballots; Dayton challenged 86. While there weren't any write-ins for "Lizard People" this time, there was one vote cast for "Who Farted?"
• MO-Gov: Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's interest in running against his boss, Dem Jay Nixon, has been pretty clearly telegraphed for years already, but he's starting to make that look more tangible. He now says he won't run for another term as LG, and he also appeared at last week's RGA conference in San Diego.
• NY-01: Tim Bishop lost some minor ground with the counting of military ballots in the last House race still undecided. There weren't very many of them, but they broke pretty heavily in Randy Altschuler's way: 44-24. Bishop's lead is now apparently 215.
• WA-08: Maybe this one is better filed as "WATN?" Suzan DelBene, who narrowly lost to Dave Reichert, has landed on her feet; she was just appointed by Chris Gregoire as the new director of the state Dept. of Revenue. It's unclear, though, whether this is intended to raise her statewide profile and give her some governmental experience for future runs, or if this takes her off the table for a 2012 run in WA-08 (or hypothetical WA-10).
• NY-St. Sen.: Democratic state Sen. Antoine Thompson conceded to GOP challenger Mark Grisanti yesterday in the Buffalo-based SD-60. That means there are 31 GOP-held seats in the New York Senate; to get to a 31-31 tie, the Dems will need to hold both Suzi Oppenheimer's SD-37 (looking likely) and Craig Johnson's SD-7 (not looking likely, as he trails by several hundred, with the exact number not clear yet). (Or alternately, they could, as occasionally rumored, flip Grisanti, who was a Dem up until when he ran for the race and will essentially need to be one in order to be re-elected.) Thompson's loss is, in fact, pretty mystifying -- I knew this was a Dem-heavy district, but it went 77-22 for Obama (the equivalent of D+24 based on just 2008 numbers)! Ordinarily, a Dem would have to be under indictment or in dead-girl/live-boy territory to lose in that kind of district; in fact, everyone seems mystified, but the theory is that an upsurge in white votes in that district motivated by the candidacy of local fave Carl Paladino pushed Grisanti over the hump (although there are claims (we don't have the data to confirm yet) that Andrew Cuomo still managed to win in the 60th, which would tend to counteract that theory).
• State legislatures: We already mentioned four party-switchers from the Dems to the GOP in the Alabama legislature, following the change in the majority there, but there's also a handful of other changes to mention (though not as many changes as we saw in 1994): 13 changes in 5 states. That includes 5 in the Georgia House and 1 in the Georgia Senate, 1 in the South Dakota Senate, 1 in the Maine House, and in 1 in the Louisiana House (which had the consequence of officially flipping the chamber to GOP control, although that body already had a GOP speaker). Politico has more on the changes in the south (in a rather hyperbolically titled article).
• DSCC: It's official: Patty Murray is the one who got left holding the burning bag of dog doo. She signed on for a second stint as head of the DSCC for the 2012 cycle. She also ran it during the 2002 cycle, when the Democrats lost two seats.
• DGA: One of the other Dem holes needing to be filled also got filled today: Martin O'Malley, fresh off a surprisingly easy victory in Maryland (and possibly looking at something bigger in 2016), is taking over the helm at the DGA. With only a couple troublesome holds on the horizon in 2012, I'd imagine this job was a little easier to fill than the DSCC.
• Demographics: Democracy Corps (or GQR, if you prefer) is out with a memo that's worth a read. Most of it is about messaging, which is a little outside SSP's scope (though still worth a read, in terms of what worked, and mostly didn't work, in 2010, and what recent polls have shown works better going forward). There's also some discussion of demographics, though, in terms of what kind of a turnout model they're expecting (or at least hoping for) in 2012.
• AZ-Sen: So, that anti-earmark stance from Republican leadership seemed to last a whole week or so, until everybody's attention had moved onto something else (something about sharks attacking people in airport security lines, maybe). Jon Kyl just got a $200 million earmark to settle an Indian water rights case with the government. Kyl's defense... and one we should expect to hear a lot from both sides of the aisle... is that it's technically not an earmark (which seems to have a profanity-style you-know-it-when-you-see-it standard).
• CT-Sen: Joe Lieberman is hinting at an independent run as the preferred way forward out of his three-possible-ways-to-lose conundrum. In a recent interview, he said "I've enjoyed being an Independent so I guess that's the most natural way to run, but I haven't decided," as well as "I don't meet all the requirements of either party." Other insiders, or at least the ones Politico is talking to, say that Lieberman's choices at this point are essentially retiring or becoming a Republican. (One reason they cite is the recent collapse of the CfL "Party," which failed to get the 1% needed to maintain its ballot place... although that overlooks the fact that the CfL was, several years ago, hijacked by waggish Lieberman opponents).
• FL-Sen: The first announced Republican candidate for the Senate in 2012 is both a Some Dude and a familiar face: college instructor Mike McCalister. If the name rings a bell, he got 10% in this year's gubernatorial primary by virtue of not being either Rick Scott or Bill McCollum. As for temp Sen. George LeMieux, a reported possible candidate, his current status is still "no decisions yet," albeit "I do feel a calling to serve."
• KY-Sen: Here's some pointless post-mortem about Kentucky, but it's the first I've heard any major player from Team Blue say that the "Aqua Buddha" ad was a net liability for Jack Conway. Outgoing DSCC Bob Menendez said his main regret was not asking for better briefings about candidates' ads, and he cited the anti-Rand Paul ad as a particular "killer."
• PA-Sen: The first announced GOP candidate in Pennsylvania has also surfaced, and he's also on the cusp between Some Dude and whatever's one step higher than that. Marc Scaringi was a legislative aide to Rick Santorum back in the 1990s, and is currently a lawyer in Harrisburg. (The article also cites one other potential GOP challenger in addition to the usual Jim Gerlach/Charlie Dent suspects: incoming state House majority leader Mike Turzai, whom you might remember weighing and deciding against a PA-04 run in 2010.) As for Bob Casey Jr., he's running again, although his main concern for the next year seems to be upping his low-key profile.
• NY-23: After making some waves yesterday with saying he was at least considering voting for John Boehner in the floor leadership vote, Bill Owens is now just saying he was "blowing off steam" and will vote for her as long as she promises to focus on jobs. (In other words, he probably got a call from leadership explaining the consequences.)
• CA-AG: Kind of a foregone conclusion at this point, given his 40,000 vote deficit, but Steve Cooley has just conceded the Attorney General's race, with Democratic San Francisco DA and rising star Kamala Harris the victor.
• KY-AG: Here's a surprise: after a few weeks of hype concerning a 2011 battle royale between Jack Conway and Trey Grayson for Attorney General, Grayson suddenly reversed course. Rather than run again for SoS, where GOPers were already lining up, he apparently won't run for anything, other than the sweet embrace of the private sector.
• Chicago mayor: One more poll gives Rahm Emanuel a sizable edge in the Chicago mayoral race. He has 39% support in a Chicago Retail Merchants Association poll, followed by Carol Mosely Braun at 12, Gerry Chico at 9, Danny Davis at 7, and His Accidency, Roland Burris, at 2. The real question here seems to be whether Emanuel can win on Feb. 22 without a runoff (which would be Apr. 5).
• AR-St. House: Here's an interesting situation in Arkansas, where Dems still control the state House (albeit with reduced numbers) but an unusual special election is already on tap. Democratic State Rep. Rick Saunders was apparently going to be given a pass to serve another two years despite being term-limited out, because the guy who won the seat in November, GOPer Keith Crass, did so despite being dead. He beat Dem Larry Williams despite dying during the early voting period. Now Saunders says he'll resign in early January so a special election can be held (in April at the earliest).
• Washington: It looks like all the counting in Washington is finally done, with turnout a whopping 71% (thanks to the mail-in nature of the election, which goes a long way toward evaporating the 'enthusiasm gap'). Patty Murray wound up winning by just shy of 5%, right where UW's polling put it, compared with the out-of-state robo-pollsters who saw a much closer race. Dems still control both chambers of the state legislature by decent (but not supermajority anymore) margins, after losing 4 seats in the 49-seat Senate and 5 in the 98-seat House. Three races where the Dem trails (Randy Gordon in the Senate, and Dawn Morrell and Kelli Linville in the House) are apparently going to recount, though, by margins ranging from 47 to 194.
• Money: The Dems, after getting outgunned on the dark money front in 2010 by a wide margin, aren't going to be caught napping this time (and this time, unlike 2008, they seem to have Barack Obama's tacit approval). David Brock (in his quest to become the left's answer to Karl Rove) is busy revving up his own 527/501(c)(4) type-thing for corraling large donations from undisclosed donors. The good news: they've already lined up $4 million in commitments. The bad news: they're being led by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (although maybe she's better behind the scenes than she is as a campaigner).
• History: Here's a great look back from Greg Giroux at Senate cycles where one party was defending more than 10 seats than the other party (as the Dems will in 2012). While the last three times this happened (2006 2008, 1986, and 1980), the defending party got hammered, many of the prior examples showed little movement one way or the other, including 1976, where a number of incumbents of both parties lost (in the post-Watergate environment) but it all balanced out to zero.
• AK-Sen: In the words of Bart Simpson, "he's like some kind of non-giving-up guy!" Joe Miller just keeps contesting the Alaska Senate race despite rigor mortis having started to set in. Today he added another legal action to the already-long (and expensive) tally, asking a federal judge for an injunction stopping state officials from certifying the election. Miller's latest gripe is that the state started the count a week earlier than scheduled, forcing him to pull together a volunteer ballot-challenging team on short notice, meaning that "an indeterminate number" of misspelled ballots got through. (That number would have to be several thousand for this challenge to have any hope of succeeding.) This, of course, has to work in parallel to a separate suit, still in process, where he's trying to force the state from counting any misspelled ballots.
• CT-Sen: Since she apparently has absolutely nothing better to do with her piles of money, Linda McMahon is actually running a post-election "thank you" ad. Speculation is rising that she's trying to stay top-of-mind for 2012, where there's the possibility of running against Joe Lieberman (an option she said she wasn't taking off the table). The article also cites increased buzz about Ted Kennedy Jr. running for the Dems. Rep. Chris Murphy is known to be interested too, and soon-to-be-ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz, despite a year of nonstop bungling, is also in the mix.
• VA-Sen: Here are a couple more Republican names who are checking out the Senate race in Virginia. One is an establishment figure, Prince William Co. Chairman Corey Stewart, but the other is Bert Mizusawa, a retired Army Reserve brigadier general whom you might remember as the more-conservative opposition from the VA-02 GOP primary this year, who lost to Rep.-elect Scott Rigell. Also, the Tom Perriello buzz (in the event of Jim Webb not running again) seems to have gotten loud enough that the Washington Post has taken notice.
• NY-01, NY-25: The race in the 1st is down into the double digits, as Tim Bishop made up more ground yesterday as absentee ballots counted in his home turf of Southampton started reporting. Randy Altschuler's lead is 81 votes, representing a gain of more than 200 for Bishop (although Altschuler's camp says they did "better than expected" in Dem areas that reported, and that the more GOP-friendly Brookhaven has yet to report). In the 25th, Dan Maffei upped his percentage of the absentee votes coming in from the first half of votes from Onondaga County, enough to gain 521 votes, now trailing Ann Marie Buerkle by 303. He'll still need to maintain that pace to win, though, as more GOP-friendly Wayne County has yet to report.
• DSCC: Harry Reid is now saying he's "in no hurry" to fill the still-empty DSCC slot, but Beltway CW seems to find the fickle finger pointing more clearly in Patty Murray's direction. With Michael Bennet having pretty thoroughly declined, Reid and the White House are now making a "full court press" on Murray (who also helmed the DSCC's 2002 cycle).
• CO-St. House: 197 votes is all that kept Dems from controlling the trifecta in Colorado for 2012. The last outstanding race in the state House was concluded, with Republican Robert Ramirez beating Dem incumbent Debbie Benefield by 197, flipping the state House to the GOP by a 33-32 margin. (Dems control the state Senate and the governor's chair.)
• IA-St. Sen.: It's been two and a half weeks since an election, and you're already hungry for another one? Well, we've already got one on tap coming up very soon: the legislative special election to fill Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Reynolds' seat in SD-48, scheduled for Jan. 4. It's light-red turf in Iowa's rural southwestern corner, though, so likely GOP nominee Joni Ernst (the Montgomery Co. Auditor) is probably the favorite. The local parties will select their nominees next week; despite losing the state House, Dems still control the state Senate.
• Redistricting: Eight members of the new California citizens' redistricting commission have been named (one of whom is a former US Census director). If you make unsupported assumptions based on their professions, it looks like we may have done well with the "unaffiliated" picks. Six more will be added before work begins.
• AK-Sen: As it gets more and more apparent that victory isn't going to come on the write-in-challenges front, the Joe Miller camp seems to be admitting as much. However, they aren't preparing to concede, as they see one last ace in the hole: absentee ballots, which are still trickling in. The last to arrive (ahead of Wednesday's deadline) will be the military overseas ballots, which Miller expects will break heavily in his favor (seeing as how many military members nearing the end of their commitment are probably looking forward to a profitable career on Miller's paramilitary goon squad). With Lisa Murkowski's lead holding at 40-35, though, it's unclear whether military ballots would show up in sufficient numbers to turn the tide even if they broke widely for Miller.
• DE-Sen, WV-Sen: Congratulations today to Chris Coons and Joe Manchin, both of whom are being sworn into the Senate this afternoon for the lame-duck session. It's also the first day on the job for Earl Ray Tomblin, who becomes the new West Virginia Governor in Manchin's absence. If you're wondering about Mark Kirk, he'll be sworn in next week thanks to vagaries of Illinois law. (If I may be allowed a brief moment of alma mater pride, Coons appears to be the first Amherst alum elected to the Senate since the ill-fated Thomas Eagleton.)
• MA-Sen: You may remember a boomlet that peaked last week for Senate speculation concerning Setti Warren, the "rock star" mayor of Newton. Well, that's over, as he's now saying his "intent" is to finish his term, which runs through 2013. However, a different young up-and-coming mayor of one of the Bay State's larger cities is now poking the Senate race with a stick: Will Flanagan, the 30-year-old mayor of the much more blue-collar Fall River, is gauging the race.
• TX-Sen: The Fix has a look at possible primary challengers to Kay Bailey Hutchison, who, with her bungled gubernatorial run and her TARP vote, seems to have painted a big target on her back aimed at Texas tea partiers looking for a promotion. Former SoS Roger Williams and former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones are already in the race (dating back to when it was expected that KBH would be on her way to the Governor's Mansion at this point), but the bigger names to watch are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams. Dewhurst is establishment but has the personal wealth to get a foothold here, while Williams has no money but is the favorite of the tea party set. Dallas mayor Tom Leppert is also mentioned as a wild-card. One Dem who won't be making the race is former Houston mayor Bill White, who in wake of his gubernatorial loss says he won't pivot to a Senate race. That probably frees up the Dem Senate slot for former comptroller John Sharp, who was going to run in the hypothetical special election that never happened and already has a big stack of cash saved up for the race.
• CT-Gov: If you're hearing zombie lies from Republican friends about the Connecticut gubernatorial race being stolen by the urban machines, here's a handy debunking point: exit polls show that the huge falloff in votes in Bridgeport neatly tracks the statewide falloff in Dem crossover votes for the Republican candidate in general from 2006 (when the broadly-popular Jodi Rell ran) to 2010.
• KY-Gov: One more Republican to keep in mind as a potential challenger in next year's off-year gubernatorial election: Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw. That's kind of a big step up to Governor, so it seems like she might be starting with a high negotiating position with the party to try to worm her way into the SoS slot instead (assuming Trey Grayson follows through on plans to run for AG instead).
• NC-02, TX-27: Here are updates on two of our outstanding races: recounts have been officially approved in both of 'em. Six counties in the 27th will be recounted, per Solomon Ortiz's request, as he trails by about 800. In the 2nd, the canvass was officially certified with Bobby Etheridge trailing by 1,489, but he'll be pursuing a recount as allowed under state law. While neither of these prospects looks that hopeful, we can take some solace in that the likely victors, Blake Farenthold and Renee Elmers, are some of the most amateur-hour entrants into the new House and hopefully likely to help define the new face of the Republican Party.
• NY-29: Best wishes for a quick recovery to soon-to-be-sworn-in Tom Reed, who literally just arrived in Washington and was immediately sickened by it. He was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lungs and says he'll be released in one or two days, ready to get to work.
• WA-01, WA-03: I'd hoped that Brian Baird was going to take his unique variety of douchiness to the private sector for good, but it looks like his strange retirement decision may have been an inspired case of district-shopping instead. He's moving to Edmonds in Seattle's northern suburbs, which just happens to be in the 1st District. Assuming that Jay Inslee follows through on his widely-known plans to run for Governor, lo and behold, the 1st will be an open seat in 2012. The 1st (which is a pretty safe district in its current configuration, and will probably keep similar lines in redistricting) has to be more appealing than the 3rd, which redistricting will probably move from a true swing district to a light-red one, as liberal Olympia will probably have to be exchanged for a Columbia Gorge-centered district that's based in Vancouver but that runs east into conservative Yakima County. (Which, unfortunately, would be tailor-made for Jaime Herrera, who's Latina but living in the Vancouver burbs, and will make her much harder to dislodge.) For more detail on Washington's likely 10-district map, see here.
• NY-St. Sen.: Here's an update on the three races that are holding New York State Senate control in the balance. Dem incumbent Craig Johnson trails by only 427, and seems to be gaining at a rapid clip as absentee votes get counted, so the trajectory indicates he might pull ahead by the end. Things seem more locked in with two more Dem incumbents, though: Suzi Oppenheimer leads by 504, while Antoine Thompson trails by 597. Wins by Johnson and Oppenheimer would set up a 31-31 tie.
• Chicago mayor: The election's been over for two weeks, and it's already time for the first new edition of SSP TV: Rahm Emanuel kicked off his mayoral bid with his first TV spot already. Rep. Danny Davis also made it official this weekend, launching his bid and dubbing himself the "grassroots" candidate. (He looks like he'll be giving up his House seat only in the event that he wins the mayoral race.)
• DSCC: After some hopeful signs that Michael Bennet might be willing to take on the role of DSCC head, he said "no thanks" late Friday. At this point, Beltway pundits seem to think that the shortest straw has Patty Murray's name on it.
• RGA: Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed on for another cycle at the helm of the Republican Governor's Association. I've seen speculation that he's doing it mostly to shut down rumors that he's really running for President, although it should be a pretty sleepy gubernatorial cycle and he might be able to juggle both tasks (since most big states elect governors during the midterms, and only a few open seats loom... Indiana, North Carolina, and Washington may be the highest-profile races).
• Redistricting: The Wall Street Journal has a good overview of what to expect with redistricting, and they seem to come to the same conclusion that I have: that the downside for the GOP of their strong performance in Dem-held red districts is that it means there are a lot fewer opportunities to turf anyone out through aggressive gerrymandering, and instead their efforts are going to have to more defensive, oriented toward shoring up the deadwood that washed ashore. Meaning, of course, that predictions of another large redistricting-driven gain in the House for the GOP aren't likely to come to pass, although it will still make it harder for the Dems to regain significant ground.
A couple articles are also out today dealing with the biggest redistricting prize of all, California, although whether it's a prize or not has much to do with what happens with the newly-created (by Prop 20) congressional redistricting commission; this week, out of the pool of 36,000 applicants, 36 finalists for the commission's citizen slots will be picked. Of particular interest is what exactly happens with the seats in northern Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, where there's a push underway to get a Hispanic district. (Worth noting: CA-28 already has a Hispanic majority, although Howard Berman seems pretty primary-proof there, and there don't seem to be enough parts and pieces elsewhere in the Valley to create another neatly-shaped one.)
• Demographics: Here's a big surprise, on the demographic front: there are reports that there are 100,000 fewer Hispanics in Arizona than there were when SB 1070 passed. That may not have a big impact on voting behavior (since those emigrants are probably unlikely voters), but a big impact on redistricting, where the possibility of a third VRA district in Arizona looms. Or maybe not... since the census only cares where you were on April 1, much of that fleeing may not have happened yet at that point.
• Dave's App: Exciting news from over in the diaries: version 2.0 of Dave's Redistricting App is available. You can check out all the details at the link, but two major improvements including use of street maps (making urban work much easier) and ability to save JPGs. Redistricting is going to be one of Swing State Project's main preoccupations over the next year, and Dave's App is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal.
The lone spot of good news in all this for Dino Rossi? Now he won't have all those Senatorial duties cluttering up his planning activities for his 2012 gubernatorial run.
Sen. Patty Murray pulled further ahead this afternoon , taking 68 percent of the nearly 70,000 votes counted in King County on Thursday.
The King County boost widened Murray's statewide lead to more than two percentage points -- nearly 50,000 votes -- over Republican Dino Rossi statewide even as Rossi-leaning counties began to report new totals. The biggest Rossi counties, Spokane and Clark, both reported results today but his gains there were swamped by King County.
Also worth noting: Rick Larsen in WA-02 seems to be moving into healthier shape against John Koster. He's now up more than 1,400 according to the SoS, suggesting that Dem-friendly precincts are late to report in the 2nd too.
AK-Sen: Right now, write-ins account for 41% of the vote in Alaska, while Joe Miller has 34% and Scott McAdams 24%. State election officials have bumped up the start of the write-in count to Nov. 10th (from Nov. 18th). Murkowski is one of 160 declared write-in candidates, but obviously quite a few write-ins ballots would have to be spoiled, or for other candidates, for her to lose.
WA-Sen: Patty Murray's lead widened to 1.6% as votes were counted in the populous Democratic stronghold of King County. The trends look poor for Dino Rossi, who took 40% here in 2004 (when he almost tied Christine Gregoire in the gubernatorial race), but is now at 37% this year.
CT-Gov: Yikes - the AP withdrew its call for Dem Dan Malloy. This one could get seriously topsy-turvy. Whatever the hell is going on here might also impact Jim Himes (vs. Dan Debicella) in CT-04. Not good.
MN-Gov: With 100% of precincts reporting, Dem Mark Dayton holds an 8,854-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer, within the half-percent margin which would prompt an automatic recount. No recount can start until after Nov. 23rd, when the vote is certified. Note that Norm Coleman's election-day lead was just 725 votes in 2008. So even though GOP lawyers are already laying in a supply of amphetamines, it's possible the Republicans will abandon what looks like a futile effort.
IL-Gov: Man, did anyone dig a mangier rabbit out of a shabbier hat than Pat Quinn? After a day of counting more votes in Cook County (Chicago), Quinn's lead has expanded to 19,000 votes, and Republicans are getting ready to throw in the towel on behalf of Bill Brady. Pretty amazing, for a guy who seemed DOA just a couple of months ago.
OR-Gov: As we noted yesterday, various media sources have called the race for Dem John Kitzhaber over Chris Dudley.
AZ-07: As we noted yesterday, Dem Rep. Raul Grijalva has declared victory over Ruth McClung, with a 3% lead. A Grijalva spokesman said that the remaining ballots are in Pima County, which favors Dems.
AZ-08: Dem Rep. Gabby Giffords leads by 2,349 votes over Jesse Kelly, but again, Pima - they have some 47,000 votes still outstanding. Pima was one of only four counties to go for Kerry - and for Obama, too.
CA-11: With an unclear number of votes left to be counted, Dem Rep. Jerry McNerney has inched into a 121-vote lead over David Harmer. It'll take four weeks for the vote to get certified, at which point the loser can seek a recount (at his own expense).
CA-20: Dem Rep. Jim Costa trails Andy Vidak by almost 2,000 votes, but there may be something like 30,000 uncounted ballots from Fresno County, which Costa won on e-night by a 2-to-1 margin. So maybe we'll get lucky here.
IL-08: With 100% of the vote in, Dem Rep. Melissa Bean is trailing in a shocker to Jim Walsh by 553 votes. She isn't conceding yet, though.
KY-06: With 100% of votes counted, Dem Rep. Ben Chandler has a 619 vote lead over Andy Barr. Barr has until next Tuesday to request a "recanvass," which would be completed by Nov. 12th. Barr could then ask for a formal recount, but he'd have to foot the bill.
NY-25: Really barfy: As we noted yesterday, Republican Ann Marie Buerkle has moved into the lead, after late results from Wayne County came in. She's now up by 659 votes. Some 8,300 absentee ballots have been returned so far (out of 11,600 requested), though more are trickling in. Maffei would have to pull in something like 54% or so out of the absentees to pull this one out.
TX-27: It's looking pretty bad for Dem Rep. Solomon Oritz, who trails Blake Farenthold by 799 votes with 100% in. Farenthold has declared victory, but Ortiz claims his legal team is conducting a review and that he may seek a recount - which he would have to pay for (unless it changes the final results). And check out how far the apple has fallen from the tree:
Farenthold is grandson of Frances "Sissy" Farenthold, a Democrat who served two terms in the state House and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1972. That same year, she finished second in balloting to become George McGovern's vice presidential candidate at the Democratic convention.
VA-11: With 100% of precincts reporting, Dem Rep. Gerry Connolly leads Keith Fimian 111,621 to 110,696. The vote will get certified on Nov. 22nd, at which time Fimian can seek a recount if the margin remains less than half a percent (recounts are not automatic).
WA-02, WA-09: As we noted yesterday, a number of media outlets have called the 9th CD race for Dem Rep. Adam Smith over Dick Muri. Meanwhile, Rick Larsen has taken his first lead over John Koster, albeit a narrow one (30% of votes remain to be counted).
• CO-Sen: This isn't an official call from the AP or CNN, but the Denver Post (who you would think would know their state well enough to know the score) has decided that Michael Bennet is the victor in Colorado. No couching, as their article is titled "Bennet Wins in Senate Race;" you can't lay it on the line any more than that. Their rationale: he leads by 7,000 votes with 30,000 remaining to be counted in dirty hippie stronghold Boulder County.
• WA-Sen: While the Seattle Times doesn't sound as fully confident as the Denver Post, they also make it sound like Patty Murray is on her way to reelection. Their rationale: more than one-third of the uncounted votes statewide are found in King County, which of course is the state's Democratic base and where she's getting 62% currently.
• WI-Sen?: Pundits (or at least William Kristol, known for his wishful thinking) seem to be taking the wrong message from this Russ Feingold line at the end of his concession speech last night: "It's on to our next adventure. It's on to 2012! Forward!" To them, that means that Feingold will be mounting a quixotic primary challenge to Barack Obama. Um, we're likely to see a Herb Kohl retirement in 2012. Maybe Feingold is likely to run for the other Wisconsin Senate seat? (Taking a page from Washington's Slade Gorton, who lost in 1986 and resurfaced in 1988. Any other Senators anyone out there can think of who did that?)
• MN-Gov: It must seem like Groundhog Day for Minnesotans, who are poised for another recount nightmare as the election lawyers descend like locusts. With only 19 precincts remaining to count, Mark Dayton's lead over Tom Emmer is 0.43%, which is below the 0.5% bar where an automatic recount is triggered.
• Polltopia: So is the cycle where bullshit finally gets called on Rasmussen? Nate Silver made the case last night, observing that of the 100 polls released in the final 21 days of the campaign, 70-75% overstated Republican support, off by an average 3-4 points. Taegan Goddard also chips in singling out its final HI-Sen poll, which was off by only 38 points on the final margin of victory for Dan Inouye.
• Trivia: Would you believe that the Democratic freshman class is only in the single digits? There are 9 freshmen: Terri Sewell (AL-07), Karen Bass (CA-33), John Carney (DE-AL), Frederica Wilson (FL-17), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Cedric Richmond (LA-02), Bill Keating (MA-10), Hansen Clarke (MI-13), and David Cicilline (RI-01). Remarkably, only two of them are straight white guys!
• CA-11: This race has had some ups and downs today: The Stockton Record (the local, well, paper of record) was initially running a story stating that Jerry McNerney had won his race, after having trailed all of last night to David Harmer. They've pulled back on that, merely saying it's "too close to call," but the hard data is that McNerney now has a 121-vote lead over Harmer, with 100% of precincts reporting. I'd imagine this one will be heading for a recount!
Two new polls out today both show tightening, of either two or three points in the last two weeks, in the Washington Senate race. This race has become increasingly pivotal in the last few weeks as well... quite literally, in that Nate Silver calls it the Senate's entire pivot point for control -- where, in the simulations he runs where the GOP gets a 10-seat pickup, Washington is most frequently the last race across the line. (Of course, it's worth considering that as West Virginia seems to be getting better for Joe Manchin, there are increasing chances that Dems could lose Washington and keep the majority regardless of the Washington outcome, which is why overall odds of keeping the Senate are still hovering near 90%.)
What the closing of the gap means is quite debatable, though, depending on what method you use. For the Univ. of Washington, it's still a Murray victory, as she's already over 50 (at a point when, presumably, most people have sent in their ballots); her 8-point lead is down to 6. (They also find the reverse-enthusiasm-gap that seems unique in Washington, finding only a 4-pt edge among RVs.)
For SurveyUSA, it drops her into a tie, though. There are a couple odd things with the SurveyUSA poll, though; first, it's strange that undecideds would shoot up in the closing stages of the race, particularly since the state SoS office reports that a majority of ballots have been sent in. Maybe those who haven't sent ballots yet are still trying to decide; it's hard to gauge, SUSA doesn't include the vote breakdown among people who have already voted, which is an odd choice since they've done that in some other races, and it's even more relevant in the (almost) all-mail-in Washington. Also (h/t to Taniel for pointing this out), there's a steep dropoff in the Dem/GOP makeup of this sample from the last sample from two weeks ago: 33D-29R today, versus 36D-27R before. There's no party registration in Washington so this is just self-identification, but it's an abrupt switch.
One other consideration is the cellphone user gap, which has seemed particularly pronounced in Washington of all states (as seen by the wide split between live-calling Elway, UW, and CNN/Time, vs. auto-dialing SurveyUSA, Rasmussen, and PPP). I'm not a fan of mindlessly applying corrective formulas to poll data, but Nate's most recent post on the "house effects" generated by the different categories of pollsters may be instructive here: all robocallers have an R+2.0 lean, while live polls have a D+0.7 lean (although that may have to do simply with the sheer weight on the R-side of the spectrum brought by Rasmussen's massive volume of polling). In particular, SUSA has the most pronounced house effect this year, of R+4.0, even more than Rasmussen at R+2.1.
One major caveat, though: SurveyUSA used a live-caller overlay on this particular poll, and find that while the cellphone users they reached did tend to lean Democratic, it doesn't matter much for the final totals. They'd done this once before on a Washington poll over summer, and come to much the same conclusion. That seemed odd at the time and still does, as it would tend to contrast with recent Pew research that showed a 5-point difference between cellphone-inclusive and non-cellphone samples in the generic ballot. With that in mind, I'll leave it to you just how much special sauce you want to add to make sense of the results... or you can just average them out to 3, which is pretty close to where Murray's leaked internals (+4) from a few days ago put the race.