• CO-Sen: So since the last time we checked in, Ken Buck royally stepped in it not just once, but twice. First, he made the argument that voters should opt for him and not Jane Norton because "he doesn't wear high heels." (It was by way of arguing that, instead, he wears cowboy boots with actual bullshit on them, but the gender card was pretty clear. And Norton's response was easy to write, and was on the air almost instantaneously. It probably played at least something of a role in today's decision by Arizona governor Jan Brewer, amassing her own clutch of Mama Rattlesnakes, to extend an endorsement to Norton.) Then second, it came out over the weekend that on June 11, Buck was overheard referring to Tea Partiers (or at least the birthers among them) as "dumbasses." (Compounding the unforced nature of the error was that he was joking around with his Democratic tracker while saying it!) Buck was out with the inevitable apology to the teabaggers within the day. (Y'know, for a bunch of self-styled tough guys, they sure do get their feelings hurt easily.)
• CT-Sen: Despite his blowing through a large chunk of his remaining cash on hand in a baffling ad urging people to vote in the Republican primary (although not specifically for him), Rob Simmons is still maintaining that he's not currently a candidate for the Senate. He considers his $350K ad buy as something like "public service announcements."
• FL-Sen: Must be nice to have Jeff Greene's money! Concerned observers are a bit troubled by the close correlation between his hiring of DNC member Jon Ausman as a consultant, and his next-day endorsement of Greene's campaign. Greene has spent $6 million of his own money on the race so far, which apparently is a drop in the bucket for him, as he's been content to ignore a $1.87 million fine from the government of Belize that's outstanding against him, after he crashed his 145-foot yacht into a sensitive coral reef there.
• IL-Sen: Continuing the boat-crashing theme, in case you've been living under a rock all weekend, the big news in Illinois is that Mark Kirk has gotten caught in yet another series of misrememberments, this time about his sailboat accident and subsequent Coast Guard rescue that supposedly got him devoted to public service. Turns out he at least got the being in a sailboat accident part right, but, unlike his own description of the events, he was rescued long before nightfall, he probably didn't swim for a mile because he was within half a mile of shore, and his core temperature certainly wasn't 82 because he would have lost consciousness long before getting to that point. Sensing a pattern here?
• KY-Sen: Rand Paul is re-affirming that he supports Mitch McConnell. Well, sort of. During his Fancy Farm appearance this weekend, he said he's going to vote for McConnell for leader, but almost immediately afterwards, reduced that to not seeing a reason why he wouldn't vote for him. Observers also noted that, in his earlier sorta-support for McConnell, he was implicitly dissing Sharron Angle as unlikely to win, by way of saying that Jack Conway's first action would be to vote for Harry Reid for majority leader (something that, of course, wouldn't happen if Reid weren't to get re-elected).
• NV-Sen: Sharron Angle's media policy can be summed up in one word: RUN! That's what she did when faced with questions from a six-months-pregnant reporter last week, who, in typical lamestream media fashion, insisted on asking some further questions after a three-minute speech of boilerplate on the estate tax. How presumptuous! Harry Reid got further good news, too, with the endorsement of Las Vegas mayor and relentless self-promoter Oscar Goodman, who called Reid "the man we go to get things done in the city." If there's one Nevadan having an even worse time than Angle, though, it's John Ensign; his one-time crony Tom Coburn just hung him out to dry, handing over e-mails from Ensign in the ongoing criminal investigation by the DOJ into l'affaire Hampton.
• WV-Sen: With filing closed in West Virginia, there are eleven GOPers fighting in the primary for the right to oppose Joe Manchin in the Senate special election. Most prominent, of course, is businessman John Raese, who lost the 2006 Senate race to Robert Byrd and is also something of an archenemy to the Moore/Capito family. The only other noteworthy GOPer is Mac Warner, who already lost the WV-01 primary this year (and whose brother, Monty Warner, was the 2004 GOP gubernatorial nominee, losing badly to Manchin). Raese punctuated his entry with some ill-advised and outdated ethnic humor, comparing the Italian-American Manchin to Tony Soprano. The NRSC, probably not liking any of its options here (and having gotten burned by some of its earlier interventions), says it isn't getting involved in the primary.
• CO-Gov: The rumor du jour last week was that the RGA was prepared to pull out of Colorado entirely -- and that was before this morning's confirmation that Tom Tancredo was going to jump into the race as an indie candidate in order to either leverage the GOP nomination or crash-land the whole operation. The RGA denied the rumors when they first came out, but the local GOPers working on the race are suddenly leaking e-mails that they're broke. And with Tancredo's bid today, suddenly his allies and core backers among the Tea Partiers are suddenly denouncing him, accusing him of being a likely spoiler, whether intentional or not. Bafflingly, Tancredo pushed back in the way most likely to rub them the wrong way, calling the teabaggers new members of the "establishment." Tancredo's getting some pushback from state party chair Dick Wadhams, too; TPM has audio of the literal screaming match between the two of them.
• FL-Gov: You may remember state Sen. Paula Dockery, who was running a futile campaign against Bill McCollum in the GOP gubernatorial primary until dropping out after getting totally eclipsed by Rick Scott. Well, now she's teaming up with Scott; she's stopping somewhere short of endorsing him, but is joining him on his bus tour, saying she share similar stances on the issues. (She can't be angling for a Lt. Gov. slot, as Florida elects its LG separately, so what her angle is, I don't know. UPDATE: Actually, commenters have corrected me on Florida's LG procedure, wherein the nominees pick running mates, so, yes, it does sound like she's angling for LG.) Also, while it isn't exactly about the horse race, here's a fascinating (at least to me) piece of backstory about Democratic candidate Alex Sink. Her slightly Asian appearance is because she's 1/8th Thai, and her great-grandfather was a well-known celebrity in the early 1800s: circus performer Chang Bunker, one-half of the original so-called "Siamese Twins."
• GA-Gov: Dueling (banjo) endorsements in the Georgia GOP gubernatorial runoff, and they seem to fit the overall media narratives about the two candidates. The suburbanized Karen Handel got Mitt Romney's endorsement, while the more hickory-smoked Nathan Deal got the backing of the NRA.
• OK-Gov (pdf): There's one more poll of the primaries in Oklahoma (to be decided tomorrow night), from the Republican firm of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, apparently on their own and not on anyone else's behalf. The results are pretty similar to this weekend's Sooner Poll: they see AG Drew Edmondson beating Lt. Gov. Jari Askins 38-27 on the Dem side, and Rep. Mary Fallin well ahead of state Sen. Randy Brogdon 50-22 on the GOP side. Askins did get one late-breaking endorsement, though, that's good as gold in this football-mad state: she got the backing of former OU and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer. Switzer's backing is credited with helping Brad Henry win a come-from-behind victory in the 2002 Dem gubernatorial primary.
• OH-St. House: Here's something you don't see every day: a local article about a competitive state legislative chamber where you don't get just platitudes about the closeness, but actual detail about the most competitive races. Democrats currently control the state House 53-46 after picking it up in 2008, and it could revert back to the GOP this year. The Democratic seats on defense that they list are scattered among Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland suburbs, and Appalachian-flavored rural areas like Portsmouth and Zanesville.
• OR-Init: Oregon stands out as the only west coast state that doesn't have an independent redistricting commission for state legislative seats. It looks like that's going to continue: a proposed initiative to create an independent commission of retired judges for redistricting didn't qualify for the ballot, after too many signatures turned out to be invalid. 2002 GOP governor candidate and bringer-of-the-crazy Kevin Mannix was the leader of the move, although he actually had some big money interests behind him this time (like Nike's Phil Knight).
• AZ-Sen (R): John McCain (R-inc) 54%, J.D. Hayworth (R) 34%
• ND-Sen: Tracy Potter (D) 22%, John Hoeven (R) 69%
Charlie Crist (I): 30
Kendrick Meek (D): 15
Marco Rubio (R): 27
We've seen our share of Florida polls this cycle, but with a three-way Senate race and weirdo gazillionaires forcing themselves into the Republican gubernatorial primary and the Democratic Senatorial primary, it's always worth it to take a look at this freak state.
Ipsos lends another piece of weight behind the evidence that suggests that Crist is beginning his independent bid for Senate with a slight lead on Rubio thanks in part to significant support from Democratic voters. Crist leads Meek by 38-33 among Democrats, while trailing Rubio by 51-26 among Republicans. Crist also manages to clean up among independents, earning 39% of their votes to only 12% for Rubio and 7% for Meek. I still have to wonder if Crist's 26% among Republicans may represent something of a high-water mark, given that his campaign is now aggressively attempting to eat Meek's lunch. Still, Crist will always have Meek's presence on the ballot as a foil, and maybe that fact alone will help him retain some conservative-leaning votes that he might have otherwise lost.
Also interesting is the fact that Crist's veto of a controversial teacher "merit pay" bill appears to be a political winner, with voters supporting Crist's decision by a 53-29 margin. Of more immediate concern is that, by a 55-31 margin, voters want Crist to veto a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds at their own expense. That number includes a 47-40 plurality among Republicans, and a massive 72-26 spread among indies. This really looks like a no-brainer for Crist if he's looking to score some easy moderate cred.
Meanwhile, check out the Dem primary numbers:
Kendrick Meek (D): 33
Maurice Ferre (D): 10
Jeff Greene (D): 9
Meek at 33% is some truly weak stuff by this point.
The gube race:
Alex Sink (D): 32
Bill McCollum (R): 34
After seeing McCollum lead Sink by wide-ish margins for months, I'll take results like these. Sink manages to hold together Democrats almost as well as McCollum retains Republican support, while splitting independents down by the middle by 26-26. Not too shabby, if accurate.
Finally, we have the Republican gubernatorial primary:
Bill McCollum (R): 46
Rick Scott (R): 22
Paula Dockery (R): 3
I'd like to see chrome-domed creep Rick Scott pull even closer, but I'll accept numbers like these for the time being. State Sen. Paula Dockery, meanwhile, has finally seen the writing on the wall, and pulled the plug on her pathetic campaign yesterday. Let's hope she endorses Scott!
AR-Sen: The SEIU is looking to finish the job, throwing down another $450K on behalf of Bill Halter. The union has spent almost $2 million dollars on this race so far.
AZ-Sen: Perhaps sensing some vulnerability on John McCain's part, ex-state Rep. and former AZ health department chief Cathy Eden is jumping into the Democratic primary, where she'll face former Tucson city councilman Rodney Glassman. Eden served in the state House in the early 1990s, then ran a brief campaign for the Dem nod for Arizona's open Senate seat in 1994, dropping out before the primary. She's also apparently tight with Janet Napolitano.
CT-Sen: So it turns out the NYT did have in its possession a copy of the full video of the Dick Blumenthal speech where he first said he served "during Vietnam," only later to cloud things by saying he served "in Vietnam." Yet despite having the entire video, the Times only posted a truncated clip showing the latter bit. Sheesh.
FL-Sen: The normally Dem-friendly Florida Education Association endorsed both Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek for Senate on Friday, as a thank-you to Crist for his veto of a controversial teacher "merit pay" bill. Crist tried to parlay that victory by attempting to steal another endorsement from Meek, enthusiastically courting the backing of the AFL-CIO. Unfortunately for Crist, the union decided to endorse Meek and only Meek. (J)
KY-Sen: You probably saw that Rand Paul abruptly cancelled a "Meet the Press" appearance scheduled for yesterday. What you may not have known is that the only other people in recent history to do so are Louis Farrakhan and Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar. Also, if you check out that first Politico link, you'll see exactly how uncomfortable Paul's post-primary "unity" roll-out has been. Even Trey Grayson couldn't stay on-message long enough to avoid admitting to reporters that the whole thing has been "awkward."
NV-Sen: This is the chicken that laid the golden egg: Nevada election officials have banned people from wearing chicken suits into polling places on primary day. Though Dems have been sending people in chicken costumes to Sue Lowden campaign events, no one had any apparent plans to do electioneering while so garbed. But what this means is another day of chickens in the news. I think that calls for some Chicken Dance!
PA-Sen: Weird - Joe Sestak repeated his claim that the Obama administration offered him a job so that he'd drop his challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter. The weird part is that White House press secretary Bob Gibbs, in response, said only that "nothing inappropriate" happened, but didn't confirm or deny Sestak's claim.
WI-Sen: This is a surprise: One-time beer baron Dick Leinenkugel has dropped out of the race after less than a month. He endorsed teabaggy businessman Ron Johnson, which seems like an odd fit, since the Kugel had worked in Dem Gov. Jim Doyle's administration (a pretty big and obvious knock against him in a GOP primary). Hey, Beer Man - we hardly knew ye! Meanwhile, Johnson picked up the GOP's endorsement (by a wide margin) at the state Republican convention this past weekend. Terrence Wall and David Westlake are apparently still staying in the race, though.
FL-Gov: God bless chrome-domed creep Rick Scott. He's blasting McCollum on the airwaves for failing to support Arizona's new "papers, please" immigration law with sufficient gusto. Though I usually complain when tradmed accounts fail to detail the size of ad buys, since it's Scott, we can probably assume there's plenty of money behind it, as he's already spent approximately eight zillion dollars on the race. You know McCollum is sitting at home with his head in his hands, just wondering, "What the hell did I do to deserve this shit?"
Meanwhile, third wheel state Sen. Paula Dockery said she wouldn't put her personal wealth into her campaign - and also opined that she'd veto an abortion bill she voted for if she became governor. I'm not even sure John Kerry could come up with something that good.
ID-Gov: This is interesting - Dem Keith Allred raised $240K since January, outstripping Gov. Butch Otter's $193K. Otter has $201K CoH while Allred has $130K.
WI-Gov: Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker was forced to return $44K in illegal contributions for an amazingly simple reason: a railroad exec used company money to reimburse employee donations to Walker! Talk about shady - and dumb.
HI-01: Colleen Hanabusa made it clear she's going to run again after Saturday's lost to Charles Djou, but Ed Case sounded surprisingly non-committal, saying only that on Monday, he planned to "wake up, go body surfing and cut the lawn. We'll figure out the rest of it later."
IN-03: Ala NY Gov. David Paterson and the NY-29 race, Gov. Mitch Daniels is reportedly considering holding the IN-03 special election in November, on the same day as the regular general election, in order to save the state money.
VA-09: Morgan Griffith, majority leader of the state House of Delegates, won the GOP nod at a district convention this past weekend on the first ballot. I'm not sure if there even would be a primary here on account of the convention, but in any case, it sounds like the other Republican candidates are rallying behind Griffith, who will take on Dem Rep. Rick Boucher in the fall.
NY-State Sen.: New York Dems seem to have landed a good recruit against the 78-year-old Sen. Hugh Farley in the 44th district upstate. Susan Savage, chair of the Schenectady county lege, is entering the race in this 50-48 Obama district.
Fundraising: The WaPo has a great interactive graphic illustrating corporate PAC giving to Dems vs. Republicans, dating all the way back to 1989.
Polling: A new Pew study shows that question responses in landline + cell phone surveys are starting to differ from landline-only answers, sometimes as much as four or five points (and in one case, seven). In general, landline-only surveys tend to underestimate Democratic support.
Passings: One-time GOP Rep. Donald "Buz" Lukens died on Saturday at age 79. He was best known for his conviction for paying a 16-year-old girl for sex, which led to his 1990 loss in the GOP primary to none other than John Boehner.
WATN?: Former senator and general d-bag Bob Kerrey may go and head up the Motion Picture Association of America. He'd follow in the footsteps of another former member of Congress from the middle of the country, Dan Glickman.
AR-Sen: Former President and governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton cut two radio ads on behalf of Blanche Lincoln. One of them highlights Lincoln's alleged support for Clinton's economic agenda back in the 1990s - not an issue likely to resonate, especially in today's economic climate.
FL-Sen: A Public Opinion Strategies poll for Charlie Crist, taken before he left the GOP primary, had him at 36, Marco Rubio at 28, and Kendrick Meek at 23. A McLaughlin & Associates poll (taken for "the Associated Industries of Florida," also before the switcheroo) had Crist up as well, 33C-29R-15M. Meanwhile, The Buzz takes a look at which boldfaced names showed up to Crist's first fundraiser following his political party reassignment surgery.
On the Dem side, zillionaire mortgage-shorting mogul Jeff Greene says he'll "spend whatever it takes" to win his primary against Rep. Kendrick Meek. That must be music to Joe Trippi's ears. Greene is unelectable but thanks to his monstrous bankroll, he can do a lot of harm to Democratic chances in this race. Trippi is aiding and abetting this bullshit, and will profit handsomely.
NY-Sen-B: Chris Dodd, in the midst of working on financial regulation reform, says he won't attend a Wall Street-sponsored fundraiser on behalf of Kirsten Gillibrand in NYC tonight.
UT-Sen: A poignant poll for Bob Bennett: While Republican delegates to the state convention despise him (he's in third place with just 16%), rank-and-file Republican voters like him much more (first place, 39%). In other states, the GOP would have cause for concern, since a convention process like this is clearly aimed at producing the most conservative candidate imaginable. But in Utah, it probably won't matter. Though if Bennett gets toppled, I wonder if other nervous establishment officials might consider eliminating the convention and replacing it with an ordinary primary.
MI-Gov: Thank god: Geoffrey Feiger, Jack Kevorkian's attorney and the Dems' disastrous 1998 gubernatorial nominee, says he won't run again. Now all we have to worry about is Andy Dillon.
HI-Gov, HI-01: Hawaii's legislature unexpectedly passed a civil unions bill on the last day of the session, which now goes to Gov. Linda Lingle (she has until July 6th to decide whether to sign the bill into law or veto it). Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R), running to succeed Lingle, wants her to veto it. Ex-Rep. Neil Abercrombie is strongly in favor of the bill (and gay marriage), while his Democratic primary opponent, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, opposes gay marriage but hasn't expressed an opinion on the current bill.
This may also have repercussions in the HI-01 race, where state Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa may have pushed the bill through in an attempt to repair relations with the LGBT community after the same bill got scuttled in January. Hanabusa says she doesn't support gay marriage, though, while Democratic rival Ed Case does. Republican Charles Djou opposes the measure.
FL-05: Unsurprisingly, local Republicans are grumbling about Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite's filing-deadline handoff to Sherriff Ted Richard Nugent, including state Sen. Mike Fasano, who apparently has had his eye on this seat for some time. You have to wonder if this is the kind of thing which will taint Nugent and make him vulnerable to a primary challenge next cycle. Also among the complainers, interestingly, is state Sen. Paula Dockery, whose current district overlaps with the 5th CD. Dockery's gotten nowhere in her FL-Gov primary against AG Bill McCollum, so you have to wonder if she isn't gnashing her teeth about a lost opportunity here.
FL-25: Joe Garcia's candidacy is a rare bright spot for Dems in this otherwise putrid cycle. Now the DCCC, which lobbied heavily for him to get into the race, has given Garcia their official stamp of approval, adding him to their Red to Blue list once again.
GA-09: Dems never had a chance in the special election in this ruby red district, but you gotta figure it's almost always better to actually have a Democrat on the ballot rather than not. We had a candidate here, pastor Mike Freeman, but he dropped out a couple of weeks ago. Now, though, he says he's back in the race, but his website is offline.
IN-08: Democratic state Rep. Trent Van Haaften, running to fill Brad Ellsworth's open seat, has been talking to local teabaggers to see if they might support him. Yeah, I'm in as much disbelief as you are. But, as is always the case, there's a lot of hostility between the tea partiers and the establishment, and at least one 'bagger says they want to "teach the machine a lesson."
PA-12: Freedom's Defense Fund, an arm of the incredibly dodgy Base Connect (formerly BMW Direct) has made a $20K "independent" expenditure on behalf of Bill Russell, who is challenging Tim Burns in the GOP primary. (Recall that there's both a special election and a primary on the same day.) FDF is supposedly distinct from Base Connect, but given that they share the same office (according to TPM), the idea that their expenditures are actually "independent" is a real stretch.
More importantly, the NRCC just threw down another quarter million bucks on behalf of Burns, bringing their total spending on this race to over $725K. The DCCC has yet to respond to this latest blast.
DCCC: The DCCC is about to begin its biennial rite of splitting off its independent expenditure arm. Thanks to stupid federal laws against "co-ordination," the DCCC staffers who make spending decisions about IEs can't be in contact with the rest of the D-Trip, because those folks are in contact with individual campaigns. This is senseless. Anyhow, political director Robby Mook will head up the IE arm, and John Lapp (who once ran this shop himself) will serve as a "senior advisor." Incumbent retention director Jennifer Pihlaja will replace Mook as PD of DCCC proper (and keep her current title).
• FL-Sen: That bell is tolling pretty loudly for Charlie Crist right about now, although it's unclear today whether it spells a switch to an independent Senate bid (keep your fingers crossed) or an exit (if only temporarily) from politics. Crist's camp has pulled all of its GOP-primary-related ads from Florida television. Florida junior Senator/Crist errand boy George LeMieux is downplaying this, saying no switch is imminent, but the NRSC is leaning on Crist even more heavily than before, trying to disabuse their endorsee of the idea of an indie bid.
• IN-Sen: I wonder if this will boost John Hostettler with his fundraising by hooking him up with a national base, or if he's going to be more Peter Schiff than Rand Paul in the end? The former Rep., in his run for the GOP nomination in Indiana, now has the endorsement of Rep. Ron Paul, bringing together two of the very few GOPers to vote against the Iraq War. Meanwhile, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, the dark-horse third-wheel in the GOP derby, is hitting the TV airwaves with an introductory ad, banking much of his small warchest on getting his name rec out of the basement with the primary only weeks away.
• KS-Sen: Rep. Mike Pence weighed in on the GOP field in Kansas, endorsing Rep. Todd Tiahrt over fellow Rep. Jerry Moran. There's something of a social/fiscal conservative split on this race, where social conservatives love Tiahrt but fiscal hawks don't, based on his long career on the goodie-doling Appropriations Committee. If nothing else, it's interesting to see Pence, who tries to have a foot in each camp, choose sides, as he gears up for a possible presidential bid. Meanwhile, Moran is going up with his first TV spot, with a big buy in the Kansas City market.
• KY-Sen: More tasty cat fud in Kentucky, where Rudy Giuliani just endorsed Trey Grayson and, in doing so, slammed the bejesus out of Rand Paul on the 9/11 front, saying that Grayson "is not part of the 'blame America first' crowd that wants to bestow the rights of U.S. citizens on terrorists and point fingers at America for somehow causing 9/11." Just the kind of softening-up of Paul we need for the general election.
• NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: Siena's latest poll of the Empire State doesn't contain any big surprises; even David Paterson's 17/83 job rating isn't that surprising anymore. In their first look at the post-George Pataki Senate landscape, they find that Kirsten Gillibrand is cruising against all of her seemingly interchangeable third-tier opposition; she beats Joe DioGuardi 46-27, Bruce Blakeman 46-26, and David Malpass 46-24. DioGuardi, apparently with the name rec that comes with a celebrity daughter (or maybe it's from the two terms in Congress in the 1980s), has the edge in a Pataki-free GOP primary, winning with 24 to 7 for Blakeman and 5 for Malpass. On the gubernatorial side, Andrew Cuomo fares even better than Gillibrand, beating Rick Lazio 61-24, Steve Levy 58-23, and Carl Paladino 64-19. Lazio still has the edge in the GOP primary, at 29 with 15 for Levy and 13 for Paladino.
• WA-Sen: Strange that it takes a foul-mouthed blogger to notice the clues that Dino Rossi isn't running that the Beltway press seems oblivious to. Goldy notices that minor candidate Chris Widener, another personal friend of Rossi, is saying the same thing as state Sen. Don Benton: if he's running, why the hell isn't he doing me the favor of calling me up and telling me to get out of the way? (Well, maybe because he's a jerk?) Even more telling is that another minor GOP candidate, former NFL player Clint Didier, has commercial real estate mogul Kemper Freeman (one of Rossi's big-name donors and a major insider player in the state GOP), as his campaign chair.
• FL-Gov: I'm wondering if Bill McCollum's lead role in the pursuit of the GOP AGs' lawsuit over HCR is suddenly taking a toll on him (voters are opposed to the suit by a 54-40 margin), or if Quinnipiac got an unusually Dem-friendly sample (it's the same one that found Kendrick Meek with 4 of Marco Rubio in a head-to-head, and Obama gets a 48/46 approval). Either way, Quinnipiac has the nicest numbers we've seen out of the Florida gubernatorial race in a while. McCollum leads Democratic state CFO Alex Sink by just 40-36. McCollum leads state Sen. Paula Dockery 56-7 in the GOP primary; Sink leads Dockery 37-28.
• MD-Gov: Usually when a heavyweight jumps into the field, the random odds and ends get out, but the opposite happened in Maryland. Shortly after Bob Ehrlich got in, little-known rich guy Brian Murphy just announced his candidacy today. Murphy will be running against Ehrlich from the right and has the support of former state GOP chair James Pelura. Murphy also got a vote of confidence from former state Del. Carmen Amedori, who dropped her long-shot bid against Barbara Mikulski to sign on as Murphy's Lt. Governor running mate.
• CA-36: At the state convention, incumbent Rep. Jane Harman managed to ward off Marci Winograd's attempts to deny Harman the state party's endorsement. After a floor fight, Harman won the endorsement with a 599-417 vote. The two will still face off in the Democratic primary (in a rematch of 2006).
• GA-09: Here's a problem for Georgia Dems: they lost their only candidate in the 9th, pastor Mike Freeman. His name will still remain on the ballot for the May 11 special election to replace Nathan Deal, but he leaves behind a hole for the general election. Not that the absence of a Dem in this R+28 district would be noticed much, though.
• MA-09: Rep. Stephen Lynch has dodged a primary challenge so far, following his vote against HCR, but it seems like organized labor has found a candidacy that might stick. Mac d'Alessandro, a regional director for the SEIU, says he'll take a shot at Lynch in the Democratic primary, although he has only a couple weeks to round up the necessary 2,000 signatures.
• MN-01: The Republicans had their endorsement convention for the 1st District and gave their nod to state Rep. Randy Demmer. While Demmer is hardly anyone's idea of a moderate, he's less polarizing than his main rival, former state Rep. Allen Quist (a Michele Bachmann ally). Quist sounds like he'll honor the endorsement and not run in the primary.
• MN-02: On the Dem side, though, former state Rep. Shelley Madore has decided to keep running in the primary even though the DFL endorsement went to Dan Powers.
• NH-01: In a surprise to almost no one, Sean Mahoney (who made a big show of quitting his committee position on the RNC recently, ostensibly to protest Michael Steele) announced that he's going to run in the GOP primary in the 1st for the right to take on Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. The primary that looked like a victory lap for former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta last year is now a four-way bar brawl instead.
• NY-24: Rep. Mike Arcuri is, all of a sudden, sounding kind of Stupak-ish in the wake of his getting bruised by all ends of the spectrum after his ill-advised 'yes' to 'no' switch on HCR; he won't commit to running for re-election just yet. Either he's particularly thin-skinned and vindictive about getting his widdle feewings hurt, or he's looking at some particularly unappetizing polling numbers, especially if the Working Families Party runs someone against him.
• Special elections/Runoffs: Believe it or not, it's a busy election night tonight. Top of the list is the special election in FL-19, where the successor to Robert Wexler will be chosen. In this D+15 district in the more middle-class parts of the Gold Coast, the Democrat, state Sen. Ted Deutch, is heavily favored. The parties haven't gotten involved, and Republican Ed Lynch (who lost a lopsided decision to Wexler in 2008) is hamstrung by the presence of independent right-wing candidate Jim McCormick.
It's runoff day in Texas, with almost all the action on the GOP side. TX-17, between self-funder Bill Flores and 2008 candidate Rob Curnock, and TX-23, between self-funder Quico Canseco and ex-CIA agent William Hurd, are the marquee races as far as the U.S. House goes. There are also some GOP runoffs in some state House races, an interesting mixed bag of open seat succession races, teabaggish challenges to GOP incumbents, and challenges to vulnerable Dems. Finally, there's a culture war clash between just-very conservative and super-duper conservative in two statewide contests: one for the Supreme Court (with Rick Green, the former state Rep. known for punching the guy who beat him in 2002, representing Team Crazy), and one for the Board of Education (between Marsha Farney and Brian Russell, with Russell the movement conservative here).
Finally, there's some state legislature action in Massachusetts, California, and Florida. Primaries for two state Senate seats are in Massachusetts, the ones held by now-Sen. Scott Brown and now-disgraced Anthony Gallucio. This is the de facto election in Gallucio's dark-blue seat, seeing as how no Republicans are running, but the winner between state Rep. Lida Harkins and doctor Peter Smulowitz in the Dem primary will face off against GOP state Rep. Richard Ross on May 11 to succeed Brown. In California, there are two legislative specials; using the California system, each one will likely head to a runoff (unless someone in the cluttered fields breaks 50%). Both seats will likely turn out to be holds: SD-37 is in Republican exurban Riverside County, while AD-43 is in Democratic Glendale in LA County. And in the Florida Panhandle, dark-red HD-04 should be an easy Republican hold.
• AR-Sen: Looks like Blanche Lincoln picked the wrong week to stop acting like a Democrat. She got seriously outraised by Bill Halter in the first quarter, earning $1.3 million (Halter got $2 mil). She also spent more than she earned, running a blitz of TV ads, probably to the tune of $2 million, as her cash on hand dropped $700K --although it's still a high $4.7 million. Still no word yet from the race's key Republicans.
• CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina filled in the last blank in the California Senate race; her fundraising total for the first quarter was $1.7 million, edging out Tom Campbell (who pulled in $1.6 million). Both GOPers lagged Barbara Boxer's $2.4 million.
• FL-Sen: Charlie Crist is still trying to find something that'll stick to Marco Rubio, and he's trying again to link ex-state House speaker Rubio to some of the other less savory elements among legislative leadership. He's up with a new ad trying Rubio to another former speaker, Ray Sansom, who's currently under indictment for charges of falsifying state budget items.
• IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias is lagging Mark Kirk on the cash front; he raised $1.2 million last quarter, compared with Kirk's $2.2 million. Giannoulias didn't release cash on hand figures, which may not be too impressive either considering that he had to fight through a competitive primary.
• NC-Sen (pdf): PPP looked at the primaries only in the North Carolina Senate race (they're on May 4). On the Dem side, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham is still within striking distance of SoS Elaine Marshall; she leads Cunningham 23-17, with Kenneth Lewis at 9 and 5% for assorted minor candidates. (Last month, Marshall led Cunningham and Lewis 20-16-11.) On the GOP side, Richard Burr is at 67%, with his closest competition, Brad Jones, at 7.
• NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: Quinnipiac finds a lot of same-ol'-same-ol' in the Empire State: Andrew Cuomo crushing, and Kirsten Gillibrand crushing anyone non-Pataki. Gillibrand trails non-candidate George Pataki 45-40 but leads actual candidate Bruce Blakeman 47-25 (none of the other third-tier GOPers get polled); she's also sporting her highest-ever approvals, at 47/25. (Pataki beats Blakeman in a GOP primary, 64-15.) On the Governor's side, Rick Lazio is still poised to be GOP nominee; he leads Steve Levy and Carl Paladino 34-11-11 (note that the poll was in the field prior to the whole bestiality thing). Andrew Cuomo dispatches Lazio 55-26, Levy 57-24, and Paladino 60-24.
• OH-Sen: I'd assumed Lee Fisher had been on the air before, but he's just now launching his first TV spots of his campaign with the primary only weeks away (apparently marshaling his resources for the general). Fisher also pulled down the endorsement of Cleveland mayor Frank Johnson, although he didn't gain the backing of his own home town's Democratic party (in Shaker Heights), which instead declined to endorse.
• PA-Sen: Here's a bit of a surprise: Joe Sestak succeeded in his ballot challenge, getting last-minute conservadem entrant Joe Vod Varka kicked out of the Democratic primary, setting up a two-man fight against Arlen Specter. If Sestak's going to have any hope of knocking off Specter, he'll need to consolidate every anti-Specter vote (and also not have the Slovak-American vote -- a big segment in western Pennsylvania -- split).
• WI-Sen: Russ Feingold had a successful fundraising quarter, considering right now he's only running against the specter of Tommy Thompson. Feingold earned $1.34 million, leaving him with $4.26 million CoH.
• FL-Gov: Rick Scott has decided, rather belatedly, to throw his hat in the ring in the Republican field in the Governor's race. If the name's familiar, he's a former hospital-industry businessman who funded much of the initial anti-HCR astroturfing efforts via his organization Conservatives for Patient Rights. He's sound teabaggish themes about establishment candidate AG Bill McCollum (despite McCollum taking the lead on the GOP AGs' anti-HCR lawsuit). Considering that state Sen. Paula Dockery is already trying to run against McCollum from the right and getting no traction, it's hard to see Scott going anywhere with this, though.
• NM-Gov: Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, the lone Dem in the race, is dominating the fundraising front; she raised $1.1 million in the six-month reporting period and has $2.6 million CoH. Among the GOPers, former state party chair Allen Weh leads both in money raised ($691K, although $500K was a personal loan) and CoH ($544K). Dona Ana County DA Susana Martinez raised $428K and sits on $364K CoH.
• PA-Gov: Here's a blow to, well, everybody in the Democratic field; after not being able to find two-thirds support for anybody, the AFL-CIO won't be endorsing any particular candidate in the Dem primary. Former Philadephia city controller Jonathan Saidel got their Lt. Gov. endorsement.
• AL-05: Party-switching Rep. Parker Griffith (most recently in the news for forgetting his party-switch and billing the DCCC for expenditures) surprised his GOP primary opponents at a debate by asking them sign a unity pledge that the losers of the primary would campaign for the winner in November. No thanks, said both Mo Brooks and Les Philip.
• DE-AL: Looks like wealthy self-funder Michelle Rollins, the NRCC's preferred recruit in the race, has some competition on the big bucks front in the GOP primary. Real estate developer Glen Urquhart just announced that he has $512K in his account (of course, $500K of that came from his own pocket).
• FL-08: Alan Grayson had another big fundraising quarter, thanks in large part to netroots moneybombing (especially his March event which brought in $500K). He raised $803K in the last three months, bringing his CoH total to $1.5 million (along with the possibility of writing checks to himself).
• HI-01: CQ has an interesting piece on HI-01 that focuses primarily on just how difficult it is (especially for "mainland" pollsters) to poll in Hawaii. With only two polls of this race having seen light of day so far, the main takeaway may be that anyone's guess is as good as mine where the race stands.
• MI-01: One of the top Republicans on everyone's candidate list for the newly-opened seat in MI-01 has said that he won't run. State House minority leader Kevin Elsenheimer said he won't run, even though he's termed out of the House and needs something else to do. (Elsenheimer, from the Traverse City area, is disadvantaged by not coming from the Upper Peninsula portion of the district.)
• MS-04: Here's one other eye-catching fundraising note: a Dem incumbent who got outraised by Republican opposition previously considered inconsequential. Rep. Gene Taylor raised $41K and has $221K CoH, while GOP state Rep. Steven Palazzo raised $125K and has at least $100K CoH. Let's hope Taylor doesn't hit the "snooze" button for another quarter. National Journal's latest fundraising outline also has noteworthy numbers from Charlie Dent (PA-15), Dan Debicella (CT-04), and Rick Crawford (AR-01).
• Redistricting: With the Fair Districts redistricting initiative seeming destined to make the ballot in Florida, now the Republican-controlled legislature is trying to get its own redistricting initiative on the ballot, in an apparent effort to clarify (or gut) the Fair Districts proposals. The Senate's proposal deals with the thorny questions of VRA-mandated districts and communities of interest, which aren't addressed in satisfactory manner by the original initiatives, which forbid designing districts in a manner that is favorable to one party or the other.
• Demographics: Josh Goodman has an interesting look at population change in Texas, similar to some work we've done at SSP over the last few years; he finds that while Texas's largest counties are becoming swingier, its fastest-growing counties are still pretty solidly Republican (although the growth in these counties is in demographics that aren't likely Republican). Of course, the parts of the state that are becoming less and less of the state, percentage-wise -- the rural parts -- have become even more conservative than the fast-growing exurbs, so in a way that's progress too.
Another poll, another dose of heartbreak for Charlie Crist, who entered this race a year ago with a million bucks in his wallet and a pocketful of dreams. What's especially notable is that this poll was taken in the immediate aftermath of Crist's first real counter-attack on Rubio, which centered specifically around Rubio's use of Florida Republican Party credit cards for personal expenses, including some ridiculous allegations of back waxing. It doesn't look like Crist's new aggressive posture has paid his campaign any immediate dividends.
Kendrick Meek (D): 27 (31)
Marco Rubio (R): 32 (27)
Charlie Crist (I): 29 (32)
Undecided: 12 (10)
Charlie Crist (D): 38 (45)
Marco Rubio (R): 40 (34)
Undecided: 22 (21)
An indie run continues to look like the best bet for Crist, turning a certain defeat into a game of jump ball for all three candidates.
And, finally, the gubernatorial race:
Bill McCollum (R): 47 (45)
Paula Dockery (R): 9 (9)
Undecided: 44 (46)
Alex Sink (D): 35 (33)
Bill McCollum (R): 41 (35)
Undecided: 24 (32)
Alex Sink (D): 37 (35)
Paula Dockery (R): 15 (13)
Undecided: 48 (52)
This is a slightly more optimistic take than PPP's poll last week, which had Sink trailing by 13 points. As we've said before, there are certain things that Sink can do right now to improve her campaign, but I hope that she has an effective paid media team on contract.
Marco Rubio (R): 44
Charlie Crist (R): 30
Charlie Crist (R): 47
Kendrick Meek (D): 29
Charlie Crist (R): 49
Maurice Ferre (D): 27
Marco Rubio (R): 42
Kendrick Meek (D): 30
Marco Rubio (R): 43
Maurice Ferre (D): 27
Kendrick Meek (D): 24
Marco Rubio (R): 31
Charlie Crist (I): 26
Maurice Ferre (D): 19
Marco Rubio (R): 32
Charlie Crist (I): 29
Crisitunity teased this poll earlier, but now we have the full memo. The primary numbers can't be seen as terribly surprising at this point, and the "Crist-as-indie" scenario is not too far off R2K's test of this matchup. They had Crist 32, Meek 31, and Rubio 27, while here, Charlie is the man-in-the-middle. One obvious option this pollsters didn't test was Crist running as a Dem. Who knows what axe Fabrizio's mysterious client has to grind, but recall that R2K showed Crist (D) beating Rubio (R) by a healthy 45-34 margin. If you're trying to ease Crist out of the Senate race, those are numbers you probably don't want to flash.
Now, why would I suggest that this incognito polling sugar daddy would want to do something like that? Well, take a look at the rest of the nums FMA published:
Charlie Crist (R): 39
Bill McCollum (R): 31
Paula Dockery (R): 4
Alex Sink (D): 31
Charlie Crist (R): 48
Alex Sink (D): 32
Bill McCollum (R): 41
Charlie Crist abandoned a gubernatorial election bid all the way back in May of last year, yet here we have poll numbers testing him in the gubernatorial race! What gives? Well, the polling memo is a bit heavy-handed about its intentions, with statements like: "The only GOP Primary Crist appears to be able to win this year is the Gubernatorial primary where he leads Bill McCollum by several points and performs far better across the board." Hey, that's probably true! But Charlie Crist's advisors can read the numbers as well as anyone, so a line like that has to be for media consumption - i.e., you're hoping that the tradmed will spin this as "Crist should run for a second term as governor."
Maybe good ol' Charlie has ruled it out. But if he doesn't want to leave the GOP, he ought to be thinking about it.
• AR-Sen: Despite the seemingly imminent entry of Rep. John Boozman into the GOP field in the Arkansas Senate race, soon-to-be-former-frontrunner state Sen. Gilbert Baker says he's staying in the race. The alternative would be to run for Baker, who represents Little Rock suburbs, to run for the open seat in AR-02 instead - but there he'd face a tough primary against Beltway GOP favorite Tim Griffin, who's already established a solid fundraising foothold. (Some of the seven dwarves in the GOP field, who seem concentrated in the state's right-leaning northwest, may be interested in switching to Boozman's open seat in AR-03, though.) And unbelievably, yet another Republican is interested in getting in the Senate race: former NFL player Jim Lindsey is readying for a bid. Lindsey is a real estate developer and former University of Arkansas trustee.
• AZ-Sen: Sarah Palin is still dancin' with the one who brung her. She announced yesterday that she'll appear on behalf of John McCain, who plucked her from near-obscurity and is now needs a favor of his own as he's facing a primary challenge from the right from ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Needless to say, this provoked a lot of disappointment from her supporters among the teabagging set, who would prefer to see her stab McCain in the back and then field dress him.
• CO-Sen: With right-wingers filled with antipathy toward establishment choice ex-Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, there's been a lot of casting about for an alternative. Weld County DA Ken Buck seems more and more like he'll be that guy, as he's been making common cause with the Paulists, who are now planning to pay for a statewide advertising campaign on Buck's behalf. Meanwhile, on the Dem side, primary challenger Andrew Romanoff is trying to energize his sleepy campaign with a big hire - pollster Celinda Lake, whose previously sterling reputation got driven off a cliff with her handling of the Martha Coakley campaign.
• CT-Sen: There's not much left to see for the 2010 race, but everyone's thinking ahead to 2012, with the new rumor afoot that - with the Senate Kennedy-free for the first time in more than half a century - Ted Kennedy Jr. may run against Joe Lieberman in 2012. Lieberman himself is up to his usual asshattery, speculating out loud that he could conceive of becoming a Republican, and also saying that he might support Linda McMahon in the 2010 race... seeing as how Richard Blumenthal (tepidly) supported Lamont in the 2006 general while McMahon supported Lieberman. Apparently Lieberman learned his politics from watching the Godfather: it's not business. Just personal. (Lieberman also seems to be a believer in leaving the cannoli, and taking the guns.)
• FL-Sen: In the wake of new polling showing him falling behind Marco Rubio in the GOP Senate primary, the questions are getting louder about whether Charlie Crist might consider running as an independent instead. He said no to that idea... but people are noticing he didn't rule out switching parties altogether. With Crist appearing side-by-side with Barack Obama today in Florida (something he wouldn't consider doing if he saw any hope in trying to compete with Rubio - who just got the endorsement of ur-conservative Steve Forbes -- on conservative bona fides alone), could that actually be a consideration? If so, he'd need to switch parties by April 30.
• MA-Sen: There are a couple more retrospectives worth reading on Massachusetts, as people try to make sense of the mixed messages sent by exit polls (with one particularly intriguing tidbit: 52% of Scott Brown voters approved of Ted Kennedy's performance). Mark Blumenthal also looks at the shift in polling over the last few weeks, wondering again about the differing results gotten by live interviewers vs. robocallers, while also pointing to questions of how much pollsters' views of a race can actually change the overall momentum of the race (fundraising and perception-wise) and thus become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And get ready for the teabaggers' week-long love affair to end very soon: Scott Brown (who apparently has some self-preservation instincts) just served notice on the GOP that he won't always vote with them.
• ND-Sen: This isn't going to make the teabaggers any happier: Gov. John Hoeven, now running for the Senate, joined the Democratic Party in 1996 (at a time when he was head of North Dakota's state-owned bank), ditching them in 2000 for his gubernatorial run. With Hoeven already on their naughty list for his insufficiently anti-government stances, now he's just going to get more wrath.
• NH-Sen: Former AG Kelly Ayotte is wielding an internal poll by the Tarrance Group that gives her a big edge in the GOP primary against her challengers. She leads Ovide Lamontagne, coming at her from the right, 43-11. Random rich guys Bill Binnie and Jim Bender clock in at 5 and 3 apiece. No general election numbers were released.
• NV-Sen: One more disastrous poll for Harry Reid, which came out from Research 2000 a few days ago. This poll closely echoed one from PPP a few weeks ago that tested alternative Democrats, and finds that only Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman beats the Republicans (while Rep. Shelly Berkley and SoS Ross Miller don't fare much better than Reid). Unfortunately, this was all rendered moot a few days ago by Goodman's announcement that he wasn't going to run for either Governor or Senator. Reid loses 52-41 to Danny Tarkanian and 51-42 to Sue Lowden. Berkley loses 46-40 to Tarkanian and 45-40 to Lowden, while Miller loses 44-36 to Tarkanian and 43-37 to Lowden. Goodman beats Tarkanian 44-41 and Lowden 44-40. Rep. Dina Titus, facing a tough re-election of her own, doesn't seem to think much of Reid's chances anymore: she publicly said "Reid is done; he's going to lose."
• NY-Sen-B: One other Research 2000 poll to talk about: they looked at the Democratic primary in New York, and find about what everyone else has found. Kirsten Gillibrand leads ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. by a 41-27 margin (with 3 for Jonathan Tasini), looking solid but still with a ton of undecideds. This also exists merely at the level of rumor, but with the potential presence of Ford scrambling things for the ever-so-briefly-thought-to-be-safe Gillibrand, sources say that Democratic Rep. Steve Israel (who got dissuaded from a primary challenge) and Republican ex-Gov. George Pataki (who hasn't sounded interested until now) are both giving the race a little more consideration.
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): Franklin & Marshall's previous polls in Pennsylvania have tended to have unusually high undecideds, suggesting that they don't do any pushing of leaners at all - but this may have reached an all-time high with their new poll. Most notably, they find Allegeheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato completely dominating the Democratic gubernatorial primary... at 10% (more than doubling up on Jack Wagner, Joe Hoeffel, and Chris Doherty, all at 4)! They also find similarly low numbers in the Senate race, where Republican ex-Rep. Pat Toomey leads incumbent Dem Arlen Specter 45-31 and Rep. Joe Sestak 41-19 (?!?), and where Specter beats Sestak in the primary 30-13. (They didn't do a general election poll in the Governor's race, but find Republican AG Tom Corbett leading his remaining rival, state Rep. Sam Rohrer, 23-5 in the primary.)
• UT-Sen: The Mason-Dixon poll that gave us some (not so good) gubernatorial results also threw in some vague questions about the Senate race too. Incumbent Bob Bennett leads a Generic R in the primary, 46-27, and a Generic D 53-26 in the general. Nevertheless, Bennett drew yet another primary opponent, albeit someone seemingly of the Some Dude variety: local businessman Christopher Stout.
• WI-Sen: Wherever there's a vacillating Republican needing convincing to get into a Senate race, there's Rasmussen. (Whaddya wanna bet they have a Patty Murray/Dave Reichert poll in the field right now?) Contrary to PPP's view of the race, Rasmussen finds ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson leading incumbent Dem Russ Feingold, 47-43. They find Feingold with a perplexingly low 47/48 approval.
• CT-Gov: Is ex-Rep. Chris Shays looking to get into the Governor's race? Suddenly, it sounds like he's at least thinking about it, saying he'd like to do it but not sure if it's feasible. He's currently in Washington as head of the Wartime Contracting Commission, meaning he'd need to re-establish his Connecticut residency, but given his long-time popularity in his district (which eventually got too blue for him to hold) he might have a leg up on the so-so GOPers already in the field.
• FL-Gov: Quinnipiac released the gubernatorial half of its Florida poll yesterday, finding that Republican AG Bill McCollum has a somewhat bigger lead on Democratic CFO Alex Sink, 41-31 (McCollum led 36-32 in October). Sink leads state Sen. Paula Dockery 35-29, but considering that McCollum leads Dockery 44-6 in the GOP primary, that configuration doesn't seem likely.
• MI-Gov: Two guys who had been unlikely candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor both announced they wouldn't run. Rep. Bart Stupak is the big name to say "no," which is good as far as the DCCC is concerned, as he's needed to hold down the fort in his R+3 district. The other is Detroit Pistons head of basketball operations Joe Dumars, who probably realized he'd get pretty banged up out there without Bill Laimbeer to run interference for him. One other interesting rumor of who might run, though, is ex-Rep. Joe Schwarz, the GOP moderate who got bounced out in a 2006 Club for Growth-fueled primary by Tim Walberg. And get this... he's talking about running as an independent. Could he actually peel off enough center-right votes for the Dems to salvage this race?
• NY-Gov: Research 2000's New York poll also looked at the Democratic gubernatorial primary, finding AG Andrew Cuomo defeating incumbent David Paterson, 63-19. Paterson is laboring under 34/54 approvals. The GOP primary to see who gets flattened by Cuomo is looking pretty uneventful: Erie Co. Exec Chris Collins, who continued to express vague interest despite having gaffed his way out of contention several months ago, finally pulled the plug on his exploratory committee. That leaves ex-Rep. Rick Lazio as the only major GOPer in the race, to few people's enthusiasm.
• TX-Gov: Looks like Gov. Rick Perry isn't much of a fan of the librul media, or at least he realizes that his key demographics aren't really the newspaper-reading types. He's decided not to sit for editorial board interviews prior to their pre-primary endorsements.
Charlie Crist has been promising to get more proactive in dealing with the Marco Rubio challenge, but he's taking a strange new approach to dealing with his growing unpopularity among the Republican base: attack the base for being wrong. He buried it in a statement of his own conservative bona fies, but it's there all the same, calling out the teabaggers on their very teabaggishness:
"It's hard to be more concervative than I am on issues - though there are different ways stylistically to communicate that - I'm pro-life, I'm pro-gun, I'm pro-family, and I''m anti tax.... I don't know what else you're supposed to be, except maybe angry too..."
... and makes fun of their marginalization... but it's that same marginalization (real or not) that fuels the very sense of victimization that's at the root of their anger:
"There are a lot of Republicans that don't have the inclination to go to executive committee meetings....There is wide swath of republican voters out there that don't necessarily listen to cable tv all the time."
With that in mind, let's take a look at the latest poll of the race (from late last week):
Research 2000 for Daily Kos (11/16-18, likely voters, 1/26-28 in parentheses):
Charlie Crist (R): 47 (57)
Marco Rubio (R): 37 (4)
Undecided: 16 (21)
Not much change in the general election numbers since R2K first looked at potential matchups in January, when the idea of Charlie Crist in the Senate race was a bit fanciful. But look at that primary election trendline: the 10-point spread is the narrowest yet seen, and taken as a whole, it's gotta be alarming to Crist. (Don't get too excited yet about that 8-pt. lead by Meek over Rubio -- 40% of GOPers are undecided, vs. 24% of Dems, so guess which way they're likely to break.)
Once Crist finds out that attacking teabaggers for being teabaggers isn't going to work, he might be looking for an even more desperate measure to save his well-tanned hide. Knowing that much of Crist's success lies in his appeal to indies and soft Dems, Markos has been craftily working another angle: encouraging him to pull one of two variations on a Specter. It turns out the math is actually there for him:
Kendrick Meek (D): 31
Marco Rubio (R): 27
Charlie Crist (I): 32
Charlie Crist (D): 45
Marco Rubio (R): 34
Finally, R2K also takes its first look at the governor's race. Like most other pollsters, there see a lot of undecideds, and a narrow gap between Republican AG Bill McCollum and Democratic CFO Alex Sink.
Bill McCollum (R): 45
Paula Dockery (R): 9
Alex Sink (D): 33
Bill McCollum (R): 35
Alex Sink (D): 35
Paula Dockery (R): 13