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SSP Daily Digest: 5/19

by: Crisitunity

Wed May 19, 2010 at 4:36 PM EDT

CA-Sen: Good news for Tom Campbell, in the form of the Senate half of M4's poll of the California GOP primary: he leads Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore, 33-28-15. (Of course, with his plans to briefly go dark to conserve funds, that gives Fiorina a chance to play catchup when the margin's not that big.) Bad news for Campbell, though: the NRA has him in its metaphorical crosshairs, sending out a mailer to members attacking Campbell and, while not endorsing, offering kind words for Fiorina and DeVore.

CT-Sen: This is going to make it a lot easier for Richard Blumenthal to make the case that the "in Vietnam" controversy is something of a cheap shot. A longer-form video release of the appearance (provided, ironically, by the Linda McMahon campaign, undercutting their own hatchet job) where the offending phrase occurred have him correctly referring to having "served in the military, during the Vietnam era" in the very same speech. That's not stopping Vietnam vet Rob Simmons, who, sensing an opening, has rolled out web advertising with "Blumenthal Lied About Vietnam" in very large letters.

Blumenthal is getting more explicit backing from Democratic bigwigs now, as his mea culpa/attempt to get back on the offense seems to have had the desired effect. Rep. Chris Murphy, the likeliest guy to pick up the pieces if Blumenthal had to bail out, offered his unqualified support; so too did Howard Dean. And here's one thing that's actually good about Rasmussen's one-day, no-callback samples: they can strike fast. They polled Connecticut, and while the trendlines aren't appealing, they find Blumenthal still beating McMahon even in the heat of the moment before the story has had time to digest, and beating the other, unmoneyed GOP opponents by pretty wide margins. Markos has some really nice pushback against Rasmussen in general, today, asking why they always poll quickly when there's the potential for a good Republican narrative but not when the narrative doesn't fit (as seen in their failure to poll the Sorta Super-Tuesday primaries).

FL-Sen: Charlie Crist has been trying to woo union support, starting with a speech at the state AFL-CIO convention this weekend. It's another indication that he's trying to move squarely onto Kendrick Meek's turf and monopolize as much of the left-of-center vote as he can, now that he's free from his GOP shackles. Meanwhile, quixotic Democratic candidate Jeff Greene has apparently been seen wooing Ukrainian strippers, in 2005 on his 145-foot yacht while cruising the Black Sea. Not so, claims his campaign spokesperson; he was busy traveling with his rabbi at the time instead.

KY-Sen: In case you needed one more data point on how thin-skinned Rand Paul and how likely a meltdown from him is at some point before November, here's an anecdote from last night: he refused to take the customary concession call from Trey Grayson, at least according to the Grayson camp.

NC-Sen: Here's a big score for Elaine Marshall: Third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis gave his backing to Marshall in her runoff against Cal Cunningham. This move isn't so surprising, given that Lewis's supporters, like Rep. Eva Clayton, were already gravitating toward Marshall, but it ought to steer much of Lewis's African-American and youth base in her direction as well.

NV-Sen: Three items, all of which are very, very bad for Sue Lowden. First, the Club for Growth finally weighed into the Senate primary, and they backed right-winger Sharron Angle (maybe not that surprising, since they backed her in the 2006 primary for NV-02). That ought to give Angle a further shot of adrenaline, though, on top of her Tea Party Express endorsement and polling momentum. Lowden is also still bogged down in controversy over her luxury bus, doubling-down on her claims that use of the $100K vehicle was leased despite also having stated elsewhere that the bus was "donated" (which means it would have needed to be reported as an in-kind contribution). That's nothing, though, compared to the (by my count) quintupling-down on Chickens-for-Checkups, simultaneously trying to fight top Nevada journo Jon Ralston on the fact that, yes, people are bartering for health care while trying to claim that she never actually said anything about Chickencare at all.

NY-Sen-B: The only GOP big name left who hadn't said anything definitive about participating in the GOP Senate primary for the right to get creamed by Kirsten Gillibrand finally said a public "no." Orange County Executive Ed Diana said he'll stick with his current job, to which he was elected in November to a third term.

UT-Sen: Looks like that teabaggers' victory in Utah might be short-lived. Bob Bennett seems to be more interested than before in running as a write-in in the general (where, despite the complex dynamics of a write-in campaign, he faces better odds with the broader electorate than with the narrow slice of extremists running the GOP convention). We may know tomorrow what his plans are, as he emphasized "Stay tuned tomorrow."

WA-Sen: If Dino Rossi really is still interested in running for Senate, this isn't a particularly good way of showing it. Rossi is scheduled to make a blockbuster appearance on May 25... to give opening remarks at a dinnertime seminar for local real estate investors focusing on strategies for profiting off foreclosures. Because nothing says "I'm a man of the people" than knowing all the ins and outs of how to profit off the people's misery.

AL-Gov: Artur Davis is out with an internal poll, that seems mostly oriented toward countering the sense that he's losing ground among his African-American base. The poll shows Davis leading Democratic primary rival Ron Sparks 46-33. It also shows Davis leading 50-25 among African-Americans (despite the defections of some prominent local black groups), while trailing Sparks 42-41 among whites.

FL-Gov: Bill McCollum is going to have to start taking moneybags Rick Scott seriously, and he's striking hard, sending out a press release calling him an "embarrassment" and a "fraud," presumably in reference to allegations leveled against Scott's health care firm. Scott's ginormous introductory ad buy is now estimating at $6.3 million.

KS-Gov: Sam Brownback is drawing some heat for taking things out of context. Now, politicians take things out of context all the time, but his sleight-of-hand in attempting to fight efforts to more tightly regulate the business of car loans to military members may be a fridge too far.

"CNN Money on May 13 reported that 'Raj Date ... agreed that the additional (Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection) regulation might cause some dealers to stop arranging loans," Brownback said in the letter.
But Brownback's letter did not include the rest of Date's comment, which was this, "There will be some dealers who say, 'If I have to play by an honest set [of] rules, then I can't be in this business anymore.' I'm not going to shed any tears for these dealers."

MA-Gov: You may recall last week's Rasmussen MA-Gov poll where, in an effort to find some sort of good news, they found that, if liberal activist Grace Ross somehow beat incumbent Dem Deval Patrick in the primary, she would lost to GOPer Charlie Baker. Well, it's looking like Ross is in danger of not even making it onto the ballot. The state SoS says she has only a little more than half of the 10,000 signatures she needs; Ross promises an announcement tomorrow morning on her next step. (The upside for Patrick, if Ross qualifies for the primary though, would be $750K in public financing for his campaign, which he wouldn't be entitled to if he were running unopposed.)

ME-Gov: There's been some ongoing controversy in the sleepy Maine governor's race about how Republican candidate Steve Abbott (former CoS to Susan Collins) wound up with GOP voter lists, but this is a strange turn: the state Republican party chair, Charlie Webster, is now saying that Abbott's camp flat-out "stole" it.

GA-09: The special election to replace Nathan Deal (where GOPers Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins are in a runoff) seems to have winnowed the Republican field for the regularly-scheduled GOP primary, too. Former state Senate majority leader Bill Stephens has dropped out of contention in that field.

HI-01: Even if something incredibly dramatic happens between now and Saturday's drop-dead date in the special election in the 1st, things are still pretty much cast in stone. In the all-mail in election, now 43% of all ballots sent out have been returned.

IN-03: State Sen. Marlin Stutzman (whose name rec is sky-high right now after running fairly well in the GOP Senate primary against Dan Coats) says that he's going to strike while the iron is hot, and get into the race to replace resigning Rep. Mark Souder. Other GOPers confirming that they'll run include state Rep. Randy Borror, Ft. Wayne city councilor Liz Brown, and recent primary loser Phil Troyer. Another recent primary loser, Bob Thomas, is a potential candidate.

OH-16: After having found an excuse to hide behind the door the last time Barack Obama came to Ohio, Rep. John Boccieri was proudly with him when he visited Youngstown yesterday. Perhaps he can sense a bit of a turning of the tide? Troublingly, though, Senate candidate Lee Fisher wasn't present.

PA-12: PPP digs through the data from their last pre-election poll in the 12th and finds what may really have done the Republicans in. There's one entity in the district even more unpopular than Barack Obama (who had 30% approval), and that's Congressional Republicans, who were at a miserable 22/60. In nationalizing the election, Tim Burns tied himself to the nation's least favorite people of all.

PA-19: After having surviving his primary last night despite publicly seeking another job, it looks like Rep. Todd Platts exposed himself to all that danger for no reason at all. Platts announced yesterday that the Obama administration had let him know that he wasn't going to be selected for the Government Accountability Office job he'd been angling for.

CT-AG: Here's one of the weirdest career crash-and-burns I've seen lately: SoS Susan Bysiewicz went in a few months from likely next Governor to somehow not even eligible to run for the lower-tier job she dropped down to. Connecticut's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that she didn't meet the criteria for legal experience required to become AG, reversing a lower court's decision. Former Democratic state Sen. George Jepsen now has the AG job pretty much to himself. At any rate, with Bysiewicz now combing the "Help Wanted" section, that gives the Connecticut Dems a fallback plan for the Senate if Richard Blumenthal does need to bail out (although Bysiewicz may be seriously damaged at this point too).

OR-St. House: Here are a couple races with interesting implications that I forgot to watch last night: two Republican state Reps. from the high-desert parts of Oregon (the state's Republican stronghold) committed the unthinkable heresy of not only bipartisanship but supporting tax increases to close the state's budget gap. Both Bob Jenson and Greg Smith survived their primaries, though, after teabaggers, right-to-lifers, and even their state House minority leader turned their wrath against them.

Arizona: One other election result from last night that most people, us included, seemed to overlook was Proposition 100 in Arizona. In a surprise, at least to those people who think that it's a rabidly anti-tax year (which would be those people who didn't pay any attention to Measures 66 and 67 earlier this year in Oregon), the people of this red state voted by a fairly wide margin for a temporary sales tax increase as part of a package of changes to close the budget gap. It's a victory for Jan Brewer, actually, who backed the plan (perhaps feeling safer to do so, having solidified her position with her support for the "papers please" law).

1994: When you have a wave, a lot of dead wood washes up on the beach. Prompted by '94 alum Mark Souder's mini-scandal and resignation, Dana Milbank looks back at the wide array of scoundrels and rogues who were swept in in 1994.

History: History's only barely on the side of Blanche Lincoln when it comes to runoffs. It turns out that the person who finishes first in a runoff wins 72% of the time, but when that's limited only to runoffs in primaries, the success rate is only 55%... and Lincoln's victory over Bill Halter last night was a particularly close one.

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Election Night Results Wrapup

by: Crisitunity

Wed May 05, 2010 at 3:05 PM EDT

Yesterday's primary elections in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio showed two things: one, despite all the huffing and puffing about it being an anti-incumbent year and there being a massive wave of teabaggers ready to take the system down, establishment candidates still won pretty much everything. And two, the enthusiasm gap between the parties that we've been warned about is definitely out there, and numbers from last night back that up.

Indiana: Indiana was the case study for what went wrong with the anti-establishment candidates -- there were just too many of them. In Republican race after race, the anti-establishment votes were split between too many candidates, letting the incumbents or the anointed challengers slip through; had the teabaggers had the presence of mind to unite behind one person, they could have done some actual damage. In the Senate primary, 90s-leftover Dan Coats won with a tepid 39%, beating state Sen. Marlin Stutzman (standard-bearer of the DeMint wing of the teabaggers) at 29 and ex-Rep. John Hostettler (representing the Paulist wing) at 23. As we've wondered openly before at SSP, I have no idea whether that's better or worse for Democrats, seeing as how Coats has access to actual money but also a dump-truck full of vulnerabilities (starting off with the possibility that the NRA might actually support Brad Ellsworth over the Brady Bill-supporting Coats).

The same dynamic played out in a slew of House races. In IN-03, somnambulistic Rep. Mark Souder won with 48% over two opponents, Bob Thomas at 34% and Phil Troyer at 16%. In the open seat race in IN-04, SoS Todd Rokita only cleared 42%, although there were 13 contestants in the race and his nearest rival, Brandt Hershman, only reached 17%. In IN-05, widely disliked Rep. Dan Burton managed to way underperform his 52% from his last primary: he only got to 30%; luckily for him, his opposition was so chopped up that he still survived, with former state GOP chair Luke Messer coming closest at 28%. In IN-08, the NRCC's pick, surgeon Larry Bucshon, barely survived a horde of teabaggers, most of whom coalesced behind Kristi Risk, whom he beat 33-29. And in IN-09, a three-way duel between ex-Rep. Mike Sodrel, establishment pick attorney Todd Young, and teabagger fave Travis Hankins wound up with Young winning with 34%, with Hankins at 32% and Sodrel at 30% (sparing us Baron Hill vs. Sodrel Round Five). The only dominant performance was Jackie Wolarski in IN-02, who picked up 61% of the vote to Jack Jordan's 28%.

As with Coats, it's unclear to me who we'd rather have faced in those races. In each case, it was a choice between an establishment guy with money but who isn't going to excite the GOP base, vs. an outsider without the connections or, possibly, the campaign chops. Maybe Risk's loss will help with Democrat Trent Van Haaften's outreach to the local teabaggery, and in the 9th, while it's sad Baron Hill won't get to face off against the increasingly laughable Sodrel, Young seems to come with his own set of problems (first and foremost, a big recent donation from Don Blankenship, controversial CEO of coal mining company Massey Energy).

North Carolina: The big story in North Carolina was the Democratic primary in the Senate race. Thanks to a fairly strong performance from third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis, nobody cleared the 40% mark, and we're headed to a June 22 runoff between SoS Elaine Marshall and ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham, which'll be a duel between name rec (Marshall) and money (Cunningham). Marshall finished at 36%, Cunningham at 27%, and Lewis at 17%.

At the House level, in the main race where the GOP is playing offense, the primary is also headed to a runoff. In NC-08, unhinged rich guy Tim D'Annunzio got 37% and ex-sportscaster Harold Johnson got 33%. NC-11 had looked like it was also headed to a runoff, but by night's end businessman Jeff Miller barely cleared the hurdle, with 40.2%. In both those races, the Dem incumbents got mild rebukes from their bases (presumably over their anti-HCR votes), with Larry Kissell getting only 63% and Heath Shuler getting 62%. In NC-06 and NC-10, geriatric Howard Coble (64%) and bombastic Patrick McHenry (63%) also underperformed against fractured opposition. You have to look further downballot to see any bodies falling: five incumbent state legislators lost their primaries (four of them Dems, although some of these look like safe seats).

Ohio: The main event in Ohio was the Senate primary for Democrats, where Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, as expected beat SoS Jennifer Brunner 55-45. Considering how vastly Brunner was outspent, and the trajectory of the last week's polls, it's actually surprising it was that close. Apparently Brunner's hard work on the ground in some of Ohio's reddish areas in the last weeks of the campaign paid off some dividends, as she put up big leads in the Cincinnati area (Hamilton and Clermont Counties). Naturally, it leaves you to wonder what she could have done if she'd had some actual money.

In the House, OH-02 was the scene of two contested primaries. Rep. Jean Schmidt survived her primary challenge with little trouble, beating Warren Co. Commissioner Mike Kilburn 62-22. On the Dem side, Surya Yalamanchili squeaked out a 41-38 win over David Krikorian, with apparently enough people repulsed by both to give 22% to Some Dude J. Parker. Krikorian continued to be a douchebag even in defeat, accusing Yalamanchili of having played "the race card." The establishment candidates in the two other big GOP primaries both prevailed: in OH-16, Jim Renacci got 49% to 40% for Matt Miller (his third straight time breaking 40% but losing the GOP primary here). And state Sen. Bob Gibbs, the NRCC's recruit in OH-18, seems to have beaten Fred Dailey by about 200 votes (at 21% each), although this race appears headed to a recount. (One would be hard-pressed to call Dailey, the 2008 nominee and former state Agriculture Director, an outsider candidate, although at least he was certainly angry this time around.)

In Ohio, there were also some allegedly hot primaries for the GOP in statewide races, where teabagger favorites were taking on establishment picks, that also turned out to be a big bucket of nothing. In the SoS primary, state Sen. Jon Husted beat Sandra O'Brien 67-33, while in the Auditor race, Delaware Co. Prosecutor Dave Yost (who was the teabagger fave when he was in the AG race running against the guy they really hate, Mike DeWine, but became their enemy when he switched over to the Auditor's race against the guy they liked) beat state Rep. Seth Morgan 65-35.

Finally, as I said at the start, there's the matter of turnout disparities. Reid Wilson points to how only 662K voters voted in the OH-Sen Democratic primary, which was lower than the number of Democratic voters (872K) in the Democratic primary in 2006 (where there was no contested D primary in either the Governor or Senate races). That jibes with the broader numbers we've been seeing about enthusiasm gaps (as with Gallup's recent poll showing 43% of Republicans are "very enthused" about voting, while 33% of Democrats are). The falloff was similar in Indiana, where only 204K Dems participated as opposed to 304K in 2006, although it's worth noting that the Dems were playing offense in 2006 and had contested House primaries, while this year there was really bupkus to get Dems to the polls in Indiana. In North Carolina, 425K voted in the Dem primary. Reid compares this to 2004, where more Dems showed up in the primary, but that may not be an apt comparison as that's a presidential year -- regardless, that too may be an ominous number in the context of the Republican Senate primary, where almost as many, 374K, voted to help Richard Burr dispatch no-name opposition.

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IN-03: Why I Think Tom Hayhurst Has a Chance

by: Nonpartisan

Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 10:07 PM EDT

In a series of comments here at SSP, I've argued that the IN-03 congressional race is the sleeper race of the 2010 cycle.  In this diary, I'll expand on these comments and explain in detail why I think Democratic candidate Dr. Tom Hayhurst has a real shot at pulling the upset of 2010 here in Indiana.

Some caveats: no, I don't expect Hayhurst to win; I'm arguing only that he has a legitimate shot and could win given the right (not entirely unrealistic) set of circumstances.  Also, this diary isn't intended as a critique of the SSP front-page team, which recently made the decision not to list IN-03 as a potential pickup on the Big Board.  They have excellent reasons for their choice, and their fantastic writing and analysis is what keeps me coming back to SSP more than any other political site on the Net.  Finally, though I live in another district in Indiana (IN-09), I've never been to IN-03, nor do I know Hayhurst, Souder, any of the other candidates, or anyone who lives in the district.  Thus, my comments in this diary are based solely on my own analysis and on information I've gleaned from the Web.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 982 words in story)

SSP Daily Digest: 3/12 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 2:00 PM EST

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: The filing period in Nevada is now open, and there was one more surprise credible entrant in the Republican field for the Senate race, attracted by the stink lines coming off of Harry Reid. Assemblyman Chad Christensen of suburban Las Vegas, who at one point was minority whip, decided to take the plunge. That takes the number of Republicans jostling to face Reid up to a whopping 10. In other filings news, New York investment banker John Chachas decided to follow through on his planned expensive run despite usually polling with 0%, and on the gubernatorial side, Jim Gibbons put to rest any retirement rumors by filing for re-election.

NY-Sen-B: It looks like the GOP has managed to find another warm body to take on Kirsten Gillibrand. Ex-Rep. Joe DioGuardi, ousted by voters from Congress over 20 years ago and now a darling of the local teabaggers, says that he'll enter the race. (JL) (Port Authority commissioner Bruce Blakeman is already in the race, and has gotten a lot of county-level endorsements, while the Beltway media is treating former Bush aide Dan Senor as their flavor of the day, seeing as how he's a guy they're all familiar with.)

UT-Sen: The start of the Utah Republican caucus process is in just two weeks, and Utah's GOP chair is busy telling outside groups to butt out, warning them that they risk a backlash for their negative campaigning. He's referring to Club for Growth, who've been advertising and robocalling to attack incumbent Bob Bennett (although they aren't endorsing a particular opponent).

MI-Gov: Much has been made of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Dillon's poor relations with organized labor, with the assumption that labor is now getting behind Lansing mayor Virg Bernero instead. However, Dillon managed to nail down at least one union endorsement, from the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council.

CO-07: He'd gotten Tom Tancredo's endorsement, but that wasn't enough to keep music promoter Jimmy Lakey in the race. Not having gotten much traction against Aurora city councilor Ryan Frazier in the primary, he bailed out.

IN-03: I'm not sure if that rumored teabagger challenge to Republican Rep. Mark Souder - near-legendary for his lackluster campaigning - from attorney and former Dick Lugar staffer Phil Troyer ever came to pass, but now it sounds like Souder is facing another challenge from the right (or at least from the land of the awake). Auto dealer Bob Thomas (a former head of the national Ford dealers association) is planning a run and expected to advance himself $500K to get things rolling. If he has two insurgent opponents, look for Souder to survive the split... but one well-financed one could give him fits.

MA-10: I'm not sure that "top aide to Deval Patrick" is the thing you want on your resume right now, but Ted Carr is now considering a run for the open seat in the 10th in the Democratic primary (where he'd join state Sen. Robert O'Leary and Norfolk Co. DA William Keating). Carr is currently the director of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment and is also a selectman in Cohasset.

NJ-07: Looks like Dems finally have a candidate nailed down in the 7th, although probably not one who's going to put the contest against freshman Rep. Leonard Lance squarely on the map. The Union Co. Dems endorsed educator and former Hill aide Ed Potosnak for the race, and his principal rival, Zenon Christodoulou, vice-chair of the Somerset Co. Democrats, dropped out and endorsed Potosnak.

NY-29: Here's a big break for Corning mayor Tom Reed, and, in terms of avoiding a toxic split of the kind that's sabotaged many a House special election for them, possibly for Republicans in general. Monroe Co. Executive Maggie Brooks has decided not to run in the special election to replace Eric Massa, whenever that might be held, which leaves Reed (who was running before Massa's resignation) as the consensus choice. On the other hand, Brooks is probably better known than Reed and may also have better fundraising connections (on which front Reed has been lackluster so far), so she might have turned out to be a better bet for the GOP. The Dems still have nobody lined up, although several Assembly members have floated their names.

PA-06: The Manan Trivedi Express keeps gaining steam, scoring a big endorsement last night from the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. Trivedi can place this endorsement in his back pocket -- right alongside his endorsement from the Chester County Democrats last month. (The MontCo Dems also endorsed local fave Joe Hoeffel for Governor, and declined to endorse for Senate.) Meanwhile, The Hill notes that Trivedi's primary opponent, the moneyed Doug Pike, is taking a "silence is best" approach on the topic of healthcare reform, refusing to respond to multiple requests for comment on the bill. (JL)

DCCC: Barack Obama's wading into the Congressional electoral fray on May 13, hosting a big-dollar fundraiser in New York hosted by the DCCC.

CA-LG: State Sen. Dean Florez decided to jump out of the way of the Gavin Newsom juggernaut, ending his own Lt. Governor bid. It looks like the LG race will come down to Newsom vs. Los Angeles city councilor Janice Hahn.

NY-St. Sen.: Here's one of those polls that helps restore your faith in humanity. Ex-state Sen. Hiram Monserrate does not appear to be on track to win back the Senate seat he got expelled from after being convicted of assault, according to a new Siena poll of the SD-13 special election. Democratic Assemblyman Jose Peralta is polling at 60%, followed by Monserrate (now an independent) at 15, with Republican Robert Beltrani at 9. The election is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Georgia: I can't think of how to connect this story to national politics, but it's certainly interesting just from the perspective of geographical geekery. Ever wonder about the strange shape of Fulton County, Georgia (which is kind of arrow-shaped, where the pointy part is a cluster of right-leaning mostly-white exurbs far to the north of Atlanta)? It turns out that Fulton County is a conglomerate of three former counties (Milton and Campbell), and now the Republicans in the state House are pushing legislation that would allow historic merged counties to reconstitute themselves. The racial undertone, of course, is that the wealthy exurbs of former Milton County (like Roswell and Alpharetta) would like to split off from mostly-black Fulton County... which would be a big hit on Fulton County's property tax base, so Democrats are opposed. The plan may not succeed though, as it would require two-thirds of the legislature because it requires amending the state constitution.

Humor: If you missed Scott Rasmussen's appearance on the Colbert Report last night, check it out. The actual interview itself wasn't revelatory, but the self-feeding sausage machine bit that precedes it is amazing.  

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SSP Daily Digest: 11/10 (Part II)

by: Crisitunity

Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 4:59 PM EST

CT-Sen: Rumors are popping up that ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, still the GOP Senate primary's frontrunner by most people's estimation but financially outgunned on a variety of different fronts, may switch to the now-open gubernatorial race. Simmons, however, says his plans are "unchanged," and touts his foreign policy background, saying that's much more useful in the Senate. Meanwhile, an interesting CQ piece looks at pro wrestling svengali Linda McMahon's role in the race, and wonders whether her vast fortunes will really help her that much in a state where a convention attended by party insiders (where Simmons would be favored) is decisive in shaping the field. (Although even if she doesn't win the convention outright or meet the 15% threshold for getting on the ballot, she can still get on the ballot by collecting enough signatures -- certainly an expensive process, but one she could pay for with whatever change she finds under her couch cushions.)

FL-Sen: Here's about as close as you can get to a Jeb Bush endorsement without his lips actually moving. Bush's sons, Jeb Bush Jr. and George P. Bush, are headlining a Marco Rubio fundraiser in mid-December.

CT-Gov: Ned Lamont is already staffing up, and a familiar face is going to be one of his key advisors: Howard Wolfson. Wolfson was adviser to Lamont in 2006, but is better known for his lead role in Hillary Clinton's campaign last year, as well as Michael Bloomberg's campaign this year.

MN-Gov: Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak ran into a snafu with his campaign still on the launching pad, as the state's campaign finance board ruled that he spent money on his campaign before he'd filed the campaign paperwork. Rybak paid for a message-testing poll, although it didn't directly ask questions about the governor's race. If you want to see the whole polling memo (not something you usually get to see with internal polls), check it out.

WI-Gov: Politics abhors a vacuum, and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett is acting quickly to fill the vacuum that has formed on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial race. He says he'll make a decision "one way or the other" by the week's end.

CO-04: Although state Rep. Cory Gardner is clearly the NRCC's favorite in the Republican field, that didn't deter former Ft. Collins city councilor Diggs Brown, who will be announcing his candidacy on Saturday. He had been considered a likely candidate all year, but was on a year-long Army deployment and unable to announce until now. Univ. of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero rounds out the trio of GOPers seeking to take on first-term Dem Rep. Betsy Markey.

FL-13: James Golden, an African-American minister, attorney and former Bradenton city councilor, launched his campaign last week against Rep. Vern Buchanan. Golden will face an uphill fight against the self-funding Buchanan -- unless Buchanan, facing ongoing scrutiny over mysterious campaign finance machinations, goes down in a legal implosion.

ID-01: This may be a surprise, or may not -- state House majority leader Ken Roberts withdrew from the GOP primary race to take on freshman Dem Rep. Walt Minnick. Roberts cited health reasons. Roberts initially would have seemed to have a leg up based on name recognition, but veteran and former McCain campaign official Vaughn Ward seemed to be capturing most of the buzz, including a good fundraising start and NRCC touting.

IN-03: Democrats have taken notice in the last few cycles of Rep. Mark Souder's decidedly lackadaisical approach to re-election in this dark-red district, but now someone from the teabaggy right is taking notice too, and launching a primary campaign. Republican Attorney Phil Troyer (a former staffer to Dick Lugar and Dan Coats) announced his campaign today. (This seems less like an ideological challenge, as Souder is down-the-line conservative, as just opportunistic, taking advantage of his sloth.) Tom Hayhurst, who narrowly lost in 2006, is on track to the Democratic nod again.

MN-03: Add a second Democratic challenger to the list in the 3rd: Minnesota PTA president, and executive director of the Minnesota Optometrists Association, Jim Meffert filed to run. He joins psychiatrist Maureen Hackett; they may still both be joined by state Sen. Teri Bonoff, although Meffert says that Bonoff has hinted to him that she's likely to take a pass.

NJ-03: Best wishes to state Sen. Diane Allen, who is entering treatment for an aggressive form of cancer. The moderate Allen, who lost the 2002 Senate primary and was short-listed for Lt. Governor this year, had been considered a possible candidate against Rep. John Adler in the 3rd.

NV-02: We've got another Democrat lined up to go against Rep. Dean Heller in the 2nd (after Cindy Trigg dropped out several months ago), and he has a strong resume. Jack Schofield is a member of the state's Board of Regents, and is a former state Senator. Unfortunately, he may not be running the most vigorous campaign in the world, as he was a state Senator in the 1970s, and is a World War II veteran (do the math).

NY-23: The Washington Post has a nice, human-level retrospective on Dede Scozzafava's collapse in the special election and the difference in how the GOP and the Dems treated her, leading to her Bill Owens endorsement. Meanwhile, things continue to play out, as Scozzafava either stepped down from or was stripped of her leadership role in the Assembly Republicans, depending on who you believe. Start counting down to her party switch (not that the Assembly Dems need the help, what with their 109-41 margin).

OH-02: What's with all these former Apprentice contestants thinking that's somehow a stepping stone to political office? Surya Yalimanchili is now planning to run as an independent in the 2nd, currently held by GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt. He's sounding centrist notes so far rather than sounding teabaggy, though, so he may not help the Dems too much by siphoning off far-right Republican votes.

PA-07: One more Democrat is getting into the open seat field in the 7th, although it's unclear whether she'll get much traction against state Rep. Bryan Lentz. Environmental lawyer Gail Conner, an Obama convention delegate last year, threw her hat into the ring.

PA-11: Third time's the charm? It looks like Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta will give crusty Dem incumbent Paul Kanjorski another challenge next year. Barletta fell just a few points shy of knocking off Kanjorski last year, prompting Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien to enter the Democratic primary for the seat. With pressure from both sides, one has to wonder if Kanjo will hit the eject button. (J)

PA-17: Here's an example of how voting against health care reform does Blue Dogs a fat lot of good: Rep. Tim Holden got about two days of peace before a Republican state Senator started making noises about a campaign against him anyway. Holden has had little in the way of opposition recently, but now he may face David Argall, who represents Holden's coal-country turf of Schuylkill County. Relatedly, over in Ohio's 16th, a Cleveland Plain Dealer profile of fellow anti-HCR vote John Boccieri shows how he managed to win over exactly no Republicans while ticking off his base.

PA-19: With Republican Rep. Todd Platts looking to bail on the House and head over to the GAO, candidates are already scoping out the potential special election. Although it's a dark-red district (R+12), one good-sounding Dem is gearing up: Ryan Sanders, real estate developer, president of the Red Lion Area Business Association, and most usefully, an organizer for the Obama campaign in York County.

UT-02: More fallout from the health care reform vote: Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson (one of the 'no' votes) may, as a result, be facing a primary challenge from the left from state Sen. Scott McCoy (Utah's only gay state Senator and one of its few liberals). The Salt Lake City-based district is still strongly Republican, although it hasn't presented Matheson with much trouble lately.

MI-St. Sen.: Here's an interesting look at the fight by Dems to reclaim the state Senate in Michigan (currently held 22-16 by the GOP, but where the majority of seats are open next year), which would give them the redistricting trifecta. Even if they don't pick it up (or do while losing the gubernatorial race), the state Supreme Court breaks any logjam, making next year's Supreme Court elections paramount too. The article also contains a map of the Dems' preferred redistricting plan, to turf out Rep. Vern Ehlers by creating a Dem-leaning 3rd District linking Grand Rapids and Muskegon.

NH-St. Sen.: A special election will be happening in New Hampshire, giving the Dems the chance to add to their narrow lead in the state Senate there (they currently have a 14-10 edge). Republican state Sen. Ted Gatsas is poised to resign after having been elected Manchester mayor. Democratic state Rep. Jeff Goley is set to get into the race, though several other state House Dems are looking at it too.

Mayors: The Seattle mayor's race has finally come to an end, with as late-breaking ballots are going more toward former local Sierra Club leader Mike McGinn. Joe Mallahan conceded after McGinn's lead pushed up to nearly 5,000, for a 51-49 edge.

Ads: In the wake of this weekend's health care vote, the DNC is planning to target 32 House Republicans in Obama districts who voted 'no.' They aren't planning on using paid media yet, but will use the OFA campaign e-mail lists to organize in those districts. Meanwhile, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is promising ads against 10 'no' votes, saying it's "payback" time: Barrow, Shuler, Herseth Sandlin, Murphy, Altmire, Nye, Kissell, Adler, Kosmas, and Ross.

Demographics: If you're like me, you may spend a lot of time wondering how Scandinavian-Americans got so liberal and Dutch-Americans got so conservative. Dreaminonempty takes a look at ancestry and voting patterns in a very interesting diary at Open Left.

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