• CA-Sen: Possibly the most bizarre political ad (well, web video) of all time has just gotten unveiled by the Carly Fiorina campaign, which makes their "Carlyfornia Dreaming" website look reasoned and well-thought-out. I mean, they're going to be studying this in political rhetoric classes 50 years from now, as an example of what not to do. Not only is the imagery laughable (check out the glowing-eyed demon sheep at 2:24) but the metaphor completely falls apart (Tom Campbell is a "FCINO" (financial conservative in name only) and thus a crafty wolf, while good politicians are a herd of helpless mindless sheep?).
• CT-Sen: Even Rasmussen can't find a way to put a happy face on the tombstone piledriver the Connecticut GOP suffered with the Chris Dodd-for-Richard Blumenthal swap. They find Blumenthal leading ex-Rep. Rob Simmons 54-35 and Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling Linda McMahon 56-36. Simmons is actually very well-liked, at 60/26 favorables, but that's no match for Blumenthal at 70/27.
• IL-Sen: Republicans can content themselves with Rasmussen's first post-primary poll of the Senate field; they find GOP Rep. Mark Kirk leading Dem state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 46-40. This, of course, doesn't jibe with not only last week's PPP poll (with a 42-34 Alexi lead) but the last Rasmussen poll of the general, from December (with a 42-39 Alexi lead). Both those polls predate the strangely-timed consent decree between the FDIC and the Giannoulias-family-owned Broadway Bank, so it's possible Giannoulias might have taken a hit from that. Also, Rasmussen's numbers aren't that far off from an internal (pdf) from Magellan that the Kirk campaign was quick to release yesterday: 47-35. One suggestion that might cast a little doubt on the samples, though, is Barack Obama's approval ratings in his home state, oddly low at 54% and 51% respectively, only a few points ahead of his national average.
• IN-Sen: Ex-Sen. Dan Coats is leaving himself a lot of elbow room with the way he's carefully phrased what he's doing: "as I test the waters for a potential challenge..." I realize that SSP is pretty much powerless to change the nature of the political discourse, but we're getting very tired of the whole "I'm not running, but I'm running, wink wink" kabuki that seems to be standard practice these days (John Boozman, we're talking to you too). We fully intend to change the rating on this race, but not until Coats truly and officially gets in. At any rate, Coats may be wise leaving himself an escape hatch, if the dribs and drabs like this one keep piling up: one of his lobbying clients has been Hugo Chavez-connected oil company Harvest Natural Resources (but, then, making nice with Chavez is IOKIYAR, I guess).
• WI-Sen: If you're looking for a tea leaf on whether or not ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson is interested in taking on Russ Feingold this year, look no further: he just took a position as an advisor to a hedge fund. He'll consult with Peak Ridge Capital Group on agribusiness matters. Not only will that keep him occupied in the near future, but it's not really the kind of thing you want on your resume if trying to run at a time of anti-banker agitas. (Another hint: the talk of an ex-Rep. Mark Neumann switch from the Governor's race, to a rematch with Feingold, suddenly bubbling up.)
• IL-Gov: We have winners in the gubernatorial primaries, as all of Illinois's precincts reported by the end of the day yesterday. Pat Quinn wound up with a more than 8,000 vote margin over Dan Hynes (good for 50.4%), and Hynes conceded this morning. On the Republican side, state Sen. Kirk Dillard didn't make up as much ground in Cook County on fellow state Sen. Bill Brady as anticipated, and Brady wound up finishing with a 406-vote margin. There's no automatic recount law in Illinois, so it's up to Dillard to decide whether or not to proceed with a challenge.
Meanwhile, down the ballot, both parties seem somewhat aghast at the winners of their Lt. Governor primaries. News came out today that pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen, winner of the Democratic nod, was arrested four years ago for misdemeanor assault after holding a knife to the throat of a girlfriend (who had also been convicted of prostitution). Needless to say, Quinn is already distancing himself from Cohen, calling on him to step aside. (Although Governor and Lt. Governor are elected separately in primaries, they're then lashed together as a ticket for the general, which is how Rod Blagojevich and Quinn got put together despite their antipathy - I'm not sure if any other state does it that way.) Which isn't to say that the Republicans fared much better on that front, nominating random teabagging businessman Jason Plummer (who, like Cohen, won by pouring his own money into the race) instead of state Sen. Matt Murphy.
• NY-Gov: I can't see this being of any interest unless something goes seriously wrong and we somehow wind up with a David Paterson/Rick Lazio matchup and we need to shunt off some right-wing votes to get Paterson over the hump. But now there's a teabagger-linked rich guy, Buffalo real estate developer Carl Paladino, saying that he's considering a gubernatorial run, and that he "would go in as a pure independent."
• PA-Gov: Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato has the big financial edge in the Dem gubernatorial primary, and now he has some key labor backing as well. The Teamsters are the first major union to endorse in the primary, and they went for Onorato.
• TX-Gov: Looks like there's going to be a crazy Wang Dang Tango at Rick Perry's Houston rally on Sunday: not only is Sarah Palin going to be there to endorse Perry, but so too is the Motor City Madman, the Ten Terrible Fingers of Doom, the Rock 'n' Roll Caveman: Ted Nugent (who plans to perform). In case you're wondering where the normally reserved and understated Nugent stands on all things political, he recently said: "I think that Barack Hussein Obama should be put in jail. It is clear that Barack Hussein Obama is a communist. Mao Tse Tung lives and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. This country should be ashamed. I wanna throw up."
• AR-01: The first Democrat making moves to replace retiring Rep. Marion Berry is Berry's very own Chief of Staff, Chad Causey, who has already scheduled a fundraiser. State Sen. Steve Bryles, state Rep. Keith Ingram, and former state party chair Jason Willett are other Dems publicly eyeing the race. For the GOP, broadcaster Rick Crawford probably won't have the race to himself, with state Sen. Johnny Key interested. Princella Smith is also likely to get in - she'll definitely need a new job starting in November, as she's currently a staffer to Rep. Joe Cao.
• FL-24: The 24th seems like an apt target for Republicans, with a Republican lean and freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas not quite finding her footing - but fundraising has gone poorly for the two GOPers in the race, state Rep. Sandy Adams and Winter Park city councilor Karen Diebel, neither of whom has broken into the six digits in the last few quarters. The NRCC is now touting the likely entry of Craig Miller, the former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steakhouses. He's never held office before, but at least he brings his own money with him.
• NC-10: In the dark-red 10th, the only way odious chickenhawk Rep. Patrick McHenry is going to get dislodged is in a GOP primary - and it's starting to look like that's a possibility this year. Not one but two different opponents have outraised him (although mostly by dipping into their own wallets): dentist and Iredell Co. Commissioner Scott Keadle and businessman Vance Patterson. Keadle has some electoral experience, coming within 14 points of Mel Watt in NC-12 in 1998, during the brief period when the frequently-modified VRA district had a sizable white plurality. Keadle claims to be coming at McHenry from the right, which is hard to fathom as McHenry is already one of the most stridently conservative members of the House.
• NH-01: Another one-time NRCC fave who's fallen by the side of the road somewhat as he's put up quarter after quarter of mediocre fundraising is former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta. Sensing an opening, several other contenders have gotten into the GOP field; one, Richard Ashooh, has been exploring the race but made it official today. He comes with his own set of insider credentials, though: he's the VP of governmental relations for large locally-based defense contractor BAE Systems.
• NY-23: Talk about not learning from the past. If Assemblyman Will Barclay wins the GOP nomination, he may find himself getting Scozzafavaed by the same guy. Doug Hoffman plans to run on both the Republican and Conservative lines, but Conservative party chair Mike Long says he'll continue to back Hoffman on the Conservative line even if Hoffman loses the Republican primary.
• Redistricting: There's still a chance to get on the newly-created California legislative redistricting board. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 12. The state is taking notice that 73% of applicants are non-Hispanic whites and 70% are males, neither of which is very representative of the state's makeup, and is shelling out for a last-minute outreach campaign to bring in some more minority applicants. Part of the problem is that applicants can't have run for office or worked for a politician, which filters out many of the most politically engaged in minority communities. At any rate, it's an opportunity to get more progressives behind the wheel of shaping a more competitive legislative map for next year, so any SSPers in the Golden State are urged to apply.