• 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.
With the Daily Digest turning a year old (and starting to get pretty portly on a regular basis), we thought we'd experiment with splitting it into two parts. This may not happen every day, just on an as-needed basis. But with the campaign season really heating up, we may need to do this a lot! Without further ado:
NY-Gov: Gov. David Paterson's free-fall is so spectacular that it's actually interfering with AG Andrew Cuomo's investigation of Paterson's alleged interference in the abuse case against his top aide. Apparently, aides are so eager to brandish their knives in the press that various accounts are coming out publicly before Cuomo's team can conduct proper interviews, making it hard to get the straight story. Talk about perverse luck for Paterson - though I'm sure it won't make a difference in the long run.
AL-02: State Board of Education member Stephanie Bell has officially entered the Republican primary for Alabama's 2nd CD. She'll face off against NRCC Young Gun Martha Roby and teabagging businessman Rick "The Barber" Barber.
GA-07: As expected, state Rep. Clay Cox has jumped into the race to succeed John Linder. Cox says he's a teabagger, loud and proud. Since most 'baggers tend to be of the Some Dude variety (at best), this has to count as a pretty good get for the tea partiers. (TheUnknown has further updates on the race and the downballot implications.)
NY-24: Mike Arcuri has decided to employ the John Kerry strategy: Even though he already voted for healthcare the first time around, now he's saying he might vote against it. What a profile in courage. Arcuri's complaints sound like a laundry-list of right-wing talking points. Who's advising this guy, Lanny Davis and Al From?
NY-29: "Shotgun" Randy Kuhl, the man Eric Massa beat in 2008, says he is weighing a comeback. Ex-Corning Mayor Tom Reed has been in the race for a while, but hasn't raised much and is probably considered shoveable-asidable by bigger players. Some other names in the mix for the GOP include Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, state Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, and state Sens. Cathy Young and George Winner (R). (Remember the last time we ran against the Assembly minority leader in upstate NY?)
The Dem bench, as Crisitunity noted, is hella thin in these parts, but apparently Assemblyman David Koon is putting out feelers. Hornell (pop. 9K) Mayor Shawn Hogan has also been mentioned as a possibility.
Also of note, several outfits now report that Massa informed Steny Hoyer about the sexual harassment allegations against him a few weeks ago. Yet before anyone jumps to conclusions, this is no Mark Foley scandal. Hoyer told Massa to report himself to the Ethics Committee, and Massa did just that.
Minnesota: In order to comply with a new federal law mandating that overseas voters have sufficient time to mail in their ballots, Gov. Tim Pawlenty finally signed a bill into law which changes MN's primary from Sep. 14 to Aug. 10. This makes Minnesota the first state with a late primary to resolve this problem - quite a few others will likely need to make similar arrangements.
Texas: Get a load of this: Former GOP state Rep. Rick Green was ousted by Dem Patrick Rose in 2002. Four years later, he punched Rose in the face at a polling location. Now, this bag of dicks is in a run-off for the Texas Supreme Court, the state's highest civil court. Kath Haenschen wants to know: "If Rick Green loses the run-off, will he punch Debra Lehrmann in the face?"
Given the absurd number of races on the ballot in Texas, I'm sure Green wasn't the only maniac to do well last night. In fact, Dems have at least one problem of their own: Kesha Rogers, a LaRouchie who won the nomination in TX-22 (Nick Lampson's old seat) on a platform of impeaching President Obama. Says Rogers' website:
The victory in the 22nd Congressional District yesterday by LaRouche Democrat Kesha Rogers sent an unmistakable message to the White House, and its British imperial controllers: Your days are numbered.
Fortunately, a spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party said, "LaRouche members are not Democrats. I guarantee her campaign will not receive a single dollar from anyone on our staff." Or pounds sterling.
• CA-Sen (pdf): The Public Policy Institute of California takes a look at the California Senate race, and find it a fairly close-looking race if ex-Rep. Tom Campbell survives the primary against wealthy Carly Fiorina and teabagger-powered Chuck DeVore. Unfortunately, it looks like he's poised to that, leading Fiorina and DeVore 27-16-8. Barbara Boxer leads Campbell 45-41 in the general, while she leads Fiorina by a more comfortable 48-40 and DeVore 47-39. (By comparison, Boxer leads Campbell by 10 in the most recent sample by the widely-respected Field Poll, who found Campbell leading Fiorina 35-25-6.) Another bit of bad news for Fiorina: apparently people at her former company doesn't think that much of her. Boxer has received the maximum $10K from Hewlett-Packard's PAC, while Fiorina has gotten nothing.
• IL-Sen: I don't know if anyone was banking on Jacob Meister and the 1% of voters he was pulling in, but the wealthy attorney running a quixotic bid folded his hand and threw his backing behind Alexi Giannoulias with only a day to go before the primary. He cited David Hoffman's negative ads and that Hoffman is "more conservative" than he lets on. PPP's Tom Jensen also has some thoughts on the Republican primary, wondering why Patrick Hughes fizzled while other tea party-fueled insurgent candidates (Rand Paul) have caught a spark; basically, it has to do with money, and not just one's own money (with Hughes has lots of) but institutional money (from folks like the Club for Growth) instead.
• KY-Sen: Speaking of Rand Paul, he got a top-drawer endorsement today, from Sarah Palin, as the common cause between teabaggers and Paulists now seems fully stitched-together. (Of course, whether that endorsement translates into dollars is another question, especially with today's revelation that SarahPAC spent more money buying copies of "Going Rogue" to push it up the best-seller lists than on contributions to actual candidates.)
• NV-Sen: While he hasn't taken any official steps, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is souding more and more like a Republican candidate for the Senate, publicly saying "I can beat Senator Reid." (And, the implication probably is, that the second-tier odds and ends currently cluttering the race can't, once the gloves come off.) With Krolicki being courted by the John Cornyn at the NRSC, that's just arousing the wrath of the anti-establishment set, though, and even some local bigwigs, like ex-Gov. (and current RNC committee member) Bob List, who's telling Cornyn to back off.
• NY-Sen, NY-Sen-B (pdf): No particular surprises in Marist's new poll of the Senate landscape in New York, finding that a hypothetical George Pataki challenge, rather than Harold Ford Jr., is the biggest threat to Kirsten Gillibrand. She wins the primary against Ford and Jonathan Tasini 44-27-4. Gillibrand loses to Pataki 49-43, while easily beating the only announced Republican, Port Authority commissioner Bruce Blakeman, 52-30. Ford also loses the general to Pataki, 52-35, while getting past Blakeman 39-35. They even test out the other Senate race, the one no one has been thinking about but that talk show host Larry Kudlow has made some noises about joining. Charles Schumer mops the floor with Kudlow, 67-25.
• WA-Sen: I don't know if this is going to strike much fear in the heart of Patty Murray, who has flattened three prominent Republican U.S. Representatives over the course of her career, but a poll from Moore Insight (a Republican polling firm in Oregon) clearly designed to lure 2004 and 2008 gubernatorial loser Dino Rossi into the race finds Rossi leading, 45-43. Rossi says "I never say never," but also says he has "no plans to run for any office at this point."
• CA-Gov: That same PPIC poll has gubernatorial numbers as well, finding that Jerry Brown shouldn't take his race for granted either. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has moved into commanding position in the GOP primary, between her outrageous spending and the disappearance of Tom Campbell from the race; she leads Insurance Comm. Steve Poizner 41-11 (an improvement from 32-8 in December). Brown leads Whitman by five, 41-36 (he led by 6 in December), while he leads Poizner 44-29. Calitics has some advice on how Brown should engage the race if and when he emerges from his Fortress of Solitude, and also some details on how Poizner isn't going down without a fight, calling for federal investigation into Whitman's efforts to push him out of the race.
• MD-Gov: Ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich seems to be moving closer to a rematch with the man who defeated him in 2006, Democrat Martin O'Malley. He's been lining up fundraisers and a statewide "listening tour," although he says he wants to hear what people actually say on said tour before making a decision one way or the other on the race. Another indicator that Ehrlich is likely to run: the only Republican in the race right now, Larry Hogan, a close Ehrlich friend who said he's get out of the way for Ehrlich and was in the race as something of a placeholder, has ended his campaign, saying that he's convinced Ehrlich is getting in.
• MI-Gov: Lt. Gov. John Cherry's withdrawal from the gubernatorial race is certainly different from what we saw Connecticut and Colorado: instead of leading to an instant upgrade, we're just seeing a lot of confusion, with none of the options seeming that much better. The newest EPIC-MRA poll of the race finds pizza magnate Denise Ilitch in the best position in the scrambled Dem primary, leading state House speaker Andy Dillon and Lansing mayor Virg Bernero 23-8-5, with a majority undecided. AG Mike Cox leads the Republican field, beating Rep. Peter Hoekstra and Oakland Co. Sheriff Mike Bouchard 32-25-16. Specific head-to-head numbers aren't reported, but Ilitch reportedly trails Cox by 18 and Hoekstra by 7, with Dillon and Bernero faring even worse. (UPDATE: Thanks to RCP, those toplines are: Cox 48, Ilitch 30; Cox 47, Dillon 30; Cox 50, Bernero 28; Hoekstra 42, Ilitch 35; Hoekstra 40, Dillon 32; Hoekstra 45, Bernero 27.)
• PA-Gov: With rich guy Tom Knox suddenly out of the governor's race, another Philadelphian is looking to fill his void in a Democratic primary dominated by western Pennsylvania figures. State Sen. Anthony Williams has been sounding out the race; he'd be the only African-American in the field.
• AR-03: We've already dissected the possible fields in Arkansas' 1st and 2nd districts, but now that it looks like the 3rd will be vacant too, let's see who might step up. One top name is John Arthur Hammerschmidt, the son of the guy who held the seat for more than 20 years (and who notably beat a young Bill Clinton many years ago). A possible return engagement by ex-Rep. and ex-DEA head Asa Hutchinson is also mentioned. Other names for the GOP include former US Attorney Bob Balfe, state Rep. Jonathan Barnett, former state Sen. Dave Bisbee, state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, former state Sen. John Brown, state Rep. Rick Green, city councilor Kurt Maddox, former state Rep. Doug Matoyo, former state Rep. Daryl Pace, current Senate candidate Buddy Rogers, retired general Bernard Skoch, and Rogers mayor Steve Womack. Fayetteville city attorney David Whitaker seems to be the lone Democrat interested in this dark-red district.
• CA-12: Nothing sets off a stampede like an open U.S. House seat in California, where term limits keep people cycling in and out of the state legislature. With Rep. Jackie Speier sounding likely to run for state AG, state sen. Leland Yee, state Assemblyman Jerry Hill, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma also have said they're revving up for a run in the Democratic primary in this safely-blue seat.
• LA-02: Rep. Joe Cao seems to have gotten sucked into the downward spiral of direct mail marketing. He raised a pretty good $248K during the last quarter, but somehow managed to spend $283K, meaning he burned $35K and is sitting on only $316K CoH anymore.
• MN-03: Bad news in the 3rd: state Sen. Terri Bonoff, who probably should have been our candidate there in 2008, isn't going to run there in 2010, instead going for another term in the state Senate. Maureen Hackett and Jim Meffert are facing off for the Democratic nod, but neither of them has Bonoff's stature in the swingy suburban district.
• NY-15: The Memphis newspaper has an interesting profile of one of the candidates seeking to knock off increasingly-sketchy Rep. Charlie Rangel in the Democratic primary, Harlem community banker Vincent Morgan. What's the Memphis angle on all this? Morgan is really a Ford; he's the estranged son of currently imprisoned former state Sen. John Ford, and the cousin of former TN-09 Rep. and current possible NY-Sen candidate Harold Ford Jr. Morgan isn't close with the family, and prefers to downplay the link.
• PA-08: The minor GOP candidates in the 8th seem to be bailing out, in the wake of the entry of a relative heavyweight, in the form of ex-Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, back to reclaim his seat. Attorney and Iraq vet Dean Malik, who seemed to be as close to a frontrunner as the GOP had pre-Fitzpatrick, dropped out last week and endorsed Fitzpatrick. The self-proclaimed teabagger in the race, Rob Mitchell, also pulled out and threw his support to Fitzpatrick.
• TN-04: Rep. Lincoln Davis had previously made it clear that he was running again, but it's official today: he filed his paperwork for another run. That's gotta be a relief for the DCCC, already trying to plug two holes in TN-06 and TN-08.
• TX-23: Former Bexar Co. Commissioner Lyle Larson, who torpedoed the GOP's preferred candidate (Quico Canseco) in the 2008 primary and then went on to get swamped by Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the general, won't be running again this year. Instead, he's getting into an open seat race for a Texas state House seat instead, giving Canseco a clearer shot this time.
• WV-01: A last-minute primary challenge to Rep. Alan Mollohan sneaked in, and it's a rather serious one, from long-time state Sen. Mike Oliverio. Oliverio is giving up his Senate seat this year, maybe in hopes that Mollohan would retire; when Mollohan filed for re-election anyway, he may have figured he had nothing to lose by running anyway (although with Mollohan's ethical cloud having been recently lifted, I'm not sure what Oliverio's angle would be anymore). Also worth noting: state Sen. Clark Barnes, considering a leading GOP challenger, didn't even file to run, apparently thinking better of it after the party started touting former state Rep. (and more importantly, potential self-financer) David McKinley instead. (You can check out all the Kentucky and West Virginia filings action in benawu's new diary.)
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