• AZ-Sen: Ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth has made it pretty clear already that he's taking on John McCain in the Republican Senate primary, and now he's made it official when he's going to make it official. The launch date for his campaign: Feb. 15.
• CT-Sen, CT-02: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons did a whole lot of bobbing and weaving when an interviewer yesterday kept pressing him on the issue of whether he'd consider dropping down to run for his old House seat again (although a spokesperson followed up afterwards, saying he will not running for anything else, "period"). The idea has to be tempting to Simmons, though, who just watched his Senate dreams vaporize with Democratic AG Richard Blumenthal's entry, and who may by enviously eyeing efforts by some of the other 2006 victims (like Mike Fitzpatrick) to turn back the clock.
• KS-Sen: There's still six months to go before their Republican Senate primary, but time's running out for Rep. Todd Tiahrt to make a move against fellow Rep. Jerry Moran. Moran leads this month's SurveyUSA poll 40-33 (two months ago Tiahrt pulled within 3, but that's the closest he's been). Moran is currently up 38-23 in the state's northeast, which will be the decisive region (as they each have their respective districts already locked down).
• NV-Sen: File this under "it's bad news even if you have to be out there repeatedly saying this," but Harry Reid again denied (this time to Las Vegas political reporter Jon Ralston) that he'd drop out of his fizzling Senate race to make way for a different candidate. On the GOP side, one potential opponent, Sue Lowden, is up with her first TV spot, a soft-focus biographical ad. Taking note of these developments, no doubt, are Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer; insiders are observing that the two of them are both busy doling out campaign cash to their colleagues in order to build loyalties for what looks like the fight to be the next majority leader.
• NY-Sen-B: In case you missed it, last night's point-by-point dismantling of Harold Ford Jr. by Stephen Colbert is a must-see. It clearly wasn't the coming-out gala that Ford had envisioned.
• UT-Sen: The establishment is riding to the rescue for Bob Bennett, who could be threatened in this year's primary if the teabagging rabble somehow coalesced behind one of his many opponents. The NRSC just handed $43K to Bennett's campaign (an important sign to other institutional contributors), and Newt Gingrich is headlining a big-bucks fundraiser for Bennett.
• CA-Gov: Republican pollster McLaughlin & Associates (apparently not working on behalf of any of the candidates) released a poll of the Republican gubernatorial primary, finding zillionairess Meg Whitman leading zillionaire Steve Poizner, 39-12. Apparently they were in the field when Tom Campbell bailed out, as they also offer up a three-way head-to-head, which was 31 Whitman, 17 Campbell, 5 Poizner.
• CT-Gov: A couple comings and goings in Connecticut today: as expected, Danbury mayor Mark Boughton got in the Republican field. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Gary LeBeau, who'd been polling in the low single digits, dropped out. In a moment of unusual honesty for a politician, LeBeau said, "The state has no idea who Gary LeBeau is."
• OR-Gov: This is a bit of a surprise, but in the wake of Al Gore's endorsement, it's certainly an indication that ex-SoS Bill Bradbury (something of an underdog in the Democratic primary against ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber) has some powerful friends back in DC. Howard Dean will appear at several fundraisers for Bradbury in Oregon next week.
• FL-08: Here's another surprise: brash 20-something real estate developer Armando Gutierrez dropped out of the GOP field in the 8th, despite having attracted a lot of favorable buzz and even picked up a few endorsements from members of Florida's House delegation. The national party never warmed up to him, though, seemingly put off by his line-crashing, and he may have finally gotten the message, between the NRCC's preferred pick, businessman Bruce O'Donoghue, officially filing yesterday, and the endorsement by neighboring Rep. Cliff Stearns of yet another Republican in the crowded field, state Rep. Kurt Kelly.
• FL-19: In all the madness over the Illinois primaries today, it's been almost universally forgotten that the primary in the safely-blue 19th to replace resigned Rep. Robert Wexler is also today. It's hardly worth a look, though, as state Sen. Ted Deutch pretty much has it locked down, having raised many times more money than anyone else and nailed down the establishment endorsements. Former Broward Co. Commissioner Ben Graber is the only other candidate of note.
• IN-04: Despite the advantages that his statewide profile brings him, SoS Todd Rokita won't have the GOP field to replace retiring Rep. Steve Buyer to himself. He'll have to face state Sen. Brandt Hershman too. Hershman has one key advantage himself: he works as an aide to Buyer, and has Buyer's backing.
• NV-03: Here's some good news for ex-state Sen. Joe Heck: he just got $10K to go toward his campaign against vulnerable Dem freshman Rep. Dina Titus. The bad news is: that $10K came from the PAC of John Ensign, who just won't stop trying to make himself useful to Nevada's other Republicans despite the fact that he's about as popular as shingles right now. But then Heck got some more good news: he won't face a seriously contested primary, as self-funding businessman Rob Lauer dropped his teabaggish challenge to Heck to run for SoS instead.
• NY-13: A lot of people are asking who Michael Grimm is, after he banked over $300K last quarter to go up against Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon. He's a former FBI agent, who apparently has a lot of friends in high places... in places outside of his district. Only $3,500 of that amount came from within the actual district, and $2,000 of that was from Staten Island Republican guru Guy Molinari.
• NY-14: Live by the primary challenge, die by the primary challenge. Rep. Carolyn Maloney now faces one of her own, a well-funded challenge from the apparent right from 30-something attorney Reshma Saujani, who has previously raised serious dollars within the Indian-American community for other Democratic candidates. Saujani, believe it or not, is running on an unashamedly pro-Wall Street platform (although this is maybe the one district in the country where that might still work).
• PA-06: Two more prominent local Democrats who had endorsed Doug Pike when he was the only game in town have switched their endorsements to Manan Trivedi instead. Significantly, they're both in Berks County (which is also where Trivedi is from, and which is where Dems have tended to run the weakest in the district in the past): Reading mayor Tom McMahon and Berks Co. Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt.
• TN-01: Would you believe that there's a Republican who lost in one of the wave elections who isn't running for something this year? However, before you get too excited, it's ex-Rep. David Davis, who'd been mulling a third matchup against Rep. Phil Roe, who knocked him off in a GOP primary in this super-red district in eastern Tennessee. The not-insane Roe may be the best we can hope for in this district, especially compared with Davis, who'd been making outreach to the local teabaggers in preparation for another run.
• WV-03: A credible challenger to Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall sneaked under the rope at the filing deadline: former state Supreme Court justice Elliott Maynard. Maynard was, until recently, a Democrat, but switched parties pushed along largely by his perception of Democrats' anti-coal environmental policies (and no doubt also influenced by West Virginia's reddish turn over the last decade).
• OH-SoS: This was painless and easy: not only did a more progressive alternative to conservative state Rep. Jennifer Garrison get into the Secretary of State race - Franklin Co. Court Clerk Maryellen O'Shaughnessy - but she won't even face a contested primary. Getting the message that her establishment support was practically nil, Garrison got out of the race. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the GOP establishment seems to have settled the trouble it was having finding a replacement Auditor candidate after Mary Taylor ditched the job to run for Lt. Governor. They got Delaware Co. Prosecutor Kevin Yost to switch over from the AG's race, where he was facing ex-Sen. Mike DeWine in a primary. That caused a lot of consternation among the state's right-wingers, though - they were looking forward to Yost picking off the unacceptably moderate (and generally underwhelming) DeWine in the primary. Both the SoS and Auditor positions are key from a redistricting perspective, as along with the Governor they control the state's legislative redistricting process.
• Republicans: If you haven't checked out the details of Research 2000's in-depth poll of the state of what Republicans believe today, please do. Although I'm not really still sure what to do with all this knowledge... except maybe acknowledge that you can't negotiate with such irrational actors.
• Redistricting: CQ's Josh Kurtz takes an interesting look at redistricting in California over the decades, as seen through the prism of a new book that covers the many ups and downs of legendary California Rep. Philip Burton. Will it be an incumbent protection map or an aggressive push, and how will the state's fast-growing Latino population be accommodated?
Mason-Dixon for the Las Vegas Review-Journal (11/30-12/2, likely voters, no trendlines):
Dina Titus (D-inc): 40
Joe Heck (R): 40
Dina Titus (D-inc): 48
Rob Lauer (R): 32
This is one of the first media polls we've seen of a 2010 House race, and things don't look so hot: Rep. Dina Titus is tied against former state Sen. Joe Heck. Heck, you may recall, dropped down from the gubernatorial race to sub in for highly touted rich guy banker John Guedry. (Guedry claimed he bailed on the race for allegedly personal reasons - not long after it came out that his bank received $400 million in TARP funds while cutting him a fat bonus check.) Titus herself was a replacement candidate, joining the race last year after prosecutor Robert Daskas dropped out.
Heck doesn't have the primary field to himself, though. Real estate "investor" (is that like developer?) Rob Lauer looks to be running to Heck's right and has said he'll put $100,000 of his own money into the race. Heck's biggest sin appears to be his initial refusal to sign an anti-tax pledge (he later changed his mind); with the Republican base exceedingly intolerant of any apostasy these days, this may wind up hurting him. It's still very early (the primary is June 8th), but we'll see if Lauer can gain any traction among the teabagger set.
In the meantime, Titus has plenty to be concerned about. One bit of good news is that she leads among independents, 46-37. But the real story is among self-identified Democrats, where she only has a 68-9 margin. Heck, on the other hand, gets the support of Republicans at an 80-2 rate. The fact that 23% of the members of Titus's own party aren't sure that they want to support her speaks to broader concerns about the energy and excitement (or lack thereof) within the Democratic base. She'll need to consolidate those voters in order to secure a second term.
Mase-Dix also asked if voters approved of Titus's vote in favor of the healthcare reform bill. By a 41-47 margin, they said no. The fact that indies were opposed 38-50 yet she still leads them in the horserace is also a good sign - this vote isn't a dealbreaker. Dems also approve of healthcare reform by wide margins. The difficulty is that Republicans disapprove of it by even wider margins. Will touting healthcare reform therefore motivate the other side more than your own? It's a tough situation.
Furthermore, as Tim Sahd points out, the Las Vegas area has been especially hard-hit by the recession and the housing bust. This isn't helping Titus either. Obviously this is just one poll, and we're a long way off from election day. Still, she's in the bottom half of Frontline Dems when it comes to fundraising, and like a lot of members of Team Blue, she has a lot of hard work ahead of her.
• CO-Sen, CO-07: An interesting move in Colorado, where Aurora city councilor Ryan Frazier dropped his Senate bid (which was plausible when other Republicans weren't interested in the race, but relegated to longshot status when his fundraising stalled and ex-Lt. Gov. Jane Norton got into the field). Instead, he'll be getting into the CO-07 race against sophomore Dem Rep. Ed Perlmutter. In some ways, that'll be a harder general election -- at D+4, the 7th is more Democratic than the state as a whole, and Perlmutter got 63% in his 2008 re-election -- but this way he'll at least make it into the general election, which will help raise the 32-year-old Frazier's profile for future efforts.
• CT-Sen: How sadly transparent a play to the party's base is this? Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, who in the two years prior to his 2006 defeat was the 5th most liberal Republican in the House, is now a teabagger. He says he's attached an actual bag of tea to his pocket copy of the Constitution.
• FL-Sen: In an effort to have no more George LeMieuxs, there's a bipartisan effort afoot in the Florida state legislature to change the law so that Senate vacancies in Florida will be filled by fast special election rather than by appointment. State Sen. Paula Dockery, who may be running for Governor soon, is the Republican co-sponsor.
• IL-Sen: David Hoffman, the former Inspector General of Chicago (and frequent monkeywrench in that city's machine), has released an internal poll showing that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, while starting with a sizable lead, doesn't have a mortal lock on the Democratic Senate nomination. Hoffman's poll finds Giannoulias at 26%, with former Chicago Urban League head Cheryle Jackson at 12 and Hoffman at 7, leaving 55% undecided. On the GOP side of the aisle, Mark Kirk continues to shuffle to the right as he faces some competition in his own primary: he continues to defend his flip-flop on the cap-and-trade vote that he voted for in the House and would vote against in the Senate, but also says that he'd keep in place the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, saying "Keeping that all out of the workplace makes common sense."
• MA-Sen: In case there was any doubt AG Martha Coakley was running under the mantle of the establishment's candidate, she unleashed a torrent of endorsements yesterday, including about half of the state legislature (78 representatives and 16 senators, including both chambers' leaders), as well as many mayors and labor unions.
• MO-Sen: Joe Biden continues to ramp up his fundraising efforts on behalf of 2010 candidates; he'll be appearing at a Robin Carnahan fundraiser in St. Louis tomorrow. And on Friday, he'll appear in Nevada with Harry Reid to tout the stimulus.
• NV-Sen, Gov: On the off chance that John Ensign decides to spare us all the embarrassment and resign before 2010, Gov. Jim Gibbons says that he wouldn't appoint former AG Brian Sandoval to the job (despite that getting Sandoval out of the way would make his own chances of surviving the gubernatorial primary somewhat better). Gibbons also says he wouldn't appoint himself (since that would just mean likely defeat in the primary in the ensuing 2010 special election).
• OH-Sen: Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher picked up an endorsement from Rep. John Boccieri of the Canton-area 16th District today. Boccieri joins Tim Ryan, Zack Space, and Charlie Wilson in endorsing Fisher in the Dem primary; the remaining six Dems in the state's delegation haven't picked sides yet.
• OR-Gov: Not one but three possible new entrants in the Oregon gubernatorial race, although I can't see any of them getting anywhere. On the Dem side, former Hewlett-Packard executive Steve Shields says he'll announce on Thursday that he's getting into the Democratic primary field. He wasn't at the Carly Fiorina levels of management (which, uh, may actually be a good thing) and doesn't bring a personal fortune to the race, but he has hired some pricey staffers already. On the GOP side, very large, very slow, very white former Portland Trail Blazers center Chris Dudley is interested in the race (after having declined the NRCC to run in OR-05). No one is sure where exactly he fits in ideologically in the GOP; at any rate, here's hoping he's a better campaigner than he was a free throw shooter. And out on the left, Jerry Wilson, the founder of Soloflex, is going to run under the Oregon Progressive Party banner. If the general were likely to be closer, a third-party lefty with his own money would seem threatening, but so far, with John Kitzhaber in, the race isn't shaping up to be close.
• VA-Gov: Al Gore will be appearing on Creigh Deeds' behalf on Friday, although it'll be at a private fundraiser and not a public appearance.
• FL-08: With the surprising decision of former state Sen. Daniel Webster to beg off from facing Rep. Alan Grayson, all of a sudden the floodgates have opened -- and not in the way you'd expect. Prospective candidates are now actively running away from the race, starting with state Rep. Steve Precourt, who was supposed to be Plan D but said he won't run and will go for re-election to his state House seat instead. This was followed by wealthy businessman Jerry Pierce, who had previously gotten into the race and promised to spend $200,000 of his own money, but then mysteriously dropped out yesterday. Another rumored rich guy, Tim Seneff, already begged off last week -- which means that 28-year-old real estate developer and South Florida transplant Armando Gutierrez Jr. may be the last GOPer standing -- and even he sounds like he's having problems launching his campaign. What kind of mysterious powers does Alan Grayson have here? (Well, other than many millions of his own money and a willingness to spend it...)
• FL-19: It's been revealed that Rep. Robert Wexler's new job will not be in the Obama administration, but rather as president of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. The special election date won't be set until Wexler's resignation has been made official, though.
• IN-02: It's official: state Rep. "Wacky" Jackie Walorski will be taking on Rep. Joe Donnelly in the 2nd, bringing the full might of the teabaggers' movement down upon him.
• IN-08: Also in Indiana, the Republicans lined up a challenger to Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who's gotten more than 60% of the vote in both his elections in this Republican-leaning seat. Larry Bucshon, a surgeon, is a political novice, but would seem to bring his own money to the race.
• NV-03: In Nevada's 3rd, it looks like former state Sen. Joe Heck won't have the Republican primary field to himself. Real estate investor Rob Lauer is getting in the race and says he'll invest $100K of his own money in the campaign.
• NY-23: Politico has some encouraging dirt on the special election in the 23rd: Republican Dede Scozzafava is dangerously low on cash, and that's largely because the RNC has declined to get involved in the race. Scozzafava has spent only $26K on TV ads and recently had to pull down an ad in the Syracuse market; by contrast, Dem Bill Owens and Conservative Doug Hoffman have spent $303K and $124K on TV, respectively. (Discussion underway in conspiracy's diary.) Adding further fuel to the GOP/Conservative split is that Mike Huckabee will be appearing in Syracuse to address the NY Conservative Party. Huckabee hasn't actually endorsed Hoffman, but the timing can't exactly be a coincidence.
• NY-29: This slipped through the cracks over the weekend; after a cryptic e-mail that led to some hyperventilating about whether Eric Massa wouldn't run for re-election, he announced at a press conference on the 10th that, yes, in fact, he will be back. Massa faces a challenge in 2010 from Corning mayor Tom Reed.
• ME-Init: A poll from PanAtlantic SMS points to the anti-gay marriage Question 1 in Maine going down to defeat (meaning that gay marriage would survive). With gay advocacy groups learning from their California mistakes last year and going on the offensive with ads this time, the poll finds the proposition losing 52-43.
• Legislatures: Democrats lost two legislative seats in special elections last night, a state House seat in Tennessee and a state House seat in Oklahoma. It's a bigger deal in Tennessee, where Dem Ty Cobb widely lost to GOPer Pat Marsh in his effort to succeed his brother (losing 4,931 to 3,663); the GOP now holds a 51-48 numeric edge in the House, although it sounds like the Dems will keep controlling the chamber for now. In Oklahoma, Republican Todd Russ won with 56% en route to picking up a seat left vacant by a Democratic resignation, moving the GOP's edge in the state House to 61-39. Both were rural districts with Democratic registration edges but extremely Republican tilts as of late, where historic Democratic downballot advantages are drying up.
• NYC: After looking kind of vulnerable in the previous SurveyUSA poll, mayor Michael Bloomberg bounced back in yesterday's poll. He leads Democratic city comptroller William Thompson, 55-38.
• King Co. Exec: Also from SurveyUSA, a troubling look at the King County Executive Race, where the stealth Republican candidate Susan Hutchison leads Democratic county councilor Dow Constantine, 47-42. This is the first time county executive has been a nonpartisan race, and you've gotta wonder how many people are unaware of Hutchison's Republican past (for her to be polling this well in such a blue county, it would seem that she picked up a fair number of votes from suburban moderate Dems who voted for state Sen. Fred Jarrett or state Rep. Ross Hunter in the primary and who may be loath to see another Seattlite like Constantine get the job). This race, to be decided in November, may be something of a canary in the coal mine, as it puts to the test the seemingly new Republican strategy of running blonde 50-something women with little partisan track record, having them steer clear of social conservatism and mostly focus on anti-tax platitudes (as seen in NV-Sen and CO-Sen, and NH-Sen as well if you disregard the "blonde" part).