SurveyUSA for KING5 (4/27-28, registered voters, no trendlines):
Jay Inslee (D): 41
Rob McKenna (R): 48
Jay Inslee (D): 44
Dave Reichert (R): 46
Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 40
Rob McKenna (R): 52
Chris Gregoire (D-inc): 44
Dave Reichert (R): 48
No doubt most media outlets are going to run this poll with a "OMG! Rob McKenna beats Chris Gregoire!" headline. Pardon my French, but Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break. While Gregoire is legally entitled to run for a third term, that just isn't done in Washington (no one has attempted it since Dan Evans back in the 1970s), and she isn't fundraising, but keeping a vague air of mystery about her plans to ward off lame duck-itis in her dealings with the legislature. Even if she wanted to, her approvals would sensibly preclude her from running (37/61 in this poll), as she's shed considerable support on her left with recent actions (an annual budget heavy on education cuts, and just last week a partial veto of a medical marijuana dispensary bill). Add all that up, and anyone in Washington with two brain cells to rub together knows she isn't running.
Well, with that said, the other numbers from this poll confirm my suspicions that this is going to be a difficult hold for the Democrats, as both AG Rob McKenna (who's been running for this job for about eight years) and Rep. Dave Reichert (who just poked his head up about this job in the last week) have leads over likely Dem nominee Rep. Jay Inslee. I suspect the McKenna/Inslee disparity may be largely because of name rec (although SUSA doesn't provide approvals on anybody other than Gregoire, so I can't compare). Inslee also has an avenue of attack that he's only just started using, concerning the one flagrantly partisan thing that the otherwise blandly non-controversial McKenna has done as AG, which is to sign onto the multi-state lawsuit against health care reform. Even taking those factors into account, though, McKenna is the GOP's best shot in decades at recapturing the governor's mansion, given that he's one of the last of a dying breed: a quasi-moderate from the suburbs of King County. (And, no, although Reichert also meets those criteria too, I just don't see him running for this; the party establishment wouldn't stand for it.)
In case you're wondering about methodology, the usually autodialer-only SurveyUSA did include a cellphone user sample as part of the poll. You may recall that they did this several times in their polling of WA-Sen last year to account for problems with reaching landline-free younger voters, a problem which has seemed particularly pronounced in tech-savvy Washington. It didn't seem to help much in 2010, though, as SurveyUSA, like the other robo-callers, still saw the Murray/Rossi race as a tied game, while local traditional-method pollsters at UW correctly spotted the 5-point margin.
• AZ-Sen: Board of Regents member Fred Du Val, who I don't think we'd discussed before, said he won't seek the Democratic nomination to replace Jon Kyl. The article also mentions another possible Dem name that I hadn't previously seen, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke.
• FL-Sen: This article makes George LeMieux's candidacy appear exactly as lame as you'd expect. Not only is he lamely courting teabaggers, but a recent "Tax Day" rally drew "less than 100." Sounds like a lot less.
• MA-Sen: Apologies for the paywalled-link-not something I'd ordinarily do, but this story isn't available elsewhere. Anyhow, bigwigs constantly talking about him to the media has just got to be frustrating for Newton Mayor Setti Warren. First it was Gov. Deval Patrick, blabbing to the press that he was sure Warren was going to run. (Warren had to publicly back away from Patrick's remarks.) Now, it's the opposite: Rep. Barney Frank for some reason thought it would be a good idea to tell the National Journal: "I think it's a mistake for him to run, I've told him that." Well, if Frank's told Warren this, then why the fuck does he also have to tell the NJ and turn it into a public spectacle? And it's not just one off-hand remark - Frank made multiple statements talking down Warren's chances. Sheesh, just let Warren do what he wants to do. Jeez.
• ME-Sen: Dem House Minority Leader Emily Cain says she won't challenge Olympia Snowe next year. (Cain, just 30 years old, can certainly bide her time.) The same piece mentions another possible Democratic name, businessman Donato Tramuto, who may also be interested in a 2014 gubernatorial bid.
• MO-Sen: As Eli Yokley of PoliticMo observes, Todd Akin's visit with a bunch of teabaggers in Joplin, Missouri took him three hundred miles outside of his congressional district, as sure a sign as any that he's interested in taking on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Akin says he'll decide "in the near future." Interestingly, at the end of this article, he also whined about Democrats "beating up" Republicans over wanting to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it. That kvetching means our attacks are already working-and when you have to start explaining yourself in full-length paragraphs (as Akin tries to do), you're on the defensive and flailing.
• NM-Sen: Auditor Hector Balderas said on Friday that he'll decide whether to seek the Dem nod to replace the retiring Jeff Bingaman "within the next two weeks."
• TX-Sen: It appears that Democrats may have landed an interesting recruit in this race: Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq. Sanchez said he wouldn't "confirm or deny" the reports, but former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Dem, decided to crack out of turn, saying he spoke with Sanchez and that it sounded "like he's close to being a candidate." One black mark: Sanchez was in command of US forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, and he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram it was "pretty fair" to say the event ended his military career (though of course neither he nor any high-ranking officers were ever held responsible).
In other TX-Sen news, another one of Ron Paul's offspring, Fort Worth physician Robert Paul, says he has "thought about running" for Senate... but that's pretty much all he's said.
• NH-Gov: Mark Connolly is an interesting figure in New Hampshire politics: He's the former director of the state's Bureau of Securities Regulation, until he resigned last year to publicly blow the whistle on the state's mishandling of an investigation into a ponzi scheme run by an entity called Financial Resource Management. (You may recall that this scandal also tainted Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who had been NH AG at the time, but not enough to derail her Senate bid.) In any event, Connolly says he thinks Gov. John Lynch should seek a fifth-term and he'd support him if he does-but if Lynch declined to run, Connolly "would consider" doing so himself. (Note that Connolly also briefly considered a Senate run himself last cycle, but was wise enough to stand aside.)
• WA-Gov: I'm not really understanding Rob McKenna's path to victory. He's spent most of his career trying to convince people he's a "moderate," non-insane Republican, but then he signed on to the multi-state suit by mostly red-state Republican AGs to try to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional. He's since continued in that surprising vein: He just attended a teabagger "Tax Day" rally and seems to think he needs to court the wingnuts in order to be successful. Is he worried about a primary? Or is he concerned he can't win without teabaggers pushing for him at full throttle? Either way, it seems like he's screwing himself.
• FL-22: Kinda interesting: Former Gov. Charlie Crist just gave $1000 to Democrat "no not that" Patrick Murphy's campaign to oust Allen West. (They share a consultant in common.) Really, I can't believe Crist just didn't switch parties when he had the chance.
• OR-01: Carla Axtman, writing at the you-should-bookmark-`em-if-you-haven't-yet Blue Oregon, goes as far down into the weeds as it's possible to go without spontaneously commencing photosynthesis. In a look at the possible Dem field shaping up to primary Rep. David Wu, she mentions a couple of candidates we hadn't previously seen named before: state Rep. Brad Witt and Clatsop County Commissioner Dirk Rohne, a recent R-to-D switcher.
• NYC-Mayor: Kill me now: Dick Grasso, the d-bag ex-director of the New York Stock Exchange, says that if Eliot Spitzer runs for mayor, so will he. I just pray Spitzer isn't stupid enough to actually run, but if anything, this challenge from Grasso probably has Eliot's blood flowing and makes him more likely to do it. God.
• WATN?: Alan Hevesi, who had once served as NYC Comptroller and later comptroller for the whole state, was sentenced to one to four years in prison, after pleading guilty last fall to one count of official misconduct. Hevesi took bribes from financial firms (politely called "pay-to-play") in exchange for steering the state to invest its considerable pension funds with those firms. What a piece of shit. Anyhow, he could be out of jail in less than a year.
Another ex-pol who has very much landed on his feet is former PA Gov. Ed Rendell. Of course, you'd expect nothing less from Fast Eddie, and if you really are curious as to what he's up to, you're going to have to click the link, because it's way more than I can summarize.
• AZ-Sen: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) will apparently announce a haul of more than $1 million in Q1.
• OH-Sen: A spokesman for Treasurer Josh Mandel says he'll file paperwork with the FEC "very shortly," but it's not clear from the writeup whether this means an exploratory committee (what I'm guessing) or if it's the real thing. Also of note: Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), whose name first came up as a possible candidate less than a week ago, quashed any notion that he might run against Sherrod Brown last Friday.
• VA-Sen: If you want to believe CNN's sources, Tim Kaine will announce a Senate bid in the next two weeks.
• WA-Sen, WA-10: Sue Rahr, the conservative King County Sheriff who inherited the job from now-Rep. Dave Reichert, said through a spokesman that she has no intention of running against Sen. Maria Cantwell - a rumor that seems to have gotten shot down before we'd ever heard of it here at SSP. However, a political consultant of Rahr's thinks the sheriff (who supposedly has crossover appeal) could run in Washington's new 10th CD, if a district emerges out of Reichert's 8th centered in the area north of I-90.
• ME-Gov: Will Paul LePage be the next Rick Scott? Like Florida's governor, Republican members of LePage's own legislature are starting to turn on him; eight state senators penned an op-ed declaring : "'Government by disrespect' should have no place in Augusta, and when it happens, we should all reject it."
• MO-Gov: I think it's going to get worse before it gets better for Republican LG Peter Kinder. Trying to push back against revelations that he spend taxpayer money to spend two months a year in St. Louis luxury hotels to attend baseball games, society balls, and teabagger conclaves since 2006, Kinder claimed that his office had been reviewed by two different state auditors, both of them Democrats: Susan Montee and Claire McCaskill (yes, her). The problem? Montee's audit faulted Kinder for "numerous mathematical errors and inconsistencies" regarding employee pay, and McCaskill's found that Kinder used a state-owned care for personal use. I'm sensing a theme here.
• WA-Gov: Could Christine Gregoire's claim to be undecided about seeking a third term really just be a way to ward off lame-duck syndrome? That's Jim Brunner's guess. The Seattle Times reporter points out that campaign finance filings show the Democrat had just $44K on hand at the end of February. At the comparable reporting deadline during the prior election cycle, she had $1.2 million in the bank. Meanwhile, other likely candidates are flush: Republican AG Rob McKenna has raised $800K and has $400K on hand, while Rep. Jay Inslee (D) had $1.2 million in his congressional account at the end of last year. The piece also notes that another possible Dem candidate, state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, has recently discussed a potential run for Lt. Gov. instead. (She'd have to primary Brad Owen, who has been in office since 1997, or push him into retirement.)
• FL-22: Whoa, I was definitely wrong to dismiss "no not that" Patrick Murphy as a Some Dude. One article described him as a 28-year-old accountant, but he's got family money - and, evidently, good connections. Murphy says he raised a majorly impressive $350K in less than a month, and only $30K of that is his own money. Even fundraising machine Ron Klein raised "only" $153K in the comparable quarter in 2005 (before he was first elected).
• NM-01: Terry Brunner, a former state director for the retiring Jeff Bingaman, had previously said he was thinking about running for his old boss's seat, but now says he's considering a run for the 1st CD instead.
• NV-01: Jon Ralston thinks former 3rd CD Rep. Dina Titus will run for Shelley Berkley's seat if the latter runs for Senate, but this is definitely a case of Schrödinger's Seat.
• OR-01: Former state Rep. Greg Macpherson is the first big-name Dem to say he's considering a primary challenge to embattled Rep. David Wu. He wants to wait until the district lines become clear, saying he'll only run if he lives in the district. (He doesn't live there now, but I suppose he could move even if redistricting doesn't help him, so I'm not sure how big an obstacle that is.) He also says he's considering a primary challenge to state AG John Kroger, the man who beat him in the Dem primary for that office in 2008.
• WI-07: Feeling the heat, Rep. Sean Duffy offered a half-assed non-apology, saying his "words were admittedly poorly chosen" when he whinged about getting paid only $174,000 a year as a member of Congress.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: Surprise, surprise: "Citizens for a Strong America," the potemkin right-wing group responsible for several attack ads in the race (including one even PolitiFact rated "pants on fire") turns out to be just a clone/offshoot of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' arch-evil front group.
• Special Elections: After a few weeks without any state lege races, Johnny Longtorso is back:
While everyone will be focused on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election (which is a phrase I never thought I'd type), there is one special occurring on Tuesday in South Carolina's HD-64, though it's in a safe Democratic seat. Democrat Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Manning, will face off against Republican Walter Sanders.
Also, a quick shout-out to Republican Mike "Pete" Huval, the newest member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from HD-46. He defeated another Republican (no Democrat ran) on Saturday for the seat vacated by now-State Sen. Fred Mills.
• Maps: The National Journal has an interesting set of maps which focus on a theme that DCCyclone has been hitting in comments: Namely, because of population growth among minorities, the share of the white vote that Obama needs in 2012 is lower than it was in 2008, assuming minority support for Obama stays the same. In a very pessimistic scenario where his minority support falls 10%, Obama would only lose three states he otherwise won in 2008 (FL, IN & NC), assuming he keeps the same share of the white vote. (But note that that latter assumption is unnecessary: Even under the reduced minority support scenario, Obama's white support could also drop considerably in many states and he'd still win.)
• Votes: A new study (full paper here) says that Dems who votes "yes" on healthcare reform saw their reelection margins reduced from 6 to 8 points. Something about this study seems incomplete to me, though, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I'll be really curious to read your thoughts in comments.
• VRA: This is interesting: Black lawmakers in Georgia have filed a lawsuit challenging to dissolve the charters of five very white cities in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. The plaintiffs argue that these cities, all formed between 2005 and 2008, were created to dilute minority voting power, and hence violate the VRA. Apparently, this is a novel application of the Voting Rights Act, so we'll see how it unfolds.
• Passings: Very sad news: Former Rep. John Adler, a longtime state Senator who served one term in NJ-03 before losing last year, passed away at the age of 51. Last month, Adler contracted an infection which led to heart disease from which he never recovered. His father also died young of heart disease, something Adler would mention on the campaign trail when describing his family's struggles after his father's death. As a state legislator, one of his signature accomplishments was a smoke-free air bill which banned smoking in many public places. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
In other news, former TN Gov. Ned McWherter also passed away yesterday. McWherter, who was 80, served two terms as governor in the late 80s and early 90s. One of the things McWherter is probably best known for is the creation TennCare, the state's expanded Medicaid program. His son Mike ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year.
• Arkansas: Rob Moritz of the Arkansas News Bureau has a good rundown of what's going on with Democrats' controversial redistricting plan, dubbed the "Fayetteville Finger." The plan has passed in the House but has stalled in the Senate, where a vote won't come until Thursday at the earliest. At the end of the piece, Moritz details several different alternate proposals pending in the Senate.
• Louisiana: A piece from Sunday's Times-Picayune said that votes were possible on Monday in the House and Senate on congressional maps, but I've not yet seen any subsequent coverage.
• Michigan: Aaron Blake's redistricting series takes him to Michigan, where he has a good explanation of just how difficult it will be for the GOP to shore up its current situation.
• Missouri: Check out this Google Maps version of the state House's proposed new federal district lines.
• New Jersey: Republicans started bitching and moaning about the state's new map even before it was officially chosen, but so far, they haven't said whether they'd challenge the map in court. Not really sure what grounds they'd have even if they wanted to give it a go.
• Nevada: The LVRJ has a piece on the debate in Nevada over whether to create a majority-Hispanic district, or whether to keep Hispanic voters spread out to keep all districts more Dem or more competitive. Most Republicans obviously like the former idea, while Dems (including some Latino lawmakers) are understandably skeptical. Also, it looks like abgin must have trekked all the way from Basque Country to make a presentation at a public hearing in Vegas last weekend: The LVRJ says that "[s]everal interest groups presented proposed maps, including one that likely wouldn't pass legal or political muster because it would create four new vertical congressional districts stretching from North to South."
• Texas: Ah, redistricting cat fud - it has a stench all its own. GOP Rep. Lamar Smith is apparently taking the non-insane view that Hispanic growth and the VRA require that two (well, at least two) of Texas's four new districts be majority-minority, and he's been working with Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar to create a compromise map. This has infuriated fellow Republican Rep. Joe Barton (aka Smokey Joe), who insists that at least three if not all four of the new seats be Republican-favored. And folks, the cat fud is real. Sayeth Politico:
Barton has harshly criticized Smith during Texas GOP delegation meetings, launching a profanity-laced tirade at Smith during one session early last month, and he's privately tried to oust Smith as the lead Republican negotiator on redistricting.
Politico's sources say that Smith is still favored among members of his own party, but that Gov. Rick Perry may be leaning toward Barton. Perry's alleged plan is to skip DoJ pre-clearance and go directly to federal court, perhaps hoping for a friendly conservative panel (backstopped by an unquestionably conservative Supreme Court), so that could turn Barton's dream into a reality... but I still think it's a serious stretch. The piece also reports that proposed maps have been circulated among Republicans, but of course, no one's sharing any copies.
• CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons has previously sounded unlikely to run (and rather sulky about it), but now he's saying he's "considering" the race and will make a decision by March. He's also seeking to replace state GOP party chair Chris Healy, who he thinks favored Linda McMahon during the nomination process. Simmons also had some kind words for state Sen. Scott Frantz as an option in case he himself doesn't run.
• FL-Sen: Already having the backing of the man he replaced as state Senate president (John Thrasher), now Mike Haridopolos got the endorsement of the Republican leader of the other chamber, state House speaker Dean Cannon. (Not that those kinds of endorsements move a lot of actual votes, but this could be harmful in the behind-the-scenes game to former state House majority leader Adam Hasner if he runs, as he'd probably have expected Cannon's help.)
• MA-Sen, MA-06: Rep. John Tierney didn't sound much like a candidate in the Senate race when asked about it at an appearance with area high schoolers, saying he's focused on his current job and plans to run again. That, on top of Barney Frank's announcement yesterday that he's running again (and the months-ago announcement from John Olver that he's running again) point to an increasing likelihood that two of the state's 10 Dem Congresspeople will have to face off in a primary (unless either Mike Capuano or Stephen Lynch roll the dice on a Senate bid). One other total wild card here that came into sharper relief today: John Kerry seems to be amping up his lobbying to become Secretary of State. While there's no indication that Hillary Clinton is in any hurry to leave, that does raise the specter of another special election if there's a changing of the guard at SoS after the 2012 election. That possibility, and the chance at an open seat run instead of going up against Scott Brown's millions, might induce Capuano and Lynch to keep their House jobs for now.
• NE-Sen: PPP gives AG Jon Bruning a substantial lead in the GOP Senate primary, for the right to take on Ben Nelson. He leads state Treasurer Don Stenberg 47-19, with throw-ins Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer at 7 and 6 apiece. Bruning's faves among Republicans are 57/12.
• VA-Sen: Jamie Radtke, the principal tea party opponent to George Allen in the GOP Senate primary so far, has shown she can compete, at least on the financial front. She raised $100K in the fourth quarter; Allen didn't report anything since his candidacy didn't launch until the new year.
• WA-Gov, WA-AG: Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee is launching some rhetorical salvos in Republican AG Rob McKenna's direction over health care reform in what's very likely the beginnings of the 2012 gubernatorial general election; McKenna is one of the few blue-state AGs who signed on to the multi-state suit against HCR implementation, a possible foot-shooting move that seems more oriented toward fending off primary opposition from the right than enhancing his electability in November. By the way, if you're wondering about who's planning to replace McKenna in the AG slot, there's word that ambitious King County Councilor Bob Ferguson is about to announce his candidacy next week. His likeliest GOP opponent is fellow King County Councilor (and progeny of WA-08's Jennifer Dunn) Reagan Dunn.
• WV-Gov: It looks like we finally have some consensus on when that pesky special election for Governor is going to be. The state House and Senate ironed out a compromise that will hold the primary on May 14 and the general election on Oct. 4. Acting Gov. (and candidate) Earl Ray Tomblin has agreed to sign off on the deal, even though it contains a different primary date than he wanted.
• IA-03: Here's some more evidence that 77-year-old Leonard Boswell is seriously gearing up for a 2012 battle to stay in the House, despite possibly facing two major opponents (first Christine Vilsack in a Dem primary, then Tom Latham in a redistricting-forced general). He named his former campaign manager Julie Stauch as his new chief of staff. (His fundraising may say otherwise, though; see below.)
• LA-03, LA-AG: Jeff Landry, who's been in the House all of one month, is the likeliest Rep. to get squeezed in a 6-district map of Louisiana, by virtue of his lack of seniority and depopulation in his district (and the need to keep next-door LA-02 a VRA district). So, it seems sensible that he's already contemplating some alternate plans. Rumors are flying now that the reason that AG Buddy Caldwell is planning switch over to the Republican party is because Landry is looking at challenging Caldwell in this year's AG race (although Caldwell's switch would just move that challenge to the primary, if it goes through). David Rivera might not even have the shortest stay among this year's freshman class, if Landry wins the AG race and leaves the House after one year.
• Fundraising: This Politico piece on fundraising among House members has some interesting red flags from Q4 that may portend retirement. On the GOP side, CA-41's Jerry Lewis raised $1,700, while MD-06's Roscoe Bartlett raised all of $0. For the Dems, NY-05's Gary Ackerman raised $924, NY-28's Louise Slaughter raised $320, and MI-05's Dale Kildee raised the strangely specific sum of $1.42. They also point to how fundraising may have dried up for several likely casualties of redistricting, including MI-09's Gary Peters (down to $88K CoH), IA-03's Leonard Boswell ($66K CoH), PA-12's Mark Critz (net negative-$36K), and LA-03's Jeff Landry (net negative-$24K).
• Redistricting: As expected, the battle over Florida's Fair Districts initiative is moving into the courts, starting with a new suit filed by the amendments' backers (including the League of Women Voters and NAACP) demanding that Rick Scott re-engage the process of seeking VRA preclearance for the chances to Florida's system. (Scott has apparently been dragging his feet on preclearance in hopes that the initiative's requirements won't be in place by the time of 2012 redistricting, which could let the GOP legislature gerrymander to their hearts' content.) Meanwhile, the GOP legislature in Georgia is already consolidating their power to take advantage of their control of the trifecta there: they removed primary responsibility for map-drawing from the nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute at UGA, and instead are creating a new Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office more directly under their control.
• Census: If you tried to open the ftp version of the new Census data yesterday and found yourself looking at incomprehensible txt files (that, if you scroll through them quickly enough, look like you're able to see through The Matrix), fear not. They're available via American FactFinder now, and even through interactive widget form.
• FEC: I'm not sure how many max-out donors we have among our readership, but the FEC has raised contribution limits for this cycle, meaning you can give a little more to your favorite candidate or committee before hitting the ceiling. You can now give up to $2,500 per candidate and $30,800 per committee.
• Trivia: I had absolutely no idea this number was so low: there have been only four open seat Senate races in Texas since the 1920s. (Not only do Senators there tend to have long tenures, but vacancies tend to manifest themselves in special elections.) The races were in 1948, 1952, 1984, and 2002.
• CT-Sen, CT-Gov: OK, we can probably scratch Republican ex-Ambassador and rich guy Tom Foley from the list of likely Republican candidates for Joe Lieberman's Senate seat, if only by virtue of the fact that he's rhetorically moving himself up to the front of the line for the 2014 gubernatorial race (which would be a rematch against Dan Malloy). He says he'll keep intact his political operation from last time, where he lost narrowly. Meanwhile, I can't see this ever becoming reality, but a little wish-listing can't hurt: Connecticut liberals are already starting a draft movement to get the newly-available Keith Olbermann to think about running for the Senate seat.
• MI-Sen: The idea of Saul Anuzis (the state's former GOP party chair, and recent RNC election loser) stepping out from behind the curtain and running for Senate still seems a little odd, but it sounds like he's moving that way, dropping more public statements of interest and apparently polling the field now too. Meanwhile, this isn't really Senate related unless Debbie Stabenow mysteriously decided to retire and a Dem replacement was needed (and even then it probably isn't a good idea, considering how unpopular she became), but ex-Gov. Jennifer Granholm says she's permanently done with politics and moving on to academia with a new position at UC-Berkeley's school of public policy.
• MO-Sen: Ed Martin (whose main claim to fame is that he lost in MO-03 last year) has been doing everything he can to stay in the public eye, and it seems there's a method to his madness: he seems to be moving more decisively toward a Senate run. That seems a likely route toward getting flattened by someone known statewide like Jim Talent or Sarah Steelman, but he probably figures he has a couple advantages: one, if Talent doesn't run, Martin would be the only GOP primary candidate from the state's largest media market (St. Louis), and two, Martin is tight with the state's tea party grassroots, and while the Beltway astroturf types like the Club for Growth are big on Steelman, the actual teabagger boots on the ground have a lot of antipathy toward Steelman and are looking elsewhere.
• NJ-Sen: There are lots of politicians who are able to get away with having one penis reference in their names, but it seems like too much to overcome for someone with two penis references in his name. At any rate, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is considering the race, although insiders concede he isn't likely to go for it. Johnson has been a major Republican donor for years, and, as of yesterday, has some more time on his hands to consider the race.
• NV-Sen: More signs that John Ensign is moving full speed ahead on running for re-election: he's convened a meeting of his re-election steering committee for Feb. 1. The invitation for the meeting (to be held at the NRSC) comes from his main fundraisers (indicating that, yes, he still has fundraisers working for him).
• VA-Sen: I suppose George Allen making it official that he's running for Senate is big news, but we've known this for a week; it's gotten so meta that there have been leaks about upcoming leaks about his candidacy. At any rate, he actually sent out his official e-mail announcement to supporters today and unveiled a new fully operational website for his Senate campaign. Jim Webb's folks simply say that Webb's decision about whether or not to run for another term will happen sometime "this quarter."
• KY-Gov: When Jefferson Co. Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw started making noises about running for the GOP nomination in Kentucky, I assumed she was trying to leverage her way into getting the field cleared for her for a lower statewide office, but it looks like she's actually following through on her long shot gubernatorial bid, which pits her in the primary against establishment fave David Williams and tea party-backed businessman Phil Moffett. Filing deadlines in Kentucky are tomorrow, so the field looks pretty set. (Dem incumbent Steve Beshear has only some token opposition in the Dem primary, and I'm not making this up: scrap metal dealer Otis Hensley.)
• MS-Gov: Even if SoS Delbert Hosemann doesn't follow through on rumored plans to run for Governor, we'll still have at least one candidate with a name that seems to have emerged straight from a Faulkner novel: Pearl River County Supervisor Hudson Holliday. He officially joined the field in the GOP primary, where he seems like he'll be the third wheel against Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and businessman Dave Dennis.
• NH-Gov: We already have a poll out of the Republican primary field in the 2012 gubernatorial race, from a never-heard-of-'em-before firm called Strategic National. It looks like Ovide Lamontagne, if he's interested, may get a second whack at the governorship (remember he was the 1996 candidate, before falling off the map for a long time before re-emerging to almost win the 2010 GOP Senate primary); he leads the field at 37, with losing '10 candidate John Stephen at 14, state Sen. and ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley at 13, and Manchester mayor Ted Gatsas at 4.
• CT-05: Here are a few more Republican names that have bubbled up, that might get into the field in the now-open seat in the 5th, beyond the obvious re-run from state Sen. Jim Sam Caligiuri. Both the losers in the 2010 primary are also likely to run again, ex-Rob Simmons aide Justin Bernier and rich guy Mark Greenberg. State Sen. Andrew Roraback is also saying he's interested, while another state Sen., Rob Kane, is sounding pretty lukewarm about it.
• MI-09: Ex-state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski says he's planning on a rematch against Rep. Gary Peters, after losing narrowly in 2010. However, Raczkowski openly realizes he has some potential problems there (that go beyond his own weaknesses as a candidate): Peters may not have a district left to run in, either. With Michigan losing a seat, Republicans controlling the process, the bulk of the state's depopulation happening in the Detroit area, and the probable need to keep having two Detroit-area VRA seats, Peters is the likeliest target. (On the other hand, Peters could find himself drawn into a seat stretching across Detroit's northern suburbs with Sandy Levin, which might prompt the elderly Levin to retire, and that seat probably would be much more Dem-friendly than Peters' old seat.)
• NY-25: This strikes us as a disappointing move, given that he defended his progressive voting record pretty strongly during his campaign (although, unfortunately, most strongly in his concession statement): ex-Rep. Dan Maffei has taken a position with post-partisan centrist group Third Way. (Although, if nothing else, it points to the paucity of truly left-leaning think tanks and non-profits where Dems can park themselves and stay engaged within the Beltway for several years; there's no shortage of Heritages and Catos on the right, but this may have been the best option Maffei could find.) No indication on whether Maffei intends to make a 2012 rematch (although he'll probably want to wait to see whether the 25th winds up being the upstate district that gets chopped).
• UT-02: This may give a clue to the GOP's plans for redistricting (where their choices are to create four GOP seats in what may risk being a dummymander, or to decide to tolerate Jim Matheson's continued existence and create a Dem vote sink for him to strengthen their other districts). Incoming state GOP chair Thomas Wright has two goals for the cycle: raise $1 million, and beat "that rascal Jim Matheson." (At least he didn't call him a scalawag or a mugwump. Them's fightin' words.)
• CT-St. Leg.: There's a total of nine special elections pending in the upcoming months in both houses of Connecticut's legislature, all of which are seats that were previously held by Democrats (with eight of them heading off to join the Malloy administration and one of them heading to jail). To my eye (looking at the very helpful map provided by the Hartford Courant), these all look like they're in Dem-friendly areas (with the possible exceptions of HD-36 and HD-101?), but Republicans are hopeful they can make some gains somewhere.
• PA-St. Sen.: The fields have been picked (by the party committees in Berks County) for the upcoming special election to replace Michael O'Pake in the light-blue SD-11. Dems, as expected, picked former Berks County Commissioner Judy Schwank, while the GOP picked Berks County Register of Wills Larry Medaglia. (Interestingly, PA-06 loser Manan Trivedi was one of the other names considered for the Dems.) The Mar. 25 election theoretically will be a big test of whether the state GOP has any more continued momentum in SE Pennsylvania suburbs after their gains in November, although there are rumors of polling showing the locally-well-known Schwank leading in the 20-point realm against all potential opponents.
• State parties: One of the big stories over the weekend was that assorted tea partiers won three of the four state GOP chair races that were being contested. Maybe the most attention-getting one, because of '12 presidential implications, was the victory of Jack Kimball (who lost the '10 gubernatorial primary to John Stephen) over the Sununu dynasty's handpicked choice, Juliana Bergeron, in New Hampshire. However, the win of talk radio host Kirby Wilbur over incumbent Luke Esser in Washington also has substantial implications, inasmuch as former state Sen. Esser was a key ally of Rob McKenna (they both hail from suburban Bellevue and are among the last remnants of the state's moderate establishment tradition), and this may presage increased willpower on the right to mount a strong primary challenge to McKenna in the '12 gubernatorial race, despite the near-certainty that McKenna is the only Republican capable of winning the general election. Arizona also elected Tom Morrissey (against the wishes of both John McCain and Jon Kyl!). Oregon was the only state to buck the trend, electing Allen Alley (a moderate who lost the '10 gubernatorial primary, although he actually got most of the tea party support in that primary against the also-moderate-but-vapid Chris Dudley, geriatric John Lim, and laughable Bill Sizemore, and still seemed to have some goodwill reserves among that set).
• Voter suppression: With Wisconsin and Minnesota's Republican-held legislatures moving to maintain their power (by making it more difficult for Democrats to vote for Democrats, by imposing strict voter ID laws), the floodgates seem to be opening, indicating that the GOP's main priority isn't jobs but fighting the nonexistent rising tide of alleged voter fraud. Similar legislation is now emerging in legislatures in Texas, Kansas, and Iowa. It's also becoming clearer that a voter ID law is just one step in the process in Wisconsin where the ultimate goal is elimination of Wisconsin's fairly unique (and Dem-friendly) quirk of allowing same-day registration.
• NE-Sen: After a few months in exploratory committee purgatory (and after screwing up many of the documents associated with said committee), Republican AG Jon Bruning has made it official. He's now upgraded to Candidate, against Ben Nelson in the 2012 Senate race.
• TX-Sen: Local insiders seem to think that Kay Bailey Hutchison is increasingly moving toward another run for Senate in 2012 (after having postponed her resignation a number of times amidst the gubernatorial race, and then having dropped the subject altogether). That speculation seems based mostly on her sheer silence on the issue, though.
• IA-Gov: On his way out the door, outgoing Gov. Chet Culver talked up state Sen. majority leader Mike Gronstal as a possible 2014 gubernatorial candidate for the Dems. Culver said Gronstal won't suffer for his reluctance to put gay marriage up for a statewide vote, which seems to be one of the state's big flashpoints right now.
• WA-Gov, WA-08: This is very unexpected, considering that GOP AG Rob McKenna has had the 2012 gubernatorial nomination staked out for about six years now, but Rep. Dave Reichert is publicly expressing some (or at least not ruling out) interest in a gubernatorial run (a race he'd been encouraged to run in 2004 back when he was King Co. Sheriff, although he ran for House instead). I'm sure local GOPers would prefer he run for Senate, where no viable GOP nominee seems to be on the horizon, rather than creating a fractious gubernatorial primary that might hobble their best shot in decades at winning the governorship. Actually, I'm sure they'd prefer he continue to hold down WA-08 rather than open up the 8th while embarking on a fool's errand against Maria Cantwell, and with redistricting likely to give him a safer district in Seattle's southeastern exurbs while opening up a solid-blue WA-10 on the true Eastside, that's probably what he'll keep on doing.
• CO-03: New Gov. John Hickenlooper just appointed recently-defeated Rep. John Salazar as the state's agriculture commissioner. Salazar has already said he was open to a rematch with Scott Tipton; the question is whether this makes a rematch less likely or if it's designed to keep him in the public spotlight. (Speaking of Hickenlooper, if you haven't read the NYT Magazine section's long profile of him, it's worth a read.)
• FL-25: Add one more mysterious bit of financial information to the mounting pile of sleaze that's engulfing David Rivera in his first week on the job: he sold a condominium to his mother's marketing company (the same company that's under criminal investigation for its relationship to the Flagler Dog Track) in November, shortly before he paid off $137K in undisclosed loans... also to that same marketing company.
• IA-03: Buried in an article on the Iowa redistricting conundrum, which will see the state compacted to four House districts, is an important piece of unexpected news: septuagenarian Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell, who's been a prime candidate for retirement for a number of cycles now, tells Roll Call that he will be running again in 2012, regardless of what district he gets stuck into. Tom Latham, Bruce Braley, and Dave Loebsack all plan to "plow ahead" as well; only Steve King didn't comment, although his district, by virtue of geography (having the state's western half pretty much to itself) seems least likely to get messed with. A collision between Des Moines-based Boswell and Ames-based GOPer Latham seems likeliest to me, but with a commission making the decisions, almost any configuration seems possible.
• NC-07: Rep. Mike McIntyre -- already in the news today as one of only two Dems who voted against HCR to also say that he'd go ahead and support Republican repeal efforts -- is now about to draw a Democratic primary challenger from the left, although one who seems kind of on the Some Dude end of the spectrum. Business counselor Del Pietro says he'll take on McIntyre.
• California: This piece is mostly about House redistricting in the Golden State, but has some thoughts about potential retirements too, given the possibility that redistricting via commission may result in less incumbent protection and various House members getting stuck together (and also given the advanced age of many of California's long-timers). Jerry Lewis and Pete Stark are listed as most noteworthy possibilities, along with Elton Gallegly (who's waffled about retirement before), Lois Capps, Gary Miller, and Howard Berman... and Bob Filner is mentioned as a possible San Diego mayor candidate in 2012.
• House: This Roll Call piece is mostly a grab-bag of vague quotes and speculation (of course, what article in the Beltway press isn't), but it does do some useful handicapping on which sought-after House members are likely or unlikely to make the jump to running for Senate in 2012. New York's Peter King says "I really don't expect it," Pennsylvania's Charlie Dent says he hasn't "been actively pursuing it," and Ohio's Jim Jordan is "leaning against it." Wisconsin's Paul Ryan didn't comment, but has repeatedly said he isn't looking for higher office anytime soon (and here's some further confirmation on that from today), while Florida's Connie Mack IV seems to be moving definitely moving in a Senate direction and Montana's Denny Rehberg remains studiously vague.
• DCCC: DCCC head Steve Israel announced his team of lieutenants for the 2012 cycle, which includes the two other likeliest chairs who got passed over, Joseph Crowley (in charge of fundraising) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (incumbent retention and redistricting). Also on board are Allyson Schwartz (recruitment), Keith Ellison (community partnerships), and Puerto Rico's Pedro Pierluisi (constituency mobilization).
• Mayors: State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (last seen barely hitting the double-digits in the Democratic gubernatorial primary) has a new gig in mind: he's publicly expressing his interest in running for Philadelphia mayor, one of the many mayoral races up in November. The only other person to have actively looked into challenging fairly-popular incumbent Michael Nutter is wealthy businessman Tom Knox, who also made a brief appearance in last year's governor's race Dem primary.
• Twitter: We made it over the 4,000 mark on Twitter; thanks to all our new followers. We're still taking new applications, though, so we encourage any other fans of microscopic bits of political wisdom to sign on, too.
• AK-Sen: With the book about to close on 2010, so too is the last outstanding race of 2010, the Alaska Senate race. Today the state is planning to certify Lisa Murkowski as winner of the race, including hand-delivering the certification papers to Washington DC so there won't be any possible obstacles to Murkowski's swearing-in next week (and ensuing temporary loss of state clout). This, of course, follows a legal one-two punch to Joe Miller's hopes: last week's loss at the Alaska Supreme Court, which upheld the trial court's decision that the write-in votes for Murkowski were properly counted, and then this week's ruling by a federal district court judge dismissing his related federal suit and lifting the hold on the race's certification. Miller will not stand in the way of the certification, although he says he is still considering whether to continue litigating the matter (which, if he did, would feature the 9th Circuit as the next stop).
The most ironic part of the whole tale is that the Tea Party Express, in their ill-advised RINO hunt, seem to have only succeeded in making Murkowski into more of a free agent. If you've noticed that Murkowski seems to be toeing the GOP line less since winning the election without running under the GOP banner, you're not alone: she was the only Senate GOPer to vote with the Dems on all four big action items during the lame duck session (the tax compromise, DADT repeal, START, and the DREAM Act).
• DE-Sen: SSP isn't about re-litigating old elections, but this is indeed relevant because Christine O'Donnell, looking to capitalize on her newfound celebrity, may yet be a fourth-time candidate for the Senate against Tom Carper in the future. That fourth run might be more difficult, though, if she's in prison... perhaps possible as it seems like the federal government has decided it's had enough of her once-every-two-years grifting tours and is now criminally investigating her use of campaign funds for personal purposes during her 2010 campaign. Anyway, she put out a truly epic statement today on the matter that ought to have you reaching for your copy of the DSM, so laden with paranoia and delusions of grandeur it is.
• MA-Sen: While everyone seems to be wondering which U.S. Rep. will step into the gap if nobody named Kennedy runs for the Senate, there's always the outside possibility that someone with a business background and lots of his own money tries to move to the head of the pack in the Bay State. Robert Pozen may fit that bill, and he's apparently been talking to party insiders about the possibility. The investment banker-turned-Harvard Business professor has some liabilities, though: he served briefly in Mitt Romney's cabinet, which may help his bipartisan bona fides but could be poison in a primary, and his personality has been described as [John] "Silberesque," which would just be all-purpose poison.
• MI-Sen: If the NRSC ever had any interest in Tim Leuliette as their Senate candidate in Michigan, that probably evaporated this week. The auto-parts magnate just said that he's not comfortable with self-funding his campaign and wouldn't put much of his "large fortune" into a run. Considering that that was the main (if not only) selling point for a candidacy from an otherwise unknown political newcomer, that should pretty much be end-of-story.
• MO-Sen, MO-Gov: A poll from Republican pollster Wilson Research (commissioned by consulting firm Axiom Strategies) has (big surprise) good news for Republicans in it, most notably Jim Talent. The ex-Sen. has a significant lead in a rematch against Claire McCaskill, ahead 51-40. Talent seems to have a big electability edge over Sarah Steelman, who's tied 44-44 with McCaskill. McCaskill's approvals are 48/45. They also look at the Governor's race, finding a more competitive race than PPP did but not the lead that a Peter Kinder internal showed. They find Dem incumbent Jay Nixon leading Kinder 45-42, with Nixon's approvals at 52%. Worth noting: the poll's a little stale, taken Dec. 1-2.
• ND-Sen: It's starting to look like Kent Conrad will face some serious opposition from Republicans this cycle (assuming the 62-year-old runs for re-election), although it's not clear exactly from whom. Perhaps the heaviest-hitter available, the state's ex-Gov. and the former Bush administration Agriculture Secretary, Ed Schafer, has just ruled it out. For now, the likeliest-sounding one right now seems to be Brian Kalk, one of the state's three Public Service Commissioners, a statewide elected position. Kalk says he's giving it "serious thought," which contrasts with oft-mentioned AG Wayne Stenehjem's statement that he doesn't have "any plans" (although not closing "any doors" either) and with newly-promoted Gov. Jack Dalrymple, for whom it's the "last thing" on his mind.
• NE-Sen (pdf): In case you weren't sure whether or not Ben Nelson's in trouble for 2012, um, yes, he's in trouble. Republican pollster Magellan is out with a poll finding Nelson with an overall 29/59 re-elect, and trailing GOP AG Jon Bruning 52-38. He's also trailing state Treasurer Don Stenberg (not yet a candidate, but sounding likely to run as well) 46-40. Hopefully we'll get a look from PPP at this one soon for confirmation. It seems like the Dems are already treating Bruning as a serious threat, though, with the state party trying to throw obstacles in his path by filing FEC and IRS complaints against Bruning over shoddy campaign-committee setup.
• VA-Sen: So apparently all you have to do is append "Tea Party Activist" to your job description, and all of a sudden you're magically promoted from Some Dude to Very Serious Candidate Worthy of National Media Attention. Or at least that's the case with the campaign announcement from Jamie Radtke, head of the Judean People's Front People's Front of Judea Virginia Federation of Tea Party Patriots, whose main claim to fame seems to be organizing a gathering of 3,000 'baggers in Richmond. At any rate, Radtke is the first actually announced GOP candidate. Meanwhile, Jim Webb seems to be moving closer to making a decision on whether to run for re-election (though no clues on how he feels), saying he'll sort it out over the holiday break and make an announcement in the first quarter of 2011.
• IN-Gov: This comes as a surprise, since there had been a lot of buzz about her as the nominee, with increasing moves from Rep. Mike Pence toward a presidential run instead. But Becky Skillman, Indiana's Lt. Governor, recently announced that she wouldn't run for Governor in 2012, citing "minor health issues." Does this make likelier a Pence gubernatorial run, now that he'd have an easy stroll to the nomination? And if Pence doesn't run, that seems to point to a truly wide open field, as no one seems to have contemplated a GOP field that didn't include Pence or Skillman. Who else might step up? (I hear Mike Sodrel may still be looking for a job...)
• NC-Gov: Rounding out the troika of Republican polls showing Dem incumbents in trouble is one from North Carolina from Civitas, who have coordinated with a variety of pollsters and this time went straight to the big daddy of GOP pollsters, POS. The poll finds GOP former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory cruising in a rematch against Dem incumbent Bev Perdue, who never really seemed to gain her footing after a narrow 2008 win: he leads her 51-36 (with Perdue getting only 64% among Democrats).
• WA-Gov: Two interesting developments mean this race isn't as open-and-shut as I'd thought. One is that there's increasing buzz linking Dow Constantine, just elected in 2009 as King County Executive, to the governor's race. I've regarded Constantine (who's 47) as a very likely Governor starting in 2020, but with Dems seeming a little edgy that none of their biggest-name candidates (Rep. Jay Inslee, whose WA-01 is centered in suburban Snohomish Co., Snohomish Co. Exec Aaron Reardon, Spokane-based state Sen. majority leader Lisa Brown) are from their stronghold of King County while likely GOP candidate Rob McKenna is, there might be some pressure on Constantine to move up his timetable. (It's worth noting that Gary Locke became Gov. in 1996 after three years as King Co. Executive.) The other develompent is that Chris Gregoire isn't categorically ruling out an attempt at a third term, which she's legally entitled to do but Just Isn't Done. (Although she might point out that the last time it was tried, 1972, Dan Evans was successfully re-elected... in fact, the last time a Republican was re-elected Governor in Washington.) She registered as a 2012 candidate with the Public Disclosure Commission, in order to "keep her options open." (UPDATE: Big h/t to meekermariner, who points out in comments that this Gregoire article is nearly two years old, leaving me to wonder why Politico was linking to it with such enthusiasm. At any rate, the Gregoire committee remains open today, although that in itself isn't much of a suggestion that a third term may be in the offing.)
• WV-Gov: This week was the deadline for filing briefs for the lawsuit that's attempting to move up the special election to replace Joe Manchin up to 2011. We still don't have an answer to when it will happen, but at least we know who's on what side in the case: the state's major unions (including the AFL-CIO and WVEA) want it sooner, and so does likely candidate and Dem state House speaker Rick Thompson. State Auditor Glen Gainer supports the expedited election too, while SoS Natalie Tennant (another possible Dem candidate) has basically punted on the issue. And if you're wondering about Joe Manchin's decision to duck DADT and DREAM Act votes in order to enjoy family holiday festivities, it seems like it wasn't, first and foremost, a self-protecting profile in cowardice. With Manchin having survived probably his toughest challenge, he's more interested now in clearing the way for ally and acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and not interested in provoking a social issues-based civil war within the state Dem party that could undermine Tomblin's shot at getting elected to a full term.
• OH-01: Guess who's sounding like he's gearing up for a rematch? Steve Driehaus, in an interview with the Cincinnati paper, took a variety of potshots at Steve Chabot, calling him a Boehner "follower" and saying he shouldn't "sit too easy." Driehaus has previously said he's "open" to another attempt. (This is Cincinnati-based district is notorious for steep dropoff in African-American voting in off-years, so if any time would be the right time for Driehaus to try again, 2012 would be it.)
• LA-St. House: There was a long period of threatening and flirting, but now it's official: state Rep. Noble Ellington switched to the Republican Party, formally flipping control of the state's lower legislative chamber to the GOP for the first time since Reconstruction. Functionally, it may not make much perceptible difference, since there was already a Republican speaker, and many Dems were already quite conservative.
• NY-St. Sen.: Looks like the end of the line in one other outstanding race (which ultimately had the balance of the New York state Senate in play): the state's Court of Appeals said no thanks to incumbent Dem Craig Johnson's appeal of a lower court decision that said there didn't need to be a hand recount of machine votes in New York's 7th District. GOPer Jack Martins had been declared the winner in the race by several hundred votes, handing the state Senate back to the GOP by a 32-30 margin.
• PA-St. Sen.: Pennsylvania's state Senate has been even more stubbornly Republican over the years than New York's, and it looks like the Dems are going to have play a bit more defense there in an upcoming special election. Democratic minority whip Michael O'Pake (the state's longest-serving legislator) died several days ago at age 70, leaving a vacancy in SD-11 that will need to be filled by special election at some point between March and May (date TBD). On paper, this looks like the kind of district that would be a major test case for whether the Dems are going to continue their run of bad luck in the Keystone State from the 2010 election: while it works out to about D+4 (going 59/40 for Barack Obama and 51/48 for John Kerry), it also gave 55% of the vote to Tom Corbett and 50.6% to Pat Toomey this year. However, this may all boil down to bench strength in a traditionally-Dem district (centered on the blue-collar city of Reading, although made purple by inclusion of its suburbs, too): insiders from both parties are treating Democratic former Berks Co. Commissioner Judy Schwank as "prohibitive favorite."
• Approvals: PPP does us the favor of consolidating all their year-end Senate approval ratings and gubernatorial approvals in one (or two, really) places. In the Senate, the most popular Senator overall, in addition to most popular one up in 2012, is Amy Klobuchar (59/29); while outgoing Roland Burris is the overall goat, Joe Lieberman is in worst shape of anyone up in 2012 (33/54). Among the few governors facing 2012 re-election, Jack Markell is tops at 50/32 (with Jay Nixon not far behind at 44/30), while Chris Gregoire fares the worst, in case she actually runs (although this might dissuade her sudden interest in a third term); her 40/53 is actually a worse spread than Bev Perdue's 35/44.
• Redistricting: The Fix has a good piece on redistricting out, that should pretty much serve as the last word on why GOP purely-redistricting-related House seat gains are likely to be limited to the single digits for 2012: thanks to their 2010 overperformance, they're thoroughly maxed out in the big four prizes where they have total control (Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania). That's compounded by, in Florida, the new Fair Districts initiative, and in Texas, the need to create at least two more VRA districts while still protecting Blake Farenthold. Also, here's one other redistricting implication that's gotten totally overlooked in all the last few weeks' discussion: although California didn't lose or gain a seat, there's been enough population shift within the state (thanks to stagnation in the Bay Area and rapid growth in the Inland Empire) that the net result will be the moving of most of one district from NoCal to SoCal. It'll be interesting to see whether the new independent commission is able to do that in a way that lightly shifts boundaries southwards and protects the jobs of all 53 incumbents, or if someone from the north actually gets turfed out and an effectively new seat opens up in the south.
• Chicago mayor: A lot has happened in the Chicago mayoral race since we last checked: first, Rahm Emanuel cleared the first hurdle in ascertaining that he is, indeed, a Chicago resident and not a Kenyan (although there will be inevitable courtroom appeals for weeks to come, with opponents willing to go to the state Supreme Court). The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners last week rejected claims that Emanuel had abandoned his Chicago residency when he went to work in the White House. Also, we've seen two of Emanuel's erstwhile opponents drop out of the race, narrowing the number of African-American candidates but still leaving that part of the field split between Danny Davis (last seen publicly urging Bill Clinton against coming to Chicago to campaign for Emanuel) and Carol Mosely Braun. State Sen. James Meeks dropped out, saying he didn't want to further split the black vote, and Roland Burris also withdrew, via press release, from the race (although it's unclear whether he ever really was in the race, since he never made any public appearances). Finally, we got another poll of the race from We Ask America, which may be most noteworthy for showing Gerry Chico in position to make the runoff. They find Emanuel at 44, Chico at 12, Braun at 8, Davis at 7, Miguel Del Valle at 6, and Meeks at 4.
• AK-Sen: Everyone's watching Joe Miller's next move, as tomorrow is the day he has to decide whether or not to appeal a trial court decision in order to keep fighting his largely-hopeless fight with Lisa Murkowski. On Friday afternoon, a state superior court judge ruled against Miller's lawsuit, and in pretty withering fashion, saying he presented no evidence of fraud or malfeasance, only "hearsay, speculation, and... sarcasm." This comes on top of other comments on Friday by state elections director Gail Fenumiai strongly disputing one of Miller's cornerstone issues, that there was a strange sudden influx of felons voting in the state.
• CT-Sen, CT-04: Rep. Jim Himes confirms that he isn't going to run for Senate in 2012 against Joe Lieberman (if Lieberman even decides to stick around). It's also pretty clear confirmation that Rep. Chris Murphy is ready to run on the Dem line, as Himes said he's deferring to his slightly-more-senior colleague and might consider running if Murphy changed his mind. (The article also mentions that Rep. Joe Courtney is "considering" the race. Ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz's interest is well-known as well, although I doubt she'll be able to manage to file her candidacy papers successfully.)
• HI-Sen: Sometimes the Beltway media's parsing of every innocent word from a potential candidate gets a little maddening, but this throw-away line from Linda Lingle's website flagged by David Catanese is actually pretty suggestive of a future run (probably against Dan Akaka in 2012): the site is titled "Looking Back, and Forward," and her first blog post is "Continuing the Journey."
• MD-Sen: Contrast that with Bob Ehrlich, who seems ripe to fall into the Dino Rossi trap but has just made it pretty clear that he won't be running for anything else again. He says a Senate run would be "very highly unlikely."
• ME-Sen: The only story that seems to be here is that the viable Tea Party candidate that has been promised to emerge to take on Olympia Snowe is starting to look like more of a mirage. A must-read (for sheer hubris and wtf?ness) interview with the state's self-appointed head teabagger, Andrew Ian Dodge, makes it sound like the candidate that Dodge is allegedly talking to is either imaginary, or else is Dodge himself (seeing as how he's from southern Maine and has his own money).
• MI-Sen: PPP includes a GOP primary portion in their Michigan Senate poll, and like a lot of other polls this far out, name rec seems to rule the day. Ex-Gov. John Engler, despite eight years out of the picture, has the lead (in fact, that may be good news, as the general electorate doesn't remember him fondly; he underperforms Debbie Stabenow, losing by 7, compared with Peter Hoekstra, who loses by 1). It's Engler 31, Hoekstra 24, with 12 for ex-AG Mike Cox, Terri Lynn Land (who may be interested in this race after all) at 7, Candice Miller at 5, Mike Rogers at 4, Thad McCotter at 3, and Tim Leuliette (the most-interested candidate so far) at 0.
• NJ-Sen: The Hill has an article that's mostly about how no GOPers are stepping up to express their interest in an uphill fight against Bob Menendez, but it does include the obligatory list of possible contenders. Top of the list is a rematch from state Sen. (and gubernatorial progeny) Tom Kean Jr., but also mentioned are Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, Anna Little (a small-town mayor who was competitive against Rep. Frank Pallone this year), state Sen. Jennifer Beck, former state Sen. Bill Baroni, and state GOP chair Jay Webber if all else fails.
• NY-Sen: Rep. Peter King does some coulda-woulda-shoulda in a recent interview, saying he definitely would have run in 2010 had Caroline Kennedy been the appointee. As for a run in 2012 against Kirsten Gillibrand (when she's up for election for her first full term), he's only "keeping his options open," apparently leery of her fundraising prowess.
• PA-Sen: Rep. Charlie Dent is usually at the top of the list for Senate race speculation, but a recent interview has him sounding rather un-candidate-ish: he's about to land a plum spot on Appropriations, and speaks of it in terms of "one never rules anything out," which to my ear sounds a few steps down the Beltway-ese totem pole from "considering" it. One other interesting rumor bubbling up is that ex-Gov. Mark Schweiker is being courted to run. The question is whether anybody even remembers Schweiker; he spent less than two years on the job in the early 00s after getting promoted after Tom Ridge moved to the Bush administration, and declined to run for his own full term.
• VT-Sen: Could Bernie Sanders see a real opponent? While he isn't specifically threatening to run yet, State Auditor Tom Salmon is taking to Facebook to attack Sanders over his anti-tax deal agitating (including attacking Sanders for being a socialist, which doesn't quite have the same effective power with Sanders as with most Dems since he's likely just to say "guilty as charged"). At any rate, going after the entrenched Sanders seems like an odd move if it comes to pass, as Peter Shumlin, who narrowly won the open gubernatorial race, seems like a much easier target in a blue state that's willing to elect Republican governors but has sworn them off at the national level.
• CA-Gov: Steve Poizner sounds likely to make another run at the governor's mansion in 2014, publicly telling various people that he would have made a much better candidate than Meg Whitman. Poizner will have to step it up on the financial situation next time, though; self-funding only to the tune of eight digits, instead of nine, was pretty weak sauce.
• IN-Gov: With Evan Bayh apparently out of the gubernatorial sweepstakes, Brad Ellsworth seems to be jockeying to the front of the line today, although with some of the requisite hedging. The other main contender, of course, is Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, although the impact of redistricting changes (at the hand of the now-GOP-held legislature) could drive Reps. Joe Donnelly or Baron Hill into the race. Two lesser Dem names who've been bandied about, Hammond mayor Thomas McDermott and former state House speaker John Gregg, are already taking their names off the table, lining up behind others for now: McDermott backing Ellsworth and Gregg backing Weinzapfel. One final new Dem name to keep an eye on: Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez.
• MS-Gov: For now, the Democratic side on the Mississippi governor's race seems to be between two men: Hattiesburg mayor Johnny DuPree (that city's first African-American mayor) and businessman Bill Luckett, who has his own money (and the backing of Morgan Freeman... apparently for real, unlike with NC-04's B.J. Lawson).
• WA-Gov: Here's a good take from Joel Connolly (dean of the local press corps) on the 2012 gubernatorial election in Washington state, which the Beltway press seems to treat like an open book but everyone local knows is going to be between Rep. Jay Inslee and AG Rob McKenna, who's probably the best shot the GOP has had in decades of winning the governor's race. (Chris Gregoire can, by law, run for a third term, but, in practice, that would be unheard of even if she weren't already too unpopular to do so feasibly.)
• NY-15: Is the Charles Rangel era actually coming to a close? He's not ruling out another run in 2012 but saying he'll have to think about retirement. And in public comments he is actively pointing to a generation of successors, citing state Sens. Adriano Espaillat and Robert Rodriguez, and state Assemblyman Keith Wright. (Although Harlem is the core of the district, it now has more Hispanics than it does African-Americans... and the wild card is that the fastest growing group in this district is white regentrifiers.)
• LA-St. Leg.: The hemorrhaging of Dem state legislators to the GOP in Louisiana continues apace, with one of its most prominent state Reps., the mellifluously-named Noble Ellington, sounding about ready to pull the trigger on a switch. He'd follow two state Sens., John Alario and John Smith, who also recently crossed the aisle.
• Philly mayor: You'd think that at age 80, you'd want to think about retirement, but not if you're Arlen Specter, apparently. There's word of a poll making the rounds (from Apex Research, with no mention of who paid for it or why) that not only links the outgoing Senator to a mayoral run (in the city where he got his start generations ago as the DA) but actually has him in the lead. The poll has Specter at 28, with incumbent Michael Nutter at 19, Sam Katz at 9, Anthony Hardy Williams at 8, Tom Knox at 7, Bob Brady at 6, and Alan Butkovitz (anybody care to let me know who he is?) at 6.
• WATN?: Try as he may, Artur Davis just can't get the douchiness out of his system. On his way to the private sector, he's still taking the pox-on-both-your-houses approach on his way out the door, writing an op-ed calling for an independent party as the solution to all of Alabama's woes. Meanwhile, Mariannette Miller-Meeks has landed on her feet, after losing a second run in IA-02 in a rare setback for the Ophthalmologists (who elected at least two more of their own to Congress this year): Terry Branstad just named her head of Iowa's Dept. of Public Health.
• Census: Finally, this may be the most exciting news of the day: we have a reporting date for the first real batch of 2010 Census data. Dec. 21 will be the day the Census Bureau releases its state population counts, which also includes reapportionment data (i.e. how many House seats each state will get... at least prior to the inevitable litigation process among the most closely-bunched states).
• DE-Sen: Here's an amusing look back at the Delaware race, where it turns out that Christine O'Donnell raised $7.3 million over the course of the campaign (a somewhat large improvement on her $63K from her previous Senate bid) and then proceeded to lose by 16 points. O'Donnell apparently had the same problem that I suspected that Sharron Angle did (though we don't have any confirmation on Angle yet)... there weren't any media outlets with available slots to pour all that late-breaking money into.
• MO-Sen: Jim Talent has offered his timeline on publicly deciding whether or not to run for Senate (which has seemed to get less likely over the last few days, if you believe the scuttlebutt). He won't decide until the New Year, and possibly won't announce anything until the state GOP's Lincoln Day festivities in mid-February.
• MT-Sen: PPP offered some GOP Senate primary numbers, although I'm not sure how useful they are given that Marc Racicot, the former Governor and RNC chair, eats up a lion's share despite not having really ever been associated with the race. (Although, who knows... maybe this will suddenly prompt him to get interested.) At any rate, the two guys with name rec, Racicot and Rep. Denny Rehberg, are at 40 and 37, respectively. The two little-known guys who are actually the ones running (so far), Steve Daines and Neil Livingstone, are at 5 and 4.
• RI-Sen: Although John Robitaille seems to be getting all the attention in terms of the GOP's pick to challenge Sheldon Whitehouse, Warwick mayor Scott Avedisian is still stoking the fires of vague interest. Avedisian is a moderate and an ally of newly-elected Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
• WA-Sen: The race against Maria Cantwell seems to already be a casualty write-off for the GOP, seeing as how the state's entire viable GOP bench (aka Rob McKenna) will most likely be running for Governor. The state GOP's usual M.O. in such situations is to turn to some random rich guy as a place-holder (see Mike McGavick, Cantwell's 2006 opponent, or oft-threatened but never-happened candidate John Stanton), but it may turn out that Clint Didier, the tea partier whose GOP primary bid against Dino Rossi didn't go anywhere and who's now interested in trying again, gets left holding the bag this time. Didier, who refused to endorse Rossi and castigated him at every turn, isn't likely to be able to count on much NRSC or even state GOP goodwill this time, though.
• MN-Gov: Nothing like a little post-electoral cat fud, even if it means exiling pretty much your entire pantheon of elder statesmen. The state GOP just excommunicated more than a dozen key moderate Republicans who had jumped ship to support Independence Party candidate Tom Horner in view of Tom Emmer's extremism. These aren't just run-of-the-mill PCO-types, either: the list includes an ex-Senator (David Durenberger) and two ex-Govs (Arne Carlson and Al Quie). And if you're wondering how Emmer is faring in the court of public opinion amidst the recount non-drama, PPP's out with a snap poll: by a 68-22 margin, voters think it's time for Emmer to give up (which matches the 68-21 margin of people who think that Mark Dayton was the election's rightful winner).
• OH-17: Wondering who the third-party candidate who fared the best was, in this year's House races? It was none other than ex-con ex-Rep. Jim Traficant, who picked up 16.1% of the vote against Tim Ryan, the best showing of any indie with both Dem and GOP opponents (and he did it without spending a penny). He fared better than Randy Wilkinson in FL-12, who ran a more credible campaign and was widely viewed as a potential spoiler. In fact, Wilkinson finished 3rd at 10.7%; some random conservative, Dan Hill, got 12% in NE-03 by running to Adrian Smith's right, although that was a race that Dems barely contested. What about MI-01's Glenn Wilson, who made waves for approximately one day with his pledge to spend $2 million of his own money (although it's dubious if he spent more than a fraction of that)? He barely registered, at 7%.
• WV-01: Here's an unexpected comeback, and probably one that's not a good idea. Alan Mollohan, who couldn't survive a Dem primary and most likely wouldn't have won the general even if he'd gotten over the first hurdle, is publicly expressing his interest in running in 2012 for his old seat. He's opened an FEC account for '12 and has been reaching out behind the scenes.
• NY-St. Sen.: This is basically a Hail Mary at this point, but when it's the chance to tie the state Senate, it's a chance you take. Craig Johnson officially filed an appeal yesterday of the judge's ruling certifying Jack Martins as winner in SD-7 (giving the GOP a 32-30 edge there). He's asking for a hand count, to see if any votes were missed in the state's switch this year to electronic voting machines. Given the recent abject fail in finding all the votes cast in Queens, it's not out of the realm of possibility.
• Redistricting: The Fix has another installment in its ongoing redistricting previews, this time focusing on Georgia. The GOP-controlled state legislature should have little trouble adding a GOP-friendly 14th seat in Atlanta's northern tier of exurbs, where most of the state's growth has occurred. The real question will be whether they can do anything to turf out either of the two remaining Dems in slightly lean-Dem districts in south Georgia, Sanford Bishop or John Barrow? Although neither of their seats are truly minority-majority, the VRA might be implicated if their seats get messed with too much. Bishop's GA-02 is likely to be shored up in order to make freshman Austin Scott safer in the 8th. Barrow seems like an easier target, but to do so would not only risk VRA litigation but also make Jack Kingston's 1st less safe, meaning incumbent protection might be the result.
• Demographics: There was a massive dump of U.S. Census data yesterday, although none of it is the actual hard count from 2010 (which is due by the end of the month, including state populations for reapportionment purposes). Instead, this is the Demographic Analysis (used to estimate undercounts in the actual count, although there won't be any adjustments made to the counts for redistricting purposes in this cycle). The big number was the total population estimate, ranging from 306 million to 313 million, with a midrange estimate of 308.5 million (which would put the average House district, for redistricting, at 709K). Also worth noting: Hispanics accounted for essentially the nation's growth in youth population in the last decade, and Hispanics have grown from 17% of the nation's under-20 population in 2000 to 22% now; without Hispanics, the number of young people would have actually gone down since 2000.
• IL-Sen: Barack Obama's in Chicago today to help get Alexi Giannoulias across the finish line, at least on the fundraising front, where he's faltered lately. The fundraiser he's appearing at today is projected to raise $1 million for Giannoulias's coffers. Meanwhile, this is a little gossipier than we usually like to get into, but you might check out Chicago Magazine's interview with Mark Kirk's ex-wife, which, jaw-dropping as it is, seems to raise even more questions than it answers, especially regarding Kirk's former aide and Svengali-figure Dodie McCracken.
• NH-Sen: Here's an indication that Bill Binnie still has to be taken seriously in the GOP Senate primary in New Hampshire: a conservative group called Cornerstone Action (affiliated with the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family) has launched a $125K ad buy attacking Binnie on his socially moderate stances (he's pro-choice and apparently pro-gay marriage). While Cornerstone hasn't specifically backed Kelly Ayotte, Binnie's camp is trying to link them together.
• CO-Gov: Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper announced his pick for a running mate today: the president of CSU-Pueblo and former Director of the state Dept. of Regulatory Agencies, Joe Garcia (no, not the FL-25 one). Meanwhile, Dan Maes -- who was a Some Dude until Scott McInnis imploded -- is starting to rival Sharron Angle in terms of his ability to get into the digest every single day for having said something dumb or having some terrible detail from his past revealed. Today, the Denver Post is out with a comprehensive list of his delinquent filings over the years, ranging from annual reports to the state's SoS office for his credit reporting business for the years 2007-2010, to a lien against his house for not paying his homeowners' association dues for seven months.
• FL-Gov: Ex-Gov. Jeb Bush is throwing a lifeline to Bill McCollum. He'll join McCollum on the stump for appearances around the state on Monday. Meanwhile, the spotlight is starting to swing over from Columbia/HCA, Rick Scott's old healthcare company, to his new one, Solantic. The Miami Herald looks at various lawsuits that Solantic has racked up, ranging from filing false medical information with the state to discrimination lawsuits.
• GA-Gov: Breaking with Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney (who've endorsed suburban Karen Handel), Mike Huckabee announced his support today for the more southern-fried Nathan Deal in the GOP gubernatorial runoff.
• MI-Gov: Looks like Rep. Peter Hoekstra, douchebag to the bitter end, may need some time to pout/mourn after his sizable loss in the GOP gubernatorial primary to Rick Snyder. He sent an e-mail to supporters yesterday thanking them but making no mention of support for Snyder. A Hoekstra endorsement, of course, would go a long way toward helping consolidate conservatives behind Snyder, whose moderation may leave them cold.
• SC-Gov: Nikki Haley has liked to emphasize her accounting background on the campaign trail, but she filed her federal income taxes more than a year late in both 2005 and 2006, and has accrued more than $4,000 in late-payment penalties since then.
• CT-05: Justin Bernier has filed a complaint with the state's SoS against GOP primary rival state Sen. Sam Caligiuri. Caligiuri sent out a mailer calling himself the "Republican nominee," not the "Republican-endorsed candidate" (which he is, thanks to the convention). Of course, the mailer then asks for the recipients' votes in the Republican primary, which according to elementary logic would mean that he is not yet the Republican nominee, but, then again, Republican usually =/= logic.
• MI-02: Jay Riemersma, who finished 2nd in the open seat GOP primary in MI-02 by a margin of about 700 votes to ex-state Rep. Wayne Huizenga, has said he won't seek a recount. Not that a protracted battle would have been any aid to Democrats, who aren't expected to be a factor in November in this dark-red district. (A recount, of course, may still loom in MI-01, where there's either a 1-point or 14-point gap, depending on your source, and both GOPers have claimed victory.)
• Washington: PPP looked at a whole lot of miscellany in their Washington Senate poll, too. They look ahead to both the 2012 Senate and gubernatorial races, finding Maria Cantwell in fine shape for now: she's at 46/38 approval, and she leads Rep. Dave Reichert (not likely to run) 47-41 and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (who's largely unknown statewide) 49-37. The gubernatorial numbers for now favor the likely GOP nominee, AG Rob McKenna, though. He leads Democratic state Sen. majority leader Lisa Brown 47-29 (although her problem is that she's completely unknown, with 81% with no opinion, though she as Generic D is probably also weighed down by Chris Gregoire's approvals, currently at 39/52... I'd have been more interested in seeing how Rep. Jay Inslee matches up, although he may be just as unknown statewide). Finally, they find a 41-41 tie in support for I-1098, which is on the November ballot and would create an income tax for high earners. SurveyUSA, of all people, has given a big lead to "yes" on this initiative, so it'll be interesting to see how that shakes out.
• State legislatures: You may recall Louis Jacobson's piece at Governing Magazine from last month where he handicapped the most competitive state legislative chambers this year. He's out with an expanded version, with every state legislature included and with more detailed writeups. Well worth a read (and maybe even a bookmark). Another similar piece worth checking out today is from Taniel, writing at Open Left, with a comprehensive rundown of who is likely to control the redistricting process in all the states that don't have independent commissions (or only one CD).
• CA-Sen: Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 45%, Carly Fiorina (R) 40%
• KS-Sen: Lisa Johnston (D) 28%, Jerry Moran (R) 61%
• OH-Gov: Ted Strickland (D-inc) 42%, John Kasich (R) 45%