Chris Murphy (D): 40
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 38
Fifth CD Rep. Chris Murphy holds a narrow lead over former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary-which won't be held for more than a year, and which could feature additional candidates (a few other people are poking their noses around the race). Murphy has a nine-point lead with men, but Bysiewicz's advantage with women is just three points. She does win African Americans by a large margin, but they only make up 11% of the primary electorate in our sample. The biggest difference between the candidates is in their favorables: Murphy scores an impressive 51-14 among Democrats, while Bysiewicz is at 45-27.
Even though no Republicans have officially declared their candidacies yet, we tested the general election (registered voters) as well:
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 44
Mark Boughton (R): 34
Chris Murphy (D): 52
Mark Boughton (R): 29
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 45
Michael Fedele (R): 35
Chris Murphy (D): 51
Michael Fedele (R): 29
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 45
Scott Frantz (R): 30
Chris Murphy (D): 51
Scott Frantz (R): 27
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 50
Linda McMahon (R): 39
Chris Murphy (D): 54
Linda McMahon (R): 38
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 42
Rob Simmons (R): 39
Chris Murphy (D): 49
Rob Simmons (R): 34
If I were Susan Bysiewicz, I'd be pretty pleased with these numbers-even the most popular Republicans can't crawl their way into the 40s. But if I were Chris Murphy, I'd be even more stoked, and it's not hard to see why: He crushes the nobodies by twenty-plus-point margins, bodyslams Linda McMahon by sixteen and hold even the semi-popular Rob Simmons to a fifteen point spread. Again, the difference lies in the favorables: Statewide, all voters like Murphy by a 40-27 spread. Bysiewicz, on the other hand, is under water at 31-41. It's a testament to how weak Republicans are in Connecticut that they do so poorly against her, with only Simmons making the race even appear to be competitive.
And that's just the nature of the state. Barack Obama's job approval here is a healthy 55-39, while freshman Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal is at 53-32. New Dem Gov. Dan Malloy doesn't fare as well, but his 39-47 rating is almost certainly due to the fact that he's actually trying to pass a responsible budget. You'll also be pleased to know that Joe Lieberman (if you still remember who he is) has sunk all the way to a 29-58 job approval score, and he's negative with Democrats, independents, and Republicans (in order of descending disgust).
I'm an avowed Chris Murphy partisan, but I'm a Democrat first and always, and I'm just glad to see that the Republicans will have an incredibly hard time making this race competitive. 2010 was their high-water mark, and even then, despite Linda McMahon's zillions, they still lost by twelve points. It's difficult to imagine them doing better in 2012.
• AZ-Sen, AZ-06: Rep. Jeff Flake, who announced his bid today, had to wait only a few hours before getting a valuable (for the GOP primary, at least) endorsement from the Club for Growth; he's a natural fit for them, given his draconian budgetary views and laissez-faire social views. Even before Flake had announced, his potentially strongest rival for the GOP nod, ex-Rep. John Shadegg had announced that he wasn't going to run. Shadegg's AZ-03 replacement, Rep. Ben Quayle confirmed that he won't be running either. The same goes for another Republican freshman, Rep. David Schweikert (that article also helpfully points out that famous Arizona residents Meghan McCain and Bristol Palin, who've both accomplished so much in the social media sphere in their short lives, are both too young to run for Senate). Former NFL player Kurt Warner has also taken himself out of consideration.
Buried in a Roll Call article on the whip race to replace Jon Kyl are a few more interesting bits: Trent Franks is "not expected" to run, while state Senate president and prime mover behind SB 1070 Russell Pearce is "out," but "plans to run" for AZ-06, being vacated by Flake. There's not much to report on the Dem side today, but there are further reports that ex-Gov., and current DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (who didn't poll well against Kyl according to PPP a few weeks ago, although they didn't test her against Flake) has been calling around to gauge her support.
• CT-Sen: Ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz rolled out her own long list of endorsements from local Dems, in response to a list unveiled several weeks ago by primary rival Chris Murphy. While Murphy's list was heavy on the 5th District, naturally, Bysiewicz's list is heavy on the 2nd District (which is interesting, as it may be an indication that Rep. Joe Courtney has decided against running... or it may be a preventative shot across Courtney's bow). Bysiewicz is from Middletown, which is in the 2nd although kind of on its periphery. In terms of the Republican field, there was a straw poll taken of state Tea Party Patriots members this weekend. Given the sample size of 54 and the self-selecting nature of the nuttiest of the nuttiest, it's barely worth mentioning, but they found Linda McMahon only barely winning with 15 votes, compared to Peter Schiff's 14. Rob Simmons and Tom Foley each got 6, with state Sen. Scott Frantz at 5 and Danbury mayor Mark Boughton at 4.
• FL-Sen, FL-13: Like I've said before, don't count out Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan for the Senate; the owner of numerous car dealerships is sitting on a big campaign account, has wealthy friends, and can self-fund too. And now he's publicly saying he's "not ruling it out."
• MO-Sen: Over the weekend in Joplin was the first public joint appearance between the two announced GOP candidates so far, Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin. While they superficially only attacked Claire McCaskill, Martin sneaked in some anti-Steelman attacks by implication, saying that he'll support "tort reform every time" and "take on the public sector unions." (While Steelman has the support of the DC-based tea party astroturfers, the local teabaggers are skeptical of her insufficient purity on those two issues.)
• NV-Sen: Given behavior lately that might charitably be described as "erratic," I've pretty much given up on trying to figure out Sharron Angle's plans (her travel schedule seems to take her mostly to early presidential states these days, in case you had any doubts about the scope of her delusions of grandeur). But now she's talking about Nevada Senate again, saying that she'd like to talk to John Ensign before deciding whether or not to challenge him in the primary.
• NY-Sen: As she becomes better-known to New Yorkers, Kirsten Gillibrand's numbers keep going up. Siena's newest poll finds her at 57/18 favorables, with a 52% re-elect (including even a plurality among Republicans). Liz Benjamin also notes that two Republican 2010 Gillibrand challengers - Joe DioGuardi (whom Gillibrand flatted) and David Malpass (whom DioGuardi beat in the GOP primary) - are both still considering the race. Ex-LG "Batshit Besty" McCaughey (who once ran for governor on the Liberal Party line) was also down in DC this past weekend, once again relishing her role as healthcare fabricator-in-chief at the loonier-than-thou CPAC conference - and also possibly trying to raise her profile for a potential run (something we noted a couple of weeks ago). Bring it on!
• OH-Sen: Newly elected state Treasurer Josh Mandel got some buzz at some point last month, and here's some more for him: the Plain Dealer, in a longer piece wondering why the Republican field (in what could be a pickup opportunity with the right candidate) isn't taking shape at all, points to him as a possible alternative in the face of disinterest from the A-list. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor seems to be working on building her portfolio (taking over the state Dept. of Insurance), suggesting a plate too full for a Senate bid, while Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve LaTourette are enjoying their newfound majority. Mandel seems to have the best fundraising chops of anyone beyond that initial top tier.
• VA-Sen, VA-01: Here's one more Republican name to add to the list in Virginia, and it's kind of an unexpected one, in that usually low-profile guys with safe red districts in the House tend to stay where they are. The 1st's Rob Wittman is saying he's "considering" the race, along with the requisite "never say never."
• WI-Gov: The AFL-CIO is already weighing into Wisconsin, even though the next gubernatorial election is three and three-quarters years away. In response to Scott Walker's ham-fisted attempt to limit collective bargaining rights for most state employees, the union is taking to the airwaves with TV spots. Obviously, the target isn't the next election but swinging public opinion against the members of the state legislature, who'll have the final say on the matter. (As a more general question, though, I've gotta wonder if we'll see much more of this type of issue advertising in off-years in the future, as we move more and more into "permanent campaign" mode and the ground needs to be seeded for the on-years.)
• WV-Gov: With Saturday's filing deadline come and gone, we have an official list of all the candidates in the gubernatorial special election, and with 14 names total, it's a doozy. Not much in the way of surprises, though; the only person expected to run who, in the end, didn't seems to be Dem state Sen. Brooks McCabe. For the Democrats, it's acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Sen. Jeff Kessler, SoS Natalie Tennant, state Treasurer John Perdue, state House speaker Rick Thompson, and some dude Arne Moltis. For the Republicans, it's ex-SoS Betty Ireland, Putnam Co. Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia, state Sen. Clark Barnes, state Del. Mitch Carmichael, ex-state Del. Larry Faircloth, and some dudes Bill Maloney, Cliff Ellis, and Ralph William Clark. National Journal's Sean Sullivan makes a good observation that in fields this crowded and in a state without runoffs, ballot position (which studies have shown can add 1-3% to a candidate's vote) may actually wind up making the difference here. The positions were determined by random draw; for the Dems, Tomblin is at the top while co-frontrunner Tennant is at the bottom. For the GOP, Ireland is 7 out of 8, while Maloney is listed first.
• CA-36: LA city councilor Janice Hahn keeps rolling out more endorsements in her attempt to get an early lock-down on the Dem nomination in the special election. Three big ones: two very relevant to California (new Assembly speaker John Perez, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein), one, um, not so much (Dick Gephardt).
• NY-10: Gov. Andrew Cuomo just tapped Democratic Assemblyman Darryl Towns to be the state's new Homes and Community Renewal agency. Ordinarily, a special election in the remarkably-blue AD-54 would be too far in the weeds even for us, but you may recognize his name: he's the son of long-time Rep. Ed Towns. The 76-year-old Towns is routinely viewed as a candidate for retirement (and his son a likely replacement), so this move is a puzzle: is it a sign that the elder Towns isn't going anywhere (perhaps permanently fastened to his House seat by all the moss growing there), or perhaps a way for the younger Towns to burnish his credentials a bit and differentiate him a bit from his somnolent dad?
• NY-26: One more name to strike off the Republican list in the 26th (not that I'd known he'd been on the list): Assemblyman Dan Burling said he wouldn't run, and threw his support behind fellow Assembly member Jane Corwin for the nomination.
• Redistricting: This local news piece on redistricting in Indiana exposes the most mind-numbing and tedious part of the process, one that gets easily overlooked: the process of turning census data into precinct data, seeing as how precincts exist in their own little world apart from blocks and tracts. Even though Indiana was one of the earliest to receive their data, this data-cleaning process is expected to take several weeks before the legislature can even begin tackling the numbers. Also, Indiana is one of the states that will allow citizens to get their hands on the data to try making their own maps... but because of licensing issues of some sort, they won't be making the data available online. If you're in-state, you can drop into one of a number of stations they'll be setting up around the state where you can tinker with the data in person, though.
• Site news: DavidNYC here. I'm back from my vacation and I've had the chance to read through all of the comments (every last one) in the post where I announced our impending move to Daily Kos. While many of my replies are "thank yous" for the very kind expressions of support you offered, I also did my best to answer specific questions where I could. Rest assured that this won't be the last I'll have to say on the subject before we make the changeover. I'll also take this opportunity to encourage you to create an account over at Daily Kos if you don't have one already, and to play around with the new site (DK4 just launched this past weeked). (D)
• CA-Sen: There's that quote about people who can't remember the past... what does it say again? They're likely to be very, very successful, right? Anyway, PPP looks at the California GOP Senate primary for 2012, and finds the Republican electorate's preferred candidate to go up against Dianne Feinstein would be... Carly Fiorina?!? She's at 23, beating out even Meg Whitman, who in fact is tied with Darrell Issa at 16. Tom Campbell's at 15, Arnold Schwarzenegger is at 6, Steve Poizner's at 5, Kevin McCarthy's at 4, and Mary Bono Mack is at 2. (As I've said before, I'd be surprised if any of these people find their way into primary.)
• CT-Sen: State GOP party chair Chris Healy is starting to sound antsy waiting for Linda McMahon to declare her next Senate candidacy, even sounding a little snippy about it ("I think if you're serious about doing something this big, no matter what your background, you've got to make some indication that you're serious about it."). Healy probably has a lot on the line in terms of getting McMahon to get in, considering how many former allies he had throw under the bus (starting with Rob Simmons) to get her and her millions in place the first time.
• FL-Sen: This is odd: despite most people considering him a lock for a Senate run, Rep. Connie Mack IV, when asked about whether he'd run yesterday by Greta Van Sustern, laughed and said "I have no idea." Could he be getting cold feet? This ought to have a foot-chilling effect: state Sen. President Mike Haridopolos, already declared as a candidate, seems to have the midas touch. He raised $1 million at one (1!) fundraiser in Orlando last week.
• MO-Sen: Apparently there were some rumors yesterday which I didn't hear that said that Rep. Jo Ann Emerson was ready to announce she wasn't going to run for Senate. It's just as well that I didn't hear them, as now Emerson is publicly disputing that, saying she has yet to decide, and will take "a few more weeks."
• NM-Sen: If you're thinking that that PPP poll that showed him overperforming other Republicans in next year's Senate race may have gotten Republican ex-Gov. Gary Johnson interested in dropping his vanity presidential bid and running locally, guess again. Buried in this Politico article is a quote from Johnson confirming that the only office he's interested in is the presidency.
• VA-Sen: So, with Jim Webb's retirement confirmed, what now? Ex-Gov. Tim Kaine is the top Dem possibility (performing just as well as Webb, if PPP's poll of a few months ago is to be believed); his statement yesterday, however, didn't betray any intentions to run or not run (he'd previously said he wouldn't run if Webb retired, but somehow nobody seems to believe that, with most observers saying that Kaine could be swayed if Barack Obama leans on him to run). Rep. Rick Boucher, who's 65 and lost VA-09 after decades in 2010, hasn't said anything either (one advantage he has is that he still has a lot of money left in his federal account, after getting caught napping), but is getting some consideration for being able to put his red corner of the state in play. Another 2010 loser, Glenn Nye, is some Dems' wish list, along with 2009 losing LG candidate Michael Signer, state Sen. Chap Petersen, state Sen. Donald McEachin, and state Del. David Englin. Another state Del., Kenny Alexander, is floating his name (no idea if he's actually on anyone's wish list, though). Terry McAuliffe, the former DNC chair who lost the 2009 gubernatorial primary, says he's "not ruling it out," although he's generally expected to pursue another gubernatorial run in 2013 instead.
The potential candidate who seems to get the most netroots attention is, of course, ex-Rep. Tom Perriello. He's currently out of the country, and a spokesperson merely says he's "keeping his options open" at this point; a Republican consultant, however, gives Politico 10 reasons why Perriello would be a particularly formidable candidate. Two of the state's remaining Dem house members, Gerry Connolly and Bobby Scott, also are in the "not ruling it out" stage, though Scott says it's "unlikely." Finally, on the GOP side, it seems like Webb's departure is getting Prince William Co. Supervisor Corey Stewart even likelier to run, as he says the odds of a Republican winning in November are greater now.
• NY-26: Chris Lee's shirtless come-on may have been a metaphorical iceberg tip, which may have expedited his surprising resignation yesterday; recall that he was one of the several GOP Reps. particularly smacked down by John Boehner several months ago for excessive partying with female lobbyists. At any rate, let's focus on the future here: it seems like establishment Dems already have a preferred pic here, in the form of Kathy Konst, a former Erie Co. Legislator and current county director of environment and planning who had considered the 2008 Dem primary but smartly decided not to barge into the middle of that insanity. Speaking of that primary's murder-suicide duo, Jon Powers says on his Facebook page that he's "definitely thinking hard about it," while Jack Davis, three time loser in this district, is "seriously considering" another run... but this time as a Republican! (Um, good?) One other Dem name that's unlikely but keeps bubbling up is the White House deputy press director, Bill Burton, who's never held office but is a local.
On the GOP side, alas, it wasn't meant to be: losing gubernatorial candidate/Acme Gaffe Machine Carl Paladino won't run, although he is offering his support to state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (who may be emerging as the consensus candidate, since she has some self-funding capacity). The other top GOP contender, besides Corwin, seems to be former Assemblyman Jack Quinn, son of the ex-Rep. Finally, it seems state Sen. George Maziarz has decided not to run... or maybe had it decided for him by majority leader Dean Skelos, in order to avoid losing a state Senate special election if Maziarz got the promotion and seeing the body devolve into 31-31 chaos.
• MD-St. House: You might have seen some stories about how a member of the Democratic party in the state House wound up joining the body's Tea Party Caucus and in fact getting elected the caucus's vice-chair, apparently after hearing from many of his constituents that they wanted lower taxes and joining up without doing any further research into what the teabaggers were all about. Well, after a bit of an intervention from his fellow Dems, Del. Curt Anderson quit the group and apologized.
• WATN?: With John Kitzhaber returning from the mists of time to reclaim the governorship, now an even more distant figure returns: Democrat Barbara Roberts, who preceded Kitzhaber in office (1990-1994), is putting her name in consideration for an appointment to an open seat on the Portland-area Metro Council. It's unclear whether this is a temporary fill-in for the 75-year-old Roberts, or if she'd stand for re-election at the next general election. (Metro Council is a regional entity that spans the entire Portland metropolitan area with jurisdiction over public transit and land use planning.)
• Vote by mail: One more western state seems to be going down the road of all vote-by-mail elections in the future. A bill to switch Colorado to mail-in status is entering committee in the Republican-controlled state House; similar to Montana (where similar legislation is in the pipeline), the bill has bipartisan support, including a Republican as one of its two main sponsors.
• Census: This week's Census data dump is available (at least in ftp form), for Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, and Vermont. Next week's release schedule is Illinois, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.
• 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: Murphmentum! Rep. Chris Murphy, in the race to replace Joe Lieberman, seems to have a sizable early edge in both the primary and general elections, at least according to his internal poll from the Gotham Research Group (with a Jan. 3-5 sample period, so pre-Murphy's campaign launch and pre-Lieberman's retirement). In the primary, he leads a two-way race against Susan Bysiewicz, 40-31. In the general, he leads Linda McMahon 54-35 and leads Rob Simmons 46-34 (which is quite the testament to McMahon's toxicity). The spread on the primary numbers is close to the 47-35 mystery poll that was widely mentioned on Murphy's announcement day, although the Murphy campaign reiterates that that poll wasn't theirs.
• MN-Sen: Norm Coleman (currently heading American Action Network, who were big players on the dark money front in 2010) is saying that he's not ruling out another run for office, although couching that by saying he's enjoying being out of the news on a regular basis. No indication what he wants to run for, though.
• MO-Sen: Here's one more name to add to the list for Missouri... or to add back to the list, after briefly being off the list while the pursued the chairmanship of the RNC. Ann Wagner, a former ambassador to Luxembourg, former RNC vice-chair, and former campaign manager to Roy Blunt (can't get much more GOP establishment than that resume), is publicly weighing the race again. (She says she'd defer to Jim Talent, though, but that's looking less likely.) And here's an early endorsement for Ed Martin, the former MO-03 candidate who's emerging as something of the tea party favorite in the field, if he decides to run; he got the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly, Missouri-based 80s right-wing icon who still has a lot of pull in social conservative circles.
• OH-Sen: Rep. Jim Jordan is back in the news for saying that he's "leaning against" a run against Sherrod Brown. If I recall correctly, he's been "leaning against" the race for months, so things don't seem to have changed much here.
• LA-Gov: Louisiana Democrats seem to be turning their attention toward something that's previously eluded them: a potentially willing candidate to go up against Bobby Jindal. Former SoS Al Ater, well-regarded for getting the state electoral system back in gear after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, still sounds pretty noncommittal, perhaps most about the idea of spending his own money on the race (self-financing seems to be the Dems' main criteria for the race, and while Ater has money, he doesn't sound happy about spending much of it).
• IA-03: Christie Vilsack is seemingly moving toward a run for the House in 2012, meeting with donors and labor leaders to lay some groundwork. This seems strange, though, because all three of the state's House Dems say they're running for re-election, including 77-year-old Leonard Boswell. (Vilsack would be likeliest to run in the 3rd, or whatever the Des Moines-area district will be called once redistricting happens.) She won't make a formal decision until April, when the new four-district redistricting maps will be unveiled, but for now it looks like, unless she's going to run against Steve King, there's a collision course with an existing Dem.
• Chicago mayor: Fresh off a surprising setback in the Illinois Appellate Court, which reversed lower court rulings that he was a Chicago resident and eligible to become mayor, Rahm Emanuel has appealed to the state Supreme Court; they've announced they'll hear the case on an expedited basis, with no oral arguments, so we should be out of limbo pretty soon. There was a brief period where it looked like the city was going to go ahead and start printing ballots without Emanuel's name (which would basically be the kiss of death), but also today, a stay was ordered that pushes back the ballot printing until the case is fully decided. Also, in case you though this was all just about a legitimate case of differences in statutory interpretation, with grownups disagreeing about what an inadequately-specific law means, guess again. (Forget it, Jake. It's Chicago.) It turns out that two of the three Appellate Court judges on the case were slated by the 14th district Alderman Edward Burke, a local powerbroker who's a staunch Emanuel rival and a key Gery Chico backer. This leads to the question of whether supreme court justice Anne Burke, who may have a certain loyalty to Edward seeing as how she's married to him, will recuse herself from the Emanuel case.
• Omaha mayor: There's one special election on tap today: a recall election in Omaha, against mayor Jim Suttle. There's no scandal or malfeasance alleged, just anger about over usual teabagger grievances like "excessive taxes, broken promises, and union deals," as well as the unspoken obvious: while it's an ostensibly nonpartisan job, Suttle's a Democrat. (Omaha seems particularly trigger-happy about recalls; Mike Boyle was successfully recalled in 1987.)
• Senate: Somehow it doesn't seem unusual, but what George Allen is attempting (and what Jim Talent could attempt, too) is, in fact, highly unusual. Only five Senators have lost re-election and then come back to the Senate... but most of them (Slade Gorton most recently) were elected to their state's other Senate seat. What Allen is doing is even more unusual: defeating the guy who beat you six years ago in order to reclaim your seat seems to have happened all of once in history. Thanks to UMN's Smart Politics, it looks like the one time was in 1934, when Rhode Island Democrat Peter Gerry (the great-grandson of Elbridge Gerry, in case you're wondering) beat one-term Republican Felix Hebert, who had knocked him out in the GOP tsunami of 1928.
• DGA: The Democratic Governor's Association announced its new hires for the cycle, including the Patriot Majority's Dan Sena as its political director. We're especially happy to see their new hire for communication director: friend-to-the-site Lis Smith, last seen on Ted Strickland's campaign.
• Redistricting: There's some redistricting-related drama looming in New York, where the Senate Republicans are backing away from promises of a non-partisan redistricting map. Andrew Cuomo has signaled that he'd veto any map that wasn't non-partisan, but is now suggesting he can negotiate on that, in exchange for other priorities. There was also a smaller battle in Georgia, won by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (who, in his role as Senate president, got to reassert his authority over the process), where the stakes are lower since the GOP controls the trifecta. The battle was against Senate president pro tem Tommie Williams... Williams is from the south (unlike Nathan Deal, Cagle, and the House speaker, all from the north) and has a stake in keeping the underpopulated southern part of the state's interests represented at the table.
One of the big question marks for redistricting is Florida, where the initiative that passed, limiting gerrymandering, still has to run the gauntlet in the courts; the GOP in the state House are joining the suit against the initiative that was filed jointly by Mario Diaz-Balart and Corrine Brown (not surprising that they'd support it, since the GOP controls the trifecta and the legislature would get to resume gerrymandering if it's struck down). Finally, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a look at Pennsylvania redistricting prospects, concluding (rightly, in my estimation) that the axe is likely to fall in the southwest corner of the state because of its stagnant population, and suggesting that the likeliest removal from the House will be the loser of a Jason Altmire/Mark Critz mashup.
• AZ-Sen: There have been vague rumblings that maybe Jon Kyl, the GOP's 68-year-old #2 in the Senate, may not be running for another term... but that seems to be coming into sharper relief all of a sudden. Kyl has refused to publicly discuss his plans, the GOP's state chair is saying Kyl is not likely to run again, and people are starting to notice that he's sitting on only $620K CoH and hasn't engaged in any fundraising yet. (Although it's likely, once he decides, that he could quickly do whatever fundraising was needed to win.)
• CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons sounds torn about another Senate run in 2012, and refuses to rule it out. However, he sounds unenthused, not so much because of his odds in the general as the likelihood of butting heads with the NRSC in the primary, whom he thinks has a fixation on Linda McMahon and her self-funding ability. Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Murphy is busy framing his "no" vote on the tax compromise in populist terms, clearly trying to set up some contrasts with Joe Lieberman.
• NE-Sen: I'd thought AG Jon Bruning was supposed to be some sort of killer-app for the local GOP to go against Ben Nelson, but you wouldn't know it by the way they've kept casting about for more talent. Local insiders are still publicly airing their wish list, adding a couple more prominent names to it: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and state Auditor Mike Foley. One lower-tier option is also floating her own name: state Sen. Deb Fischer, who represents that big empty north-central part of the state and says she'll decide on a run once the legislative session is over.
• OR-Sen: Best wishes for a quick recovery to Ron Wyden, who will be undergoing surgery on Monday for prostate cancer. While it sounds like he'll be back on his feet soon, he'll be unable to vote for anything next week, which could complicate the final rush to wrap up stuff in the lame duck.
• TN-Sen: Bob Corker occasionally gets mentioned, at least in the rightosphere, as the possible recipient of a tea party primary challenge in 2012. The Hill finds that this may be fizzling on the launching pad, for the very simple reason that no one seems to be stepping forward to consider the race.
• WI-Sen: PPP is out with its poll of the 2012 GOP Senate primary, with another one of those let's-test-everyone-and-their-dog fields, but unlike some of the other states they've looked at in the last few weeks, a U.S. Rep. wins, rather than a statewide figure. Paul Ryan (who probably gets enough Fox News attention to trump the disadvantage of representing only 1/8th of the state) is far in the lead at 52. Ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson (who if he didn't run this year surely isn't going to in 2012) is at 14, ex-Rep. Mark Green is at 9, AG JB Van Hollen and new Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch are at 6, new Rep. Sean Duffy is at 5, and already-forgotten 2010 contender Dave Westlake is at 1.
• IN-Gov, IN-09: Baron Hill says he most likely isn't going to be running for anything in 2012, not Governor, and not his old seat in the 9th, saying he's looking into private sector jobs for now, though also leaving the gubernatorial door "slightly open." Interestingly, he seemed more enthused about a run for Governor in 2016 (which may be a tougher road to hoe, if there's an entrenched GOP incumbent then instead of an open seat like 2012), although he also commented that "I don't know if I'll be alive in 2016."
• MO-Gov: In case there was any doubt, Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon confirmed that he'll run for re-election as Governor in 2012. Nixon also said that he's raised $1 million for that race just since November; he'll need it.
• WV-Gov: For what it's worth, two of the state's largest unions would like to see an expedited special election to replace Joe Manchin. Democratic House Speaker (and likely gubernatorial candidate) Rick Thompson agrees with them, saying there's a constitutional conflict of interest in acting Gov./Senate president Earl Ray Tomblin's dual position. In what may not be a surprise, Tomblin disagrees, saying that the law is clear that the special will be held in 2012.
• CA-06: Rep. Lynn Woolsey is seeming like she may be one of the first retirements of the cycle, if the flurry of activity among lower-level Marin County politicos jockeying for position is any indication. The 73-year-old is publicly weighing retirement, and state Assemblyman Jared Huffman has already formed an exploratory committee to run in her stead. State Sen. Noreen Evans, Sonoma Co. Commissioner Shirlee Zane, and Petaluma mayor Pam Torliatt are also listed as possible replacements.
• FL-25: It certainly didn't take newly-elected Rep. David Rivera to get in legal trouble, and it's something completely new, instead of anything having to do with that whole let's-run-that-truck-off-the-road incident. He's under investigation for an alleged $500,000 in secret payments from a greyhound track that he helped out to a marketing firm that's "run" by his septuagenarian mother.
• ID-01: Don't count on a rematch from Walt Minnick (or a run for higher office in Idaho, either): he says he's done with elective politics. An oft-overlooked fact about Minnick: he's a little older than your average freshman, at 68. He wasn't going to be in the seat for much longer or look to move up anyway.
• NY-14: Remember Reshma Saujani, after losing the Dem primary in the 14th, said "I'm definitely running again" and "There's no way I'm going to be ones of those folks who runs, loses, and you never see them again." Well, fast forward a few months, and now she's definitely not running again, although she may be looking toward a run for something in 2013 at the municipal level.
• DCCC: The DCCC held its first real strategy session of the cycle yesterday, and the list of top-tier targets that emerged is pretty predictable (Dan Lungren, Charlie Bass, Charlie Dent, Bob Dold!) except for one: Leonard Lance, who's proved pretty durable so far. They may be counting on Lance's NJ-07, which occupies roughly the middle of the state, to get tossed into the blender in the redistricting process.
• Votes: Here's the vote tally from yesterday's vote in the House on the tax compromise. It was a very unusual breakdown, with Dems breaking 139 yes/112 no and the GOP breaking 138 yes/36 no, with the "no"s coming generally from each party's hard-liners, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of how the TARP vote broke down. (Also, some defeated or retiring Blue Dogs still voted "no," like Allen Boyd, Gene Taylor, and Earl Pomeroy... while Dennis Kucinich was a "yes.")
• History: Here's an interesting story about the end of a little-known but important era in North Dakota politics: the effective end of the Non-Partisan League, a vaguely-socialist/populist farmers' party that cross-endorsed Democrats for many decades, and had an outsized influence on the state (as seen in their state-owned bank and similar enterprises). With Byron Dorgan retired, most NPL stalwarts dead or aging, and agribusiness having replaced the family farm, it looks like the end of the NPL's line.
• Redistricting: Dave Wasserman is out with a preview of next week's reapportionment, and he's rightly treating it like the NCAA playoffs draw, in that there a bunch of states on the bubble of getting or losing seats. Here's how that plays out:
Georgia, Nevada, and Utah are all but certain to gain an additional seat in the House, while Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are all but certain to lose a seat and Ohio is all but certain to lose two seats.... the ten states in contention for the "last five" seats in the House (in order of likelihood to make the cut) are South Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, Washington, Texas, New York, California, Arizona, North Carolina, and Illinois.
He's also been tinkering around with Dave's Redistricting App, and has some maps that you'll want to check out. Maybe most interestingly, there's a solution to the IL-17 problem that actually makes it more Democratic while letting Aaron Schock and Bobby Schilling get much better acquainted with each other (the Fix also takes a look at Illinois today, coming up with similar ideas). Also worth a look: a good 10-district Washington map that gives Dave Reichert a heaping helping of eastern Washington.
• Site news: Due to holiday travel, other time commitments, and hopefully what will be a very slow news week, the Daily Digest will be on hiatus all next week. Don't worry, though: I'll make sure to be around on the 21st for the Census reapportionment data release (hell, maybe I'll even liveblog the news conference), and if there's any important breaking news, someone will get it up on the front page. In the meantime, happy holidays from the whole SSP team!
• Colorado: What looked like a hotly contested race on the Democratic side of the Senate race (thanks to a mixed bag of poll results, including an Andrew Romanoff lead according to SurveyUSA) turned into a fairly comfortable win for Michael Bennet in the end. Propped up by Obama and DSCC help, and weathering a last-minute patented hit job from the New York Times, Bennet won 54-46. Maybe this'll help put to sleep two memes that are getting very very tiresome: that it's an "anti-incumbent year," and that Obama endorsees all lose. Bennet will face off against Ken Buck, who defeated Jane Norton in the GOP primary 52-48. Polls haven't been conclusive in terms of whether Dems should have wanted to face off against Buck or Norton. Buck gets lumped in with Sharron Angle and Rand Paul because of his teabagger proclivities, but he's considerably more skilled than they are; nevertheless, he still seems gaffe-prone and irritable, so I'll take him.
Dan Maes won the GOP gubernatorial nod, 51-49. The only way things could have gone better for Dems in the GOP gubernatorial race would be if Maes' margin had been small enough to force a recount. The risk here was that irreparably-damaged Scott McInnis would win and then, being a good GOP team player, promptly drop out, allowing a better Republican (Jane Norton?) to take his place, which would then drive Tom Tancredo out of his indie bid. Maes has vowed to fight on, though, and his underwhelming presence is likely to keep Tancredo in the race, meaning not one but two guys not just spewing the crazy, but splitting the crazy vote and ensuring Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Finally, in Colorado, the GOP House primaries were uneventful wins for establishment candidates, with Ryan Frazier beating Lang Sias 64-36 in CO-07 and Scott Tipton beating Bob McConnell (Sarah Palin's other losing endorsee yesterday) winning 56-44 in CO-03.
• Connecticut: Probably the biggest surprise of the night was the 58-42 victory by former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy over Ned Lamont in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, seeing as how Lamont had led all polls (although polls did capture a late and rapid Malloy surge). The lesson here mostly boils down to one more race where the organizational power of the local political establishment was able to overcome the money of a rich outsider, but there's one other story here that Dem message-setters will hopefully notice. Judging by when polls saw the race tigthen, the wheels seemed to come off Lamont's campaign with a late round of attack ads that focused on layoffs at Lamont's company. Taking not just that but the air war in the PA-12 special in mind (where Mark Critz won in large measure by hammering Tim Burns over outsourcing), it really seems like, despite this year's overarching CW, voters will go for a "career politician" over a self-described job-creating outsider businessman, once it's made clear that said businessman's interest in jobs only extends as far as his own bottom line.
Malloy will face a flawed Tom Foley in November, and based on general election polling recently should be considered a slight favorite. Foley won the GOP primary narrowly over Lt. Governor Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel 42-39-19. Also, for the GOP, Linda McMahon unsurprisingly won the GOP primary in the face of Rob Simmons' half-assed comeback-type-thing. Simmons and Paulist economist Peter Schiff did keep her under 50% though: 49-28-23. McMahon faces Richard Blumenthal in November, who already launched his first TV ad this morning, shirking a no-doubt-tempting smackdown in favor of... what's that thing that McMahon doesn't have... oh, yeah. Dignity. The three GOP House primaries led to expected victories for Janet Peckinpaugh in CT-02 (43-38 over Daria Novak), Dan Debicella in CT-04 (60-24 over Rob Merkle), and Sam Caligiuri in CT-05 (40-32-28 over Justin Bernier and Mark Greenberg).
• Georgia: The main event in Georgia was the GOP gubernatorial runoff, and hoo boy, did it live up to its billing. The two candidates finished in recount territory at 50-50, with Nathan Deal leading Karen Handel by 2,500 votes. Unfortunately, Handel just conceded this morning rather than following through with the recount, so Dem nominee Roy Barnes doesn't get to spend weeks watching them keep fighting it out. Pundits will no doubt focus on the proxy war aspects of the battle ("Huck beats Palin!"), but the outcome seems to have more to do with Deal consolidating conservative votes outside the Atlanta area, where Handel's anti-corruption, anti-good-ol'-boyism message may have fallen flat.
We also had outcomes in three GOP House primaries, one to determine the nominee in a Likely Dem race, and the others to determine who's the next Rep. in dark-red districts. In GA-07, establishment-backed former John Linder CoS Rob Woodall beat teabagging radio talker Jody Hice, 56-44. In GA-09, Rep. Tom Graves won his fourth (and probably final) faceoff against Lee Hawkins, 55-45. And in GA-12, Ray McKinney beat Carl Smith 62-38 for the right to take on Rep. John Barrow. If you want to argue that this year's crop of Republican candidates is radioactive, you don't need to look any further than McKinney; he's a nuclear power plant project manager by day.
• Minnesota: Finally, there was only one race worth watching last night in Minnesota, and it turned out to be a barnburner: the DFL gubernatorial primary. State House speaker (and DFL endorsee) Margaret Anderson Kelliher led most of the night based on her strength in the Twin Cities, but as results trickled in from the rest of the state, ex-Sen. Mark Dayton crept into the lead. In the end, despite having convincing pre-primary poll leads, Dayton won 41-40-18 over Kelliher and Matt Entenza. Dayton pretty clearly benefited not only from his statewide familiarity, but also from picking a running mate from Duluth, where he cleaned up, late in the game. With a 7,000 margin separating them, Kelliher didn't concede last night... but she did this morning, meaning Dayton faces the increasingly woeful GOP nominee Tom Emmer in November. The most recent spate of polls has given Dayton double-digits advantages in that matchup.
• CO-Sen (D): The Democratic heavyweights are out in this marquee race on our side in Colorado, splitting between appointed incumbent and former Denver Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet and Colorado House speaker Andrew Romanoff. Obama's recorded a robocall for Bennet, while the Big Dog's been stumping for Romanoff (who, yes, endorsed Hillary in 2008). While Romanoff's bid seemed quixotic at first, he's managed to gain some traction, with the most recent polling in the race offering a split decision, with PPP saying Bennet 49-43 and SurveyUSA saying Romanoff 48-45. Much hay was made about Bennet's accidental incumbency, and the newest scuttle in the race takes the form of Bennet's financial dealings while Superintendent. While that news may have broken a little late, Romanoff still has the momentum -- but will it be enough? (JMD)
• CO-Sen (R): The Devil Wears Prada! Or, perhaps more appropriately, former Lt. Gov Jane Norton wears high heels, according to her rival, Weld County DA Ken Buck. The two have been duking it out for the conservative mantle. Buck's been endorsed by GOP would-be kingmaker Jim DeMint and has had some airpower in the form of shady 501(c)(4) group Americans for Job Security; Norton's earned the endorsements of both John McCain and the star of Saved By The Xenophobia, Jan Brewer. Norton and Buck remain close in polling, with PPP giving Norton a narrow edge at 41-40 and SurveyUSA giving Buck some more breathing room at 50-41. All of this remains in complete flux though, and any result tonight could be rendered moot by a switcheroo with the Governor's race, should the Colorado GOP somehow manage to cast off their albatross in Scott McInnis. (JMD)
• CO-Gov (R): Former Rep. Scott McInnis was at one time considered a major get for the GOP, and the strength of his candidacy was such that he helped push incumbent Dem Gov. Bill Ritter out of the race after just one term. No more. While some initially dismissed McInnis's plagiarism scandal as a minor white-collar affair that wouldn't interest average voters, his transgressions in fact proved unusually potent, leading to his campaign's utter ruin. Polls now show a dead heat between McInnis (whose fundraising has dried up) and crazy fringer Some Dude Dan Maes (who never raised squat to begin with). The primary may be completely moot, though: Rumors have abounded that if McInnis were to win, he'd step down in favor of a less-damaged candidate. We should probably be rooting for Maes, though, who has explicitly said he'd do no such thing. (D)
• CO-03 (R): Former state Rep. Scott Tipton, who represented a large swath of Southwestern Colorado before running against incumbent Dem. John Salazar in 2006, looked like he would easily earn the right to challenge Salazar a second time, but was held to only 45% at the state nominating against the teabaggish Bob McConnell, who also earned 45%. As a result, the two square off tonight, with McConnell running to Tipton's right, even boasting a Sarah Palin endorsement. Both candidates have some cash to play with, Tipton having spent $213k and McConnell having spent $132k so far. Given the relative low profile of this race - Salazar bested Tipton with 62% in 2006 and seems to be more entrenched than most vulnerable Dems - the race remains unpredictable. (JMD)
• CO-07 (R): The primary field in this suburban Denver district is also down to two after the convention, with Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier having earned 49% and carpetbagging former Democrat Lang Sias having earned 43%. Frazier is winning the money race by quite a distance, $252k to Sias's $89k cash-on-hand. Sias -- who lives in CO-02 and became a Republican in 2007, however, boasts endorsements from both former 7th CD Rep. Bob Beauprez, the one and only Tom Tancredo, and John McCain, who Sias campaigned for (but didn't vote for). Again, Perlmutter doesn't seem particularly vulnerable, leading to a lower-profile -- and less predictable -- race tonight. (JMD)
• CT-Gov (D): Connecticut Democrats are hungry for a win this November -- which would be their first gubernatorial win since William O'Neill's re-election in 1986 -- but they'll have to get through a fast-closing primary tonight to see who their nominee will be. '06 Senate nominee and Lieberman primary-slayer Ned Lamont is facing off against former 14-year Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, and this race looks like it's going down to the wire. After lagging in the polls behind Lamont for months, Malloy has used some well-timed punches to turn Lamont's business experience against him, releasing TV ads criticizing Lamont for layoffs at his telecommunications company. The latest Q-poll shows that Lamont's lead has eroded to a mere three points -- certainly not a margin to bet the farm on tonight. (JL)
• CT-Gov (R): While technically this one is a three-way decision, the only candidates with a shot at winning the Republican nomination tonight are ex-Ambassador Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele. Like Lamont, Foley has used his personal fortune to catapult himself to an early lead. Fedele has had a rough time keeping pace, highlighted by his failures to secure endorsements from Gov. Jodi Rell and the state GOP convention. Still, Fedele has swung back at Foley with TV ads drawing attention to layoffs at one of Foley's textile factories in Georgia. The latest Q-Poll shows some juice for Fedele, but he still lags behind Foley by 38-30. (JL)
• CT-Sen (R): Little Bobby Simmons announced that he was taking his ball and going home, but it turns out that he was just lingering behind the bleachers until he could muster up the courage to take another at-bat. The results aren't pretty: a 50-28 lead for controversial WWE Queen Linda McMahon in the latest Q-Poll. Next! (JL)
• CT-02 (R): Now this one's getting down in the weeds, but Republicans are trying to prod as many Dem-held seats for potential weakness as possible. The crop of candidates going up against two-term Rep. Joe Courtney, however, leaves much to be desired. After their most well-funded recruit, former Hebron Board of Finance vice chairman Matthew Daly, dropped out in May, Republicans are picking between former TV anchorwoman Janet Peckinpaugh, former State Department official Daria Novak, and farmer/attorney Douglas Dubitsky. Peckinpaugh, the most "hyped" of the trio, failed to raise more than $50K for her campaign, and her candidacy drew early fire for her most recent employment stint as a shill for a now-defunct mortgage company in deceptive, TV news-like ads. As much success as Republicans have had in expanding the map this year, this race stacks up as a glaring recruiting failure. (JL)
• CT-04 (R): State Sen. Dan Debicella is the clear front-runner in the race to take on Rep. Jim Himes. He faces a couple of Some Dudes who, as befits their Some Dude status, haven't raised squat: Rick Torres and Rob Merkle. (A more credible opponent, Tom Herrmann, dropped out in June after petition fraud meant he couldn't qualify for the ballot.) Debicella won his party's backing at the state convention earlier this year. (D)
• CT-05 (R): Though the 5th district would seem to be a tougher GOP target than the 4th, the Republican primary here has attracted quite a bit more money, and a larger number of credible candidates. Another state senator, Sam Caligiuri, is also the presumed front-runner here, having won 70% of the delegate vote at his party's nominating convention. But Afghanistan vet Justin Bernier, who was running in this race (and got some favorable notice) before Caligiuri dropped down from the senate contest last November, has raised a creditable sum and hasn't given up. Like many others in his position, though, it seems he's had a chip on his shoulder ever since Caligiuri hopped into the race, and that's usually not very appealing. Wealthy businessman Mark Greenberg actually leads the money race, with over a million raised (most of that from his own pockets), but most of the media attention devoted to this contest has seemed to focus on the Caligiuri-Bernier matchup. The winner, whomever he may be, gets to challenge sophomore Rep. (and all-time SSP hero) Chris Murphy in the fall. (D)
• GA-Gov (R): The big ticket race in Georgia is the Republican gubernatorial runoff, between Karen Handel, the former SoS who finished a dominant first in the primary, and Nathan Deal, the former U.S. Rep. who was second. The Beltway media tends to emphasize that this is a proxy fight between possible presidential candidates (with Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney backing Handel, and Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee backing Deal), but the important post-primary endorsements here may have been the NRA, and third-place finisher state Sen. Eric Johnson (who has a strong base in the Savannah area), which both seemed to have consolidate conservative and rural Johnson and John Oxendine votes behind Deal. With that, Deal has pulled into a polling tie with Handel, promising a down-to-the-wire race tonight. (C)
• GA-07 (R): With the surprising third-place finish of state Rep. Clay Cox (who'd had the backing of the Club for Growth and many local endorsers), meaning he's not in the runoff, it's anybody's guess as to who has the upper hand tonight in the Republican runoff in the dark-red open seat 7th and be the district's next Rep. (Actually, this part of Atlanta's northern suburbs is going through a lot of demographic change that will be beneficial to Democrats in the long run, but this isn't going to be the year to capitalize on that.) John Linder's former CoS, Rob Woodall, faces off against radio talk show host Jody Hice. (C)
• GA-09 (R): Few candidates are as well acquainted with each other as newly-minted Rep. Tom Graves and former state Sen. Lee Hawkins, who, thanks to a special election, special election runoff, and primary, are now poised to face each other for the fourth time this year. Graves has won the first three rounds, and barely missed winning the primary outright (with 49% of the vote), so it would be a pretty monumental turnaround for Hawkins to finally win it, on the time it really counts (as November will be of little import in this dark-red district). Maybe having been in Congress for five months is enough to give Graves the unacceptable taint of incumbency, though. The county to watch is Hall, where Hawkins has his geographic base and which tends to report late. (C)
• GA-12 (R): Democratic Rep. John Barrow -- who overcame his main challenge this year, a challenge from the left from former state Sen. Regina Thomas, in the primary -- will be watching with some interest tonight to see who his Republican opponent will be: nuclear power plant project manager Ray McKinney, or former fire chief of the small town of Thunderbolt, Carl Smith? Neither one is particularly well-funded or has an imposing profile, but this race could be competitive if the Republican wave is particularly large. (C)
• MN-Gov (D): Minnesota Democrats will finally have a chance to participate in some real democracy today, rather than having their gubernatorial nominee chosen for them by a bunch of elites at a party convention. State House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher did in fact win the endorsement of state delegates, but former Sen. Mark Dayton and former state Rep. Matt Entenza forged on with primary challenges regardless. It was probably a wise move for the wealthy Dayton, seeing as recent polls have all shown him to be in first place, with MAK in second and Entenza (who also has access to family money) in third. While this race may not wind up being very exciting, in a low turnout three-way with one woman and two men, the outcome could be unexpected. (D)
Tom Foley (R): 38 (41)
Mike Fedele (R): 30 (26)
Oz Griebel (R): 17 (13)
Undecided: 14 (21)
Ned Lamont (D): 45 (45)
Dan Malloy (D): 42 (40)
Undecided: 12 (14)
Quinnipiac finds some major movement for both Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele and Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy in the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries, respectively. That's the power of well-timed attack ads at work, and it should make for an exciting evening tomorrow night.
General election numbers (7/28-8/2, registered voters, 7/7-13 in parens):
Ned Lamont (D): 48 (49)
Michael Fedele (R): 33 (27)
Undecided: 14 (19)
Ned Lamont (D): 46 (45)
Tom Foley (R): 33 (33)
Undecided: 17 (17)
Ned Lamont (D): 50 (49)
Oz Greibel (R): 27 (25)
Undecided: 19 (21)
Dan Malloy (D): 47 (39)
Michael Fedele (R): 30 (26)
Undecided: 18 (20)
Dan Malloy (D): 46 (44)
Tom Foley (R): 31 (33)
Undecided: 16 (19)
Dan Malloy (D): 50 (51)
Oz Greibel (R): 25 (25)
Undecided: 18 (21)
The boys in blue still look pretty good, but we'll see how the shape of this race will change once Quinnipiac adjusts to a likely voter screen.
Finally, we've got some numbers from the on again/off again GOP Senate primary (8/3-8, likely voters, 7/28-8/2 in parens). And don't call it a comeback...
Linda McMahon (R): 50 (47)
Rob Simmons (R): 28 (30)
Peter Schiff (R) : 15 (14)
Undecided: 7 (8)
...because it ain't. A Rob Simmons victory tomorrow night would either be an epic polling fail or a spectacular late-game change of heart in the GOP electorate.
The final piece -- Senatorial general election numbers (7/28-8/2, registered voters, 7/7-13 in parens):
Richard Blumenthal (D): 50 (54)
Linda McMahon (R): 40 (37)
Undecided: 7 (7)
Richard Blumenthal (D): 55 (55)
Rob Simmons (R): 35 (35)
Undecided: 7 (9)
Richard Blumenthal (D): 57 (58)
Peter Schiff (R): 30 (31)
Undecided: 9 (9)
CO-Sen: Andrew Romanoff has launched a new TV ad (a Joe Trippi Production), accusing Sen. Michael Bennet of "pushing companies into bankruptcy" while working for corporate raider (and right-wing zillionaire) Phil Anschutz. Bennet claims that his work for Anschutz Investments actually saved foundering movie theater chains from going out of business. Anyhow, NWOTSOTB.
CT-Sen: Politico's Shira Toeplitz talked to a bunch of bigtime Rob Simmons supporters (including ex-Rep. and all-time SSP enemy Nancy Johnson), all of whom seem to be fairly down on his chances at pulling off his weird comeback attempt against Linda McMahon. Simmons also told Politico that his internal polling matching a recent Quinnipiac survey, which had him down 52-25 in the primary, but wouldn't release any further details. So really, what's he doing? P.S. Linda McMahon's personal spending on the race is already up to $23 million.
FL-Gov: Obama alert! The POTUS will be doing a fundraiser with gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink in Miami Beach on August 18th. No word on whether he'll also help out Kendrick Meek. (Extremely eagle-eyed digesters of the digest will note that the Sink event is planned for the same day as a Ted Strickland fundraiser. Busy guy!)
IA-Gov: Heh. Former Gov. Terry Branstad's campaign is in trubba because it purchased two vehicles, including a $52K Winnebago - something that isn't kosher, on account of a state law which requires that campaigns lease, not buy. This is an amusing bust, because the law in question was passed when Branstad was governor - on account of a previous campaign of his purchasing a van for less than half its market value. This reminds me of when Chicken Lady (seems like so long ago!) received an improper donation of a $100,000 RV from a supporter. Ah, good times!
KY-Gov: Businessman Phil Moffett, managing partner of the telecommunications management company CCS Partners, is the first Republican candidate to enter the race against Dem Gov. Steve Beshear. Moffett says he's going after the teabagger vote, but he's been a big proponent of the stimulus-funded "Race to the Top" education bill, which makes me think he'll be anathema to the tribalist wing of the Republican Party. Anyhow, plenty more candidates wait in the wings for this race, which is not until 2011.
NV-Gov: Nevada Republican gubernatorial candidate is now claiming to have had an out-of-body experience, claiming he doesn't remember telling Univision that he wasn't worried about his kids getting profiled in Arizona because they "don't look Hispanic." Sandoval's exact, uh, apology: "If I did say those words, it was wrong and I sincerely regret it." So deeply weird.
NC-11: Memo to media: Message-testing polls are totally normal and fair game in any campaign. So Heath Shuler is testing out attacks on Republican Jeff Miller - he'd be negligent if he didn't do so. Not news. (At least no one called it a "push poll.")
NH-01, NH-02: Dean Barker at Blue Hampshire is one of my favorite state bloggers, so you should just go read what he has to say about UNH's new poll of NH-01 and NH-02. As for the toplines (PDF), in NH-01, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter leads all comers (April trendlines in parens): Frank Guinta 44-39 (38-42); Rich Ashooh 43-35 (36-39); Sean Mahoney 45-36 (37-40); and Bob Bestani 44-33 (37-38). In NH-02, it's Ann McLane Kuster 29, Charlie Bass 47 (30-42); Kuster 32, Jennifer Horn 34 (32-33); Katrina Swett 30, Bass 47; Swett 31, Horn 35 (31-35).
NY-15: Alright, the whip count is definitely winding down. Paul Hodes is now the latest to call on Charlie Rangel to resign, in the wake of formal ethics charges being announced against the veteran New York congressman. And Joe Sestak has returned Rangel's campaign contributions. At this point, I think pretty much everyone is gonna have to do that, so it's going to get pretty boring. Anyhow, of more direct relevance, CQ points out that it's now probably too late for Rangel to take his name off the September primary ballot, even if he wanted to. I wonder if he can still win re-election, somehow.
TN-08: It sounds like the NRCC is trying to game expectations with regard to Steve Fincher, their golden boy in the race to replace John Tanner. Fincher's been caught in a mega-multi-million dollar three-way fight, with Ron Kirkland and George Flinn beating up on him and each other. An NRCC flack says that Fincher "probably has the edge," but then immediately contradicts himself by saying a Fincher victory would be "against all odds" and that "anything can happen in primaries." I wouldn't be surprised at all if he lost in the primary next week (which, please note, is on a Thursday). Also important: Tennessee is the rare Southern state which does not feature runoffs.
DSCC/DCCC: God, pieces like this are just too depressing for me at this point. The Hill rounds up a pretty large list of retiring lawmakers who are still sitting on monster cash hoards. I mean, what the fuck is up with guys like Bill Delahunt? Says The Hill: "But Delahunt said there are competing political interests that need the money, and he'll decide how to spend it when the time is right." Shit, do I even need to say that the time is right... right now? Sigh.
Moose Lady: Heh again. The Washington Post has a special page devoted to tracking the Mama Grizzly-in-Chief's endorsements. It even has helpful logos for each candidate denoting whether they are "Establishment" or teabaggers. Anyhow, so far, Palin has 10 wins to 4 losses, with a bunch more races in the works.