Is there any better way to start your day than with the SSP Daily Digest? There is not.
FL-Sen: Great catch by CQ's Greg Giroux, who always has some of the tastiest FEC tidbits. None other than Bob Dole (Bob Dole!) has cut a $1,000 check to Charlie Crist's senate campaign. It feels great to be writing about Bob Dole again! Bob Dole!
PA-Sen, PA-Gov, PA-08: Like some Green and teabagger candidates before them, the Libertarians have all been kicked off the statewide ballots in PA. That's because of a punitive Pennsylvania law which requires that a party which loses a challenge to its ballot status to pay the legal fees of the winner. Unsurprisingly, many minor party candidates tend to bail rather than risk a huge debt. In the same vein, indy Tom Lingenfelter also quit the race in PA-08, under intense courtroom pressure from Mike Fitzpatrick's campaign.
KY-Gov: This seems like a good get for Dem Gov. Steve Beshear: Former Lt. Gov. Steve Pence is hosting a fundraiser for the incumbent next month in Jefferson County. This is a big deal because Pence is not only a Republican, but he served as LG for the man that Beshear beat, disgraced ex-Gov. Ernie Fletcher. (Pence didn't seek re-election in 2007, and in fact had a pretty serious falling-out with Fletcher.)
AZ-08: Not something you see every day: Teabagger Jesse Kelly, hanging on in an uphill fight against establishment fave Jonathan Paton, is attacking none other than Sarah Palin, saying that the ur-Mama Grizz has been endorsing lots of front-runners (like Carly Fiorina) out of pure political calculation, and that she "needs to rehab" her image to woo independents. Paton fell all over himself trying to proclaim his Rich Lowry-like love for Palin, who in point of fact hasn't actually endorsed him. In an interesting aside, Paton's once-hot fundraising has fallen off a cliff, and Kelly actually outraised him in the pre-primary period.
OH-13: Remember how yesterday I was saying that despite the GOP's great recruitment efforts, they still have to deal with a serious structural problem - the stark raving insanity of their entire movement? Well, even prize recruit Tom Ganley is not immune. Here you have a multi-millionaire who is willing to self-fund, an extremely successful car dealer whose name is all over town, a guy who even helped police investigate the mob... and yet he pops off with statements like this: "I don't have a position on whether he's a Muslim." You can guess who he's talking about. A little while later, Ganley put out a statement trying to backtrack, but really, he's still a fucking nutter.
OH-15/16/18: Another shadowy right-wing group, a 501(c)4 with the Nixonian name "The Committee for Truth in Politics," is up to some dirty tricks, launching ads against Reps. Zack Space ($190K worth) and John Boccieri ($130K). CQ also says that a further $62K buy looks like it will be targeted against Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy. The one odd thing about this writeup is that it says the anti-Space ad buy is going up in Cleveland, but if you compare a media market map with a map of Space's district, you'll see that his CD mostly falls in a bunch of other markets, principally Columbus. I wonder what gives.
Meanwhile, also in OH-16, Republican Jim Renacci (and soon-to-be DavidNYC opponent in the race for NYC Zoning Board) has filed a lawsuit against AFSCME, which is spending $750K on an ad buy against him. Renacci is alleging the ad, which accuses him of "cheating on his income taxes," is defamatory. It's more typical to threaten the TV stations running the ad, though, as they generally are pretty pliant when it comes to removing potentially questionable third-party ads from the air. Maybe he'll try that as well.
ND-AL: Republican Rick Berg is up with his first ad of the general election campaign, which you can view here. NWOTSOTB. Rep. Earl Pomeroy already has three different ads airing.
NY-13: Wingers disgruntled with the state Conservative Party have formed a new ballot line, the Taxpayers Party. (The name reminds me a little bit of George Pataki's vanity line in 1994, the Tax Cut Now Party.) Anyhow, Michael Allegretti, himself spurned by the Conservatives, is probably the TP's biggest name so far, having just filed 5,000 signatures to get on their line. This constitutes at least some bottom-shelf cat fud, since Allegretti would stay on the line even if he loses the GOP primary. Meanwhile, if rival Mike Grimm loses the Republican nod, he'll have the Conservative line no matter what. What did I say about the Republicans never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity?
TN-03: Am I sniffing some cat fud on the horizon? Crazy Lady Robin Smith lost the GOP primary in this uber-red district by a 30-28 margin to self-funder Chuck Fleischmann, and already she's talking about running again in 2012. Smith hasn't endorsed Fleischmann, and for his part, Fleischmann says he hasn't responded to Smith's request for a reconciliation tête-à-tête. Since the only advice I like to give to Republicans is bad advice, nobody tell Fleischmann he should probably reconsider, as 30% doesn't exactly constitute a mandate. (Remember what happened to another Tennessean who barely won his primary in 2006?) Anyhow, Smith is also hoping that the district will get redrawn with a more southerly configuration, as Fleischmann did better in the northern counties. Could be messy!
Race Ratings: CQ has a cool new feature which, I admit, I'm quite envious of. A couple of years ago, James and I dreamed of creating a system which would allow SSP users to rate races as they saw fit, and then generate an "aggregate" rating across the site. Unfortunately, as a purely volunteer outfit with extremely minimal ad revenues, we simply didn't have the money for this project. But now, CQ has gone and created something very close to the tool we were hoping to build. The interface could use some improvement (right now, you have to drill down to a separate page for each race individually, and you can also only rate races that are already on their list), but it still looks pretty promising.
The main event of last night was the Republican gubernatorial primary, which ended surprisingly quickly, with a convincing victory by Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam. Haslam, the ostensible 'moderate' in the race, benefited from not only his lots of his own money, but also from having the moderate side to himself and a conservative pile-up in opposition (and the fact that Tennessee has no runoffs). He defeated Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey 47-29-22. (In one more parallel to the Michigan governor primary, Wamp, who said in his concession speech that "The best candidate doesn't always win," can now compete with Rep. Peter Hoekstra as to which one can be the douchiest loser.) Haslam is certainly favored against Dem Mike McWherter in November.
In the House races, there were extremely close GOP primaries in the TN-03 and TN-06 open seats In the 3rd, the somewhat less objectionable Chuck Fleischmann beat former state party chair Robin Smith 30-28. In the 6th, Diane Black won with 31, over fellow state Sen. Jim Tracy and crazed Islamophobe Lou Ann Zelenik (with both at 30). Black faces Dem Brett Carter, who won a similarly close race.
Two other GOP primaries were less close. In TN-08, for the right to face Roy Herron to succeed retiring John Tanner, Stephen Fincher won a surprisingly convincing victory over two self-funders, Ron Kirkland and George Flinn, 48-24-24. And in potential sleeper race TN-04, to face Lincoln Davis, Scott DesJarlais beat Jack Bailey 37-27.
The very last race card may have been played in TN-09. In the third straight slime-covered Dem primary here that was all about race, embarrassing former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton came up woefully short in his quest (predicated almost entirely on Herenton being black and Cohen being white, in a black-majority district) to unseat Rep. Steve Cohen, by a 79-21 margin. Somehow I don't think this'll be the last primary Cohen ever sees, but hopefully they'll be about something other than race in the future.
Finally, the 15 minutes of fame for Basil Marceaux -- whose flag has 49 stars because he'll be dead in the cold cold ground before he recognizes Missourah -- seem to be up, as the viral video hero got 0% in the Republican TN-Gov primary and 1% in the TN-03 primary.
• TN-Gov (R): Bill Haslam hopes to bulls-eye a Wamp rat tonight (and Ron Ramsey for good measure). The Knoxville mayor is generally regarded as the frontrunner in the Republican gubernatorial field, in both polling and fundraising (much of which came out of his own pocket). Rep. Zach Wamp and Ramsey (the Lt. Governor) are further back in the polls, and trying to out-conservative each other in their messaging. In fact, this is starting to look like a replay of the Michigan GOP primary earlier this week, with the self-funding 'moderate' (to the extent that Haslam apparently once signed off on a tax increase, and isn't as demagogic as the others) benefiting from a brawl between multiple conservatives.. and also in that while polling has shown Dem nominee Mike McWherter competitive against the conservative candidates, he matches up much less well against Haslam. There's also a wild card in the form of viral video star Basil Marceaux, whose late-surging candidacy may make some inroads among the anti-traffic-stop, pro-immuning crowd. (C)
• TN-03 (R): Like Peter Hoekstra in MI-02, the joy of watching one of the House's most execrable members (Zach Wamp, in this case) give up his seat for a gubernatorial primary faceplant is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that he'll be replaced by someone just as nasty. There are 11 GOPers in this primary, but it's really only a two-person race, between Club for Growth-backed former GOP state party chair Robin Smith and attorney, radio talk show host, and Mike Huckabee ally Chuck Fleischmann. (Smith, you might recall, was the GOP chair during the 2008 campaign, who released the infamous "Anti-Semites for Obama" press release that had him in African tribal garb. (C)
• TN-04 (R): We don't have much intel on the Republican primary here, where the main contestants are attorney Jack Bailey, and physician Scott DesJarlais, but it's worth keeping an eye on, as the victor will go on to face Rep. Lincoln Davis. Davis isn't high on anyone's target list, but in a big enough wave could get swept away just by virtue of his R+13 district. Bailey has a bit of a fundraising edge, probably thanks to connections from his former work as a Hill staffer. (C)
• TN-06 (R): Let the fur fly in this Middle Tennessee district currently held by outgoing Democrat Bart Gordon. The field counts eight Republicans, with three serious contenders in former Rutherford County GOP chair Lou Ann Zelenik, state Senator Jim Tracy from the southern part of the district, and state Senator Diane Black, who represents two northern counties in the district. The mad dash, of course, is for the right, whether its immigration or misuse of government resources. Black released an internal that had her leading at 41% and Zelenik and Tracy mired in the twenties at 22 and 20, respectively. Look for sharp geographic distinctions here tonight, with each candidate having a different base in this rural-exurban district. (JMD)
• TN-08 (R): For the open seat of outgoing Dem John Tanner, five Republicans have jumped into the fray. The three frontrunners -- agribusinessman Steve Fincher, Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, and doctor Ron Kirkland -- have been busy bashing each other to bits. All sorts of accusations have been thrown around -- Flinn's been attacked for owning a hip-hop station in Memphis, while Fincher's caught flak for voting in the Democratic primary for local offices in May, and Kirkland's on the defensive for steering contributions to Democrats in the past. All three are have significant warchests to play with (Fincher $421k cash-on-hand, Flinn $275k with the ability to self-fund, Kirkland $223k). So who's going to emerge from this bare-knucle brawl? Fincher's the NRCC's preferred candidate, and a recent poll had him leading with 32 to Kirkland's 23 and Flinn's 21. This race is largely in the air (not that presumptive Dem. nominee Roy Herron's complaining), though unfortunately, we'll know the winner of this fight tonight, as Tennessee has no runoffs. (JMD)
• TN-09 (D): Two years ago, Nikki Tinker's campaign against incumbent Dem. Steve Cohen was infuriating; this time, former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's campaign is just laughable. Whether it's claiming he'll beat Cohen 3:1, losing the CBC's endorsement to Cohen, or having less than 1/47th of Cohen's cash-on-hand, Herenton's campaign really makes you wonder. Let the mockery begin. (JMD)
UPDATE: Polls close at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT (the state is in both time zones, but apparently closing times are coordinated). As always, if you have predictions, let us know in the comments.
• WA-Sen: I'm not sure how this will work, practically speaking, but the two Tea Partiers in the race, rancher Clint Didier and fastener mogul Paul Akers, are "joining forces." They'll be doing joint ads and joint online forums for the remaining few weeks. They can't, of course, be jointly voted-for, so I don't know what the endgame is, but it probably doesn't matter, as both have been polling in the single digits in polls of the jungle primary. Apparently, it does give them a better venue for airing their grievances with the GOP establishment's selection of Dino Rossi as standard-bearer; maybe this way, Akers can distract the ref while Didier puts Rossi in a sleeper hold.
Also on the weird timing front, Washington's Republican SoS, Sam Reed, is just out with a new book on the 2004 gubernatorial election and the protracted recount and court challenges he oversaw. Relations between Reed and the rest of the state Republicans were severely tested during the recount, seeing as how the scrupulous Reed wanted to, y'know, follow the rules. While the book doesn't seem to paint Rossi in a terribly unfavorable light, it can't help but remind everyone of his "perennial candidate" status.
• AZ-Gov: You might recall that NRA board member Owen Buz Mills recently ended his GOP primary campaign against the once-endangered, now-all-powerful Jan Brewer several weeks ago. Well, he's not quite done, his spokesperson is now saying: he's going to enter a Rob Simmons-style state of electoral limbo. Mills won't be spending any more money on the race, but he will leave his name on the ballot. (Other dropouts Dean Martin and John Munger have filed papers of formal withdrawal from the race.)
• OR-Gov, OR-05: Now that Oregon has opted to join New York in the weird world of fusion voting, now it even has its own Independent Party trying to quirkily play it down the middle. Based on its online straw poll of members (with a vote total of a whopping 2,290), the IP gave its backing to Democrat John Kitzhaber in the gubernatorial race, but to Republican state Rep. Scott Bruun in OR-05 (instead of incumbent Dem Kurt Schrader).
• TX-Gov: A number of prominent Dallas business leaders have signed on to a letter announcing their support for Bill White in the gubernatorial race. About half of the signatories, a mix of moderate Republicans and independents, are, in fact, former Kay Bailey Hutchison supporters.
• WY-Gov: I think this trumps her earlier Wilford Brimley endorsement. State auditor Rita Meyer (the only woman in the four-way GOP primary field) got added to Sarah Palin's stable of Mama Grizzlies late last week.
• AL-02, AL-05: The "generally conservative" Alabama Farmer's Federation handed out helpful endorsements to two Dems today: not just to Rep. Bobby Bright (who seems to fit their profile well) but also to Steve Raby, running in the 5th. Raby seems well connected with the agriculture world through his former work for ex-Sen. Howell Heflin.
• MI-02, MI-03: A poll for the Grand Rapids Press, taken by Practical Political Consulting, looks at the GOP primaries in the two western Michigan open seats. In the 2nd (Peter Hoekstra's seat), former NFL player and Family Research Council executive Jay Riemersma has a small lead at 22, followed by former state Rep. Bill Huizenga and teabagging businessman Bill Cooper, both at 15, and state Sen. Wayne Kuipers at 13. In the 3rd (Vern Ehlers' seat), state Rep. Justin Amash (anointed as chosen one by the DeVos family) leads at 28, followed by African-American state Sen. Bill Hardiman at 23 and ex-Kent Co. Commissioner Steve Heacock (the moderate in the field, and Ehlers' endorsee) at 17.
• FL-12: We keep mentally writing this race off due to Lori Edwards' paltry fundraising, and then polling evidence to the contrary shows up. For the second time, the Edwards camp has released an internal poll giving them a lead in this R+6 open seat. Edwards leads GOP ex-state Rep. Dennis Ross 35-32 in a poll taken by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. The catch here is one of the most legitimate Tea Party candidates anywhere is here: Randy Wilkinson, a Polk Co. Commissioner who briefly sought the GOP nomination before deciding to go the third-party route. Wilkinson polls at 20%, although we'll have to see if the near-broke Wilkinson can keep those numbers up through November.
• TN-03: Newt Gingrich handed out a last-minute seal of approval in the GOP primary in the 3rd. He's backing the more-or-less establishment candidate, former state GOP chair Robin Smith. Smith's main opponent is Chuck Fleischmann, a partly-self-funding attorney who seems tighter with the Mike Huckabee crowd than the teabaggers.
• WA-03: The Beltway media seems to take it as an article of faith that GOP state Rep. Jaime Herrera is going to be Denny Heck's opponent in November, but David Castillo shouldn't be counted out. Not being on the ground, they wouldn't pick up on the general sense of underwhelmingness that seems to surround Herrera, but it seems like they would, at some point, have noticed that nearly all the endorsements of consequence in the district have gone to Castillo. He got endorsements from the newspapers in Vancouver, Longview, and Centralia, as well as the out-of-district Seattle Times. AG Rob McKenna, probably the state's best-liked Republican, had endorsed Castillo before Rep. Brian Baird's retirement and Herrera's entry, but he's been pointedly sticking by his endorsement, hosting a Castillo fundraiser last week.
• House: Nate Silver's out with a new toy that SSPers will certainly be interested in: having found that Democratic House candidates tend to overperform vis-à-vis presidential numbers in districts with lower median household income, he's created a new index that's a mashup of prez numbers and income, called the Partisan Propensity Index. (He looked at only results in open seat races, which eliminates the main problem with trying to fit House numbers on top of prez numbers, which is the overwhelming staying power of incumbents.) At the end of the day, it's still not too different from PVI, inasmuch as Chet Edwards has the worst district of any Dem and Joe Cao has the worst district of any GOPer, but it does reflect the reality that suburban Sun Belt districts that are truly swingy at the presidential level are a harder nut for Dems to crack at the House level than rural Appalachian districts that are red at the presidential level.
• NV-Gov: Rory Reid (D) 40%, Brian Sandoval (R) 50%
• OK-Gov: Jari Askins (D) 36%, Mary Fallin (R) 57%
• PA-Gov: Dan Onorato (D) 39%, Tom Corbett (R) 50%
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) 39%, Pat Toomey (R) 45%
• SC-Gov: Vincent Sheheen (D) 35%, Nikki Haley (R) 49%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 49%, Dino Rossi (R) 47%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 48%, Clint Didier (R) 45%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 48%, Paul Akers (R) 42%
• WI-Gov: Tom Barrett (D) 45%, Mark Neumann (R) 44%
• WI-Gov: Tom Barrett (D) 43%, Scott Walker (R) 50%
CT-Sen: I thought it was pretty weird that alleged non-candidate Rob Simmons was going to participate in a GOP debate last night. Well, he un-weirded things (I guess) by declaring at this debate that he is "running for the United States Senate." We'll see if it sticks. The primary, by the way, is August 10th.
KS-Sen: Not something you see every day: Rep. Jerry Moran's former campaign manager, who claims he was pushed out in April, has endorsed rival Rep. Todd Tiahrt. Paul Moore said he thinks Moran, who has led in every single public poll, is not "instinctively conservative."
NC-Sen: A new Civitas poll has Richard Burr leading Elaine Marshall 44-37. It's been a really long time since Civitas looked at this race; in December of last year, they found Burr up 40-32.
WA-Sen: Obama alert! The POTUS will headline a fundraiser for Sen. Patty Murray on August 17th in Seattle.
FL-Gov: McLaughlin & Associates supposedly has yet another poll out, but not for their client Bill McCollum. Apparently, they did double duty for the Florida Medical Association, and - surprise - found Rick Scott leading McCollum 37-33. This seems like a pretty colossal waste of money, since McCollum's internal - released just the other day - had him down 37-31.
Meanwhile, McCollum had to deal with a small brush fire: former Florida House Speaker Alan Bense held a private meeting with Rick Scott over the weekend. The problem is that Bense is supposed to be a McCollum supporter - something he re-iterated after his soiree, saying he only got together with Scott to be polite. Bense is also the chairman-elect of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and his group is expected to get behind Billy Mac. And in case anyone still cares what unlovable loser Gary Bauer thinks, he endorsed McCollum.
KS-Gov: Dem state Sen. Tom Holland raised $283K from Jan. 1 to July 22nd and has $103K on hand. His Republican opponent, Sen. Sam Brownback, took in $519K and has $1.2 million in the bank. Note, though, that Holland's fundraising mostly took place after the legislative session ended in June (there are strict regulations on fundraising while the lege is in operation), while Brownback was free to raise from all sources throughout the reporting period. Brownback's been spending his time well, mind you: He just introduced legislation which would ban the creation of "part-human, part-animal creatures." Sadly, this would mean no manticores, minotaurs, or mermaids. And I was really looking forward to embracing our brave new Greek mythology future.
MN-Gov: Glad to see that Citizens United is proving to be a two-edged sword. Target has donated $150,000 to a right-wing group called MN Forward, which is running TV ads on behalf of extremist Republican nominee Tom Emmer. Gay groups in particular are incensed, since Target had been known as a gay-friendly employer, even going so far as to support the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival. And speaking for myself, Target can get fucked - as can Best Buy and any other corporation which uses corporate money to help elect Republicans. Not shopping at either location anymore, that's for sure.
NY-Gov: Andrew Cuomo is launching his first TV ad of the cycle, a spot about property taxes. Of course, NWOTSOTB, or whether it's cable or broadcast, or even where it's airing. Sigh.
OH-Gov: Obama alert 2! The day after the POTUS appears in WA (see bullet above), he'll be doing a fundraiser for Ted Strickland in Columbus.
OR-Gov: We haven't done writeups of our most recent batch of race ratings yet, but Carla Axtman of Blue Oregon has a nice writeup of an interview she did with Crisitunity at Netroots Nation, where he explains our decision to move OR-Gov from Likely D to Tossup.
RI-Gov: Linc Chafee is doing his best to out-do Martha Coakley when it comes to alienating Red Sox Nation (a broad constituency throughout New England). While criticizing state loan guarantees to a video game company owned by Schilling, he also decided to question whether Schilling's famous "bloody sock" game was legit. Already Chafee's tried to walk back the remark - but there are no do-overs in baseball. Or politics.
GA-02: Dem Rep. Sanford Bishop, in a competitive race with Republican Mike Keown (who oh-so-narrowly outraised the incumbent last quarter), formally kicked off his campaign yesterday with a newly-famous Georgian at his side: Shirley Sherrod, with whom you are most certainly familiar by now. Even though this district is almost 48% black, it's also extremely competitive politically, going 54% for Obama and 50% for Kerry.
KS-01: SurveyUSA has one final look at the open-seat GOP primary in KS-01, finding a three-way tie between state Sen. Jim Barnett, realtor Tracey Mann, and state Sen. Tim Huelskamp. All pull 24%. Last time, it was 23-20-18.
MA-09: Bubba alert! Bill Clinton is doing a fundraiser and rally this Thursday for conservadem and anti-healthcare reform asshole Stephen Lynch. Lynch faces a primary from Mac D'Alessandro and has a monster cash advantage ($1.3 million to just $72K), so this surely seems like overkill to me - but of course, the Big Dog loves to pay back favors, and Lynch was (you guessed it) a Hillary supporter in 2008.
NY-13: Rep. Mike McMahon, seeking to avoid a primary on the Independence Party line, is challenging the petitions of third-party irritant John Tabacco. Tabacco needs only 497 valid signatures, but New York has absurdly stringent rules which make it very easy to knock "bad" sigs out. Therefore, the common rule of thumb is that you need to submit at least twice as many petitions as the law requires, and Tabacco only provided 678. Therefore, I'm going to guess that McMahon - who is highly motivated here - will succeed in his challenges. Tabacco has some more problems to worry about, though - after giving a loan to the wife of the chair of the state Independence Party last year, he suddenly got their ballot line in a city council race (funnily enough, for the seat vacated by McMahon).
NY-15: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is dipping a toe into new waters, suggesting that resignation is an option for Charlie Rangel. So is fighting the charges, Hoyer says, but a ringing endorsement of the embattled former Ways and Means chair this is not. Meanwhile, Walt Minnick isn't playing footsie, becoming the second Dem (after OH-13's Betty Sutton) to call on Rangel to quit the House.
Rangel is still in talks with the ethics committee to try to reach some sort of plea bargain, but it seems that he's unwilling to cop to a sufficiently broad array of violations to satisfy the committee members. If Rangel can't come to terms, he'd face a "public hearing" (essentially a trial). As the New York Times points out, the last time this happened was in 2002, when Jim Traficant was expelled from the House.
PA-07: Teabagger Jim Schneller, hoping to appear on the ballot as an independent, says he's gathered 5,200 signatures so far - a thousand more than the 4,200 he needs to submit by August 2nd. It remains to be seen if Republican Pat Meehan will try to challenge Schneller's bid.
TN-03: Politico has a piece documenting the wingnut-on-wingnut violence stemming from the fight to replace outgoing Rep. Zach Wamp in this dark-red seat. The battle is between attorney Chuck Fleischmann and former state GOP chair Robin Smith.
Fundraising: A rare day: two Steny Hoyer mentions in one digest. The House Majority Leader is parachuting into a whole host of districts, doing events for Dems such as Mark Critz, Chris Carney, Tim Bishop, Denny Heck, and the undeserving Larry Kissell. Hoyer, like Nancy Pelosi, got where he is because lots and lots of people owe him - and will continue to owe him. Let this be a lesson to aspiring progressive leaders in Congress.
• AZ-Sen: Maybe she was scared off by that R2K poll that had her down more than 20-odd points? Nan Stockholm Walden, a wealthy attorney and businesswoman who had been the subject of DSCC interest as a candidate in Arizona, decided not to run. That gives Tucson city councilor Rodney Glassman a pretty clear path to the nomination (assuming he runs; he's still in exploratory mode).
• CT-Sen: Did you know that Linda McMahon actually held (until now) a political position, in addition to, of course, all the important work she does at WWE? She was on Connecticut's Board of Education (an appointed position, courtesy of Jodi Rell), but just resigned from that role. She says that there are too many restrictions on political activities by board members for her to be able to remain in that position, as she tries to get the GOP Senate nomination.
• SD-Sen: John Thune may have dodged having to run against a Democrat in November, but he won't be running purely unopposed. He's still facing off against an independent, perennial candidate Kurt Evans.
• WI-Sen, WI-Gov: I had no idea that St. Norbert was the patron saint of fucked-up polls. A poll from Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College is tilted even further in the Republican direction than recent offerings from Rasmussen and the decidedly conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. They find Russ Feingold losing to Tommy Thompson 45-33 (with 14% for an independent/third party, whoever that might be), and beating Generic R by only 40-37. Their gubernatorial numbers find Tom Barrett losing to Scott Walker 44-28 and to Mark Neumann 43-29. Even the GOP primary numbers seem screwy, with underdog Neumann almost even with Walker, who leads 24-23.
• CA-Gov: Meg Whitman rummaged around in her purse and found another $20 million to throw on the table, bringing her personal contributions to the race up to a whopping $59 million. Despite her big lead over Steve Poizner in the primary, she may need to prepare to shore things up, as Poizner has been telegraphing that he's going to start going hard at her on the hot-button issue of immigration, in a last-ditch effort to get the state's right-wingers to pay some attention to him.
• GA-12: There were some poorly sourced rumors yesterday that Rep. John Barrow -- a conservadem in a swing district facing a primary challenge and the ire of a large swath of his African-American constituency after his HCR "no" vote -- was going to switch parties. Barrow now says he was never even contemplating that, though.
• KS-03: After the Kansas City Star reported last week that Stephene Moore was going to run to replace her husband, Dennis, in the 3rd, she started acting coy about it (despite insider assurances that it was a done deal). As expected, though, today she made it official, filing a glaring hole in this R+3 open seat.
• LA-03: It looks like the NRCC is finally getting a top-tier participant in the open seat race in the 3rd (despite that winning it won't be much of a prize, as the 3rd is poised to vaporize in 2012 redistricting). Former state House speaker Hunt Downer says he'll announce his candidacy very soon. Probably the surest indication that Downer is serious is that state Rep. Nickie Monica, who may have been the strongest GOPer in the field to date, now says he's getting out of the race to make way for Downer. With attorney Ravi Sangisetty the only Dem willing to stick his neck out for this one, this one's pretty thoroughly in the GOP column.
• MN-06: State Sen. Tarryl Clark has been putting up some monster fundraising numbers against Michele Bachmann this cycle; I guess that's what happens when you run against one of the nation's top lightning rods for teh crazy. She pulled in $505K last quarter, bringing her to $1.1 million in total receipts this cycle. Unfortunately, Clark (or her primary opponent Maureen Reed, who's also raised well but hasn't released Q1 numbers yet) will likely have to contend with the presence of spoiler Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson. Anderson pulled in 10% of the vote in 2008 (while Elwyn Tinklenberg lost by only 3%), and he's seeking the IP's endorsement again.
• NH-01: RNC committee member Sean Mahoney made a big show out of resigning his post, ostensibly out of disgust with the Michael Steele administration and its free-spending, strip-clubbing ways. Speculation, though, is that Mahoney is planning to run in the GOP primary in the 1st (where Manchester mayor Frank Guinta is considered frontrunner, although so-so fundraising has diminished his luster a bit), which would require him to resign anyway. Mahoney isn't promising anything on that front yet, though.
• NY-29: The Democrats have literally chosen Some Dude as their standard bearer in the 29th. The party chairs in the eight counties in the district issued a statement where they said they've chosen a consensus nominee to replace Eric Massa in the special election that may or may not happen. However, they neglected to actually say who that candidate might be. We'll know the masked man's identity next week.
• TN-03: A Huck divided against itself cannot stand? In a prime example of one hand not knowing what the other is doing, HuckPAC (Mike Huckabee's national financial arm) and Team Huck Tennessee (the local grassroots operation) are endorsing different candidates in the GOP primary in the 3rd. Team Huck is endorsing former state GOP chair Robin Smith, while HuckPAC (and presumably, Huckabee himself) is going with attorney Chuck Fleischmann.
• TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron had another fine fundraising quarter as he tries to keep this open seat in Democratic hands; he pulled in $490K last quarter, leaving him with more than $1 million cash on hand. It's not an expensive district, media-wise, but he has some strong fundraising competition from humble gospel-singing farmer agribusiness mogul Stephen Fincher, who pulled in over $300K himself and is sitting on $820K CoH.
• PA-St. Sen.: As if the Pennsylvania legislature couldn't be held in any lower esteem, here's another fresh scandal. Luckily, this one seems to be falling on the Republican side of the aisle: state Sen. Jane Orie, the body's third-ranking GOPer, was just accused by a grand jury of repeatedly using her staff for political campaigns on the state's dime (include the campaign of her sister, state Supreme Court justice Joan Orie Melvin). Charges are expected, but Orie is shrugging it off, saying it's a politically motivated smear by Democratic Allegheny Co. DA Stephen Zappala.
• Filings: The filing deadline in Missouri has passed, on March 30. Rep. Roy Blunt wound up with (count 'em) 10 Republican primary opponents in the Senate race, although state Sen. Chuck Purgason seems the only one worth paying attention to. The number of GOPers vying to take on Ike Skelton in MO-04 also reached the double digits. Probably the biggest surprise and disappointment was in MO-09: not that the DCCC would likely have strongly contested this district that they barely lost in 2008 when it was open, but not a single Democrat showed up to run in this race.
• Teabaggers: Here's a nice catch from Ruy Teixeira: teabagging is about as popular as socialism. In slightly-differently-worded questions from two different 2010 polls, Gallup found that 37% had a favorable opinion of "the Tea Party movement" (including 14% of Democrats), while 36% had a positive image of "socialism" (including 17% of Republicans?!?).
• AZ-Sen: As the Arizona GOP Senate primary heats up, ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth has pulled in a prominent backer, one of the state's unfortunately most popular politicians: Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio - a hero of the anti-immigrant set who'd been the subject of calls to get into the gubernatorial race this year - wrote a fundraising letter for Hayworth that's being sent around nationally.
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio got two more endorsements today from the GOP's right flank: from Indiana's Rep. Mike Pence, #3 in the House GOP and a favorite of the social values set, and on the economic-conservative side of the party, bathtub-drowning fan Grover Norquist.
• NH-Sen (pdf): A couple different polls are out today in the New Hampshire Senate race, although both from pollsters in the "take with salt" category. UNH looks at the general election, finding a lead for Kelly Ayotte over Paul Hodes that's about in line with most other pollsters: 41-33. Hodes leads the lesser GOPers in the race, though; he beats Jim Bender 36-27, William Binnie 34-30, and Ovide Lamontagne 38-29. What about that thorny GOP primary, though? Republican internal pollster Magellan has some answers, although it's not clear if this poll was on the behalf of any particular candidate. They see Ayotte at 37%, but contrary to that recent R2K poll, they have Binnie in second place at 23% and Lamontagne back at 12. (Binnie seems to be the most moderate in the field, and gained a lot of attention, at least in the Boston media market parts of the state, for running ads on behalf of Scott Brown in Massachusetts.) In case anyone was wondering about the GOP gubernatorial primary, that's in there too, although nobody has any idea who these candidates are: Jack Kimball beats Karen Testerman 18-5.
• AL-Gov: There's one other interesting poll from a Republican pollster of a Republican primary (this time in Alabama); it's from Baselice, and they're explicit about not working on behalf of any of these candidates. Former higher ed system chancellor Bradley Byrne has a narrow lead, and he has a lot of company. Byrne is at 20, followed closely by wingnut judge Roy Moore at 17. Real estate developer (and gubernatorial spawn) Tim James is at 8, state Rep. Robert Bentley is at 4, state treasurer Kay Ivey is at 3, and former Economic Development Dir. Bill Johnson is at 2.
• AL-05: Democrats now have two candidates lined up to go against Parker Griffith (or whatever other GOPer teabags him out of a job): the new one is attorney (and former Air Force JAG) Mitchell Howie. Howie is young and doesn't have electoral experience, but is the grandson of a well-loved local physician. Prominent attorney Taze Shepard made his candidacy official today as well (via press release).
• AL-07: EMILY's List weighed in with an endorsement in the Democratic primary in the 7th. Interestingly, they showed their hand even though there are two women well-positioned in the field - and they went with attorney Terri Sewell, who's something of the moneyed-interests candidate in the race with ties to outgoing Rep. Artur Davis, rather than the more progressive option of Jefferson Co. Commissioner Shelia Smoot.
• AR-02: Add one more Dem to the field in the 2nd, to replace retiring Rep. Vic Snyder. Assistant Attorney General John Adams launched a bid today, although it's unclear whether he'll pose much of an obstacle to state House speaker Robbie Wills.
• AZ-03: One of the widely-expected candidates to run in the open seat vacated by Rep. John Shadegg has decided not to get involved, after all. Shadegg's former chief of staff Sean Noble said he won't run. The field is already top-heavy with Republicans, including former state Sens. Pamela Gorman and Jim Waring (both of whom resigned to run, per state law), former state Rep. Sam Crump, Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, and former Paradise Valley mayor Ed Winkler.
• CO-03: Hat-tip to Daily Kos's Steve Singiser, who, while rummaging through the used-polls bin, found a stale Republican internal poll of the race in the 3rd that hadn't caught anyone's notice before. It points to a close race in the Republican-leaning, mostly-rural district; Democratic Rep. Pete Salazar leads GOP state Rep. Scott Tipton (who lost the 2006 race to Salazar) 46-44.
• NH-01, 02 (pdf): Both of the New Hampshire House races are looking like tossups, according to the same UNH poll mentioned above. In the 1st, they find Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in bad shape against any of her GOP challengers; she loses 43-33 to Frank Guinta, 36-33 to Bob Bestani, 36-33 to Rich Ashooh, and 39-32 to Sean Mahoney. (Of course, UNH repeatedly showed her in a tight spot in 2008 until the closing weeks of the campaign - although without Obama coattails this year, she may not get that late boost.) And in the 2nd, Dems only win one potential matchup: Katrina Swett beats Jennifer Horn 30-26. Swett loses to Charlie Bass 37-30, while Ann McLane Kuster loses to both Bass (39-28) and Horn (28-25). (One other caveat: these are small samples, with 6.2% MoEs.)
• NJ-02: Add Rep. Frank LoBiondo to the long list of establishment Republicans getting a good teabagging this year. Schoolteacher and tea partier Michael Conte will challenge LoBiondo in the GOP primary. Conte seems most put out about LoBiondo's cap-and-trade vote, and supports opening up the Jersey Shore to offshore oil drilling. (Somehow, I can't see that part being popular.)
• TX-14: The epidemic of own-eating on the teabagging right has reached French Revolution proportions, to the extent that now Ron Paul, pretty much the spiritual forefather of the movement, is facing not one but three teabagging primary challengers. Weirdly, one of their knocks against Paul is that he's "too extreme," and also that he's against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... all pretty suggestive that there's nothing "new" about the Tea Party movement, just that it's a catchall for conservative Republicans who are feeling extra-agitated about things.
• TX-32: The DCCC has been stepping up its attacks on Rep. Pete Sessions, maybe in part to keep the NRCC head pinned down a bit, but also because they may sense this is one of the few places where they have a legitimate shot at playing offense. Between the district's rapidly changing demographics, Sessions' ties to Ponzi schemer "Sir" Alan Stanford, a serious primary challenge from a teabagger, and good fundraising from Dem challenger Grier Raggio, there may be some substance to that.
• IL-LG: With Dan Hynes having taken his name out of consideration for the now-vacant LG slot for the Dems in Illinois, Lynn Sweet runs down the top contenders. First on the docket is state Rep. Art Turner, who finished second to Scott Lee Cohen in the primary and now has state House speaker Michael Madigan's stamp of approval. Other possibilities include state Sen. Rickey Hendon, state Sen. Terry Link, or state Rep. Mike Boland (all of whom fared worse in the primary), or if they want to go with a woman, either state Rep. Julie Hamos (who narrowly lost the IL-10 primary, and is now campaigning for the LG slot) or VA Deputy Sec. Tammy Duckworth.
• CfG: A couple more endorsements, as the Club for Growth picked the zaniest of the bunch in a few competitive primaries in dark-red seats that are open. They endorsed former state GOP chair Robin Smith in TN-03, and businessman Mike Pompeo in KS-04.
• NRCC: Here's a good catch from the Boston Phoenix: the NRCC is really putting the "guns" in "Young Guns," as a whopping total of 4 of the 64 members of its offense program are women - with only one, Martha Roby (in AL-02) looking like she's in position to possibly make it through both the primary and general.
• NY-St. Ass.: There are not one, but four, special elections for open seats in New York's Assembly tonight, all resulting from legislators getting elected to something better-paying in November. The Democrats are defending seats in Queens (although there the Republican lineholder is a lifelong Democrat), Suffolk County, and Westchester County, while the Republicans are defending a Nassau County seat.
• Polltopia: More back-and-forth in the discussion over the polls that SurveyUSA performed for Firedoglake, that we may have accidentally triggered (pointing out the dramatically low young-voter composition of the polls). SurveyUSA's Jay Leve responded "vehemently" (Mark Blumenthal's words) to last week's critique from poli sci professor Alan Abramowitz, while Blumenthal offers some interesting graphs showing the disparity between the SurveyUSA numbers and actual Catalist records. PPP's Tom Jensen offered some qualified support for SurveyUSA, though, by pointing out that even if you "weighted up" the youth numbers to the levels seen in Catalist (the Dems' voter database), it wouldn't tend to impact the topline numbers by a significant amount.
• IL-Gov: State Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from exurban McHenry County, was a loud and frequent Rod Blagojevich critic, and he was considering parlaying that into a run in the Illinois governor's primary against incumbent Pat Quinn. Franks just decided against it, though. (He does sound like he's going for higher office in 2012, including a possible run against Rep. Don Manzullo in IL-16, a low-profile wingnut who's gotten a free pass for almost two decades in a district that just went for Obama.) Meanwhile, Pat Quinn got another key union endorsement, from UNITE HERE's Local 1 (giving him pretty much the big union trifecta, having already gotten the SEIU and Teamsters).
• MI-Gov: I can honestly say I didn't see this coming; businessman Rick Snyder, who's been polling in the low single digits in the GOP gubernatorial primary in Michigan, won a straw poll this weekend at a confab of party insiders on Mackinac Island. Snyder (who looks like he's positioning himself as the 'moderate' in the race) got 31%, while AG Mike Cox and Oakland Co. Sheriff Mike Bouchard each got 24%.
• MN-Gov: Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor just moved its statewide convention from June to late April. This change appears to be due in part to the expected shift in Minnesota's primary from September to August (or earlier), thanks to a new federal law regarding the date by which absentee ballots for the general election must be mailed. The new convention date probably makes life a bit harder for candidates who are currently members of the state legislature, since the legislative session doesn't end until May 17th, 2010. (D)
• OR-Gov: Up-and-coming Clackamas County Chairwoman Lynn Peterson was the subject of some gubernatorial speculation a few weeks ago, but now she's declared that she won't be running for the Democratic gubernatorial nod next year (despite her Facebook page saying otherwise).
• PA-Gov: AG Tom Corbett got another high-profile (if somewhat stale) endorsement in the GOP gubernatorial contest: Dick Thornburgh, Pennsylvania's former governor and US Attorney General.
• IN-02: GOP St. Rep. Jackie Wolarski (who has earned the sobriquet "Wacky Jackie" for her right-wing views) turned down the NRCC's entreaties for a run against Rep. Joe Donnelly in 2008, leaving them with the woeful Luke Puckett. However, she's sounding more interested about a run in the R+2 2nd for 2010.
• NV-03: Back to the drawing board for the NRCC in Nevada: their touted recruit John Guedry, a deep-pocketed banker who announced his bid last month against freshman Rep. Dina Titus, withdrew from the race over the weekend, citing family concerns. They may turn to former Clark County GOP chair Brian Scroggins instead, who had considered the race. Former state Sen. Joe Heck could be another replacement, but he says he's staying put in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
• NY-14: Our condolences to Rep. Carolyn Maloney and her family; her husband, Clifton Maloney, died while on a climbing expedition in the Himalayas, having just summitted the world's sixth-highest peak.
• NY-23: More trouble for moderate GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava on her right flank: the Club for Growth has endorsed her Conservative opponent, Doug Hoffman (although they'd certainly telegraphed their intents, having released a poll showing him making it a 3-way race). Also, Hoffman got another boost among the social conservative set, via an endorsement from Fred Thompson (of 2008 presidential nap race fame). Democrat Bill Owens isn't wasting any time; he's up with his second TV spot of the campaign already.
• TN-03: Robin Smith, the leading GOP candidate to replace Zach Wamp, is claiming that Barack Obama personally called her "everything from racist to terrorist to extremist". Smith, who served as chair of the Tennessee GOP during the last cycle, gained some previous notoriety for taking a hard run at Michelle Obama. The Smith campaign has yet to issue a retraction. (J)
• WV-01: Rep. Alan Mollohan, long-serving Democrat in northern West Virginia, has easily dispatched GOP opposition in his R+9 district over the decades. In 2010, it looks like he'll face off against state Senate minority whip Clark Barnes. One glitch: although Barnes grew up in the 1st, his Randolph County residence and almost all of his Senate district are in the 2nd.
• Census: Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah -- feeling the heat from the right in his primary -- is introducing legislation to require the Census to ask a citizenship status question for purposes of apportionment. Such a bill is unlikely to gain any traction in a Democratic-controlled Congress.
• CT-Sen: Economist/talking head Peter Schiff, who's been talking himself up for Chris Dodd's Senate seat, released an internal poll taken for him by Wilson Research Strategies. Schiff, from the Paulist wing of the party, loses the general to Dodd, 42-38; the bad news here is that, despite the AIG imbroglio falling down the memory hole, Dodd is still significantly behind ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, 47-38. One thing the poll doesn't test (or at least release publicly): results in the GOP primary.
• OH-Sen: Car dealer Tom Ganley announced his candidacy for the GOP primary for the open Senate seat. (I thought he'd already announced on April 2, but I guess he needed to remind the media of his existence.) Ganley owns 38 dealerships, so he's not just your average used car dealer; he vows to self-fund significantly in his uphill fight against Rob Portman.
• MN-Gov: Minnesota's Independence Party seems determined to field a major candidate in 2010's ultra-confusing gubernatorial race, and at the top of their wish list is ex-Rep. Jim Ramstad. Ramstad's name has occasionally been linked to the race as a Republican, but he may be too moderate to make it out of the activist-dominated nominating process. Ramstad's popularity would make him one to watch in the general, but he'd be laboring under the IP label, whose candidates (including moderate Dem ex-Rep. Tim Penny, who ran for Governor in 2002) have had trouble getting out of the 10-15% range this decade.
• NJ-Gov: Yet another poll of the New Jersey governor's race, and while it still has Jon Corzine losing to Chris Christie, I'm going to file this in the "good news" column, as it has Corzine down by only 6, with Christie under 50%: 45-39. Interestingly, New Jerseyites seem to understand that the state has become fools gold to Republicans: despite their preferences, they still think Corzine will win, 46-38. Corzine also has a campaign appearance scheduled for July 16 with someone who's actually maintaining a 62% approval rating in New Jersey (which would translate into about 105% approval in a normal state): Barack Obama. Which, I think, is the first in-the-flesh appearance Obama has made on behalf of any candidate since getting elected.
• NY-Gov: Maybe I'm feeling extra charitable today, but I'm also going to file yesterday's Marist poll in the "good news" column, because it actually shows David Paterson beating someone: he tops feeble ex-Rep. Rick Lazio 41-40 in a potential matchup. Of course, he still loses to everyone else, whether Andrew Cuomo in a primary (69-24) or Rudy Giuliani in the general (54-37, although that's also an improvement from May). In case you're wondering how a Cuomo/Lazio matchup would go, Cuomo would win 68-22.
• SC-Gov: Well, maybe publicly proclaiming that your mistress is your "soulmate" and that you've had run-ins with other women (but never crossed "the sex line") isn't the best way to keep your job. After it looked like Mark Sanford was successfully digging in for the last few days, the tide seems to be turning: Columbia's The State says that 12 (of 27) state Senate Republicans have signed a letter to Sanford asking him to resign (including state Sen. Larry Grooms, who's running to replace Sanford and would suffer having to run against LG Andre Bauer as an incumbent), with 4 more on the record as supporting it but not signing it, or leaning in that direction; Jim DeMint also asked Sanford to pack it in. While the Columbia and Charleston papers haven't called for resignation, the News in Greenville yesterday joined the Spartanburg Herald-Journal (the twin cities of the state's bible belt) in publishing an editorial doing so.
• NY-23: Looks like moderate GOP Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who has attracted the interest of both parties in the NY-23 special election, is going full-speed-ahead on the GOP side. She told supporters she'll be "aggressively seeking her party's nomination."
• NY-29: Corning (pop. 11,000) mayor Tom Reed announced that he'll run against freshman Rep. Eric Massa in 2010. Reed seems to be running as an out-and-proud moderate, with the Main Street Partnership expected to support him. The NRCC has identified him as a leading recruit but hasn't endorsed him, with several other candidates reportedly still exploring the race. (For what it's worth, Corning is the hometown of Amo Houghton, former Corning Glass CEO and popular GOP moderate who held this seat for decades.)
• PA-15: I'm starting to like Bethlehem mayor John Callahan more and more, as it's come out that in 2005 he proved he can match Rahm Emanuel F-bomb-for-F-bomb. Callahan's response to Emanuel's needling that "Are you tired of being fucking mayor yet?" was "It's better than being a fucking congressman." (The only reason this is relevant today is that the NRCC is now using this incident to argue that he's now disqualified from becoming a congressman.)
• TN-03: Former GOP state chair Robin Smith made it official, that she's running to replace Zach Wamp in the 3rd. She had previously quit her party job to focus full-time on exploring the race, so no surprise here; Smith is the likely GOP frontrunner.
• NRCC: The NRCC wasted no time in launching ads to go after the potentially vulnerable House Dems who voted yes on cap-and-trade. Rep. Tom Perriello is the recipient of the dread TV ad this time, while they also took out radio spots and robocalls against Harry Teague, Rick Boucher, Bruce Braley, Betsy Markey, Vic Snyder, Baron Hill, Mary Jo Kilroy, Alan Grayson, Zack Space, Bart Gordon, Debbie Halvorson, John Boccieri, and Ike Skelton.
• Votes (pdf): The Hill has a handy scorecard arranged by district lean while showing how many times vulnerable Dem representatives have broken ranks on 15 important bills. The biggest defector, unsurprisingly, is Bobby Bright, who flipped 13 out of 15 times. (Compared with Chet Edwards, in an even more difficult district but who defected only twice.) The guy who stands out like a sore thumb, though, is Joe Donnelly, who defected 8 times in IN-02, a district that Obama actually won, 54-45.
• MS-St. House: Democrats held the line in a special election in Mississippi state House district 82, as Democrat Wilber Jones held the seat. This is an African-American majority seat, but attracted some attention because the GOP ran a credible African-American candidate, Bill Marcy... but he still went on to lose, 66-34. Dems hold the edge in the House, 75-47.
• SC-Gov: You've probably already heard, but Mark Sanford finally turned up today, returning not from the Appalachian Trail but freakin' Argentina, where apparently he decided to go for a spur-of-the-moment visit. Prepare a industrial-sized garbage bag full of popcorn for his 2 pm EDT press conference. [UPDATE: Well, in case you have a computer that only gets SSP and no other news outlets, it turns out that Sanford was in Argentina to break off an affair with an Argentinian woman he'd met via e-mail. He's very sorry. He's also resigning as head of the RGA.]
• AR-Sen: The Republican field of contenders to take on Blanche Lincoln just keeps getting bigger, and also keeps becoming more and more amateur-hour. Searcy "businessman" Fred Ramey entered the race (he owns a real estate investment company, which is apparently so successful that he also is a driver for Federal Express). Two other unknowns -- retired Army colonel Conrad Reynolds and financial advisor Buddy Rogers -- have also come forward to say they're considering the race.
• FL-Sen: Mike Huckabee officially endorsed former state House speaker Marco Rubio in the GOP Senate primary today (although he had already made his feelings clear in an earlier e-mail to supporters touting Rubio). Seeking to grab the movement-conservative flag as he looks to take advantage of the growing GOP schism as he heads toward 2012, he also tore into the NRSC, who held a big fundraiser for Charlie Crist on Monday attended by 15 GOP Senators. Says Huck: "The establishment Republicans have made this endorsement for the same reason that they're in so much trouble. They go out there and support stuff like TARP bills and stimulus packages, pork-barrel spending and huge debt, and they wring their hands and act like, 'This is not good, but we don't have a choice.'"
• KY-Sen: AG Jack Conway, who's facing off against Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo in the Dem Senate primary, has the endorsement of the state's entire Democratic U.S. House delegation (all two of them). Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth will both be on hand today for a big Washington DC fundraiser for Conway.
• TX-Sen (pdf): Texas Lyceum released a wide-ranging poll of Texans; one question they asked was who people were supporting in the event of a special election for the Senate. Fully 71% were undecided on this as-yet-non-existent race, but of the eight candidates (all asked together, rather than grouped by party), Democratic Houston mayor Bill White had the most support, at 9%. Other Dem contender John Sharp was at 2%; the top GOPers, AG Greg Abbott and LG David Dewhurst, each were at 4%. (They also polled the gubernatorial primary, finding Gov. Rick Perry beating Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison 33-21.)
• AK-Gov: Rumblings seem greater in the last few days that Sarah Palin is unlikely to run for a second term as Alaska governor, so that she can focus on a 2012 bid (and, in light of her declining statewide approvals, avoid the possibility of a career-ending loss in the governor's election). (Potential opponent Andrew Halcro sums it up neatly: "If you're Palin, once you've flown first class, you don't go back to coach.") With a recent Pew poll finding that Palin is the nation's most popular Republican (key: among Republicans), striking while the iron is hot for 2012 makes sense. The DGA is certainly noticing, and they're now touting Alaska as one of their four big pickup opportunities in a new fundraising e-mail (along with Florida, Georgia, and Minnesota... which might suggest they think California and Hawaii are in the bag).
• IL-Gov: A whole lot of longshots are piling up in the GOP column in the Illinois governor's race, which now includes political consultant and TV commentator Dan Proft. Six other GOPers, none of whom seem known statewide, are already in the hunt.
• TX-Gov: State senator Leticia Van de Putte, whose name had cropped up a lot in connection with the Democratic nomination for Governor in recent weeks, released a statement yesterday saying she won't run. Interestingly, instead of endorsing Tom Schieffer -- whose Democratic credentials are kind of iffy -- she suggested that fellow state Senator Kirk Watson should run instead.
• AL-02: No time for Congress, Dr. Love! Republican State Rep. and 2008 losing candidate Jay Love decided against a rematch with freshman Rep. Bobby Bright. The exit of Love, who barely lost in this R+16 district last time, means that Montgomery city councilor Martha Roby may escape a noxious primary (the GOP's main problem last time).
• CA-11: Two Republican members of the Board of Supervisors of San Joaquin County (where almost half of this R+1 district's votes are located) endorsed Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney yesterday, pleased with his constituent services and work to bring a VA hospital to the area.
• CA-50: We're looking at a three-way Democratic primary in this R+3 district in northern San Diego county. Solana Beach city councilor Dave Roberts (a former Brian Bilbray supporter) is considering the race and will decide by July whether to jump in. He'd bring one advantage to his race against two-time candidate Francine Busby and attorney Tracy Emblem: he's actually been elected to something.
• PA-06: PA2010's Dan Hirschhorn observes that with a series of top-tier hires, Doug Pike is looking more and more like he'll have the Dem field to himself. Pike has hired Neil Oxman's Campaign Group to do his media, who've worked not only for Gov. Ed Rendell but also for former Senate candidate Joe Torsella and '02 candidate Dan Wofford -- both of whom have had their names tossed around as the most likely other people to run in PA-06. I'd initially assumed the never-before-elected journalist was something of a placeholder until someone higher on the food chain got in the race, but with these hires and the DCCC constantly touting him, it seems clear that Pike is impressing the right people.
• PA-15: Good news out of the Lehigh Valley: Bethlehem mayor John Callahan, who a few months ago had rebuffed requests that he run against Rep. Charlie Dent, may have had a change of heart. Callahan has approached Democratic party leaders about the race, and is now reportedly "seriously considering" running in this D+2 district.
• TN-03: Attorney and radio talk show host Chuck Fleischmann will formally announce his entry into the GOP primary field today in the Chattanooga-based R+13 3rd. Bradley Co. Sheriff Tim Gobble is already running, and former GOP state chair Robin Smith looks like she'll get in, too.
• NY-St. Sen.: As if the standoff over control of the New York State Senate, tied 31-31, couldn't get any more embarrassing, yesterday both parties held dueling special sessions... at the same time, in the same room, shouting to be heard over each other, with each side claiming to pass its own bills. Negotations to create a power-sharing arrangement have more or less collapsed.
• Voting Rights: Oregon just became the fourth state to allow online voter registration, joining Washington, California, and Arizona. One less reason to have to get up from behind your computer.