I've been posting less often at Swing State Project lately because Iowa campaign news is keeping me busy at my home blog, Bleeding Heartland. From time to time I will keep SSPers up to date on our highest-profile races: Roxanne Conlin's bid against five-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democratic Governor Chet Culver's re-election campaign against four-term former Governor Terry Branstad.
After the jump you'll find lots of links on the Iowa governor's race since Branstad won the June 8 primary with about 50 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Bob Vander Plaats and 9 percent for Rod Roberts.
• AZ-Sen (pdf): Magellan is out with a poll of the Republican Senate primary, and finds (everybody say it with me now... 3... 2... 1...) good news! for John McCain! McCain leads J.D. Hayworth 52-29. The sample was taken on Tuesday, post-reveal of Hayworth's Matthew Lesko-style free-money shilling.
• CO-Sen: Americans for Job Security, the mysterious conservative group who poured a lot of money into anti-Bill Halter ads in the Arkansas primary, have surfaced again, and this time they're actually pro- somebody. They're up with ads in Colorado pushing Weld Co. Ken Buck, who's poised to knock off NRSC-touted Jane Norton in the GOP Senate primary.
• FL-Sen: An important-sounding behind-the-scenes Democrat has gotten on board the Charlie Crist campaign. Jeff Lieser, who was the finance director for Alex Sink's successful 2006 CFO campaign, is going to be heading up Crist's "Democratic fundraising efforts."
• MO-Sen: Barack Obama will be doing a fundraiser with Robin Carnahan in Kansas City on July 8. Carnahan hid under a pile of coats when Obama was in Missouri last winter, so it's good to see her changing her tune.
• AL-Gov: Robert Bentley, the state legislator who surprised many by squeaking into the GOP gubernatorial runoff, is picking up a key Tim James backer. Ex-Rep. Sonny Callahan, who represented AL-01 for decades, switched his backing to Bentley yesterday.
• AZ-Gov: The NRA really does seem to love its incumbents, as they've often been accused. The NRA weighed in to the GOP gubernatorial primary, endorsing appointed incumbent Jan Brewer. The only reason that's a surprise is because her biggest rival is self-funding businessman Owen Buz Mills, who also happens to be on the NRA's board of directors and who owns a shooting range.
• IA-Gov: Terry Branstad went with a relative unknown for his running mate, state Sen. Kim Reynolds, rather than one of the parade of recent losers whose names had been floated (Jeff Lamberti, Jim Gibbons, Rod Roberts). Perhaps most significantly, he didn't pick GOP primary runner-up and social conservative extraordinaire Bob Vander Plaats, so now all eyes are on BVP to see whether he follows through with vague threats to run an independent candidacy. (While socially conservative personally, Reynolds isn't known for running with the social conservative crowd.)
• MI-Gov: Virg Bernero is pretty universally considered the "labor" candidate in the Dem primary in the Michigan governor's race, but rival Andy Dillon just got the backing of a big-time union: the statewide Teamsters. Bernero has the backing of the AFL-CIO (which, significantly for Michigan, includes the UAW); while they aren't hitting the airwaves on Bernero's behalf (at least not yet), they are gearing up for a large ground campaign.
• OR-Gov, OR-Sen: It looks like the Oregon gubernatorial race is going to be a close one (like New Mexico, this is shaping up to be a situation where what seemed like an easy race is turning into a battle because the outgoing Dem incumbent's unpopularity is rubbing off on the expected successor). Local pollsters Davis, Hibbitts, and Midghall, on behalf of the Portland Tribune, find the race a dead heat, at a 41-41 tie between John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley (with 6 going to minor party candidates). Tim Hibbitts is the go-to pollster in Oregon; the upside, I suppose, is that it's good for Dems to realize now they're going to need to fight this one hard, rather than realizing it in October after months of complacency. While the Gov. numbers here are closely in line with Rasmussen, the Senate numbers certainly aren't: they find Ron Wyden leading Jim Huffman by a much more comfortable margin of 50-32.
• TX-Gov: Bill White got a big endorsement from Bill Clinton (although there's no word yet if Clinton will stump in Texas on White's behalf, which would be huge). Former Houston mayor White was also a Dept. of Energy official in the Clinton administration.
• LA-02: You might recall some sketchily-sourced information from a few days ago that a couple Democrats were considering launching independent bids in the 2nd, where a high-profile spoiler may be the only hope for another term for GOP freshman Rep. Joe Cao. Well, it seems like there's some truth to the story, inasmuch as the person most likely to be affected by that, state Rep. Cedric Richmond (the likeliest Dem nominee here), is calling attention to the situation now. He's accusing Republicans of a "South Carolina-style political ploy by convincing black candidates to run as independents."
• MI-07: Although ex-Rep. Tim Walberg has the social conservative cred by the bushelful, he didn't get an endorsement from Catholic Families for America. They instead backed his GOP primary rival, Brian Rooney. The Rooney backing makes sense, though, when you recall that Rooney is an attorney for the Thomas More Law Center, the Michigan-based nonprofit that's a frequent filer of amicus briefs and bills itself as "Christianity's answer to the ACLU." The Center was founded by Domino's Pizza baron Tom Monaghan, whose other attempts to mix ultra-conservative Catholicism and the law have included Ave Maria School of Law.
• WATN?: I had absolutely no idea that retiring Rep. Henry Brown was actually interested in demoting himself instead of leaving the political game altogether, but it turns out that, rather than take up golf or shuffleboard like a normal 74-year-old, he decided to run for the Board of Supervisors in Berkeley County (in Charleston's suburbs). Here's where it gets really pathetic... he didn't even win that race. He got 44% of the vote on Tuesday in the GOP runoff (although in his sort-of defense, he was running against an incumbent).
• History: Here's a very interesting article from Larry Sabato's henchman Rhodes Cook, on why 2010 won't be 1994. His gradation of "blue," "purple," and "red" districts is a little reductive, but it's a nice look at how Democrats have somewhat less exposure in general this year. And if you're looking for some amusing trivia, Univ. of Minnesota's Smart Politics has a captivating look at which states have the most (South Carolina) and the fewest (Alaska by #, Idaho by %) governors who were born in-state.
FL-Sen: Rudy & Rubio, together at last. Giuliani will become the latest johnny-come-lately to endorse Marco.
GA-Sen: Johnny Isakson, who had been hospitalized twice in one week, is now back home.
KY-Sen: Weirdo Rand Paul is launching a 1,000-point ad buy (that's big) attacking Trey Grayson as a pro-bailout insider too cozy with DC. The primary is about six weeks away. On the Dem side, The Lexington Herald-Leader reviewed state records and found that Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has spent four times as much taxpayer money on travel, hotels and meals as AG Jack Conway. Mongiardo has also racked up expenses for the security detail that travels with him (Conway doesn't have security).
NV-Sen: Jon Ralston says that federal investigators are looking to nail John Ensign for "structuring," which is "a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements." Ensign, you'll recall, had his parents give a $96,000 "gift" to his mistress instead of reporting it as a severance payment. The DoJ is moving very methodically, though, ever-mindful of the wretchedly botched prosecution of ex-Sen. Ted Stevens (which was thrown out on appeal due to prosecutorial misconduct.)
SD-Sen: Ugh. Not only did no Democrats file to run against John Thune, but he's become the first senator in South Dakota history to run without major-party opposition. My advice to John Thune: Save your $6 million warchest for a 2012 presidential run.
UT-Sen: Sen. Bob Bennett and his Republican challengers faced off in a debate last Friday, which saw Bennett defend earmarks and get attacked for supporting an individual mandate to buy health insurance. The GOP state convention, which will choose a nominee, is May 8th.
AL-Gov: Hah - Artur Davis, fresh off his vote against healthcare reform, is now pushing a petition on his website attacking Alabama state legislators who voted to "obstruct" the new bill.
IA-Gov: Republican pollster Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies has a survey of the Iowa gubernatorial race, showing Terry Branstand crushing incumbent Dem Chet Culver 50 to 34. Culver leads Bob Vander Plaats 40-39 and Rod Roberts 38-32. It's unclear to me whether Magellan was polling for fun or if this was on behalf of a client.
MA-Gov: Politico has a piece describing the extraordinary efforts Obama's political team is making to help Gov. Deval Patrick win re-election. Patrick has visited the White House half a dozen times over the past year, and he's the only office-seeker so far (other than Harry Reid) to have a fundraiser headlined by the president himself.
PA-Gov: The Philadelphia Daily News obtained an interesting strategy memo penned by the campaign of Dem Dan Onorato. Apparently, Onorato was prepared to challenge the signatures of opponents Joe Hoeffel and Anthony Williams. However, since Hoeffel didn't move to challenge Williams' signatures, Onorato's campaign apparently decided it was better to leave both of them alone, figuring it would be better to have two candidates from the Philly region in the race rather than one. (Onorato hails from Western PA.)
UT-Gov: Salt Lake County Mayor and Dem gubernatorial candidate Peter Corroon says he raised more than $360,000 since the start of the year. No word yet on GOP Gov. Gary Herbert's haul.
AL-03: Dems found someone to replace Josh Segall on the ballot at the last minute: Montgomery native Steve Segrest, who lost to GOPer Kay Ivey in the Treasurer's race in 2006. Segrest comes from a political family: His father served in the Alabama House and his grandfather, Napoleon Broward, was elected governor... of Florida... in 1905. In some other Alabama news, state Sen. Jim Preuitt, who had long been on the outs with the Democrats, switched parties to the GOP.
FL-08: GOP Bruce O'Donoghue says he raised $300K since joining the race, and has a similar amount on hand. O'Donoghue's camp says that this sum does not include any self-donations.
NH-01, NH-02: Dem Ann McLane Kuster, seeking Paul Hodes' open seat in NH-02, says she raised $285K in Q1, and apparently has made a record haul from New Hampshire residents. Supposedly Katrina Swett will announce a bigger haul, but no numbers yet. Meanwhile, GOPer Frank Guinta, running in NH-01, supposedly raised $250K, including $100K of his own money. (Guinta's fundraising had been pretty sucky prior to this.)
NY-19: The Republican field to take on Dem Rep. John Hall still seems very unsettled. Ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth has gotten a lot of love from the NRCC, but a broad swath of the GOP establishment in the 19th CD doesn't seem to feel similarly, and she faces several strong opponents. One of them, former Pentagon analyst Kristia Cavere, says she raised $200K in Q1 & will soon convert her exploratory committee into the real thing. Meanwhile, ex-Tuxedo Mayor David McFadden says he's raised about $100K. He also says that if he doesn't win the party's nomination at the May convention, he'll drop out.
PA-07: Dem Bryan Lentz is challenging the validity of GOP opponent Pat Meehan's signatures. As we noted previously, Lentz is also questioning the impartiality of the investigator, which happens to be Republican AG Tom Corbett's office. Lentz now has a new arrow in his quiver: Some of the same people who circulated petitions for Meehan also did so for Corbett. Even better, it looks like some local GOP leaders may have signed false affidavits saying they personally gathered signatures, even though others may have actually carried the petitions.
SD-AL: Physician Kevin Weiland had planned to challenge Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the Democratic primary after she voted "no" on healthcare. But Weiland pulled out at the last minute, after receiving calls from Steny Hoyer, and Chris Van Hollen. He also spoke with Herseth Sandlin herself, and reportedly "negotiated an assurance from Herseth Sandlin that she would reconnect with her Democratic base in South Dakota and never vote for a repeal of the health care plan." Doesn't sound like much. He also apparently cheesed off one-time Obama strategist Steve Hildebrand, who declined to run himself but worked overtime to help Weiland gather signatures (he only had a week in which to do it) to qualify for the ballot.
TN-06: Another veteran is entering this open-seat race on the Democratic side. Brett Carter, an attorney and TN National Guardsman who served in Iraq, joins Marine Capt. Ben Leming in the Dem field.
TN-08: Things are really starting to get hot in the GOP primary in Tennessee's 8th CD. The Republican establishment isn't just stumping for agribusiness magnate Steve Fincher - they're actively attacking his opposition. Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, whose trip to Fincher's district we noted in an earlier digest, slammed physician Ron Kirkland for allegedly being wobbly on the healthcare reform bill and for his past support of Democrats. (Kirkland previously said he liked most of what was in the bill, except for the public option - and when he was chair of the American Medical Group Association when they made donations to Max Baucus.) Kirkland is no random teabagger pushover, which is why he's drawing fire. This could be an unusually interesting primary.
TX-17: The Texas Tribune takes a look at the two Republicans in a run-off for the privilege of facing Dem Chet Edwards in the fall: 2008 nominee Rob Curnock and oil exec Bill Flores. Here's an interesting detail: Flores voted in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, supposedly "casting his ballot against Barack Obama." That's some cute spin, but if he voted for Hillary Clinton (he won't say), I don't really see how that helps him. But in any event, Flores outraised Curnock by a huge margin, $214K to $16K, in newly-filed pre-runoff FEC reports.
WA-03: Ex-state Rep. Denny Heck (D) says he raised $350K in the first quarter (including $150K of his own money), leaving him with $530K on hand.
Census: There's a bill pending in both houses of the NY state legislature that would require counting prison inmates as part of their home communities, rather than upstate, where most prisons are located. Given how dysfunctional the lege is, though, there's no telling if this badly-needed reform will actually see the light of day.
Fundraising: GOP bigs are hitting the trail on behalf of their brethren during the congressional recess. John Boehner is helping Californians Mary Bono Mack and Ken Calvert, Pete Sessions is helping Illinoisans Randy Hultgren and Adam Kinzinger, and a bunch of other top Republicans are also putting their backs into things.
Redistricting: Former DCCC nat'l field director Casey O'Shea will replace Brian Smoot as head of the National Democratic Redistricting Trust. Smoot is leaving to head up the DSCC's independent expenditure arm. (And O'Shea and Smoot are consulting partners.)
WATN: Dede Scozzafava says she's working on a memoir about last year's special election race. Can't wait to read it! She also says she's unsure about whether she'll seek reelection to her seat in the Assembly this year.
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Join me after the jump for closer look at Roberts and his campaign strategy. I doubt he has any chance of winning the primary, but he is becoming a politically correct alternative to the more conservative Bob Vander Plaats for Republicans who aren't wild about a fifth term for Branstad.
Chet Culver (D-inc): 38 (43)
Terry Branstad (R): 54 (48)
Undecided: 8 (9)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 41 (55)
Bob van der Plaats (R): 38 (33)
Undecided: 21 (12)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 44 (58)
Chris Rants (R): 33 (28)
Undecided: 23 (14)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 48 (NA)
Rod Roberts (R): 26 (NA)
Undecided: 26 (NA)
Selzer for Des Moines Register (1/31-2/3, adults, 11/8-11 in parentheses):
Chet Culver (D-inc): 33 (33)
Terry Branstad (R): 53 (57)
Not sure: 9 (8)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 40 (37)
Bob van der Plaats (R): 43 (45)
Not sure: 12 (15)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 41 (42)
Chris Rants (R): 37 (35)
Not sure: 14 (18)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 41 (NA)
Rod Roberts (R): 36 (NA)
Not sure: 15 (NA)
A whole lot of Iowa data has found its way across our desk over the last week, none of it terribly good for incumbent Governor Chet Culver or Senate challenger Roxanne Conlin. Or you can look at the bright side: the news is less bad if you look at the Rasmussen and Selzer trendlines. (Research 2000, not so much, but that trendline goes all the way back to October... and the earlier poll was commissioned for Daily Kos rather than KCCI, although that shouldn't affect the toplines.)
In case you were hoping that somehow Chet Culver might wind up facing former Republican state legislative leader Chris Rants, though, don't get your hopes up... Rants dropped out of the race last Friday, probably seeing no path out of the primary that's dominated by Branstad and van der Plaats. As always, desmoinesdem is on the scene, with discussion already underway in two differentdiaries.
Research 2000 conducted an Iowa poll of 600 "likely voters who vote regularly in state elections" for KCCI-TV, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines. The poll was in the field from February 15 to 17, and KCCI published the results on its website yesterday.
It's not a good poll for Governor Chet Culver, but it's less bad than the Des Moines Register's latest Iowa poll. Chuck Grassley has a comfortable lead in the Senate race, but not the kind of margin he has enjoyed against previous Democratic opponents.
The latest Iowa poll by Selzer and Co. for the Des Moines Register finds Governor Chet Culver's approval rating at a new low of 36 percent. Only 34 percent of respondents said Iowa is headed in the right direction, while 57 percent said the state is on the wrong track. The poll was in the field from January 31 to February 3 and surveyed 805 Iowa adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Culver's approval rating fell to 36 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. The Des Moines Register's Iowa poll from September had Culver in positive territory, with 50 percent approval and 39 percent disapproval. The Des Moines Register's November poll had Culver with 40 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval.
The Des Moines Register noted that since September, Culver's approval among Democrats has fallen from 72 percent to 57 percent, while Senator Tom Harkin's approval among Democrats was measured at 77 percent in both polls.