• AK-Sen: With the book about to close on 2010, so too is the last outstanding race of 2010, the Alaska Senate race. Today the state is planning to certify Lisa Murkowski as winner of the race, including hand-delivering the certification papers to Washington DC so there won't be any possible obstacles to Murkowski's swearing-in next week (and ensuing temporary loss of state clout). This, of course, follows a legal one-two punch to Joe Miller's hopes: last week's loss at the Alaska Supreme Court, which upheld the trial court's decision that the write-in votes for Murkowski were properly counted, and then this week's ruling by a federal district court judge dismissing his related federal suit and lifting the hold on the race's certification. Miller will not stand in the way of the certification, although he says he is still considering whether to continue litigating the matter (which, if he did, would feature the 9th Circuit as the next stop).
The most ironic part of the whole tale is that the Tea Party Express, in their ill-advised RINO hunt, seem to have only succeeded in making Murkowski into more of a free agent. If you've noticed that Murkowski seems to be toeing the GOP line less since winning the election without running under the GOP banner, you're not alone: she was the only Senate GOPer to vote with the Dems on all four big action items during the lame duck session (the tax compromise, DADT repeal, START, and the DREAM Act).
• DE-Sen: SSP isn't about re-litigating old elections, but this is indeed relevant because Christine O'Donnell, looking to capitalize on her newfound celebrity, may yet be a fourth-time candidate for the Senate against Tom Carper in the future. That fourth run might be more difficult, though, if she's in prison... perhaps possible as it seems like the federal government has decided it's had enough of her once-every-two-years grifting tours and is now criminally investigating her use of campaign funds for personal purposes during her 2010 campaign. Anyway, she put out a truly epic statement today on the matter that ought to have you reaching for your copy of the DSM, so laden with paranoia and delusions of grandeur it is.
• MA-Sen: While everyone seems to be wondering which U.S. Rep. will step into the gap if nobody named Kennedy runs for the Senate, there's always the outside possibility that someone with a business background and lots of his own money tries to move to the head of the pack in the Bay State. Robert Pozen may fit that bill, and he's apparently been talking to party insiders about the possibility. The investment banker-turned-Harvard Business professor has some liabilities, though: he served briefly in Mitt Romney's cabinet, which may help his bipartisan bona fides but could be poison in a primary, and his personality has been described as [John] "Silberesque," which would just be all-purpose poison.
• MI-Sen: If the NRSC ever had any interest in Tim Leuliette as their Senate candidate in Michigan, that probably evaporated this week. The auto-parts magnate just said that he's not comfortable with self-funding his campaign and wouldn't put much of his "large fortune" into a run. Considering that that was the main (if not only) selling point for a candidacy from an otherwise unknown political newcomer, that should pretty much be end-of-story.
• MO-Sen, MO-Gov: A poll from Republican pollster Wilson Research (commissioned by consulting firm Axiom Strategies) has (big surprise) good news for Republicans in it, most notably Jim Talent. The ex-Sen. has a significant lead in a rematch against Claire McCaskill, ahead 51-40. Talent seems to have a big electability edge over Sarah Steelman, who's tied 44-44 with McCaskill. McCaskill's approvals are 48/45. They also look at the Governor's race, finding a more competitive race than PPP did but not the lead that a Peter Kinder internal showed. They find Dem incumbent Jay Nixon leading Kinder 45-42, with Nixon's approvals at 52%. Worth noting: the poll's a little stale, taken Dec. 1-2.
• ND-Sen: It's starting to look like Kent Conrad will face some serious opposition from Republicans this cycle (assuming the 62-year-old runs for re-election), although it's not clear exactly from whom. Perhaps the heaviest-hitter available, the state's ex-Gov. and the former Bush administration Agriculture Secretary, Ed Schafer, has just ruled it out. For now, the likeliest-sounding one right now seems to be Brian Kalk, one of the state's three Public Service Commissioners, a statewide elected position. Kalk says he's giving it "serious thought," which contrasts with oft-mentioned AG Wayne Stenehjem's statement that he doesn't have "any plans" (although not closing "any doors" either) and with newly-promoted Gov. Jack Dalrymple, for whom it's the "last thing" on his mind.
• NE-Sen (pdf): In case you weren't sure whether or not Ben Nelson's in trouble for 2012, um, yes, he's in trouble. Republican pollster Magellan is out with a poll finding Nelson with an overall 29/59 re-elect, and trailing GOP AG Jon Bruning 52-38. He's also trailing state Treasurer Don Stenberg (not yet a candidate, but sounding likely to run as well) 46-40. Hopefully we'll get a look from PPP at this one soon for confirmation. It seems like the Dems are already treating Bruning as a serious threat, though, with the state party trying to throw obstacles in his path by filing FEC and IRS complaints against Bruning over shoddy campaign-committee setup.
• VA-Sen: So apparently all you have to do is append "Tea Party Activist" to your job description, and all of a sudden you're magically promoted from Some Dude to Very Serious Candidate Worthy of National Media Attention. Or at least that's the case with the campaign announcement from Jamie Radtke, head of the Judean People's Front People's Front of Judea Virginia Federation of Tea Party Patriots, whose main claim to fame seems to be organizing a gathering of 3,000 'baggers in Richmond. At any rate, Radtke is the first actually announced GOP candidate. Meanwhile, Jim Webb seems to be moving closer to making a decision on whether to run for re-election (though no clues on how he feels), saying he'll sort it out over the holiday break and make an announcement in the first quarter of 2011.
• IN-Gov: This comes as a surprise, since there had been a lot of buzz about her as the nominee, with increasing moves from Rep. Mike Pence toward a presidential run instead. But Becky Skillman, Indiana's Lt. Governor, recently announced that she wouldn't run for Governor in 2012, citing "minor health issues." Does this make likelier a Pence gubernatorial run, now that he'd have an easy stroll to the nomination? And if Pence doesn't run, that seems to point to a truly wide open field, as no one seems to have contemplated a GOP field that didn't include Pence or Skillman. Who else might step up? (I hear Mike Sodrel may still be looking for a job...)
• NC-Gov: Rounding out the troika of Republican polls showing Dem incumbents in trouble is one from North Carolina from Civitas, who have coordinated with a variety of pollsters and this time went straight to the big daddy of GOP pollsters, POS. The poll finds GOP former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory cruising in a rematch against Dem incumbent Bev Perdue, who never really seemed to gain her footing after a narrow 2008 win: he leads her 51-36 (with Perdue getting only 64% among Democrats).
• WA-Gov: Two interesting developments mean this race isn't as open-and-shut as I'd thought. One is that there's increasing buzz linking Dow Constantine, just elected in 2009 as King County Executive, to the governor's race. I've regarded Constantine (who's 47) as a very likely Governor starting in 2020, but with Dems seeming a little edgy that none of their biggest-name candidates (Rep. Jay Inslee, whose WA-01 is centered in suburban Snohomish Co., Snohomish Co. Exec Aaron Reardon, Spokane-based state Sen. majority leader Lisa Brown) are from their stronghold of King County while likely GOP candidate Rob McKenna is, there might be some pressure on Constantine to move up his timetable. (It's worth noting that Gary Locke became Gov. in 1996 after three years as King Co. Executive.) The other develompent is that Chris Gregoire isn't categorically ruling out an attempt at a third term, which she's legally entitled to do but Just Isn't Done. (Although she might point out that the last time it was tried, 1972, Dan Evans was successfully re-elected... in fact, the last time a Republican was re-elected Governor in Washington.) She registered as a 2012 candidate with the Public Disclosure Commission, in order to "keep her options open." (UPDATE: Big h/t to meekermariner, who points out in comments that this Gregoire article is nearly two years old, leaving me to wonder why Politico was linking to it with such enthusiasm. At any rate, the Gregoire committee remains open today, although that in itself isn't much of a suggestion that a third term may be in the offing.)
• WV-Gov: This week was the deadline for filing briefs for the lawsuit that's attempting to move up the special election to replace Joe Manchin up to 2011. We still don't have an answer to when it will happen, but at least we know who's on what side in the case: the state's major unions (including the AFL-CIO and WVEA) want it sooner, and so does likely candidate and Dem state House speaker Rick Thompson. State Auditor Glen Gainer supports the expedited election too, while SoS Natalie Tennant (another possible Dem candidate) has basically punted on the issue. And if you're wondering about Joe Manchin's decision to duck DADT and DREAM Act votes in order to enjoy family holiday festivities, it seems like it wasn't, first and foremost, a self-protecting profile in cowardice. With Manchin having survived probably his toughest challenge, he's more interested now in clearing the way for ally and acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and not interested in provoking a social issues-based civil war within the state Dem party that could undermine Tomblin's shot at getting elected to a full term.
• OH-01: Guess who's sounding like he's gearing up for a rematch? Steve Driehaus, in an interview with the Cincinnati paper, took a variety of potshots at Steve Chabot, calling him a Boehner "follower" and saying he shouldn't "sit too easy." Driehaus has previously said he's "open" to another attempt. (This is Cincinnati-based district is notorious for steep dropoff in African-American voting in off-years, so if any time would be the right time for Driehaus to try again, 2012 would be it.)
• LA-St. House: There was a long period of threatening and flirting, but now it's official: state Rep. Noble Ellington switched to the Republican Party, formally flipping control of the state's lower legislative chamber to the GOP for the first time since Reconstruction. Functionally, it may not make much perceptible difference, since there was already a Republican speaker, and many Dems were already quite conservative.
• NY-St. Sen.: Looks like the end of the line in one other outstanding race (which ultimately had the balance of the New York state Senate in play): the state's Court of Appeals said no thanks to incumbent Dem Craig Johnson's appeal of a lower court decision that said there didn't need to be a hand recount of machine votes in New York's 7th District. GOPer Jack Martins had been declared the winner in the race by several hundred votes, handing the state Senate back to the GOP by a 32-30 margin.
• PA-St. Sen.: Pennsylvania's state Senate has been even more stubbornly Republican over the years than New York's, and it looks like the Dems are going to have play a bit more defense there in an upcoming special election. Democratic minority whip Michael O'Pake (the state's longest-serving legislator) died several days ago at age 70, leaving a vacancy in SD-11 that will need to be filled by special election at some point between March and May (date TBD). On paper, this looks like the kind of district that would be a major test case for whether the Dems are going to continue their run of bad luck in the Keystone State from the 2010 election: while it works out to about D+4 (going 59/40 for Barack Obama and 51/48 for John Kerry), it also gave 55% of the vote to Tom Corbett and 50.6% to Pat Toomey this year. However, this may all boil down to bench strength in a traditionally-Dem district (centered on the blue-collar city of Reading, although made purple by inclusion of its suburbs, too): insiders from both parties are treating Democratic former Berks Co. Commissioner Judy Schwank as "prohibitive favorite."
• Approvals: PPP does us the favor of consolidating all their year-end Senate approval ratings and gubernatorial approvals in one (or two, really) places. In the Senate, the most popular Senator overall, in addition to most popular one up in 2012, is Amy Klobuchar (59/29); while outgoing Roland Burris is the overall goat, Joe Lieberman is in worst shape of anyone up in 2012 (33/54). Among the few governors facing 2012 re-election, Jack Markell is tops at 50/32 (with Jay Nixon not far behind at 44/30), while Chris Gregoire fares the worst, in case she actually runs (although this might dissuade her sudden interest in a third term); her 40/53 is actually a worse spread than Bev Perdue's 35/44.
• Redistricting: The Fix has a good piece on redistricting out, that should pretty much serve as the last word on why GOP purely-redistricting-related House seat gains are likely to be limited to the single digits for 2012: thanks to their 2010 overperformance, they're thoroughly maxed out in the big four prizes where they have total control (Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania). That's compounded by, in Florida, the new Fair Districts initiative, and in Texas, the need to create at least two more VRA districts while still protecting Blake Farenthold. Also, here's one other redistricting implication that's gotten totally overlooked in all the last few weeks' discussion: although California didn't lose or gain a seat, there's been enough population shift within the state (thanks to stagnation in the Bay Area and rapid growth in the Inland Empire) that the net result will be the moving of most of one district from NoCal to SoCal. It'll be interesting to see whether the new independent commission is able to do that in a way that lightly shifts boundaries southwards and protects the jobs of all 53 incumbents, or if someone from the north actually gets turfed out and an effectively new seat opens up in the south.
• Chicago mayor: A lot has happened in the Chicago mayoral race since we last checked: first, Rahm Emanuel cleared the first hurdle in ascertaining that he is, indeed, a Chicago resident and not a Kenyan (although there will be inevitable courtroom appeals for weeks to come, with opponents willing to go to the state Supreme Court). The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners last week rejected claims that Emanuel had abandoned his Chicago residency when he went to work in the White House. Also, we've seen two of Emanuel's erstwhile opponents drop out of the race, narrowing the number of African-American candidates but still leaving that part of the field split between Danny Davis (last seen publicly urging Bill Clinton against coming to Chicago to campaign for Emanuel) and Carol Mosely Braun. State Sen. James Meeks dropped out, saying he didn't want to further split the black vote, and Roland Burris also withdrew, via press release, from the race (although it's unclear whether he ever really was in the race, since he never made any public appearances). Finally, we got another poll of the race from We Ask America, which may be most noteworthy for showing Gerry Chico in position to make the runoff. They find Emanuel at 44, Chico at 12, Braun at 8, Davis at 7, Miguel Del Valle at 6, and Meeks at 4.
• MO-Sen: Ed Martin, who lost narrowly in MO-03, has kept spamming me (and presumably everybody else who writes about politics) with press releases vaguely hinting at voter fraud. It's seeming like maybe there's something more there to it than just garden-variety sore-loserism; there's growing buzz that he's trying to stay top-of-mind for a possible run for the GOP Senate nomination. Now, you might be saying, that's a whole lot of hubris for a guy who couldn't even win a House seat to go up against Sarah Steelman and possibly Jim Talent, but Martin might be able to grab the tea party mantle considering that the local 'baggers are quite adamant that they aren't as enamored with her as the national-level ones are. Martin is apparently also considering another run for the House; part of his decision will be what happens with redistricting, as MO-03 may be on the chopping block, between St. Louis-area depopulation and Republican legislative control.
• MT-Sen: Trying to decipher Rep. Denny Rehberg's intentions, about a possible run against freshman Dem Jon Tester? David Catanese is actually picking through his Christmas card to read the tea leaves. Rehberg tells his supporters (and extended family members) that he's "not taking anything off the table" in terms of his next step, which is interesting, as it may mean he's thinking about the open seat gubernatorial race too.
• NE-Sen: Now here's a blast from the past: ex-Gov. Kay Orr is so old-school that she was actually defeated for Governor by Ben Nelson, way back in 1990. Despite 20 years out of the political scene, her name is being floated as a possibility for the GOP Senate primary for the right to take on Nelson in 2012. Orr herself says she's undecided, but sounds leaning against it. The Fix also seems to think that state Treasurer (and another long-ago loser to Nelson, although at least this time in a Senate race) Don Stenberg is likely to run, which would force a primary against AG Jon Bruning.
• PA-Sen: There are two different overviews of the Pennsylvania situation today; one is from Alex Roarty at National Journal (and unfortunately is behind a paywall, so I'll give you the gist). The one new name that surfaces in it is GOP Rep. Tim Murphy (from PA-18 in the Pittsburgh-suburbs); while he isn't pushing forward on it, he's shown more behind-the-scenes interest in it than Charlie Dent or Jim Gerlach, both of whom have gotten more touting but seem content with their cushy new committee posts. He also mentions that state Sen. Kim Ward is now leaning against, and confirms that ex-Gov. Mark Schweiker is at the top of the GOP's wish list but probably a pipe dream. A Philadelphia Magazine article tries to handicap the GOP field, with absolutely nobody on the first tier, Gerlach alone on the second tier, and state Sen. Jake Corman (and Ward) comprising the third tier.
• VA-Sen: Newsmax has an interview with new right-wing hero Ken Cuccinelli, who despite his new HCR-related celebrity is taking the opportunity to make clear that he isn't running for Senate in 2012 (which would remove George Allen's main impediment for the GOP nomination). He wouldn't rule out running for Governor in 2013, though. (I wouldn't link to Newsmax if you paid me to, so you'll have to take my word for it.)
• IN-Gov: Rep. Joe Donnelly is another option for Dems for Indiana Governor, although a run by Donnelly would require him giving up his seat. What if the GOP decides to get really aggressive in gerrymandering and build a nightmare seat for him (for instance, creating a dumbbell-shaped district linking Gary and his town of South Bend, forcing him to run against Lake County-based Pete Visclosky or else to move to a mostly rural red district)? South Bend's Dem party chair is now saying that Donnelly would look at a statewide race in the event that the House map is too unfavorable.
• FL-22: I think I'm going to greatly enjoy Allen West's two years in the House, if only because he has the skill of digging his own hole deeper every time he opens his mouth. Fresh off the outrageous suggestion that the government should "censor" mainstream media outlets that publish information obtained via WikiLeaks (and apparently having had someone explain First Amendment jurisprudence carefully to him), now he's claiming that he was misinterpreted, and that he actually said "censure" instead.
• IL-17: Now here's a fool's errand: declaring your intention to run for a district that's about to vaporize. Soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Phil Hare has already expressed his interest in a rematch with Bobby Schilling, but he may have some company. Both former Rock Island mayor Mark Schweibert and state Rep. Mike Boland said they're interested in running in the Dem primary, too. (Hare, former aide to Lane Evans, was picked over Schweibert by local party heads to be the 2006 nominee after Evans dropped out of the race post-primary.) The 17th seems like the likeliest district on the Illinois chopping block, though, seeing as how most of the state's population loss has been Downstate and there's not much point for the Dem-held legislature to preserve a Democratic vote sink if it's not even going to elect a Democrat.
• KS-??: Despite his various Sherman-esque statements when he first announced he wouldn't run for a full term as Governor, outgoing Dem Gov. Mark Parkinson is saying in an exit interview that he won't rule out running for something in the future. (In the meantime, he's heading to DC to rule the nursing home trade association.) It's unclear what he'd run for, though... KS-03 is certainly a possibility, as it's the most Dem-friendly part of the state and Parkinson is an Olathe resident.
• NY-10: This may be taking tea leaf reading a step too far here, but the subtext to Ed Towns' surprising decision not to seek the ranking member position on the Oversight committee (and back Carolyn Maloney for it) may be that he's about to wind down his entirely unremarkable decades-long House tenure. Towns will be 78 in 2012.
• KY-AG: It looks like Jack Conway is getting some GOP opposition after all, although not from as serious a threat as outgoing SoS Trey Grayson. Todd P'Pool, the state attorney for planet Vulcan Hopkins County (population 46K) has announced that he will challenge Conway in a battle to the death for the right to mate with T'Pring the 2011 election. Cue the epic fight music!
• OR-St. Sen.: Who woulda thunk that the Oregon state Senate would be one of the last question marks to get resolved this year? The GOP-funded recount in SD-3, where Dem Alan Bates narrowly won, and the retaliatory Dem-funded recount in the race where Martha Schrader narrowly lost (she had been appointed to fill the seat vacated by her husband, now-Rep. Kurt Schrader), are over, with the numbers barely budging at all. The Dems retain a 16-14 majority.
• TX-St. House: Two more party switchers to report, this time in the Texas state House, where Dems had actually entertained the notion of flipping the body a while ago and instead are now facing the wrong end of a supermajority. Aaron Pena and Allan Ritter have both announced that they're joining the GOP, despite their blue districts (in fact, Pena's Hidalgo County district went over 70% for Obama), apparently for the same rationale that the Georgia party-switchers are giving: deep in the minority, it's the only way for them to have any effectiveness in the capitol.
• Mayors: There's a new Chicago mayoral poll out, where again the main question seems to be whether Rahm Emanuel can win outright without a runoff. That's not looking likely, given the crowded field, although he still has a substantial lead in the new Tribune/WGN poll, at 32%. Gery Chico and Danny Davis are at 9, James Meeks is at 7, Carol Mosely Braun is at 6, Miguel del Valle is at 3, and Roland Burris is at 2, leaving 30 undecided. Emanuel leads among both blacks (with 19%) and Hispanics (27%).
One other mayoral race (or "situation," really) that's heating up is in San Francisco, where there's a regularly scheduled 2011 election but also a looming vacancy with Gavin Newsom about to become Lt. Governor. The Board of Supervisors will have to choose an interim mayor to serve out those 11 months, and they'll have to choose between one of their own who may be considering a November run, or an elder-statesman placekeeper. However, the Board is split any number of ways, and if there's nobody who gets 6 of its 11 votes, the Board's President, David Chiu, becomes acting mayor. The only person who seems in position to pick up at least six votes would be state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.
• Census: All manner of data analysis is pouring forth, in the wake of yesterday's massive data dump of the Census Bureau's five-year ACS estimates (which is where you're going to find a lot of the information that used to be on the "long form"). Perhaps most amazingly of all is a new mapping tool from the New York Times, which lets you zoom in or out from the state level to the block level anywhere in the country to look at race and foreign-born status. (Set aside a few hours to explore this one.) Also worth reading are new articles on changes in racial segregation (in major decline in certain metro areas, especially Atlanta and Miami, which can have major VRA implications in terms of it being harder to cobble together districts that have a majority of any particular group) and in rural populations (declining rapidly, as you might imagine).
• AZ-Sen: So, that anti-earmark stance from Republican leadership seemed to last a whole week or so, until everybody's attention had moved onto something else (something about sharks attacking people in airport security lines, maybe). Jon Kyl just got a $200 million earmark to settle an Indian water rights case with the government. Kyl's defense... and one we should expect to hear a lot from both sides of the aisle... is that it's technically not an earmark (which seems to have a profanity-style you-know-it-when-you-see-it standard).
• CT-Sen: Joe Lieberman is hinting at an independent run as the preferred way forward out of his three-possible-ways-to-lose conundrum. In a recent interview, he said "I've enjoyed being an Independent so I guess that's the most natural way to run, but I haven't decided," as well as "I don't meet all the requirements of either party." Other insiders, or at least the ones Politico is talking to, say that Lieberman's choices at this point are essentially retiring or becoming a Republican. (One reason they cite is the recent collapse of the CfL "Party," which failed to get the 1% needed to maintain its ballot place... although that overlooks the fact that the CfL was, several years ago, hijacked by waggish Lieberman opponents).
• FL-Sen: The first announced Republican candidate for the Senate in 2012 is both a Some Dude and a familiar face: college instructor Mike McCalister. If the name rings a bell, he got 10% in this year's gubernatorial primary by virtue of not being either Rick Scott or Bill McCollum. As for temp Sen. George LeMieux, a reported possible candidate, his current status is still "no decisions yet," albeit "I do feel a calling to serve."
• KY-Sen: Here's some pointless post-mortem about Kentucky, but it's the first I've heard any major player from Team Blue say that the "Aqua Buddha" ad was a net liability for Jack Conway. Outgoing DSCC Bob Menendez said his main regret was not asking for better briefings about candidates' ads, and he cited the anti-Rand Paul ad as a particular "killer."
• PA-Sen: The first announced GOP candidate in Pennsylvania has also surfaced, and he's also on the cusp between Some Dude and whatever's one step higher than that. Marc Scaringi was a legislative aide to Rick Santorum back in the 1990s, and is currently a lawyer in Harrisburg. (The article also cites one other potential GOP challenger in addition to the usual Jim Gerlach/Charlie Dent suspects: incoming state House majority leader Mike Turzai, whom you might remember weighing and deciding against a PA-04 run in 2010.) As for Bob Casey Jr., he's running again, although his main concern for the next year seems to be upping his low-key profile.
• NY-23: After making some waves yesterday with saying he was at least considering voting for John Boehner in the floor leadership vote, Bill Owens is now just saying he was "blowing off steam" and will vote for her as long as she promises to focus on jobs. (In other words, he probably got a call from leadership explaining the consequences.)
• CA-AG: Kind of a foregone conclusion at this point, given his 40,000 vote deficit, but Steve Cooley has just conceded the Attorney General's race, with Democratic San Francisco DA and rising star Kamala Harris the victor.
• KY-AG: Here's a surprise: after a few weeks of hype concerning a 2011 battle royale between Jack Conway and Trey Grayson for Attorney General, Grayson suddenly reversed course. Rather than run again for SoS, where GOPers were already lining up, he apparently won't run for anything, other than the sweet embrace of the private sector.
• Chicago mayor: One more poll gives Rahm Emanuel a sizable edge in the Chicago mayoral race. He has 39% support in a Chicago Retail Merchants Association poll, followed by Carol Mosely Braun at 12, Gerry Chico at 9, Danny Davis at 7, and His Accidency, Roland Burris, at 2. The real question here seems to be whether Emanuel can win on Feb. 22 without a runoff (which would be Apr. 5).
• AR-St. House: Here's an interesting situation in Arkansas, where Dems still control the state House (albeit with reduced numbers) but an unusual special election is already on tap. Democratic State Rep. Rick Saunders was apparently going to be given a pass to serve another two years despite being term-limited out, because the guy who won the seat in November, GOPer Keith Crass, did so despite being dead. He beat Dem Larry Williams despite dying during the early voting period. Now Saunders says he'll resign in early January so a special election can be held (in April at the earliest).
• Washington: It looks like all the counting in Washington is finally done, with turnout a whopping 71% (thanks to the mail-in nature of the election, which goes a long way toward evaporating the 'enthusiasm gap'). Patty Murray wound up winning by just shy of 5%, right where UW's polling put it, compared with the out-of-state robo-pollsters who saw a much closer race. Dems still control both chambers of the state legislature by decent (but not supermajority anymore) margins, after losing 4 seats in the 49-seat Senate and 5 in the 98-seat House. Three races where the Dem trails (Randy Gordon in the Senate, and Dawn Morrell and Kelli Linville in the House) are apparently going to recount, though, by margins ranging from 47 to 194.
• Money: The Dems, after getting outgunned on the dark money front in 2010 by a wide margin, aren't going to be caught napping this time (and this time, unlike 2008, they seem to have Barack Obama's tacit approval). David Brock (in his quest to become the left's answer to Karl Rove) is busy revving up his own 527/501(c)(4) type-thing for corraling large donations from undisclosed donors. The good news: they've already lined up $4 million in commitments. The bad news: they're being led by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (although maybe she's better behind the scenes than she is as a campaigner).
• History: Here's a great look back from Greg Giroux at Senate cycles where one party was defending more than 10 seats than the other party (as the Dems will in 2012). While the last three times this happened (2006 2008, 1986, and 1980), the defending party got hammered, many of the prior examples showed little movement one way or the other, including 1976, where a number of incumbents of both parties lost (in the post-Watergate environment) but it all balanced out to zero.
• AK-Sen: There's yet another lawsuit coming out of the Joe Miller camp, this one filed in state court. It essentially rehashes claims he's already made at the federal level, but adds two new allegations: voters without identification were allowed to take ballots in some precincts, and that in a few precincts handwriting samples suggest that the same person completed multiple ballots. Miller's ultimate goal is a hand count of the entire race, which could delay Lisa Murkowski's swearing-in past January. The question, however, is starting to arise: who's paying for all this? None of Miller's former friends seem interested any more: the NRSC has gone silent, and the Tea Party Express still offers verbal support but isn't ponying up any money. Only Jim DeMint continues to offer any financial support (with a Joe Miller fundraising button on his Senate Conservatives website).
• MT-Sen: This could complicates matters for Denny Rehberg, turning this primary into an establishment vs. teabagger duel. Two right-wing groups, Concerned Women PAC and Gun Owners of America, have already lent their support to businessman Steve Daines, who has already announced his bid for the GOP nod here.
• NY-Sen: Kirsten Gillibrand has to do it all over again in 2012 (this one was just a special election), and rumors are that former Bush administration official Dan Senor, who spurned a run this time, is interested in a run next time. It's hard to imagine, if Gillibrand could top 60% in a year as bad as this, that Senor could somehow overperform that in a presidential year.
• MN-Gov: The recount is officially on. The State Canvassing Board, whom you all got to know really well in early 2009, ruled that the 8,770 vote lead for Mark Dayton is less than one-half of a percentage point and that an automatic recount is triggered. The count starts on Monday and should end in mid-December, allowing time for swearing in on Jan. 3 (unless things really go haywire). This comes after a variety of legal maneuvering from both sides, including a fast Minnesota Supreme Court ruling against Tom Emmer, in response to his desire to force counties to comb through voter rolls and eliminate votes that were "excessively cast." No word yet on whether the Board will honor Dayton's request for ways to streamline the process (and minimize Emmer's chances for challenges).
• MT-Gov: There had been rumors that Democratic ex-Rep. Pat Williams would seek the Dem gubernatorial nomination (potentially setting up a match with his successor, ex-Rep. Rick Hill), despite being 72 years old. He's now saying that he won't. Williams is so old-school that he used to represent MT-01, before the state got smooshed together into one at-large district.
• CT-05: Random rich guy Mark Greenberg, who finished third in the GOP primary in the 5th this year (although with nearly 30% of the vote), says he'll be running again in 2012. Added incentive: he says he expects this to be an open seat as Chris Murphy runs for Senate.
• FL-17: Newly elected Frederica Wilson is already challenging the old ways of the House... going after the long-standing prohibition against wearing hats on the House floor. She says it's "sexist," saying that women's indoor hat use is different from men's. Wilson owns at least 300 hats, she says. (If Regina Thomas ever makes it to the House, maybe the Hat Caucus can gain some momentum.)
• MD-01: Recently-defeated Frank Kratovil seems like one of the likeliest losses to run again in 2012, especially since the Dem-controlled Maryland legislature is likely to serve him up a much Dem-friendlier district (as many of our in-house mapmakers have suggested). He isn't saying yes yet, but says he will "consider" it.
• NH-02: Another possible re-run is Ann McLane Kuster, who performed pretty well in a narrow loss to Charlie Bass in the open 2nd. There have been lots of Beltway rumors that her run is imminent, and some are pointing to encouragement straight from the White House for her to try again.
• NY-01: We've essentially finished the absentee ballot count, and the news is very good here: Tim Bishop, after leading by only 15 last night, is now leading by a comparatively-gargantuan 235 with all absentees counted. However, we're nowhere near a resolution, as attention now turns to the court battle over 2,000 challenged ballots (Randy Altschuler has challenged 1,261, while Bishop has challenged 790). Still, Bishop's spokesperson is saying they're "very confident" that they've won this one.
• NY-23: Yeesh, Bill Owens is actually saying he might vote for John Boehner for Speaker or abstain instead of Nancy Pelosi when it comes to a floor vote, saying Pelosi is too liberal. (This despite saying he voted for her, rather than Heath Shuler, in the caucus vote.) Also, not that it matters at this point, but this race wound up being closer than the Election Day count indicated: Matt Doheny picked up 1,982 previously-unknown votes in the recanvass of Fulton County, taking Owens' margin down to 1,795 overall, and making it all the clearer that we owe this victory entirely to 3rd-party bearer-of-cat-fud Doug Hoffman.
• Odds and ends: The Fix has a massive list of people considering rematches in 2012, most of which we've already dealt with before (including Kuster and Kratovil, above). Other names that we haven't listed include Brad Ellsworth (either for Gov, Senate, or his old IN-08), Christine O'Donnell in Delaware (not unexpected, since she runs every 2 years anyway), Glenn Nye, and Allen Boyd (despite his losing very thoroughly to Steve Southerland).
• AL-St. House: The inevitable realignment at the legislative level in Alabama finally happened, and happened all at once instead of slow drips. Four conservative Democrats in the state House changed to the GOP, bringing the GOP numbers up to not just a majority but a supermajority in one fell swoop. The Madison County (Huntsville) Clerk also announced her switch, too.
• CA-AG: At this point, it's all over but the shouting in the AG race, as Kamala Harris now leads Steve Cooley by 43,000 votes (with 500K votes still left to count). While the AP hasn't called it, LA Weekly has decided it's a done deal.
• Chicago mayor: Roland Burris has aparently thrown his well-traveled hat into the ring for the Chicago mayoral race, as he'll need a new job in a week or so. Supporters filed his candidate paperwork yesterday, the deadline for filing (although he has yet to officially say that he's running). Somehow, I can only see this helping Rahm Emanuel, by further splitting the African-American vote (already divided between Danny Davis and another ex-Senator, Carol Mosely Braun).
• Redistricting: There's been some sudden buzz about switching North Carolina to an independent redistricting commission (which, of course, has to do with the GOP seizing control of the state legislature). In what is not a surprise, though, the GOP has no interest in giving up its newfound power, saying that (despite a recent PPP poll showing wide support for such a commission) there isn't any time to move on the constitutional amendment that would create a commission (something that they generally supported up until, y'know, this month). Also on the redistricting front, check out the Fix's latest installment in its state-by-state series, focusing today on Indiana, where GOP control over the trifecta is likely to make things worse for IN-02's Joe Donnelly (just how much worse, we have yet to find out)... and, if they wanted to experiment with dummymanders, possibly IN-07's Andre Carson, too.
• Demographics: Here's some interesting demographic slice-and-dice from the Washington Post: Dems increased their vote share in big counties (500K+) from 49% in 1994 to 54% this year, but lost even further in smaller counties, from 43% in 1994 to 39% this year. The districts the GOP won were disproportionately older, whiter, and less educated. And on a related note, check out these maps and the interesting ways they represent population density around the U.S. Note any similarities between these maps and where Democratic votes are concentrated?
• AK-Sen: Nothing has really changed with the overall trajectory of the Alaska Senate race, but this is the first day that Lisa Murkowski has been able to claim a "lead" over Joe Miller (even though her victory has become increasingly clear each day). At the end of yesterday's counting, she had 92,164 votes to Miller's 90,448. 7,601 were subject to challenge but counted for her anyway (and, if Miller's lawsuit succeeds, could get reversed), but based on Murkowski's success at avoiding write-in challenges, is on track to win with or without those challenged ballots.
• FL-Sen: George LeMieux, whose year-and-a-half in the Senate is about to expire, is leaving with more of a whimper than a bang, if PPP is to be believed: his approvals are 11/28 (with 61% with no opinion), including 14/24 among Republicans. He's not looking like he'd have much impact in a challenge to Bill Nelson in 2012, which he's threatened (which isn't to say that Nelson is out of the woods, as a stronger Republican will no doubt come along). Among all the appointed Senators, he's still faring better than Roland Burris (18/57) but worse than Carte Goodwin (17/22) and Ted Kaufman (38/33). (Oh, and if you're still feeling like we lost out by not having Charlie Crist win the Senate race, guess again: Bob Dole! is reporting that Crist promised him he'd caucus with the GOP if he won the 3-way race. This comes after leaks in the waning days of the race that he'd caucus with the Democrats. Somehow, I expect any day now that Ralph Nader will reveal that Crist promised him that he'd caucus with the Green Party if he won the race.)
• IN-Sen: Richard Lugar made it official; he's running for re-election one more time. Lugar, who'll be 80 in 2012, probably has more to worry about in the Republican primary than he does in the general election, where aspiring Democrats would probably be more interested in the open gubernatorial seat.
• OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown will probably have a tougher re-election than his initial election, but it's unclear which Republican he'll face. The two who've gotten the most press are Mary Taylor, the current Auditor and newly-elected Lt. Governor, or Rep. Jim Jordan (a religious right fave from the state's rural west), but another possibility that the article broaches is long-time Rep. Steve LaTourette, one of the House's more moderate GOPers left. Either way, if Jordan or LaTourette were to try for the promotion, that would help the state GOP decide which of their seats to vaporize in the redistricting process (although LaTourette's, in the northeast corner and surrounded by Dem seats, would be much harder to work with). Ohio's losing two seats, though, and one more Dem seat is on the chopping block, especially since the biggest population losses have come in the northeast -- the likeliest outcome seems to be consolidation of districts that sets up either a Dennis Kucinich/Marcia Fudge or Dennis Kucinich/Betty Sutton mash-up.
• PA-Sen: The GOP feels like they have a shot against Bob Casey (who won by a near-overwhelming margin in 2006), given the state's turn toward the red this year. The big question, though, is who? If Tom Ridge didn't do it this year when it would have been a gimmee, he certainly isn't any likelier to do it in 2012. Hotline mentions a couple current suburban Reps., Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent, both of whom have tenaciously held down Dem-leaning districts that would be prime open seat battles if they left. Failing that, the bench looks pretty empty; they cite state Sen. Jake Corman as interested, as well as talk radio host and behind-the-scenes player Glen Meakem, who cited interest in running for 2010 but decided against it.
• MN-Gov: Minnesota's SoS (a Dem, Mark Ritchie) has laid out the timeline for the recount process. The race will be canvassed starting Nov. 23, and presuming a recount is necessary (which it will be unless something weird happens with the canvass, as Dem Mark Dayton leads Tom Emmer by less than one-half of a percent, triggering the automatic recount provision), the recounting will begin on Nov. 29.
• MD-01: Nothing like teabagger hypocrisy at work: freshly elected with a mandate to destroy the federal government, Andy Harris's first act in Washington was to demand all the free goodies from the federal government that he's entitled to, so long as other people are paying for them. At freshman orientation, Harris was observed expressing dismay that his gold-plated health care plan takes a month to kick in.
• NY-01, NY-25: Here are a couple more updates from overtime. In the 1st, Randy Altschuler's lead over Tim Bishop is currently 383, but there are more than 11,000 absentees to be counted starting today, and since they're all from one county (Suffolk), your guess is as good as mine how they break. In NY-25, Ann Marie Buerkle gained a tiny bit of ground as two GOP-leaning counties reported their absentees; she's now up 729. Dan Maffei's base, Dem-leaning Onondaga County, is about to start counting its 6,000 absentees. He should make up some ground, but he'll need to average 56% among the remaining absentee ballots, while he's only got 54% in Onondaga so far, though.
• DSCC: Dianne Feinstein told the press that Michael Bennet is, despite his previous demurrals, going to be the next DSCC chair. Does Michael Bennet know this? He's still saying no. The rest of the Dem leadership in the Senate (and the GOP, too) was elected without a hitch today, but the DSCC job still stands vacant.
• CA-AG: Things keep looking up for Kamala Harris in California, after a torrent of new votes yesterday from Alameda County (where the Dem stronghold of Oakland is). That batch broke 18,764 for Harris, and only 5,099 for Steve Cooley, which may be a decisive moment in the count.
• Chicago mayor: Rahm Emanuel is certainly looking like the early favorite in the Chicago mayoral race, courtesy of an Anzalone-Liszt poll commissioned by the Teamsters local (who haven't endorsed yet). Emanuel is at 36, with Danny Davis at 14, Carol Mosely Braun at 13, Gery Chico at 10, James Meeks at 7, and Miguel del Valle at 4. Now you may be noticing what I'm noticing, that there's significant splitting of the African-American vote here, and if you added Davis, Braun, and Meeks up into one super-candidate, they'd be in a dead heat with Emanuel. Well, don't forget that this election uses a runoff, so chances are good we'll see a head-to-head between Emanuel and one of the African-American challengers, and the poll finds Emanuel winning both those contests convincingly too: 54-33 versus Davis and 55-32 against Braun.
CO-Sen: Colorado Dems are concerned that if Andrew Romanoff topples Sen. Michael Bennet in the primary, he'll be badly hamstrung in the general by his refusal to take PAC money. This problem is compounded by the fact he's been a pretty crappy fundraiser in general. Romanoff also supposedly said he won't accept the DSCC's help - though luckily for us, independent expenditure rules mean that he can't tell the DS what to do. This all reminds of Russ Feingold demanding that outside groups not spend money on his 1998 re-election campaign, which he won by barely 3% in an otherwise very strong Democratic year.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is up with a quarter million dollar ad buy on behalf of Jane Norton, touting an endorsement from Jan Brewer (whose instant celebrity strikes me as something on the level of a reality TV star).
FL-Sen: So it turns out that Kendrick Meek, who was initially left off some notices, will participate in Barack Obama's August 18th Miami Beach fundraiser. But a Meek staffer tells Politico that he wants nothing less than a "prominent role" at the event and is "expecting the president to strongly reaffirm his endorsement." If you have to float these kinds of things via blind leaks to the beltway press... well... that doesn't exactly evince a great deal of confidence, does it?
Meanwhile, Tom Jensen confirms empirically something I've felt intuitively for a while (and mentioned on our panel at Netroots Nation): Charlie Crist is better off with Jeff Greene winning the Democratic primary rather than Kendrick Meek. In particular, black voters support Meek 39-33 over Crist, while they support Crist 61-17 over Greene.
IL-Sen: It's confirmed: A federal judge ruled that the candidates on the special election ballot to fill out the remaining months of Sen. Roland Burris's term will be the same as those on the regular election ballot - meaning Burris won't be able to seek "re-election" for those two extra months (something he actually had considered doing). Phew.
KS-Sen: A final SurveyUSA poll of the GOP primary shows Todd Tiahrt, who has trailed badly for the entire race, closing the gap with Jerry Moran. Moran still leads by a sizable 49-39 margin, but two weeks ago, it was 50-36, and Tiahrt has gained 10 points over the last two months. The problem is, time's up: The primary is tonight.
KY-Sen: The Club for Growth just endorsed Rand Paul, and undoubtedly it's because of College Libertarian Society bullshit like this which comes out of his mouth:
The Republican running to replace outgoing Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) in the coal-mining hub of Kentucky said recently that Washington has no business formulating mine safety rules.
"The bottom line is: I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules," Paul said at a recent campaign stop in response to questions about April's deadly mining explosion in West Virginia, according to a profile in Details magazine. "You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You'd try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don't, I'm thinking that no one will apply for those jobs."
"I know that doesn't sound... I want to be compassionate, and I'm sorry for what happened, but I wonder: Was it just an accident?"
CA-Gov: Fellow humans of Earth! I have traveled back through time from the year 3000! And I come to tell you that in our wondrous and awesome future, the spending record for candidate self-funding is still held by Meg Whitman! I cannot tell you how much she spent in total, lest I create a temporal paradox and cause all of you never to have been born, but I can inform you that she has already spent one hundred million of your Earth dollars! Also, everyone in the future eats Dippin' Dots!
Meanwhile, a more chronologically closer reporter informs us that Jerry Brown has $23 million on hand.
FL-Gov: The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Florida's public financing law, whereby candidates whose opponents spend more than $25 million (as Rick Scott has) get added matching funds from the state. Apparently this system "chills free speech" (whatever). Bill McCollum is obviously none too happy, and is weighing a possible appeal - or an attack on another part of the law which limits the size of donations he can accept.
GA-Gov: Landmark Communications, a Republican pollster which says it has no ties to either candidate, is out with the first poll of the GOP runoff. They find Karen Handel leading Nathan Deal by a 46-37 margin. Deal, meanwhile, is out with a new ad, and props to the AJC's Jim Galloway for getting the Deal campaign to cough up that the buy is for 850 gross ratings points in the Atlanta area. One rating point is equal to one percent of a potential audience, but because the same viewer might see the same ad more than once, you need a lot more than 100 GRPs to reach your full target audience. As things go, 850 is a pretty decent-sized buy, especially in an expensive market like Atlanta.
CA-47: This really doesn't seem wise: Rep. Loretta Sanchez, locked in a competitive race with Assemblyman Van Tran, filed paperwork for state bid in 2014. She really couldn't have waited until after November? Now-Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-04) did something similar last cycle, and it certainly did not seem to help him (he barely eked out a win in a decidedly red district). Speaking of Tran, by the way, here's an interesting item from late last week: He secured the backing of the grifters running the Tea Party Express - not exactly a popular gang, I'm sure, in this 60% Obama district.
FL-08: You know how they say that if you wind up in prison, you should act all crazy on your first day so that the other inmates know better than to mess with you? Well, Alan Grayson's tack seems to have been to act crazy so as to get his opponents to act even crazier and thus blow themselves up in the process. Republican state Rep. Kurt Kelly, reacting to Grayson's absence during a vote on an Afghanistan war funding bill, spazzed: "He put our soldiers, our men and women in the military, in harm's way and, in fact, maybe he wants them to die." Said a Grayson spokesperson in response: "Kurt Kelly thinks the stupider he sounds, the more Republican votes he'll get." Heh.
HI-01: GOP Rep. Charles Djou is out with an internal poll from the Tarrance Group showing him up 50-42 over Colleen Hanabusa. Djou has about $380K on hand to Hanabusa's $220K. I wonder if Hanabusa will release her own internal.
ID-01: I swear, some days it really feels like Bill Sali actually is running again. This time, apprentice fuckup Raul Labrador moved his campaign headquarters outside of the 1st Congressional District - a pretty remarkable feat given that Idaho has only two CDs. If this sounds extremely familiar, that's because it is: Sali himself did the exact same thing, situating his campaign office in ID-02 as well. Let's hope history repeats in November, too.
IL-10: Dem Dan Seals has donated $5,000 he received from ethically embattled Rep. Maxine Waters to charity - even though she gave that money to him last cycle. I wonder if other candidates will follow suit, ala Rangel.
NY-10: Even though he's already spent an absurd $1.1 million and held 2008 challenger Kevin Powell to just 32% in the primary, Rep. Ed Towns is taking no chances in his rematch and is attempting to get Powell kicked off the ballot. However, Powell (who has raised very little and has just $30K on hand) collected 8,000 signatures, far more than the 1,250 he needed. So unless there are massive flaws (or fraud), this is going to be difficult for Towns.
WI-08: Organic farmer, Door County supervisor, and teabagger Marc Savard, who had raised very little, dropped out and endorsed roofing contractor Reid Ribble in the GOP primary. Ribble, who leads the fundraising field (but only has about $180K on hand), still faces former state Rep. Terri McCormick and current state Rep. Roger Roth. (And here's a rather disturbing item we missed: While we noted retired radiologist Marc Trager's departure from the race in mid-June, we were previously unaware that he committed suicide just a couple of weeks later.)
DCCC: Obama alert! The POTUS will do a fundraiser for the D-Trip on August 16 at the Los Angeles home of "ER" and "West Wing" executive produce John Wells. Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen are also expected to attend.
Alexi Giannoulias (D): 42
Mark Kirk (R): 34
Cheryle Jackson (D): 36
Mark Kirk (R): 38
David Hoffman (D): 36
Mark Kirk (R): 37
Surprisingly nice numbers from PPP on the Senate general election, with Dem state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias putting up a sizable lead against Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, while Kirk barely beats the two other little-known Dems. Giannoulias has favorables of 31/19 (suggesting he's been weathering the Broadway Bank brouhaha all right, although that may have gotten more amped up in the days since this sample was completed, reaching a climax with the consent order the Giannoulias family-owned bank signed with the FDIC on Tuesday) while Kirk is at 27/22. Jackson and Hoffman's main problem, vis-a vis Kirk, seems to be their lower profiles, as their favorables are 16/17 and 16/11 respectively. One other amusing little tidbit: it may be good that Roland Burris isn't attempting to stand for election; his approval is 14/60, the worst PPP has ever seen for a sitting Senator. (See also conspiracy's diary.)
Pat Quinn (D-inc): 35
Jim Ryan (R): 42
Pat Quinn (D-inc): 36
Andy McKenna (R): 42
Dan Hynes (D): 40
Jim Ryan (R): 35
Dan Hynes (D): 38
Andy McKenna (R): 36
It looks like Pat Quinn may have been fatally wounded by a combination of getting hammered by ads from both Democratic primary challenger Dan Hynes and potential Republican opponent Andy McKenna -- as well as the general anti-incumbent tide these days -- as his approvals have sunk to a dire 25/55. Quinn is also seen losing in November to both McKenna and Republican former AG Jim Ryan, while Hynes (the state's Comptroller) squeaks by both of them, suggesting the problem here is Quinn more so than the Democratic brand. However, it's looking likelier and likelier that Quinn doesn't even make it out of the Democratic primary, as seen not only in PPP's previously reported primary numbers but also new primary numbers from Rasmussen (1/25, likely voters):
Pat Quinn (D-inc): 37
Dan Hynes (D): 43
Some other: 6
Not sure: 14
I'd initially had my doubts about why Hynes would want to challenge a sitting Governor when there was an open Senate seat for the taking, but apparently he knew what he was doing -- he knew what Quinn's weaknesses were, how to hit them, and is peaking at the right time. I gotta wonder if Lisa Madigan is second-guessing herself these days for not wanting to take on Quinn when she had the chance.
UPDATE: Rasmussen also just came out with Democratic Senate primary numbers from the same sample, showing both of Giannoulias's challengers topping the 20-percent mark.
Alexi Giannoulias (D): 31
David Hoffman (D): 23
Cheryle Jackson (D): 23
Some other: 9
Not sure: 24
• FL-Sen: As the angling for a one-and-a-half-year fill-in for Mel Martinez's Senate seat continues, there's already been one prominent "no thanks," from Jeb Bush (not that anyone would expect Charlie Crist to pick him, as there's been a lot of Crist/Bush friction and Crist wouldn't want to risk having a placeholder overshadow him). Meanwhile, a likelier pick, 70-year-old former Republican Rep. Clay Shaw (a Gold Coast moderate who served in the House from 1980 to his 2006 defeat) shot his hand up and said "pick me pick me!"
• IL-Sen: Chicago Urban League president (and former Rod Blagojevich spokeperson) Cheryle Jackson made her entry into the Democratic senatorial primary field official yesterday. However, the Illinois SEIU chapter, one of the state's major unions, came out with an Alexi Giannoulias endorsement today, which, given their resources, moves him closer to having a lock on the nod. I'm wondering if they're announcing in response to Jackson... or to Roland Burris, who keeps popping his head back up.
• KS-Sen: Not much change in the GOP Senate primary in Kansas since we last looked. SurveyUSA finds that Rep. Jerry Moran has a 38-32 lead over Rep. Todd Tiahrt, propelled along by a 78-13 edge in the state's western portion. Moran led by 2 in June and 4 in April.
• NY-Sen-B, NY-16: It didn't register much, at a time when all speculation focused on Rep. Carolyn Maloney, but several months ago Rep. Jose Serrano said he would consider a primary run against Kirsten Gillibrand. Yesterday he made clear that he wouldn't get in the race (although he still didn't sound very enthused about Gillibrand), which means that none of her former House colleagues are left planning a primary challenge.
• MN-Gov: Add one more second-tier Republican to the huge pile of prospects for the open Minnesota governor's race: state Senator Mike Jungbauer, a religious rightist from exurban Anoka County, formally kicked off his campaign. He does already have one important endorsement in his corner; he was "called by God" to run.
• NJ-Gov: Today's Quinnipiac poll has a slightly better showing for Jon Corzine, in line with last week's R2K poll, though it's far from time to start talking "comeback." He cuts the lead to 9 points, 51-42, in a two-way poll of likely voters, down from 53-41 in July. More importantly, Corzine trails Chris Christie 46-40 in a three-way that includes independent Chris Daggett (who's up to 7%). Campaign Diaries observes that the centrist Daggett (a former EPA regional administrator) is probably absorbing a lot of protest votes, keeping Democrats and moderate indies who hate Corzine from going over to Christie. If Corzine wins, he'll owe Daggett a big ol' "thank you."
• NY-Gov The NYT reports on growing discomfort by various downballot electeds on the prospect of having David Paterson at the top of the ticket. Both Reps. Michael McMahon and Dan Maffei worry about the effect of Paterson's low approvals spilling over into their own races. Not to worry: although it's buried deep in the story, the Times says that powerful local Dems are pushing Paterson to stand down and make way for Andrew Cuomo -- and that local bigwigs have been tugging at White House sleeves, hoping they'll find a nice appointed position for Paterson soon.
• CA-10: The John Garamendi camp released an internal poll from Tulchin Research giving Garamendi a sizable edge in the upcoming special election: Garamendi is at 31, Mark DeSaulnier is at 21, Joan Buchanan is at 17, Anthony Woods is at 9, and Republican David Harmer is at 5. There's a wrinkle with this poll, though (one that didn't elude the DeSaulnier campaign): it's a poll only of Democratic and decline-to-state voters, but the primary election is an all-party primary with one pool of votes (although under California law, the top Democrat and Republican will advance, not simply the top 2). In response to our inquiry, the Tulchin crew said that polling Republicans as well just wasn't cost-effective, especially since there are six Republicans running and therefore there isn't likely to be much party-line crossing.
In other CA-10 news, Garamendi got another bit of good news: he got the endorsement of both Bill Clinton and Al Gore (he was a deputy Secretary of Interior for part of the Clinton administration). However, a SurveyUSA that only tested favorables for the CA-10 candidates didn't have good news for much of anyone: Garamendi is at 30/34, DeSaulnier is at 22/23, and Buchanan is at 16/25. Only up-and-comer Woods is in positive (if generally unknown) territory, at 14/13.
• CT-04: With presumptive GOP nominee state Senate minority leader John McKinney staying out, not one but two other GOPers got in the race against Democratic freshman Rep. Jim Himes. One was the party's likely #2 choice, state Senator Dan Debicella; the other is Rob Merkle, a political novice but the wealthy owner of a financial services recruitment firm.
• PA-06: Maybe journalist Doug Pike won't have the Dem primary to himself after all, now that Rep. Jim Gerlach is committed to the gubernatorial race. Bob Roggio, the little-known businessman who almost beat Gerlach in 2008, said he hasn't "ruled it out." Also, while there doesn't seem to be anything tangible, there are indications that state Sen. Andy Dinniman, the Dems' highest-profile elected official in the pivotal Chester County portion of the district, is "increasingly rumored to be seriously considering" the race.
• CT-Sen: Moneybomb! Economist Peter Schiff, favorite of the Paulist set, is considering running in the Connecticut Senate race in 2010, and has already raised $800,000 toward his bid. More than $300,000 came from 4,800 online donations over the weekend as part of a coordinated money bomb.
• IL-Sen: Like the party guest who just won't get the message it's time to go home, Roland Burris is suggesting that he might still "change his mind" about his decision not to run for a full term in the Senate. Maybe he sees more of an opening with the increasing likelihood that Chris Kennedy won't run? (Seems like the opposite would be true, though -- he'd need multiple top-tier candidates to split the vote in order to sneak through.)
• NV-Sen: Republicans continue to search for a top-tier challenger to Harry Reid, but they have at least a warm body willing to go up against him: Danny Tarkanian, never before elected but best known for losing the 2006 Secretary of State race. He also lost a state Senate race to Mike Schneider, although he did win a libel suit against Schneider over claims made during the campaign. (If his name sounds vaguely familiar, he's the son of The Shark, towel-biting former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian.)
• TX-Sen, TX-06: Smoky Joe Barton, who's been a Republican Representative in the Dallas suburbs since 1985, is reportedly interested in running for the Senate seat to be vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Although he's a long-time power in the House, as one of 32 representatives he may not have the statewide name rec to go up against, for instance, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst -- but it's a freebie, as he won't have to give up his seat to run in the special election.
• AL-Gov, AL-02: I hadn't heard that Rep. Bobby Bright had considered running for Governor -- after all, he just got to the House -- and it sounds like he never really did, other than publicly saying "never say never." But today his office reaffirmed that he's running for re-election in the 2nd.
• MN-Gov, MN-01: Minnesota's Republican Lt. Governor, Carol Molnau, is contemplating her place on the totem pole, with an open governor's seat in 2010 but every heavy-hitter in the state already running for it. She won't rule out the governor's race, but is also considering running in the 1st against Rep. Tim Walz, where she'd presumably have the primary to herself but would be running uphill against Walz, who had one of the most resounding re-elections of anyone from the Class of 06. (H/t MinnesotaMike.)
• SC-Gov: Week from hell for Mark Sanford: first, his wife moves out, then it comes out that Mr. Fiscal Conservative has been using the state plane for personal trips, in violation of state rules, including for a birthday party and the kids' sporting events. Most notable: a trip between Myrtle Beach and Columbia just to get his hair cut, at a cost of $1,265.
• NY-23: It's August 10, and that means candidate interviewing day for the Democratic party chairs in the 23rd. By the end of the day, we may know who the candidate will be. There's still no timetable on the special election, though; it may take a while for the nomination of Rep. John McHugh to be Secretary of the Army to go all the way through, as both Kansas Senators have put a hold on him in a tangentially-related effort to prevent Guantanamo detainees from being transferred to the military brig at Fort Leavenworth.
• PA-10: Democratic Rep. Chris Carney finally has an announced opponent, Iraq vet and teabagger Christopher Bain. Considering that it's a red district, this seat seems to have been a low recruitment priority for the GOP.
• Census: Elected officials in the Gulf Coast states are worried about how the Census Bureau will count people who are still displaced by Hurricane Katrina (general Census policy is to count people based on wherever they're residing on Apr. 1). This is a particular problem in New Orleans, which is hurting for funds but is down to a population of 311,000 (from 484,000 before the storm), and where a lower count means less funding; the city is hiring a full-time employee just to focus on local census issues.
• Polltopia: Our friends at PPP are running another "Where should we poll?" poll. This week, you can vote for Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania. Also, interesting food for thought from Jay Leve, head of SurveyUSA, as he contemplates the future of polling, in a world where the old paradigm (where people are sitting around the house ready to answer their landline and take the time to respond to a pollster) is about to vanish.
Sneed has learned U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has decided NOT to seek election to the seat he fought the government to keep.
Sen. Burris is planning to announce his decision Friday by issuing a statement to the press. But he's reportedly not planning to field any questions from the press.
The decision by Burris was based on his inability to raise campaign funds; campaign disclosures with the Federal Election Commission are expected to be filed next week...and he has reportedly only raised approximately $20,000
Presumably Burris is also seeking an early exit in order to spend more time with his mausoleum.