• ND-Sen: North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk will announce his formal entry into the Senate race to replace Kent Conrad tomorrow. Kalk, a Republican, raised a really lame $32K in Q1.
• NM-Sen, NM-03: Facing an already-crowded primary field and the prospect of giving up a safe House seat, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said yesterday that he won't seek the Democratic nod to replace Jeff Bingaman in the Senate.
• OH-Sen: I think we didn't spot this mid-April poll from GOP pollster Wenzel Strategies until now... but definitely take it with something stronger than mere salt. For one thing, they've regularly done polls for WorldNetDaily (I mean, seriously?), and for another, they released a seriously weird-ass poll last cycle that purported to show Rep. Norm Dicks losing to a perennial candidate. (Dicks won by 16.)
But even if you didn't know all that, you'd have to laugh at their absurd spin: They call Sherrod Brown's favorables "dangerous" and his re-elects "disastrous"... even though his head-to-head margin is 49-36 over Ken Blackwell, 50-36 against Mary Taylor, and 48-33 paired with Josh Mandel. In a Republican poll! Anyhow, if you want to chase this one all the way down the rabbit hole, Wenzel also had a component testing the anti-union legislation called SB5, which will very likely appear on the ballot this fall (people want it repealed by a 51-38 spread).
• WI-Gov: Another recall poll from another not-especially-prominent pollster. Republican polling firm Etheridge & Associates (based out of Tennessee) found 44% in favor of recalling Walker and 51% opposed. They also put Walker head-to-head with a real candidate (which is what would happen in a recall election) and found him tied with Russ Feingold at 48 apiece.
• ND-AL: This is a very good report from Kristen Daum, who writes the "Flickertales" blog for the Fargo-Moorhead Forum. She nails freshman GOP Rep. Rick Berg on two counts: First, last year Berg ran heavily on the theme that Earl Pomeroy was mostly relying on out-of-state money while he, Berg, was raking it in from North Dakotans. Well, with the Q1 reports in, Daum observes that about 80% of Berg's campaign cash is now coming from interests outside of ND, including quite a bit from DC. Better still, Berg's staff claimed he hasn't held any fundraisers or solicited contributions... but the Sunlight Foundation's "Party Time" website scrounged up a copy of an invite to high-dollar event held on Berg's behalf by Eric Cantor and a couple of PACs. Whoops!
• NY-13: I'm not even going to summarize what's at the link, except to say it's a truly explosive story about GOP freshman Mike Grimm. Just click and read it.
• WI-01: Businessman Rob Zerban is already running against Rep. Paul Ryan, but The Fix suggests another possible Democratic name: state Sen. Chris Larson.
• Americans United: That Americans United for Change ad buy against four Republicans we mentioned yesterday apparent totals $35K. That's at least in the ballpark of real money, and I'm very glad to see groups like AUFC and House Majority PAC start doing these thousand-papercuts sort of campaigns early.
• Polling & Demographics: Ben Smith has an interesting little exchange between a couple of pollsters with experience in working with the Latino community. One, André Pineda (who has polled for Obama, among others), says he thinks that pollsters who gather Hispanic samples by relying on surnames miss a lot of Hispanics who don't have such names, typically because their families have lived in the US longer. These voters, says Pineda, lean more to the right than newer immigrants. But Matt Barreto of the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race says that Pineda's estimates are "way off base." Barreto says only 5-10% of Hispanics do not have Hispanic surnames, whereas Pineda's memo suggests that the number is far higher.
• Town Halls: Want to see if your member of Congress is having a town hall during this recess so that you can go and give them what for? MoveOn has a tool that lets you plug in your ZIP code and find town halls near you.
• Voter Suppression: Unsurprisingly, the Florida legislature is moving forward with a big election law bill that's principally designed to suppress the Democratic vote, as always in the name of preventing VOTER FRAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111. Changes include shortening the early voting period, adding onerous restrictions on third-party groups which register voters, and preventing voters from changing their addresses at the poll (something which Florida has allowed for forty years). Republicans are also moving forward with bills that would eliminate payroll deductions for union dues, force unions to get each member's permission before spending money on elections, and make it harder for trial lawyers to bring medical malpractice cases. In short, as one Democratic lawmaker put it, it's the entire GOP wish list.
• Florida: This is sorta interesting. One Florida lawmaker on the legislature's redistricting committee is telling his fellow legislators not to talk to him about redistricting - at all. The new "Fair Districts" law says that districts can't be drawn to favor or disfavor incumbents, so mapmakers are concerned that if their colleagues start telling them about how they'd like to see the lines crafted, that could later be used as evidence in court.
• Virginia: And so it goes: A week after saying he wouldn't change a thing about his party's map, Dem Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw now says of Gov. Bob McDonnell: "We are talking to him. We are trying to meet all of his concerns." I can't see how this is going to end well for Democrats, who now seem to face a choice between a crappy gerrymander in the Senate and a court-drawn map... and I guess would prefer the former, based on Saslaw's hints. Sigh.
Meanwhile, Republicans are apparently pretty pissed at McDonnell for vetoing their plans, supposedly with almost no warning, but there's a lot that doesn't add up here. For one, the article says that the legislature doesn't have enough votes to over-ride McDonnell's veto, but that's simply not true. If House Republicans really wanted their map badly enough, they could have prevailed on their counterparts in the Senate to vote for the package deal, ensuring it was safe from McDonnell's veto pen.
For the governor's part, he's also full of shit. His spokesman said that he would have preferred the House and Senate maps had been sent to the governor in separate bills, but jeez, this is classic "born yesterday" crap. There's no way the Senate would have given away its one piece of leverage like that. Still, it does sound like the Republican anger at McDonnell is quite real (and not just limited to redistricting), which means a serious derail is not impossible. So maybe there's still a way for Saslaw to snatch something other than defeat from the jaws of... defeat.
• Utah: The state will apparently make redistricting software available to citizens on its website, but the linked article isn't very clear where that will happen. Any ideas?
You might be sitting there thinking "Hey, didn't I see these numbers before?" and, if so, you're right... PPP polled Wisconsin's 2012 Senate race in December when the specter of a Herb Kohl retirement seemed to be looming larger than now, and their new round of polling (obviously more focused on the standoff over collective bargaining rights and the prospect of recalling Scott Walker) finds very little has changed in that race amidst the rest of the state's upheaval.
The most notable changes are that they've swapped in ex-Rep. (and 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary loser) Mark Neumann in place of Tommy Thompson, only to find he does no better than the other options... and they note a big drop in Paul Ryan's favorables, in the period since his SOTU response (the place where Republican rising stars go to die), down to 36/35 from a previous 38/30. Herb Kohl's approval is 50/30, while newbie Ron Johnson's approval (32/28) is worse than the favorables of the guy he just beat, Russ Feingold (51/39). What a difference a little presidential-year-electorate makes!
• IN-Sen: Richard Lugar and local leaders in the tea party movement had a sitdown at an Indianapolis hotel last month. I'm not sure if it was actually intended by Lugar to try to deter a GOP primary challenge, but it seemed to have none of the desired effect if so; the net result seemed to have been cordial but with a sense of "game on," with the main question left being who the challenger will be.
• WI-Sen: With this his first day out of the Senate, Russ Feingold will be, instead of heading for the K Street gravy train, taking a position at Marquette University's law school. When asked about his 2012 plans in the event of a Herb Kohl retirement, Feingold simply said that he hopes Kohl runs again and would support him if so.
• IN-Gov: Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel looks poised to become the first entrant in the Indiana gubernatorial race. He's announced that he won't seek another term as mayor of Evansville (which would require running for re-election this year), and says that he'll take a "good, hard look at" the governor's race and make a decision sooner rather than later." Meanwhile, after the Beltway collectively decided yesterday that Mike Pence was going to run for Gov. on the GOP side, there's yet more conflicting evidence today, as seen in his plans to appear with other GOP presidential hopefuls at a conference in Georgia, just across the border from pivotal South Carolina.
• MA-Gov: Deval Patrick is vowing today that he'll serve out his full second term (something that a Massachusetts governor hasn't done in decades, not since Mike Dukakis), but won't seek a third term in 2014. That would seem to (at least for now) put the kibosh on any speculation that he might look to challenge Scott Brown in 2012.
• MN-06: The news that produced spit-takes all across America this morning: Michele Bachmann is floating her name for president in 2012. Obviously a failed vanity presidential bid is no deterrent to a return engagement in the House if you hit the ejector seat early enough (just ask still-Rep. Ron Paul), but this bit of laughable presidential weirdness could have some major downballot implications if it truly leads to an open seat (especially if Tarryl Clark is indeed looking to run again).
• WI-07: It looks like we might already have a serious contender in the on-deck circle in the 7th, which at D+3 is one of the bluest districts that the GOP picked up thanks to David Obey's retirement. Former state Sen. Kevin Shibilski was one of the short-list of candidates to run in Obey's stead (state Sen. Julie Lassa eventually became the consensus pick), and is now saying he's seriously interested in a 2012 run. Shibilski owns two resorts and apparently has serious self-funding capacity. Shibilski still sounds a little wary, though, preferring to wait and see whether new Rep. Sean Duffy stays a boilerplate Republican or turns into the sort of moderate who's been able, in the past, to hold down a rural Wisconsin seat (a la Steve Gunderson, or Mel Laird, if you want to go way back to Obey's predecessor). (H/t alphaaqua.)
• IA-St. Sen.: The year's barely started and the Dems have already lost their first special election! I don't think anybody had particularly high hopes for last night's fight, though: it was a GOP-leaning seat in Iowa's rural southwestern corner, held to replace Kim Reynolds, who just became Iowa's Lt. Governor. Montgomery County auditor Joni Ernst held the seat for the GOP, beating Dem nominee Ruth Smith, with 67% of the vote. The Dems still control the state Senate 26-23, with one more formerly-GOP-held special election pending.
• NV-St. Sen.: This is big news by Nevada standards: state Sen. Bill Raggio, the state GOP senate leader for decades but deposed recently from his perch in a tea party-ish palace coup (in the wake of his endorsement of Harry Reid), has announced that he's resigning later this month rather than completing his term. This may have Sharron Angle's antennae twitching, as you might remember she tried and failed to primary out Raggio in his Reno-area seat in 2008, and she might be interested in trying that again, adding the state Sen. to the list of her myriad other possibilities like another NV-Sen run or an NV-02 run if Dean Heller vacates (although it's worth noting this won't lead to a fast special election, as Nevada, like several other western states, fills legislative vacancies temporarily via appointment).
• NY-St. Sen.: This seems like strange posturing that will probably vaporize once the Democrats are back in the majority in the state Senate, but four of New York's Senate Democrats just broke off from the Dem caucus and formed their own little club, the Independent Democrat Caucus (meaning the breakdown is either 32-30 or 32-26-4, depending on how you want to view it). Interestingly, it's not the usual most-uncooperative Dems (Ruben Diaz, anyone?), but a clutch of reform-minded Dems (led by the barely-re-elected David Valesky, and also including the newly-elected David Carlucci) who apparently didn't want to get boxed into voting for John Sampson as Dem leader.
• PA-St. Sen.: The special election to replace long-time Democratic state Sen. Michael O'Pake in the light-blue SD-11 has been set for March 15. As I've mentioned before, this could turn into an interesting bellwether on where Pennsylvania's southeastern suburbs are headed.
• Votes: Today's attention-getting vote was the number of defections against Nancy Pelosi in the Speaker vote: 19 Democrats voted for someone else (or present). Heath Shuler led the way with 11, while other votes included Steny Hoyer, John Lewis, and even neighbors Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa voting for each other.
• Redistricting: Two news stories concern the independent commissions that will be in charge of redistricting in two states gaining seats, Arizona and Washington. In Arizona, they're already litigating the issue of who even gets on the commission in the first place; new state Sen. president and all-around jackass Russell Pearce is suing on the basis that three of the people nominated to serve are technically ineligible. (Interestingly, two of the three are Republicans, although maybe the problem is they weren't hardliners enough for Pearce's tastes.) Meanwhile, in Washington, Skeletor has re-emerged from a decade of suspended animation: evil genius and ex-Sen. Slade Gorton will be one of the two designated Republicans on the commission. Luckily, the lead Dem going up against Gorton will be Tim Ceis, the former Seattle deputy mayor who's well-known for his own elbow-throwing abilities.
Finally, the Fix has its latest installment in its state-by-state redistricting look, and I agree with both their conclusions about Ohio: that, mostly because of geography, Betty Sutton is the likeliest Dem to get squeezed rather than Dennis Kucinich (since she faces pressure from other Dems from the north, west, and east), and that, because of depopulation in the state's Appalachian southeast and the fact that they're both obscure freshmen, Bob Gibbs and Bill Johnson are the GOPers likeliest to get pitted against each other for the state's other lost seat.
• AK-Sen: Last Friday, Joe Miller finally pulled the plug on continued legal challenges to Lisa Murkowski's win in the 2010 election, despite earlier comments that standing down was not an option. (Apparently it actually was an option if no one could be found willing to foot the legal bill for a trip to the 9th Circuit.) So now the 2010 election really, truly is over. And in case Miller was going to get any bright ideas about what do to in 2012, Rep. Don Young (no stranger to primary challenges from the right, having barely survived a CfG-led purge in the 2008 primary) is already firing some shots over Miller's bow with his rusty old harpoon gun.
• FL-Sen: Depending on who you listen to, George LeMiuex either is or isn't about to launch a Senate bid. Roll Call's Steve Peoples says no, pointing to not only LeMieux's weak poll numbers and ambivalent-sounding statements but also his new cushy job as chair of the board of directors of one of the state's largest law firms (a decidedly different role from being there just as a part-time rainmaker/show pony). Other observers have noticed he's been sounding out potential consultants for a run, though, including GOP ad impresario Fred Davis, fresh off such smashing successes as Christine O'Donnell's "I am not a witch" ad and the anti-Patty Murray tennis shoe ad. Meanwhile, Rep. Cornelius McGillicuddy IV (or Connie Mack, as he'd prefer you call him) is gearing up for a run, if a recent fundraising letter citing a run against Bill Nelson sent around by Mack (and Jeb Bush) ally Jorge Arrizurieta is any indication.
• ME-Sen: Affordable-housing developer Rosa Scarcelli got some good buzz during her run in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last year, and now she's talking a bit about a Democratic run for the Senate in 2012. However, she seems to be reserving judgment, waiting to see whether the promised teabagging against Olympia Snowe ever happens, saying any decision would depend greatly on that.
• OH-Sen: In what's certainly not a surprise, Mike DeWine (perhaps compelled to say something after faring pretty well in one of PPP's recent let's-test-everyone Senate polls) says he won't consider running for his old Senate seat in 2012, having just successfully hit the 'reset' button his career with an election to the state AG slot. Newly-elected Lt. Governor Mary Taylor seems to be the top GOP option here, but for now she's simply saying it's too early, but isn't ruling out the possibility (and also saying that no one from the national party has contacted her about it, which stretches the boundaries of credulity).
• PA-Sen: Remember back in the spring of 2010, when the DC press corps, for a couple slow news days there, actually willingly ran with the idea that the allegation that a political job offer was sorta-kinda relayed from the Obama administration to Joe Sestak was the Watergate-esque moment that was going to bring the entire Obama edifice down? Um, yeah... now that it's not an electoral talking point and now that Darrell Issa's is actually in charge of Oversight, he's admitting that that isn't a line of inquiry that he's going to pursue, seeing as how, in his own words, Republicans "did the same thing." (Sighing loudly and walking away shaking head.)
• RI-Sen: Keep an eye on outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri, who while not saying anything tangible about a Senate run, said a number of candidate-ish things in a recent interview, including "I'm not going away" and "I have views, national as well, so I intend to be visible."
• UT-Sen: Here's an interesting take on the redistricting issues surrounding Utah's new fourth House seat: one possible outcome would be the Republicans packing all the state's Dems into one seat in order to avoid weakening any of the other three. And while superficially that might seem to benefit Rep. Jim Matheson, that could actually hurt him by making the district too liberal for Matheson (one of the remaining high-profile Blue Dogs) to win a primary (the article cites former SLC mayor Rocky Anderson as a potential rival). The article also suggests that could instead push Matheson into a Senate run, especially if it's against the more polarizing Jason Chaffetz instead of Orrin Hatch (although I'd think a gubernatorial run might be likelier, seeing as how that's up in 2012 again and Utah is one of those red states that's more forgiving of Dems at the state level than for federal office).
• IN-Gov: Rumors are bubbling up that Democratic Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel is making moves to be the first to declare his candidacy for the 2012 gubernatorial race, mindful of the advantages that accrue to early declarers.
• MS-Gov: Today Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is finally making official his candidacy for the 2011 Mississippi gubernatorial election, an open seat as his boss hogg Haley Barbour is termed-out. While Bryant's stiffest competition will probably occur in the GOP primary (where possible opponents include the delightfully-named SoS, Delbert Hosemann), businessman and Democratic candidate Bill Luckett also appears to be making it official today.
• WV-Gov: I'm wondering if maybe Shelly Moore Capito has let people know that she's not running for Governor? It seems like the floodgates have suddenly opened for lesser GOPers to declare their interest in the race, starting with ex-SoS Betty Ireland last week, but now the state's GOP party chair, Mike Stuart, is also publicly talking himself up for the role. Of course, no one has any idea yet whether that special election will happen in 2011 or 2012.
• AZ-08: Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Gabrielle Giffords in November, is rumored to be moving toward a rematch. His odds would seem to be slimmer in a rematch, as Latinos and youth voters are likelier to show up in a presidential year, but he may figure he has an ace in the hole, in the form of the likely presence of a Kelly ally, Christopher Gleason, on Arizona's ostensibly independent redistricting commission, who might be able to tinker with the boundaries in a more GOP-friendly direction.
• NV-04: Cue the hordes of screaming fans, weeping with joy and fainting from sheer ecstasy: Rory Reid, fresh off his domination in the Nevada gubernatorial race, is the subject of speculation that he might be bringing his own special brand of dynamism and excitement to the open House seat that will be created in the Las Vegas suburbs. (For his part, Reid won't confirm or deny it yet.)
• Chicago mayor: It looks like the African-American community may actually be coalescing around a single non-Rahm candidate in the mayoral race, with the dropout of Rep. Danny Davis from the race. He (along with state Sen. James Meeks, who also dropped out several weeks ago) lent his support to ex-Sen. Carol Mosely Braun, the last one standing. (Note that this is the second time Davis has tried to run for municipal office and then done a U-turn back to his House seat in the last year.) Don't start writing the saga of an Emanuel/Braun runoff just yet, though, as ex-schools chief Gerry Chico is a major wild card here, and now it looks like he has the money to back that up: he reports he raised $2.5 million for the race last quarter, a number that would be boffo even in many Senate races.
• History: The Univ. of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog occasionally comes up with real historical gems like this one, using the possibility of a Russ Feingold run for Herb Kohl's seat as a springboard for looking at Senators throughout history who've leapt from one state's seat to the other. Only two current Senators (Kent Conrad and Frank Lautenberg) meet that criteria, although some other famous names have done so (including Hubert Humphrey and Barry Goldwater). However, neither Conrad nor Lautenberg did so because of a loss (the most recent example of that would be Washington's Slade Gorton, though UMN finds nine other historical examples).
• Photos: This is one of those precious photos that's worth a thousand words, one that Eric Cantor probably already wishes he'd re-thought. (H/t to Brian Valco for this and several other of today's links.)
Russ Feingold (D): 50
Paul Ryan (R): 43
Russ Feingold (D): 49
Tommy Thompson (R): 40
Oh, the difference a likely voter screen makes. PPP tests the Wisconsin Senate race, and finds Herb Kohl leading three of the more prominent Wisconsin GOPers: Attorney General JB Van Hollen, 1st District Congressman Paul Ryan, and former Governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson by anywhere from 6 to 13 points. Kohl is reasonably well liked (though not nearly at Klobuchar-esque levels) at 50/43.
Of course, Kohl is not the youngest guy around, and should he retire and Russ Feingold be interested in staging a comeback, Feingold would be in rather good shape, leading the three GOP contenders from 7 to 11 points. Interestingly, Feingold's favorables, at 50/43, are actually better than Ron Johnson's, who is barely above water at 42/39. Oh, the difference a likely voter screen makes.
This poll gives us some reason to be optimistic, but let's not forget that a year out from November 2010 - before Ron Johnson was on anyone's radar - Feingold was leading Thompson by 9 and in commanding position against all others. One hopes 2012 will be different!
• AK-Sen: To quote Troy McClure, "here's an appealing fellow... in fact, they're a-peeling him off the sidewalk." Yes, Joe Miller didn't even wait until today to make his decision about whether or not to appeal to Alaska's Supreme Court; he already pulled the trigger on his appeal (despite the fact that everyone but him knows that he's, at this point, roadkill). Arguments are set for Friday, so (since he can't introduce new evidence, which the trial judge found sorely lacking, at the appellate level) this should get resolved pretty quickly.
• CT-Sen: Linda McMahon is sounding very much like she's ready to run again in 2012 against Joe Lieberman and a Dem to be named (maybe she found another $40 million under the couch cushions). She has a meeting planned with the NRSC's John Cornyn, presumably to discuss her next move. Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman (who lost control of his own vanity party, the CfL) is seeming likelier to run again, thanks to encouragement from both sides of the aisle, and he may even have a useful vehicle to do it with: the new "No Labels" party-type thing courtesy of Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile, there's more follow-up from yesterday that, yes, Rep. Joe Courtney is considering a run for the Dem nomination (which could set up a primary against fellow Rep. Chris Murphy); he says he's "looking at it" and, if he runs, will announce soon. That pretty much leaves Rosa DeLauro as the lone Dem House member in the state who hasn't said yes or no, and today, as you'd expect, she said a loud "no."
• ME-Sen: Roll Call seems to have read the same article as everybody else yesterday that had that baffling interview with Andrew Ian Dodge -- the tea party impresario who claims to be in contact with a killer-app candidate who will unite the teabaggers and defeat Olympia Snowe -- and just flat-out concluded that Dodge is the mystery candidate himself (meaning that he's spent the last few months talking to himself?). As added evidence, Dodge doesn't dispute a local blog's reports that he plans to run.
• MI-Sen: Despite his strong name-rec-fueled showing in a PPP poll last week of the GOP Senate primary (or perhaps because of it), ex-Gov. John Engler is now saying that he has no plans to run for Senate, and will be staying in his role as head of the National Manufacturers Association. Strangely, the biggest-name candidate beyond Engler associated with the race, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. and gubernatorial primary loser Peter Hoekstra, sounded pretty indifferent about it when asked by a reporter yesterday, saying "We'll see. I'm not sitting around yearning to get back into office."
• MN-Sen: PPP is out with GOP Senate primary numbers, and it's a familiar story: the GOP base is irretrievably enamored with a female politician who's poison in the general election. Rep. Michele Bachmann (who loses the general 56-39 to Klobuchar) leads the field at 36, far ahead of more establishment figures like outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty (20) and ex-Sen. Norm Coleman (14). They're followed by new Rep. Chip Cravaack at 7, Tom Emmer at 6, John Kline at 5, Laura Brod at 4, and Erik Paulsen at 2. There's not much indication that Bachmann is interested in a Senate run -- in fact, she's currently sending out fundraising appeals based on the threat of a rematch with Tarryl Clark -- but there's also word that Amy Klobuchar's camp is most worried about facing Bachmann of any of the possible opponents, probably because of her national fundraising capacity (although it may also be a bit of public don't-throw-me-in-that-briar-patch posturing).
• NV-Sen: Need some evidence that Rep. Shelly Berkley is planning a Senate run? National Journal looks at her repositioning, as one of the key members of the party's liberal wing in the House to break away and support the tax compromise, suggesting that she's trying to tack toward the center to play better in the 2nd and 3rd districts. (Of course, it's worth noting that she wasn't that liberal to begin with, as a member of the New Dems, not the Progressives, and with a National Journal score usually putting her around the 60th percentile in the House.)
• IN-Gov: Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel isn't in a hurry to declare whether or not he's going to run for Governor, although with Evan Bayh's recent demurral, the iron would be hot. The key indicator, though, will be whether Weinzapfel runs for another term as mayor; the election is in 2011, and it's assumed that if he does run for re-election a gubernatorial run is unlikely. He'll need to make a mayoral decision by Feb. 18.
• MT-Gov: The Dems have lined up a real candidate for the governor's race, maybe the best they can do if AG Steve Bullock doesn't make the race. Dave Wanzenreid, if nothing else, has a long resume: currently a state Senator, he served previously as a state Rep., as both minority and majority leader in that body. He was also chief of staff to ex-Gov. Ted Schwinden and then state labor commissioner in the 80s.
• Crossroads: American Crossroads, after its avalanche of late-cycle ads a few months ago, is already getting back in the TV game. The Karl Rove-linked dark money vehicle is spending $400K on radio advertising in the districts of 12 Dems who won by narrow margins, urging them to vote in favor of the tax compromise package. Tim Bishop, Jim Costa, Gabrielle Giffords, Gerry Connolly, Ben Chandler, Jason Altmire, Bill Owens, Maurice Hinchey, Heath Shuler, Gary Peters, Joe Donnelly, and Sanford Bishop are all on the target list.
• Votes: There's a strange array of "no" votes on the tax compromise that passed the Senate 83-15. The Dems have a few votes from the left (Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Pat Leahy, Russ Feingold (although it's gotten kind of hard to tell if he's doing anything from the left or not anymore)), but also some votes from some pretty avowed centrists (Jeff Bingaman, Kay Hagan, Mark Udall) too, of which Bingaman is the only one up in 2012. John Ensign was one of the few GOP "no" votes, although you've gotta wonder whether it's because he's trying to save himself in a primary by appealing to the far-right or if he's just given up and voting his conscience.
• Census: While you wait for the main course on Dec. 21 (the day for reapportionment hard numbers), the Census Bureau is out with a gigantic appetizer. They're rolling out their first-ever 5-year estimates from the American Community Survey (their one-year samples aren't that reliable, but over five, they are). The ACS covers a lot of the deeper demographic information that used to covered by the Census "long form," covering stuff like poverty, housing values, commute times, and education. Information is available all the way down to the block level, but here's an array of county-level maps to start with.
• CO-Sen: This isn't an official call from the AP or CNN, but the Denver Post (who you would think would know their state well enough to know the score) has decided that Michael Bennet is the victor in Colorado. No couching, as their article is titled "Bennet Wins in Senate Race;" you can't lay it on the line any more than that. Their rationale: he leads by 7,000 votes with 30,000 remaining to be counted in dirty hippie stronghold Boulder County.
• WA-Sen: While the Seattle Times doesn't sound as fully confident as the Denver Post, they also make it sound like Patty Murray is on her way to reelection. Their rationale: more than one-third of the uncounted votes statewide are found in King County, which of course is the state's Democratic base and where she's getting 62% currently.
• WI-Sen?: Pundits (or at least William Kristol, known for his wishful thinking) seem to be taking the wrong message from this Russ Feingold line at the end of his concession speech last night: "It's on to our next adventure. It's on to 2012! Forward!" To them, that means that Feingold will be mounting a quixotic primary challenge to Barack Obama. Um, we're likely to see a Herb Kohl retirement in 2012. Maybe Feingold is likely to run for the other Wisconsin Senate seat? (Taking a page from Washington's Slade Gorton, who lost in 1986 and resurfaced in 1988. Any other Senators anyone out there can think of who did that?)
• MN-Gov: It must seem like Groundhog Day for Minnesotans, who are poised for another recount nightmare as the election lawyers descend like locusts. With only 19 precincts remaining to count, Mark Dayton's lead over Tom Emmer is 0.43%, which is below the 0.5% bar where an automatic recount is triggered.
• Polltopia: So is the cycle where bullshit finally gets called on Rasmussen? Nate Silver made the case last night, observing that of the 100 polls released in the final 21 days of the campaign, 70-75% overstated Republican support, off by an average 3-4 points. Taegan Goddard also chips in singling out its final HI-Sen poll, which was off by only 38 points on the final margin of victory for Dan Inouye.
• Trivia: Would you believe that the Democratic freshman class is only in the single digits? There are 9 freshmen: Terri Sewell (AL-07), Karen Bass (CA-33), John Carney (DE-AL), Frederica Wilson (FL-17), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Cedric Richmond (LA-02), Bill Keating (MA-10), Hansen Clarke (MI-13), and David Cicilline (RI-01). Remarkably, only two of them are straight white guys!
• CA-11: This race has had some ups and downs today: The Stockton Record (the local, well, paper of record) was initially running a story stating that Jerry McNerney had won his race, after having trailed all of last night to David Harmer. They've pulled back on that, merely saying it's "too close to call," but the hard data is that McNerney now has a 121-vote lead over Harmer, with 100% of precincts reporting. I'd imagine this one will be heading for a recount!
• FL-Sen: File this under half a year too late and a few million dollars too short. Charlie Crist, as quietly as possible through an advisor making a leak to the Wall Street Journal, says he'd caucus with the Democrats if elected. If he'd said that many months ago, he would have probably had a clearer shot consolidating the Democratic vote and turning it into a two-man race. This comes shortly after a day of conflicting reports on whether or not Bill Clinton tried to get Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race, as recently as last week. Clinton and Meek have offered partial rebuttals, but at any rate, it's kind of a non-story at this point with only a few days left.
• LA-Sen: Too bad there isn't time left in the cycle to turn this into an ad: David Vitter's verbal gymnastics at the last debate as to direct questions as to whether or not he actually broke the law when he was engaging in "very serious sin," apparently for pay. The short answer is, of course, yes (assuming that his involvement with a prostitution ring occurred in Washington DC and not Reno).
• NV-Sen: Those of you following Jon Ralston's tweets of the early voting in Nevada with bated breath probably already know this, but thanks to the movement of the mobile voting booths into some Dem-friendly areas, Democrats have actually pulled into the lead (at least by party registration) among early voters, up by 20,000 in Clark County.
• CO-Gov: My first question was why Tom Tancredo would even bother running for office if he felt this way, but then I remembered that he's running for an executive position this time, not a legislative one. Apparently he's a believer in a strong executive. Very, very, very strong.
There is a sort of an elitist idea that seeps into the head of a lot of people who get elected. And they begin to think of themselves as, really, there for only one purpose and that is to make laws. And why would you make laws?
• IL-Gov: Oooops, ad buy fail. A round of Bill Brady ads were pulled from the air on Thursday because the appropriate television stations didn't get paid first. It appears to have been a "glitch" (their words) rather than a cash flow problem, though, nothing that a Fed-Exed check won't fix: the ads will resume running tonight.
• PA-Gov: Ah, nice to see that a Republican briefly acknowledge that the fewer people vote, the better Republicans do. Tom Corbett, at a Philadelphia appearance, said that he wanted to keep Democratic participation down, saying "we want to make sure that they don't get 50 percent."
• OH-13: Sensing a pattern here? A second woman is coming forward to accuse Tom Ganley of sexual harassment. She filed a police report stating that in 2005, while in the middle of a car transaction, Ganley groped her and later propositioned her. This race, despite Ganley's money, is seeming increasingly like one of the House Dems' lesser worries.
• RGA: I'm not sure what you can do with $6.5 million in half a week, but the RGA is determined to find out. They put that much money into four governor's races in some of the nation's largest states: Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and (interestingly, since they haven't sweated this one before) Pennsylvania. (While the other three are for TV ads, in Florida it's for GOTV... seemingly something that Rick Scott forgot to purchase.)
• Election night: This may be the most shocking news of all today, for the obsessive number crunchers among us. This will be the first election where the powers that be (mostly the AP) will be doing away with precinct reporting. Instead of giving specific numbers of precincts in, they'll be expressing it as "percentage of expected vote." The change in longstanding tradition has mostly to do with the increasing prevalence of mail-in votes and early votes, best seen with some locales dumping all their early votes all at once and calling it one precinct, messing with people like us who build complicated models ahead of time.
• SSP TV:
• IL-Sen: Mark Kirk's last ad calls Alexi Giannoulias "too immature" for the Senate (um, has he actually seen the Senate in action?)
• NV-Sen: Obama! Fear! Tyranny! Aaaghh! And apparently the Carmina Burana playing the background! (Sharron Angle's closing statement, in other words)
• WI-Sen: Russ Feingold puts on a plaid shirt and faces the camera, touting his accomplishments and newspaper endorsements
• TX-Gov: Bill White also rolls out his newspaper endorsements, as well as lobbing "career politician" at Rick Perry one last time
• MN-06: Taryl Clark's last ad is a look at real people with real problems in the 6th, and the myriad ways Michele Bachmann blew them off
• CA-Gov: Jerry Brown (D) 49%, Meg Whitman (R) 45%
• CO-Gov: John Hickenlooper (D) 47%, Dan Maes (R) 5%, Tom Tancredo (C) 42%
• KY-Sen: Jack Conway (D) 41%, Rand Paul (R) 53%
• MA-Gov: Deval Patrick (D-inc) 46%, Charlie Baker (R) 44%, Tim Cahill (I) 6%
• OR-Sen: Ron Wyden (D-inc) 53%, Jim Huffman (R) 42%
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) 46%, Pat Toomey (R) 50%
• YouGov: The English pollster is out with a slew of polls; the numbers seem very plausible, but they're conducted over the Internet (probably using at least some sort of rigor, but that alone is enough for relegation to the end of the digest)
• CA: Jerry Brown (D) 50%, Meg Whitman (R) 41%; Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 49%, Carly Fiorina (R) 45%
• FL: Alex Sink (D) 44%, Rick Scott (R) 41%; Kendrick Meek (D) 18%, Marco Rubio (R) 42%, Charlie Crist (I) 31%
• NY: Andrew Cuomo (D) 57%, Carl Paladino (R) 27%; Kirsten Gillibrand (D-inc) 57%, Joe DioGuardi (R) 33%; Charles Schumer (D-inc) 59%, Jay Townsend (R) 35%
• OH: Ted Strickland (D-inc) 45%, John Kasich (R) 48%; Lee Fisher (D) 40%, Rob Portman (R) 53%
• PA: Dan Onorato (D) 41%, Tom Corbett (R) 50%; Joe Sestak (D) 44%, Pat Toomey (R) 50%
• AK-Sen: As is often the case, Alaska dominates our headlines today. Perhaps biggest in its implications is a hot-off-the-grill ruling from a judge that says that the state can't provide a list of possible write-in candidates for people in the voting booth. Obviously, that hurts the cumbersome-named Lisa MukroskyMorkoskiGibr Murkowski. Also, in the good news (well, maybe not, considering how far her star has fallen in-state) column for Joe Miller: Sarah Palin will be returning to the Last Frontier to stump for him tomorrow.
On the bad news front for Miller, though, first, he had to shout "I LIE!" yet again. That's a confession from his own work e-mails, over his now-well-known reprimand for hijacking (and covering up his tracks) of co-workers' computers to rig a local Republican online straw poll. That's at the core of his Fairbanks personnel files, released last evening after he declined to appeal their release to the state supreme court. On top of that, now the Army is investigating his use of its soldiers from Fort Richardson to act as his personal paramilitary force during their off-hours; in addition to rules prohibiting active military members from involvement in political campaigns, it's unclear whether they had their commander's permission to seek outside employment.
• CA-Sen: Here's some good news; Carly Fiorina bounced back quickly from her hospitalization yesterday for an infection associated with her breast cancer recovery, and left the hospital today. She'll be back on the trail tomorrow, says her campaign.
• CO-Sen: Would you believe this is the biggest-money Senate race anywhere in the country? It is, if you go by outside group expenditures. 27 different IE groups have spent nearly $25 million in Colorado, with the NRSC leading the way. (Nevada will still probably wind up the most expensive overall, factoring in the candidates' own accounts.) Meanwhile Ken Buck is in the news for two other reasons, first, his questioning of the separation of the church and state... handled more elegantly than Christine O'Donnell's palm-to-forehead method, but still probably a liability as he seeks to downplay his extremism. And also, he's now agnostic on whether he'll support Mitch McConnell for GOP leader (Buck, of course, owes Jim DeMint big-time for getting him as far as he's gotten).
• WV-Sen: Wow, this stuff literally writes itself. John Raese, under fire from Joe Manchin and the DSCC for his Florida mansion (and, for all practical purposes, residency), is now going to have to put some spin on this. The current item on the agenda for the Palm Beach planning commission: approval for Raese to replace a six-by-eight-foot "giant dollhouse" on his property with a fourteen-by-fifteen-foot "glass conservatory," perfect for those real-life Clue re-enactments. I know that's a problem that most West Virginians grapple with on a day-to-day basis.
• AZ-Gov: Now here's an October Surprise that's pushing the envelope (close to a November Surprise). Old documents reveal that Jan Brewer, a state Senator at the time, was involved in a 1988 auto accident where she was suspected at the time of driving under the influence. While she was immune from arrest at the time because the legislature was in session, it's not clear why the case wasn't pursued after that.
• MS-04: This might provide a small boost (dozens of votes?) to Gene Taylor: the Republican who lost the primary to state Rep. Steven Palazzo threw his backing to Taylor. Joe Tegerdine, interestingly, was the Tea Party candidate in the GOP race (with Palazzo the establishment pick), and finished with 43% of the vote; Tegerdine seemed to frame his decision very much in terms of pissing off the Republican establishment, in fact.
• Dark Money: If you look at only one link today, it should be this one, where a picture is worth way more than 1,000 words. It shows the octopus tentacles linking all the various shadowy outside groups that have poured in hundreds of millions of undisclosed dollars, and how they all kind of link back to Republican leadership. It's almost worthy of Glenn Beck's blackboard (well, if it had Woodrow Wilson and Diego Rivera on there somewhere).
• DNC: To quote Don Brodka, "if I wanted smoke blown up my ass, I'd be at home with a pack of cigarettes and short length of hose." Nevertheless, the DNC is out with a memo today showing in various ways how the Republican wave hasn't materialized, at least not in the form of early voting patterns so far, that's worth a look-see (especially the graphs).
• SSP TV:
• CO-Sen: The DSCC has two spots in Colorado, both with citizens reciting the litany of why they can't vote for Ken Buck • IL-Sen: The DSCC links Mark Kirk to George W. Bush, while Alexi Giannoulias trots out the Obamas in his own ad
• MO-Sen: I seriously can't summon up anything interesting to say about the last ads from Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan; it's been that sort of race
• NV-Sen: The DSCC finishes in Nevada by pointing out how Sharron Angle consistently brings teh crazy
• PA-Sen: The DSCC hits Pat Toomey on outsourcing yet again, while Pat Toomey goes blandly autobiographical for his closing spot
• WA-Sen: The DSCC's parting shot is to hit Dino Rossi over his web of connections to unsavory real estate and lending partners
• WI-Sen: Both candidates close by ragging on each other; Ron Johnson hits Russ Feingold for only being fake "mavericky," while Feingold asks why Johnson is being so vague and cagey about his agenda
• WV-Sen: The DSCC's newest ad hits John Raese on the Florida residency issue yet again
• ND-AL: This may be the most interesting ad of the day: Earl Pomeroy faces the camera and says "I'm not Nancy Pelosi, and I'm not Barack Obama" (yeah, that's pretty evident by looking at you); he pivots off people's anger to say they'll be even angrier, though, if Republicans go against the farm bill, Social Security, and so on
• WA-08: Suzan DelBene's last ad beats the 'change' drum, and focuses on the Seattle Times endorsement again
• IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias (D) 42%, Mark Kirk (R) 46%, LeAlan Jones (G) 5%
• MD-Sen: Barb Mikulski (D-inc) 56%, Eric Wargotz (R) 38%
• NV-Gov: Rory Reid (D) 35%, Brian Sandoval (R) 58%
• OR-Gov: John Kitzhaber (D) 46%, Chris Dudley (R) 49%
• WI-Gov: Tom Barrett (D) 42%, Scott Walker (R) 52%
• WV-Sen: Joe Manchin (D) 49%, John Raese (R) 46%
(ooops, time for Scotty to get in line with everyone else on this one!)
• CA-Sen: Best wishes to Carly Fiorina, who's temporarily off the campaign trail and in the hospital after an infection associated with reconstructive surgery that she had over the summer after recovering from breast cancer. She's says she'll be back in action soon.
• CO-Sen: The Democrats in Colorado have filed an FEC complaint with Ken Buck, alleging illegal coordination. The coordination was between Buck and Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund (which has spent $370K here so far). This doesn't look likely to get addressed before Election Day, though.
• KY-Sen: Rand Paul eventually got around, today, to cutting ties with and condemning a volunteer involved in assaulting a MoveOn activist before last night's debate, outside the venue. An activist trying to give a fake award to Paul was shoved to the ground and kicked/trampled.
• NV-Sen: Sharron Angle has always been the prime example of the GOP's apparent strategy for its more troublesome candidates (which is to have them hide from the media), but this is a little extreme: all manner of sleight-of-hand was used at a Reno appearance to keep her away from about 40 reporters who were looking for her, to the extent of using a decoy to get into her official vehicle while she left through a side door. Also, here's an interesting catch, especially since Angle supposedly has a lot of cash these days: her latest filing has nothing about salaries for her staff. Oversight, or is there more of a burn rate problem than we'd been led to believe?
• WA-Sen: This CQ article is your generic this-race-is-tight-and-important piece, but it has a few interesting tidbits buried in it: one, Patty Murray's internals have her up "around 4," although that's all we get to find out. And two, this election is already effectively more-than-half over: the state SoS's office says that 50% of all voters have submitted their ballots, on track for turnout of at least 66%, which would be third-highest non-presidential turnout ever in the state. (I assume you all know which party tends to do better in higher-turnout models.) Finally, Dino Rossi's doing a little hiding from the media himself: on a conference call with reporters, Rossi actually refused to say where he was calling from, just that he was "traveling all over right now." (Maybe we should be looking for the guy in the red and white striped shirt?)
• VT-Gov: Biden alert! Here's one election where every single vote will count (seeing as how it has fewer constituents than most House districts), and the veep is trying to roust out some votes with a Burlington appearance with Dem nominee Peter Shumlin the day before the election.
• CA-47: This was a weird election even before this, with stark racial overtones, and now it's even weirder: an independent candidate, Cecilia Iglesias, is making her presence known with a TV ad buy (although just on local cable on Univision). Who will this hurt? The GOP says it'll hurt Loretta Sanchez, because it splits the Latino vote. The Dems say it'll hurt Van Tran, since Iglesias is a "known Republican."
• CT-05: Hmm, here's a novel strategy for dealing with ads from third party groups that contain blatant lies: push back against them, and TV stations just may stop running them. That's what happened in Connecticut, where the American Action Network's ads against Chris Murphy got taken down, by Fox-CT (on cable) no less. (The ad is part of the series saying that you can go to jail for not having health insurance.)
• VA-05: This is big all around: that the President is stumping on behalf of a House candidate (albeit one within a helicopter ride away from DC), and that said House candidate in a red district is welcoming him. In case you didn't guess, it's Tom Perriello, who'll be rallying UVA students with the Prez in Charlottesville.
• American Crossroads: Here's part of the Crossroads road map for the last week: at a cost of $3 million altogether, they're moving into NC-11, NY-20, and GA-02, as well as continuing their presence in HI-01 and NY-22. They're also launching ads in CA-20, IN-02, MO-03, ND-AL, TN-04, OH-16, and TX-23.
• SSP TV:
• KY-Sen: The NRSC and Rand Paul both turn the tables on Jack Conway, saying he wants to talk about Paul's checkered past (i.e. Aqua Buddha) to avoid talking about Obama
• NV-Sen: The NRSC is out with a rather incoherent ad about how Harry Reid fancies himself a superhero, while Sharron Angle's out with another border-themed ad with menacing shadowy men who, of course, aren't actually Latino
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak's closing argument cites his independence
• WV-Sen: Thank God for trackers... Joe Manchin's camp strings together John Raese's greatest hits at various appearances to demonstrate his "crazy" ideas
• CA-Gov: Jerry Brown wins the jujitsu black belt for his closing ad (if not the overall Zen master award for his whole campaign): unlike the very busy Manchin ad, he only needs one quote from Meg Whitman to make his own case for himself... she says she came to California 30 years ago because it back then it was a land of opportunity and it worked (uh, Meg? who was governor of California 30 years ago?)
• GA-Gov: Nathan Deal's closing ad says Roy Barnes is too ambitious, and Deal is just a humble public servant
• TX-Gov: Bill White's new ad says 10 years is too long, playing the dread "career politician" card on Rick Perry
• MA-10: The DCCC's new ad in the 10th goes after Jeff Perry's controversial police sergeant tenure, in case anyone there was unaware of it
• OH-18: Zack Space goes after Bob Gibbs on outsourcing and immigration
• VA-05: The Sierra Club's out with an ad bolstering Tom Perriello
• CA-Init: I'm not sure I thought I'd live to see the day where there ads running in favor of the legalization of marijuana, but apparently the Yes on 19 campaign was able to scrape together enough stems and seeds for a TV buy
• Rasmussen Classic:
• CT-Gov: Dan Malloy (D) 49%, Tom Foley (R) 46%
• GA-Gov: Roy Barnes (D) 39%, Nathan Deal (R) 49%, John Monds (L) 5%
• NM-Gov: Diane Denish (D) 42%, Susana Martinez (R) 52%
• NV-Sen: Harry Reid (D-inc) 45%, Sharron Angle (R) 49%
• SC-Sen: Alvin Greene (D) 58 21%, Jim DeMint (R-inc) 21 58%, Some other 15%
• WI-Sen: Russ Feingold (D-inc) 46%, Ron Johnson (R) 53%
• New Rasmussen (aka Fox/Pulse):
• CA-Gov: Jerry Brown (D) 50%, Meg Whitman (R) 41%
• CA-Sen: Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 48%, Carly Fiorina (R) 44%
• IL-Gov: Pat Quinn (D-inc) 39%, Bill Brady (R) 44%, Scott Lee Cohen (I) 6%, Rich Whitney (G) 4%
• IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias (D) 41%, Mark Kirk (R) 43%, LeAlan Jones (G) 7%
• KY-Sen: Jack Conway (D) 43%, Rand Paul (R) 50%
• OH-Gov: Ted Strickland (D-inc) 43%, John Kasich (R) 47%
• WV-Sen: Joe Manchin (D) 46%, John Raese (R) 48%