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SSP Daily Digest: 6/2 (Afternoon Edition)

by: Crisitunity

Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 3:24 PM EDT

AK-Sen: Sarah Palin, fresh off her triumphant endorsements of Vaughn Ward and "Angela McGowen," is now weighing in with an endorsement in her home state: she's backing Joe Miller, the Christian-right GOP primary challenger to incumbent Lisa Murkowski. What's surprising is that people are surprised today -- there's long-term bad blood between Palin and the Murkowskis (Palin, of course, beat incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in the 2006 GOP primary, and was briefly considering a 2010 run against Lisa Murkowski in the primary), and Todd Palin (who presumably doesn't do anything without running it by the Palin family head office) had already endorsed Miller and headlined fundraisers for him.

AR-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters is taking advantage of the oil spill in the Gulf being top-of-mind for most people today, to run a pre-runoff TV spot hitting Blanche Lincoln for her support for offshore drilling and her big campaign contributions from Big Oil.

CA-Sen: Darkness descends over Team Campbell, with the primary one week away. Short on money and financially outgunned by Carly Fiorina, Tom Campbell has pulled the plug on TV advertising (at least for now; they say they're evaluating day-to-day what to spend on) and is relying on robocalls to drive turnout for the GOP primary. On the other hand, quixotic Democratic primary candidate Mickey Kaus is actually hitting the airwaves, and he's running an ad that very closely mirrors a now-famous 1990 ad from Paul Wellstone... which is pretty much the only thing that Kaus has in common with Wellstone (well, that and a weird hairline).

FL-Sen: Jim Greer, the former state party chair of the aptly-acronymed RPOF, was just arrested on six felony charges: money laundering, grand theft, fraud... you know, the basic day-to-day aspects of running a political party. It'll be interesting to watch, as this case plays out, if there's any blowback to either Senate candidate: Charlie Crist, who helped put former key ally Greer into place as state party chair, or Marco Rubio, who had a taste for charging things to the state party's credit cards.

IL-Sen: All of a sudden it seems like every time Mark Kirk plugs a leak concerning misrepresentations of his military record, another two spring up. Today, Kirk had to admit to the WaPo's Greg Sargent that his website incorrectly identifies him as "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." Kirk actually served stateside as a Naval Reservist during the Iraq War, and he says that he's corrected the website, as what he really meant was "to serve during Operation Iraqi Freedom." Kirk also failed to correct Joe Scarborough when he said in 2003 that Kirk had "served Americans overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom." Hmmm, that whole scenario sounds vaguely familiar... I wonder where the front page NYT story about this is?

NV-Sen: There's that old saying about when your opponent pulls out a knife, you pull out a gun... I guess the same thing's happening in Nevada, where when Sharron Angle pulls out allegations of wrongdoing involving a campaign bus, Sue Lowden pulls out allegations of wrongdoing involving a campaign plane. Angle hitched a ride to the "Showdown in Searchlight" rally on a supporter's private plane, and while she did reimburse the owner $67 for her share of the fuel, it turns out she needs to pay more like $7,000, for the going charter rate. Meanwhile, Lowden seems to be doing some hasty but serious-sounding damage control over the issue of the "veterans tax;" this is still in the sketchy stages, but we'll follow it as it develops.

PA-Sen: The Clinton job offer scandal continues to roil the Joe Sestak campaign, threatening to torpedo the Democratic candidate as he struggles to gain momentum after winning an upset in the primary!!! Oh, wait a second, I was confused... for a moment there, I thought I was actually a Beltway pundit. In reality, nobody gives a shit, and Sestak continues to consolidate post-primary support, as seen in a new DSCC-sponsored poll by Garin Hart Yang, which gives Sestak a 47-40 lead over GOPer Pat Toomey. Both candidates are similarly liked yet ill-defined: Sestak's favorables are 34/18, while Toomey is at 30/19.

WA-Sen: The University of Washington pollsters who released the poll several weeks ago giving Patty Murray a 44-40 edge over Dino Rossi did something unusual. They started asking Washington residents about their feelings about the Tea Party (worth a read, on its own), but they also kept asking them about Murray/Rossi and adding those voters to the previous poll's pool. I'm not sure if that's methodologically sound or not; on the one hand, it pushes the MoE down to a very robust 2.3%, but also pads out the sample period to a terribly long 25 days. At any rate, it doesn't affect the toplines one bit: Murray still leads 44-40.

AZ-Gov: Is there just a weird outbreak of Lying-itis breaking out among our nation's politicians (or did everyone always do this, and now thanks to the Internet you can't get away with it anymore)? Now, it's Jan Brewer's turn: during the fight over Arizona's immigration law, she somehow tried to weave in her father's death "fighting the Nazi regime in Germany" in discussing the personal attacks against her. There's one small problem: her father was a civilian supervisor of a munitions depot during the war, and died of lung disease in 1955. Meanwhile, back in reality, one of Brewer's GOP primary rivals, former state party chair John Munger, has decided to drop out after getting little traction in the primary. He cited fundraising issues in his decision.

FL-Gov: Did Rick Scott think that people were just not going to notice that whole Medicare fraud thing? Having gotten stung by outside advertising hitting him on the Columbia/HCA fraud and the $1.7 billion in fines associated with it, he's launching a defensive TV spot and website dedicated to telling his side of the story. Meanwhile, Dems might be sailing into a clusterf@ck of their very own: Bud Chiles (the son of popular Democratic ex-Gov. Lawton Chiles) is still looking into a gubernatorial run... and now seemingly considering doing it as an independent. An independent who soaks up mostly Democratic votes would pretty much be curtains for Alex Sink's chances at winning.

GA-Gov: Ex-Gov. Roy Barnes got a couple endorsements that should help him with the African-American vote, as he faces African-American AG Thurbert Baker in the Dem primary. Two prominent former Atlanta mayors, Andrew Young and Shirley Franklin, backed Barnes.

ME-Gov: The most overlooked gubernatorial race in the country has its primaries next week, and it seems like even Mainers have no idea what's going on. Pan Atlantic SMS polled the primary, but found 62% of Dems and 47% of GOPers undecided. On the Dem side, state Sen. president Libby Mitchell is at 13, with ex-AG Steve Rowe at 12, Rosa Scarcelli at 7, and Patrick McGowan at 6. On the Republican side, Les Otten is at 17, Paul LePage at 10, Peter Mills at 8, Steve Abbott at 8, Bill Beardsley at 4, Bruce Poliquin at 3, and Matt Jacobson at 2. Given the poll's MoE of 5.7%, all we know is that pretty much any of these candidates could be the nominees. Otten just got an endorsement from one of the few Republicans who isn't running: from state Sen. majority leader Kevin Raye.

AR-01: In northeast Arkansas, I don't think endorsements come any bigger than this. Bill Clinton weighed in on Chad Causey's behalf, in the Democratic primary runoff against the more conservative Tim Wooldridge.

CA-42: How about I just start reporting on the politicians who haven't fudged their war records? Now it's the turn for Rep. Gary Miller (who faces a potentially competitive teabagger primary next week). A number of bios, including his California Assembly bio, have said he served in the Army in 1967 and 1968. A news story linked from Miller's current official website said that he "served his country during the Vietnam War." Turns out he spent seven weeks in boot camp in 1967, at which point he was discharged for medical reasons.

MS-01: Newly crowned GOP nominee in the 1st Alan Nunnelee gets today's hyperbole-in-action award. On Saturday, he told a local Rotary Club gathering that what's going on in Washington is worse than 9/11, because "What I see in Washington over the last 16 months is a more dangerous attack because it's an attack on our freedom that's coming from the inside."

NC-08: Another day, another freakout from Tim d'Annunzio. His latest antics involve dropping out of a scheduled debate against GOP runoff opponent Harold Johnson, because of, as per d'Annunzio's usual modus operandi, "the collaboration between the Harold Johnson campaign and the news media to use partial truth, innuendo and accusations to unfairly smear me."

PA-10: Best wishes for a quick recovery to the GOP candidate in the 10th, Tom Marino. He's in stable condition after being involved in a late-night head-on collision while driving back from a county GOP meeting last night.

NY-St. Sen.: One state legislature where it's going to be tough for the GOP to make up much ground is the New York Senate, where they're now having to defend their fourth open seat (out of 30 total) this cycle. George Winner, who's been in the Senate since 2004 (making him a veritable youngster by NYS Senate GOP standards), is calling it quits. His Southern Tier district centered on Elmira has a 74K to 60K GOP registration advantage, but Obama won SD-53 by a 51-47 margin.

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SSP Daily Digest: 5/19

by: Crisitunity

Wed May 19, 2010 at 4:36 PM EDT

CA-Sen: Good news for Tom Campbell, in the form of the Senate half of M4's poll of the California GOP primary: he leads Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore, 33-28-15. (Of course, with his plans to briefly go dark to conserve funds, that gives Fiorina a chance to play catchup when the margin's not that big.) Bad news for Campbell, though: the NRA has him in its metaphorical crosshairs, sending out a mailer to members attacking Campbell and, while not endorsing, offering kind words for Fiorina and DeVore.

CT-Sen: This is going to make it a lot easier for Richard Blumenthal to make the case that the "in Vietnam" controversy is something of a cheap shot. A longer-form video release of the appearance (provided, ironically, by the Linda McMahon campaign, undercutting their own hatchet job) where the offending phrase occurred have him correctly referring to having "served in the military, during the Vietnam era" in the very same speech. That's not stopping Vietnam vet Rob Simmons, who, sensing an opening, has rolled out web advertising with "Blumenthal Lied About Vietnam" in very large letters.

Blumenthal is getting more explicit backing from Democratic bigwigs now, as his mea culpa/attempt to get back on the offense seems to have had the desired effect. Rep. Chris Murphy, the likeliest guy to pick up the pieces if Blumenthal had to bail out, offered his unqualified support; so too did Howard Dean. And here's one thing that's actually good about Rasmussen's one-day, no-callback samples: they can strike fast. They polled Connecticut, and while the trendlines aren't appealing, they find Blumenthal still beating McMahon even in the heat of the moment before the story has had time to digest, and beating the other, unmoneyed GOP opponents by pretty wide margins. Markos has some really nice pushback against Rasmussen in general, today, asking why they always poll quickly when there's the potential for a good Republican narrative but not when the narrative doesn't fit (as seen in their failure to poll the Sorta Super-Tuesday primaries).

FL-Sen: Charlie Crist has been trying to woo union support, starting with a speech at the state AFL-CIO convention this weekend. It's another indication that he's trying to move squarely onto Kendrick Meek's turf and monopolize as much of the left-of-center vote as he can, now that he's free from his GOP shackles. Meanwhile, quixotic Democratic candidate Jeff Greene has apparently been seen wooing Ukrainian strippers, in 2005 on his 145-foot yacht while cruising the Black Sea. Not so, claims his campaign spokesperson; he was busy traveling with his rabbi at the time instead.

KY-Sen: In case you needed one more data point on how thin-skinned Rand Paul and how likely a meltdown from him is at some point before November, here's an anecdote from last night: he refused to take the customary concession call from Trey Grayson, at least according to the Grayson camp.

NC-Sen: Here's a big score for Elaine Marshall: Third-place finisher Kenneth Lewis gave his backing to Marshall in her runoff against Cal Cunningham. This move isn't so surprising, given that Lewis's supporters, like Rep. Eva Clayton, were already gravitating toward Marshall, but it ought to steer much of Lewis's African-American and youth base in her direction as well.

NV-Sen: Three items, all of which are very, very bad for Sue Lowden. First, the Club for Growth finally weighed into the Senate primary, and they backed right-winger Sharron Angle (maybe not that surprising, since they backed her in the 2006 primary for NV-02). That ought to give Angle a further shot of adrenaline, though, on top of her Tea Party Express endorsement and polling momentum. Lowden is also still bogged down in controversy over her luxury bus, doubling-down on her claims that use of the $100K vehicle was leased despite also having stated elsewhere that the bus was "donated" (which means it would have needed to be reported as an in-kind contribution). That's nothing, though, compared to the (by my count) quintupling-down on Chickens-for-Checkups, simultaneously trying to fight top Nevada journo Jon Ralston on the fact that, yes, people are bartering for health care while trying to claim that she never actually said anything about Chickencare at all.

NY-Sen-B: The only GOP big name left who hadn't said anything definitive about participating in the GOP Senate primary for the right to get creamed by Kirsten Gillibrand finally said a public "no." Orange County Executive Ed Diana said he'll stick with his current job, to which he was elected in November to a third term.

UT-Sen: Looks like that teabaggers' victory in Utah might be short-lived. Bob Bennett seems to be more interested than before in running as a write-in in the general (where, despite the complex dynamics of a write-in campaign, he faces better odds with the broader electorate than with the narrow slice of extremists running the GOP convention). We may know tomorrow what his plans are, as he emphasized "Stay tuned tomorrow."

WA-Sen: If Dino Rossi really is still interested in running for Senate, this isn't a particularly good way of showing it. Rossi is scheduled to make a blockbuster appearance on May 25... to give opening remarks at a dinnertime seminar for local real estate investors focusing on strategies for profiting off foreclosures. Because nothing says "I'm a man of the people" than knowing all the ins and outs of how to profit off the people's misery.

AL-Gov: Artur Davis is out with an internal poll, that seems mostly oriented toward countering the sense that he's losing ground among his African-American base. The poll shows Davis leading Democratic primary rival Ron Sparks 46-33. It also shows Davis leading 50-25 among African-Americans (despite the defections of some prominent local black groups), while trailing Sparks 42-41 among whites.

FL-Gov: Bill McCollum is going to have to start taking moneybags Rick Scott seriously, and he's striking hard, sending out a press release calling him an "embarrassment" and a "fraud," presumably in reference to allegations leveled against Scott's health care firm. Scott's ginormous introductory ad buy is now estimating at $6.3 million.

KS-Gov: Sam Brownback is drawing some heat for taking things out of context. Now, politicians take things out of context all the time, but his sleight-of-hand in attempting to fight efforts to more tightly regulate the business of car loans to military members may be a fridge too far.

"CNN Money on May 13 reported that 'Raj Date ... agreed that the additional (Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection) regulation might cause some dealers to stop arranging loans," Brownback said in the letter.
But Brownback's letter did not include the rest of Date's comment, which was this, "There will be some dealers who say, 'If I have to play by an honest set [of] rules, then I can't be in this business anymore.' I'm not going to shed any tears for these dealers."

MA-Gov: You may recall last week's Rasmussen MA-Gov poll where, in an effort to find some sort of good news, they found that, if liberal activist Grace Ross somehow beat incumbent Dem Deval Patrick in the primary, she would lost to GOPer Charlie Baker. Well, it's looking like Ross is in danger of not even making it onto the ballot. The state SoS says she has only a little more than half of the 10,000 signatures she needs; Ross promises an announcement tomorrow morning on her next step. (The upside for Patrick, if Ross qualifies for the primary though, would be $750K in public financing for his campaign, which he wouldn't be entitled to if he were running unopposed.)

ME-Gov: There's been some ongoing controversy in the sleepy Maine governor's race about how Republican candidate Steve Abbott (former CoS to Susan Collins) wound up with GOP voter lists, but this is a strange turn: the state Republican party chair, Charlie Webster, is now saying that Abbott's camp flat-out "stole" it.

GA-09: The special election to replace Nathan Deal (where GOPers Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins are in a runoff) seems to have winnowed the Republican field for the regularly-scheduled GOP primary, too. Former state Senate majority leader Bill Stephens has dropped out of contention in that field.

HI-01: Even if something incredibly dramatic happens between now and Saturday's drop-dead date in the special election in the 1st, things are still pretty much cast in stone. In the all-mail in election, now 43% of all ballots sent out have been returned.

IN-03: State Sen. Marlin Stutzman (whose name rec is sky-high right now after running fairly well in the GOP Senate primary against Dan Coats) says that he's going to strike while the iron is hot, and get into the race to replace resigning Rep. Mark Souder. Other GOPers confirming that they'll run include state Rep. Randy Borror, Ft. Wayne city councilor Liz Brown, and recent primary loser Phil Troyer. Another recent primary loser, Bob Thomas, is a potential candidate.

OH-16: After having found an excuse to hide behind the door the last time Barack Obama came to Ohio, Rep. John Boccieri was proudly with him when he visited Youngstown yesterday. Perhaps he can sense a bit of a turning of the tide? Troublingly, though, Senate candidate Lee Fisher wasn't present.

PA-12: PPP digs through the data from their last pre-election poll in the 12th and finds what may really have done the Republicans in. There's one entity in the district even more unpopular than Barack Obama (who had 30% approval), and that's Congressional Republicans, who were at a miserable 22/60. In nationalizing the election, Tim Burns tied himself to the nation's least favorite people of all.

PA-19: After having surviving his primary last night despite publicly seeking another job, it looks like Rep. Todd Platts exposed himself to all that danger for no reason at all. Platts announced yesterday that the Obama administration had let him know that he wasn't going to be selected for the Government Accountability Office job he'd been angling for.

CT-AG: Here's one of the weirdest career crash-and-burns I've seen lately: SoS Susan Bysiewicz went in a few months from likely next Governor to somehow not even eligible to run for the lower-tier job she dropped down to. Connecticut's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that she didn't meet the criteria for legal experience required to become AG, reversing a lower court's decision. Former Democratic state Sen. George Jepsen now has the AG job pretty much to himself. At any rate, with Bysiewicz now combing the "Help Wanted" section, that gives the Connecticut Dems a fallback plan for the Senate if Richard Blumenthal does need to bail out (although Bysiewicz may be seriously damaged at this point too).

OR-St. House: Here are a couple races with interesting implications that I forgot to watch last night: two Republican state Reps. from the high-desert parts of Oregon (the state's Republican stronghold) committed the unthinkable heresy of not only bipartisanship but supporting tax increases to close the state's budget gap. Both Bob Jenson and Greg Smith survived their primaries, though, after teabaggers, right-to-lifers, and even their state House minority leader turned their wrath against them.

Arizona: One other election result from last night that most people, us included, seemed to overlook was Proposition 100 in Arizona. In a surprise, at least to those people who think that it's a rabidly anti-tax year (which would be those people who didn't pay any attention to Measures 66 and 67 earlier this year in Oregon), the people of this red state voted by a fairly wide margin for a temporary sales tax increase as part of a package of changes to close the budget gap. It's a victory for Jan Brewer, actually, who backed the plan (perhaps feeling safer to do so, having solidified her position with her support for the "papers please" law).

1994: When you have a wave, a lot of dead wood washes up on the beach. Prompted by '94 alum Mark Souder's mini-scandal and resignation, Dana Milbank looks back at the wide array of scoundrels and rogues who were swept in in 1994.

History: History's only barely on the side of Blanche Lincoln when it comes to runoffs. It turns out that the person who finishes first in a runoff wins 72% of the time, but when that's limited only to runoffs in primaries, the success rate is only 55%... and Lincoln's victory over Bill Halter last night was a particularly close one.

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SSP Daily Digest: 10/23

by: Crisitunity

Fri Oct 23, 2009 at 3:43 PM EDT

VA-Gov: It's grown exceedingly hard to see a path to victory for Creigh Deeds in Virginia's gubernatorial race. The polls aren't closing (if anything, the gap may be widening), and there's less than two weeks until election day. What's more, the highest echelons of the Democratic Party are now distancing themselves from Deeds, saying he rejected Barack Obama & Tim Kaine's "road map to victory." The Swing State Project is therefore changing its rating on this race from Lean R to Likely R. (D)

Also, while the second-guessing has begun, PPP suggests that it's just a bad year for Dems and/or a strong opponent in Bob McDonnell: they found that if Tim Kaine had been able to run for re-election, he'd be losing too, 51-43. Nevertheless, 57% think that governors should be able to run for re-election in Virginia (which is the only state left that doesn't allow gubernatorial re-elections), with 35% opposed. Still, Kaine probably wouldn't be running anti-cap-and-trade ads as Deeds is doing in the state's southwest; with the public option already with the Deeds' bus treads all over it, it's one more reason for the Democratic base to lose interest in him.

CA-Sen: The war between movement conservative candidate Chuck DeVore and the NRSC just keeps building. DeVore is calling attention to a seemingly loose-lips quote from Carly Fiorina that "the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee has encouraged me to enter the race, reaffirming my belief that Chuck DeVore cannot beat Barbara Boxer," which he says contradicts the NRSC's claim they haven't endorsed in the race. Of course, that's not really an endorsement per se, but his camp also claims that the NRSC has rebuffed his attempts to dialogue with them.

IA-Sen: Wealthy attorney and one-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roxanne Conlin seems to be moving closer to a matchup with Chuck Grassley. She's says she's "more likely than not" to step up. While Grassley would start out with the edge, it would push one more competitive race onto the map for 2010.

MA-Sen: Rep. Michael Capuano pulled down the endorsement of the state's biggest union in his Democratic primary bid in the special Senate election: the 107,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association. Capuano has a 96% rating from the MTA's national affiliate, the National Education Association.

NV-Sen: Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle has made it official: she's getting into the Nevada Senate race. She had sounded hesitant earlier, but she's emboldened either by her fundraising or by the general climate for conservative candidates right now to jump in. This sets up a confusing and potentially bloody 5-way primary in the Nevada GOP primary (although there's likely to be some field winnowing before then), and potentially, Angle could sneak through with, say, 33%, if she consolidates the hard-right/Club for Growth/teabagger vote (remember that she was the CfG's candidate in the open seat primary in NV-02 in 2006, where she barely lost to Dean Heller). With the opposition consisting of an establishment-backed but empty-suitish candidate in Sue Lowden, a random rich guy (John Chachas), a random name-recognition guy (Danny Tarkanian), and Mark Amodei as seemingly what passes for a moderate in the race, she seems likeliest to become the standard-bearer on the movement conservative right, especially if she somehow gets a CfG endorsement again. And the hard-right Angle would be a rather less imposing general election candidate for Harry Reid than, say, Lowden.

NY-Sen-B: Former Governor George Pataki seems to be taking note of polls showing him competitive with Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate race, although he doesn't sound enthusiastic about it. His spokesperson tells the Daily News that he'll make a decision about the race in the coming weeks, but "friends" say that he's leaning toward "no."

UT-Sen: The name of Tim Bridgewater (the former Utah County GOP chair who's lost several primary elections) surfaced earlier in the year in connection with a GOP primary challenge to Bob Bennett in the Senate race, but faded away as AG Mark Shurtleff seemed to gobble up all the oxygen to Bennett's right. Suddenly, Bridgewater's back, saying he'll join the primary field.

GA-Gov: Rasmussen has another poll of the gubernatorial primaries in Georgia; the only news is that Thurbert Baker seems to be gaining on ex-gov Roy Barnes. Barnes still has a big lead on the Dem side at 43 (42 in August), followed by Baker at 19 (up from 9 in August), David Poythress at 4, Dubose Porter at 4, and Carl Camon at 3. On the GOP side, Insurance Comm. John Oxendine is in command at 27, with Karen Handel at 12, Nathan Deal at 9, and Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, and Austin Scott all at 3.

IL-Gov: Rasmussen also looked at the Illinois governor's race, apparently as part of their IL-Sen sample from last week; since nobody seems to know who any of the Republicans are, they just ran a Generic D/Generic R ballot, which Generic D won, 43-36. Incumbent Dem Governor Pat Quinn clocks in with approvals that are much lower than any other pollster has seen, at 45/53.

ME-Gov (pdf): PPP polled the Maine governor's race as part of its poll on Question 1, and finds what R2K found a few weeks ago, which is that nobody has any idea what's going on. As with R2K, they found "not sure" dominating the head-to-heads and even the favorability questions. Unlike R2K, though, they found that moderate GOP state Sen. Peter Mills matches up well against the Dems, beating state Sen. President Libby Mitchell 34-31 and ex-AG Steve Rowe 33-25. Mitchell beats rich guy Les Otten 34-26, but Otten beats Rowe 28-26. Meanwhile, one more sorta-prominent Republican now says he's seriously considering the race: Steve Abbott, who's currently Susan Collins' chief of staff.

NJ-Gov: Two more polls split the difference between Jon Corzine and Chris Christie in New Jersey. Democracy Corps, who've usually been Corzine's most favorable pollster, finds a 3-point race, with Corzine at 42, Christie at 39, and Chris Daggett at 13. SurveyUSA, on the hand, has tended to lean toward Christie and continue to do so, giving him a 2-point lead, with Christie at 41, Corzine at 39, and Daggett at 19. Christie, for his part, is turning for help to the one Republican in New Jersey that most people still like: ex-Governor Tom Kean, who just cut a TV ad on Christie's behalf.

RI-Gov: Businessman Rory Smith has announced his candidacy on the Republican side for Rhode Island governor. Insiders are comparing him to current GOP Gov. Don Carcieri, who was also a little-known businessman before winning in 2002; unlike Carcieri, though, Smith is socially liberal. He may have the field to himself; little-known state Rep. Joe Trillo, who was viewed as the default frontrunner after former Senate candidate Stephen Laffey declined, recently said that he too is leaning against the race.

AK-AL: Trouble just keeps following Republican Rep. Don Young around, and there's more of it today. A retired oil industry exec from VECO, Bill Allen, told the Justice Department that his company gave paid for fundraising events for Young to the tune of $130K to $195K, and also gave gifts to Young which didn't get disclosed. This provides the first hard evidence linking Young to the same VECO scandal that took down Ted Stevens last year. Young has not been charged in the matter, although suspicion was cast his way in previous VECO-related testimony. Young, who narrowly won in 2008, faces another competitive race in 2010 (assuming he's still in office at that point) from Democratic state Rep. Harry Crawford.

IL-08: On the "some dude" front, businessman (and apparently, not the former Eagles guitarist) Joe Walsh (who ran unsuccessfully against Sidney Yates in the 9th back in the 90s) announced that he'll run against Melissa Bean in the 8th.

NY-23: Now that all the cool kids are endorsing Doug Hoffman, the floodgates are starting to open among the cognoscenti of the conservative movement: Rick Santorum endorsed, and so too did former presidential candidate Michael Steve Forbes. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who seems like he's still trying to decide whether to be establishment or movement in 2012, has his finger in the air but said he'll probably endorsed and gave a clue by saying he had issues with the way Scozzafava got the nomination.

VA-05: Also on the "some dude" front, businessman and first-time candidate Ron Ferrin got into the overstuffed Republican field to go against freshman Rep. Tom Perriello. State Sen. Robert Hurt seems to have the inside track, though.

VA-St. House: One other worry for Democrats in Virginia is that Creigh Deeds' seeming negative coattails could cost them some seats in the state House of Delegates (where the GOP has a 53-43 edge, with 2 R-caucusing indies and 2 vacancies). Not Larry Sabato gives a preview of the hot races there, helpfully breaking it down into Tossup, Lean, and Likely for us. They see 2 GOP seats and 3 Dem seats as leaning toward takeovers, with 5 true tossups, but a strong McDonnell performance could push things more in the GOP direction.

Campaign Finance: Here's an interesting development on the campaign finance arena, although experts are still trying to sort out just what it means. The FEC won't appeal an appellate court decision that would allow outside groups to spend significantly more money on elections. The case was brought by EMILY's List; the decision allows them and other 527s to use soft money (in addition to hard money) to pay for ads and GOTV. The Obama administration's Solicitor General, Elena Kagen, however, can still appeal the case without the FEC's involvement.

2010: It sounds like some of the more timid members of the House Democrats were in need of a pep talk, so Chris Van Hollen of the DCCC sent around a memo with a nice list of bullet points on why 2010 won't be 1994.

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