• HI-Sen: Very slow fundraising quarters from Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa, despite Dan Akaka's retirement announcement on March 2. Hirono raised around $100K and has $291K on hand, while Hanabusa took in a mere $33K and has only $72K in the bank.
More interestingly, despite Ed Case's attempts at rapprochement, Sen. Dan Inouye still has hard feelings about Case's primary challenge to Akaka in 2006 - and he didn't hesitate to say so in a recent interview. He all but said that Case lied to his face when he asked him lo those many years ago if he'd run against Akaka, and then added a few remarks that made it sounds like Case had definitely not succeeded in making amends. So unless Inouye is playing some weirdly deep game here, then it looks like my fears that he'd subtly back Case seem unfounded. Good.
• KY-Sen: I don't know if I care about this, or whether it even matters, but glibertarian maniac Rand Paul filed for re-election yesterday. I guess this means he thinks the United States won't collapse into anarchy by 2016, but he's probably still hoarding kruggerands (and toilet paper) just to be on the safe side.
• MN-Sen: It's sort of easy to forget that Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election this cycle. Dedicated and hard-working, she doesn't showboat and is a consummate team player. The fact that she crushed in her debut campaign with 58% of the vote and no Republican opponents loom even in the distant horizon definitely have the effect of putting this race on the mental back burner. But true to form, she's taking her campaign very seriously, raising $1 million in Q1 and holding on to $2.5 mil in the bank.
• NJ-Sen: Is Republican biotech millionaire John Crowley thinking about a Senate bid - again? Roll Call notes that Crowley is stepping down as CEO of his pharma company, which could be a sign he's interested in taking on Sen. Bob Menendez. But for some reason, the article fails to point out that Crowley was heavily recruited to run against Sen. Frank Lautenberg in 2008, and backed out at the last moment - twice. He was also talked about for a gubernatorial run in 2009 (which he obviously didn't pull the trigger on). So we'll see if he has the fire in the belly to actually do something this time.
• TX-Sen: Did you know that there's already a declared Democrat in the race? I didn't, but Some Dude Sean Hubbard is apparently running.
• WA-Sen: Sen. Maria Cantwell raised $1.2 million in Q1 and has about the same amount in the bank.
• KY-Gov: Gov. Steve Beshear raised an impressive $1.3 million in the first three months of the year and has $3.3 million on hand.
• WV-Gov: Treasurer John Perdue is up what I think is the first negative ad of the Dem primary. He principally after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for taking money from utility companies who have charged jacked-up prices, accusing him (and also Natalie Tennant and Rick Thompson) of being "in the pocket" of the big energy firms. Using smokestacks as negative imagery in a state like West Virginia is certainly an unusual choice, given how many people there rely on "smokestack industries" for their livelihoods. But I guess whoever wins this multi-way primary is expecting to do so with only a relatively small plurality.
• AZ-06: We previously mentioned that Republican ex-Rep. Matt Salmon was thinking about a bid to reclaim his old House seat, with Jeff Flake running for Senate, and now he's made it official. Salmon, a member of the GOP's class of '94, honored a term-limit pledge and declined to run for re-election in 2000. However, he did run and lose against Janet Napolitano in the governor's race in 2002.
• FL-14: This seems unexpected: Chauncey Goss, son of former Congressman and CIA Director Porter Goss, says he's thinking about challenging Rep. Connie Mack in the Republican primary. Goss acknowledges that such a fight would be an "uphill battle," but also suggests that he could wind up running in an open seat. It sounds like he thinks that a new seat could be drawn by splitting Lee County (currently the bulk of the 14th CD), but I still wonder if Mack might wind up retiring. (By the way, the current 14th was in fact the elder Goss's seat before he was tapped to run the CIA in 2004.)
• IA-04: Ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack told a gathering of state Senate Dems that they should "stay tuned" regarding his wife's political ambitions. That sounds to me like Christie Vilsack is very much leaning toward a run against Republican nutter Steve King. Tom also promised the race would be a "holy war," a phrase which I sure as hell hope he a) doesn't repeat for public consumption and b) means that Christie plans on seriously taking King the woodshed.
• MI-11, MI-Sen (?): The AP canvassed all 15 House incumbents in Michigan, and all but one confirmed they were seeking re-election. The holdout? 11th CD Republican Thad McCotter, who is in his fifth term. I've hesitantly flagged this item as MI-Sen as well, since it's possible that McCotter is hedging because he's thinking about challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow, though he hasn't really been talked about much.
• NM-01: Dem state Sen. Tim Keller, only 33 years old, says he won't seek Rep. Martin Heinrich's open House seat but will instead seek re-election next year.
• NY-10: Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who hasn't ruled out a primary challenge to Rep. Ed Towns, says in a new interview that he wants the chance to serve alongside Barack Obama. So that means he's either a) gotta run next year b) run in 2014 or c) get the Constitution amended.
• IN-SoS: It looks like Republicans have found a pretty simple way out of the Charlie White mess: change the law. If White, the Republican Secretary of State who is currently under indictment, gets removed from office, the next-highest vote-getter in the last election, Democrat Vop Osili, would take his place. But a bill moving through the state lege would give the governor the power to appoint a replacement instead. (It also would let the GOP avoid any related fallout from having recorded zero valid votes in the SoS contest, a race to which many other electoral perks are tied.) Sucky for Dems, but whatcha gonna do.
• NJ-St. Sen.: Republicans are challenging Olympian Carl Lewis's residency status, trying to get him thrown off the ballot. Lewis says he's owned homes in New Jersey since 2005, but has voted and paid taxes in California until last year. The Secretary of State will rule by Thursday, but that decision can be appealed.
• Philly Mayor: This is definitely unusual. Former Mayor John Street just changed his party registration from "Democrat" to "independent," which could allow him to challenge Mayor Michael Nutter for his old job, something Street refused to rule out. Also unexpectedly, Street's wacky ex-con brother Milton, who is in fact running against Nutter in the Dem primary, got three big union endorsements last week. Seems impossible to imagine him winning next month, though, no?
• WI Recall: As expected, petitions were filed against Sheila Harsdorf yesterday, making her the fourth Republican state Senator to achieve this dubious status. And in more good news, state Rep. Fred Clark is planning an announcement for Thursday, very likely to declare a run against Luther Olsen, against whom petitions were filed on Monday. On the flipside, Republicans say they will file signatures in three Dem-held districts this week, but time is running out for them: Their deadlines are mostly April 25 & 26 (ours aren't due until May 2).
• DCCC: I'm getting kind of tired of these "DCCC launches campaign against 25 Republicans" (and the mirror images from the NRCC), mostly because I think the amounts being spent are quite small, but anyway, here's another one, this time about Medicare.
• Passings: William Donald Schaefer, the iconic four-term Democratic mayor of Baltimore and two-term governor of Maryland, died on Monday at the age of 89. The Baltimore Sun has wall-to-wall coverage of Schaefer's passing, whose legendary career is hard to summarize, but you can start with the obituary at the first link.
• California: Newspaper editorial pages are usually filled with some of the worst goo-goo anti-gerrymandering handwringing, so I found this op-ed by George Skelton in the LA Times to be particularly delightful. Skelton wryly observes that California Dems can't get a tax deal done with Republicans because a key tool in their arsenal - offering to draw recalcitrant legislators good districts, and threatening them with bad ones - has been taken out of their hands. In other words, like a lot of California's supposedly well-meaning ballot initiatives, the independent redistricting commission is also having some unintended consequences. In the end, Skelton seems to come down on the side of the commission anyway, but I think he's right: When you limit legislators' ability to legislate, you limit their ability to do good things as well as bad.
• Iowa: We're done: Iowa is now the third state to complete a new congressional map, with Gov. Terry Brandstad signing off on the plans yesterday. At the bottom of the linked article, you'll also find a list of all state House and Senate incumbents who have been thrown together in the same district.
• Missouri: Some interesting backstory on the Dem side of redistricting in Missouri. Apparently, things got nasty between Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay just a couple of weeks ago: Carnahan asked Clay (and Emmanuel Cleaver, MO's other Dem member of the House) to help him ask Gov. Jay Nixon to veto the state legislature's new maps which throw Clay and Carnahan into one district together. (The seat would be heavily black, which would favor Clay.) Clay refused, leading to a heated moment on the House floor, but now apparently Carnahan has agreed not to run against him in a primary. Instead, Carnahan is supposedly being pushed toward a run in what would become the new 3rd CD, which at present is largely Todd Akin's district. That seat could open up if Akin runs for Senate, which I'd currently say is more likely than not.
Republicans, however, have not made any peace agreements and in fact appear to be in meltdown mode. Yesterday we mentioned that Republican leaders and congressmembers were gathering to discuss the impasse between competing maps, a meeting which reportedly became "acrimonious." I'll let Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum of the St. Louis Beacon summarize the key points of contention:
The Republican members of Congress generally want the Senate to drop consideration of its map and take up the map already passed by the Missouri House. But Senate leaders dislike some of the House's proposed boundaries. They also say they don't have the votes for a veto-proof majority of the House map.
I strongly suggest reading the entire Beacon article if you're interested in this topic - it's definitely one of the sharper tradmed pieces I've seen on redistricting in general this year. In any event, Republicans want a shot at over-riding a possible Nixon veto before the current legislative session ends on May 13, so time is running short here.
• New Jersey: With the Garden State losing a seat this decade, Aaron Blake runs through five different scenarios involving various incumbent-vs-incumbent matchups.
• Oklahoma: Yesterday, the state House unanimously passed a new congressional map (which makes very minimal changes to the existing district lines). Given that all five members of Congress have signed off on the plan, I'd be surprised if it doesn't breeze through the Senate as well - but we've already had more than our share of redistricting surprises this cycle, so I've stopped calling my bookie.
• Virginia: A committee in the Republican-held House made some minor tweaks to their map, which Gov. Bob McDonnell had previously vetoed. I'm sure this is just cosmetic b.s., because McDonnell really only cares about the Dem map that the Senate produced. In McDonnell's world, the first is a work of unparalleled bipartisanshippy beauty, while the second is a hideous Demmycrat gerrymander FROM HELL. That's fookin' politics for ya.
The Republican primary is just a month away - May 17th - and it's hard to imagine state Senate President David Williams losing. But despite Kentucky's dark red turn of late, the general election numbers show that incumbency and candidate quality really do matter. SUSA paints the most optimistic picture for Steve Beshear so far, but his 12-point lead is in line with what we've seen previously (PPP +9, Braun +10).
While I'd expect this race to tighten as we approach election day, it's also worth noting that Williams went on the air with his first TV ad a couple of weeks ago, before this poll went into the field. I'm guessing the buy was fairly small and probably had a limited impact on his numbers, but the fact that he's still in the 30s isn't a good sign for Republicans. You never want to get too comfortable in a race like this, but Beshear is looking pretty good.
• AZ-Sen: So what the heck happened with Trent Franks? The Arizona Guardian is reporting that the Republican Congressman had been promising people jobs on his pending Senate campaign, and that his people had even gone so far as to ensure proper media risers were available at the hotel where Franks was supposed to make his big announcement. Yet it all vanished in a heartbeat when Franks unexpectedly pulled the plug. Says the Guardian: "The good thing is, there's still another year-and-a-half to get the full story before the 2012 elections." Also, in case you haven't seen it yet, Dave Catanese penned a piece explaining the backstory on how he got burned by Franks' consultant. It just adds to all the weirdness.
• FL-Sen: Tucked inside that Quinnipiac poll which showed tough numbers for Obama was this nugget:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who like Obama is on the 2012 ballot, is in better shape, with a 47-26 percent approval rating, a 43-39 percent lead over an unidentified Republican and voters saying 43-35 percent that he deserves another term in the Senate.
• MI-Sen (PDF): A week or so ago, Republican-affiliated pollster Market Research Group offered some better-than-everyone-else approval ratings for Gov. Rick Snyder. Apparently, they also polled the Senate race at the same time, pitting Dem Debbie Stabenow against Some Dude Randy Hekman. Amusingly, the polling memo says the Senator has a "slim" 11-point lead over Hekman, 45-34. But the real problem is the sample, which is 26 R, 26 D, 43 I - in other words, nothing like reality.
MRG also polled a hypothetical state Supreme Court matchup between incumbent Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, which had Zahra up 38-33. (Moving from the statehouse to the high court is not unheard of in Michigan.) Speaking of Granholm, she was supposedly under consideration to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Board but says she withdrew her name (and likes Elizabeth Warren for the job). It sounds like Granholm is keeping pretty busy, and the article notes she's teaching at UC Berkeley, so perhaps she's enjoying the weather out in Cali a bit more than back home. But Granholm is a former state AG and was even supposedly a possible Supreme Court pick, so perhaps a judicial run is plausible.
• PA-Sen: Sam Rohrer, the teabaggy ex-state Rep. who got pounded by Tom Corbett in the PA-Gov GOP primary last year, says he's "50-50" on running against Bob Casey this cycle. Rohrer has the perfect pedigree: He runs the Pennsylvania chapter of the malevolent David Koch front group Americans for Prosperity.
NBC 4's reporter-anchor Craig Melvin is a tall African-American. Which apparently led to this exchange with former Sen. George Allen, according to Melvin's Twitter account Tuesday night:
"For the 2nd time in 5 months, fmr. gov. and sen candidate George Allen asks me,"what position did you play?" I did not a play a sport."
Actually, I changed my mind. If you still don't think George Allen is a racist fuck, read this coda from ThinkProgress writer Lee Feng. And no, Allen didn't apologize - he offered a classic bullshit "I'm sorry if I offended you" response. That's bullshit.
Anyhow, Roanoke College released a poll of the race, showing Allen leading Tim Kaine by 45-32 - a rather different picture than what we saw from PPP. However, the WaPo ran an above-the-item update warning readers to be "cautious" about this survey because "[r]esults were adjusted only for gender, and the resulting sample is not representative of Virginia's racial composition, its age structure or regional population densities." It also looks like the horserace question was asked after about a bajillion issue-related questions (PDF), some of them kind of weird.
Finally, in Some Dude news... some other Some Dude (an African-American minister named Earl Jackson) decided to get into the GOP primary, a race with a lot of Some Dudes already in it.
• GA-Gov: PPP did a re-do poll in Georgia, too, and found Dem ex-Gov. Roy Barnes would edge actual Gov. Nathan Deal by a single point today, 46-45. Tom says that this isn't a case of voter disgust with Deal (he has pretty meh ratings, not downright radioactive ones like Scott Walker), but rather a clear sign of last year's enthusiasm gap that will forever haunt us. There's also a smorgasbord of other Peach State odds-and-ends at the link.
• KY-Gov: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is out with his first radio ads of the campaign, touting his small-town roots, a week after his likely Republican opponent, David Williams, also went up on radio. Unlike Beshear, Williams faces a primary on May 17th, so he's also going up on cable TV with a new ad you can watch here. NWOTSOTB for any of these.
• MS-Gov: Turns out PPP did in fact test the Republican gubernatorial primary in Mississippi. Click through if you really, really care. (Hint: You won't.)
• UT-Gov: State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, a teabagger fave to challenge immigration apostate Gary Herbert for the governor's mansion, says on Facebook that he has "no plans or intentions to run." (Yes, it would be more awesome if his name were Stephen Sandstorm.)
• WV-Gov: In case you weren't sure where all the players in the Democratic primary field stand on the ideology spectrum (something we'll be rectifying with a more in-depth post shortly), this is a helpful guidepost: Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was endorsed by the WV Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber also endorsed the only two legit Republicans running, Betty Ireland and Bill Maloney.
• CA-26, CA-06: Assemblyman Anthony Portantino is getting some high-profile fundraising help: Steve Israel is coming out to Pacific Palisades this weekend for a breakfast event. The same piece also notes that Assemblyman Jared Huffman raised $120K for a federal account in Q1; Huffman is interested in 73-year-old Rep. Lynn Woolsey's seat, if she retires. Woolsey apparently will decide whether to seek another term by June.
• IL-08: I'm not exactly broken up by this news: Ex-Rep. Melissa Bean, whose race was the closest in the nation last year (she lost by 290 votes to a real piece of work), says she won't run again. She's now CEO of something called the Executives Club of Chicago, which doesn't really give off a man-of-the-people vibe, now does it?
• MI-09: If there's one guy repeatedly written off as a redistricting victim who I'd really love to see find a way to survive, it's Rep. Gary Peters. Despite what must have been an exhausting last several years raising money, the Michigan Dem wasted no time getting right back into the game, pulling in over $400K in Q1. He has half a mil on hand.
• NM-01: This Roll Call piece (also linked below in a redistricting item) mentions a few Dem names we hadn't discussed here before: state Rep. Al Park, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, who lost the 2008 primary for this seat.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon will join the "government relations" (i.e., lobbying) group at a mid-sized NYC law firm. He's apparently being brought on as "counsel" status, rather than as a partner, so this could just be a way-station to allow him to pay the bills as he weighs a re-match... but of course, he risks getting hit with the lobbyist taint.
• PA-17: Activist Sheila Dow-Ford confirms the rumors that she's considering another run against Rep. Tim Holden, against whom she took 35% in the Democratic primary last year. Holden could get a bluer district when all is said and done, so a challenge from the left is a real possibility - but as Dow-Ford herself notes, others are interested, and I wouldn't be surprised if some bigger-name candidates got in if the seat became markedly more Dem.
• UT-02: Huh - I can't exactly accuse the Salt Lake Tribune of burying the lede, since they put this in the second graf, but Rep. Jim Matheson says he's waiting to see what the new district lines look like before deciding whether to run again, or instead if he'll seek statewide office. A statewide run doesn't seem like a particularly appealing escape hatch, but both Gov. Gary Herbert (see item above) and Sen. Orrin Hatch could wind up damaged by teabaggers, so you never know. A couple of other statewide offices Matheson could see (Treasurer, Auditor) are up as well.
Also, Some Dude Chuck Williams, an Air Force vet who lost a couple of GOP primaries for Congress... in California... says he plans to challenge Matheson for his House seat, and that he'll run regardless of where the lines get drawn.
• VA-11: Via FEC Kenobi, Some Dude Christopher Perkins just filed as a Republican to challenge Gerry Connolly. That's a pretty un-Google-able name, so I can't tell you much about him... though I do know his home is worth $743,130!
• WV-01: Freshman Rep. David McKinley (R), who won a close race last year, says he's raised over half a mil in the first quarter. Note, though, that he still has $670K in campaign debt from last cycle.
• Allegheny Co. Exec.: PoliticsPA, via Municipoll, has a race out on the Allegheny, PA County Executive's race. I'm gonna admit straight off the bat that I don't know the players here, but click through for details.
• IN-SoS: So a judge allowed a Dem challenge to SoS Charlie White's eligibility to serve in office to proceed, but really, you just need to read Bob Bobson's summary of where things stand - and where things will head now. (Bob's been doing an awesome job of staying on top of this oftentimes-complicated story, so pay attention to him.)
• Champaign, IL Mayor: Here's a nice little election result that we otherwise missed: The avowedly teabagging mayor of Champaign, Illinois was narrowly defeated by a political newcomer on Tuesday night, the first time, in fact, that he'd ever been opposed in 12 years in office. I'm a little surprised that the university town of Champaign would have elected such a wingnut in the first place, but this is still good news.
• Specials: Johnny Longtorso:
Democrat Kevin Johnson won a 5-point victory over Republican Sonny Sanders in South Carolina's HD-64.
[On whether this seat was supposedly a Dem stronghold:]
I took another look at it; it's almost all of a county that Obama got around 56% in along with one or two precincts of an adjacent county, and it's about 50/50 white/black, so black turnout may have been low. So he just did a few points worse than Obama's numbers in 2008.
• Wisconsin Recall: Dems filed over 22,000 signatures to recall state Sen. Randy Hopper yesterday. Republicans claim they are close to filing petitions for Sen. Robert Wirch, one of the more endangered Dems on the list.
• WATN?: Ethan Hastert, son of ex-Speaker Denny the Hutt and victim of a genuinely impressive teabagger-fueled anybody-but-Ethan movement to deny him the GOP nomination in IL-14 last year, has managed to win elective office this year. He earned a council seat in the village of Elburn, IL, which has a population that is actually a few thousand smaller than my census tract. Don't call it a comeback!
• Arkansas: Total impasse: The state House rejected the state Senate's congressional redistricting plan, complementing the Senate's recent rejection of the House plan. Some procedural maneuvers may be used to try to get things moving forward again, which lawmakers are probably eager to do, since the legislative session was scheduled to end over a week ago.
• California: Look, it's basically impossible to find a law firm that knows anything about redistricting which has never had any prior political involvement. So I don't understand why it's coming as a surprise that Gibson Dunn, the firm hired by the redistricting commission, has a political fund and has used it to make donations. Oh wait, I think I do - it's because most (but by no means all) of those donations were made to Democrats, so the GOP is continuing its plan to do everything it can to "discredit" the entire process. It's especially silly, because the firm specifically tasked one Dem attorney and one Republican attorney to lead the effort... but then again, the GOP is especially silly.
• Louisiana: Nathan Gonzales has a good piece untangling the wreck that is Louisiana redistricting, and offering some insight into the behind-the-scenes process. I strongly encourage you to click through the link for the full flavor. (As an inducement, there's a bowl full of cat food inside.) Apparently, a compromise plan is in the works, but Nathan says that if an agreement isn't reached by next week, the lege will have to wait until next year to finish its work. (They can't call a special session?) Anyhow, like I say, read the whole thing.
• New Mexico: Though legislators won't hold a special session on redistricting until the fall, apparently a plan is brewing among Democrats to excise GOP-leaning Torrance County from the 1st CD. The problem, though, is that while Dems control the lege, Gov. Susana Martinez is, of course, a Republican - a very similar situation to the last round of map-drawing in 2001, which eventually ended up in court.
• Texas: You can play with various Texas map proposals at the link.
• Virginia: Two Virginia items. First, the House of Delegates approved the Republican gerrymander for that body, though most Democrats were actually stupid enough to vote in favor of the plan. (Hasn't anyone ever heard of a symbolic protest vote to at least signal to your supporters that you know you're getting the shaft, even if it's for the greater good?) Second, a (the?) congressional plan was released, and it's potentially not as bad as it could be. Have a look-see.
• FL-Sen: I was pretty bored with reading the George LeMieux tea leaves even before his cuppa began brewing, but in case you're not me, the very-short-tenured former senator has been busy attending Lincoln Day dinners and meeting with GOP activists and potential donors. In beltway land, I think this upgrades him from "Lean Run" to "Likely Run."
• IN-Sen: Treasurer Richard Mourdock is trying to cause some trouble by saying that Gov. Mitch Daniels encouraged him to run against Dick Lugar in the GOP primary, while a Daniels spokesperson said the governor did no such thing. Daniels previously said he'd vote for Lugar, but didn't exactly endorse him. In other news, Mourdock says he expects to show $125K raised for his race in just a month of campaigning.
• KY-Gov: Dem Gov. Steve Beshear just punked his top opposition in this year's gubernatorial race, state Senate President David Williams, hard. Williams had insisted on broad spending cuts (including to education) as part of a Medicaid budget bill; the Democratic-controlled House had no interest in these cuts, but Williams refused any possible compromise. So House Dems (and rebellious House Republicans) passed the Williams bill anyway... I know, hang on ... but full-well expecting Beshear to use his line-item veto to strike the cuts. Then they adjourned, so that the vetoes couldn't get over-ridden. And that's exactly what happened, handing Williams a humiliating defeat.
• WI-Gov: I'm wondering which pollster will finally have the courage to report numbers to the THOUSANDTHS of a percent. For now, we'll have to content ourselves with Republican-affiliated pollster We Ask America, which bravely ignores all rules about significant digits and goes all the way to hundredths. They show what other polls are showing: that Scott Walker (like other loser Midwestern Republican governors) has crappy job approval ratings, in this case 43.71 to 54.87. YES DECIMALS.
• WV-Gov: The AP has a good run-down on which groups are endorsing whom in the gubernatorial race. On the Dem side, we've noted several of the big union heavy hitters, most of whom are backing state House Speaker Rick Thompson. But some important labor groups are supporting other candidates, like state Sen. Jeff Kessler (Fraternal Order of Police, nurses) and Treasurer John Perdue (teamsters, state troopers). Meanwhile, EMILY's List has endorsed SoS Natalie Tenant. The AP also tried to get candidates to cough up estimates of their fundraising figures (final reports are due Friday), but only acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin responded, saying he'd pulled in about a million bucks.
And speaking of Thompson, he's apparently the first on TV, with an ad touting his hardscrabble upbringing. By the way, SSP Southern Correspondent Trent Thompson notes that the soundtrack you hear is a Baptist hymn, which seems to be popular among Southern Dems (Bobby Bright featured this sort of thing in his advertising). (UPDATE: Actually, it's an actually an old Hank Williams gospel song that's commonly sung in churches.)
• CA-36: It looks like we have the final list of candidate filings for the special election. I count ten Democrats, six Republicans, five "nonpartisan," two Libertarians (splitter!), and one "Peace and Freedom" candidate. Also, Howard Dean just endorsed Debra Bowen, which is not too surprising given that his former organization, Democracy for America (run by Howard's brother Jim), also recently endorsed.
• CA-51: Apparently there had been vague rumors that Dem Rep. Bob Filner might run for mayor of San Diego... and now apparently Filner just went and announced he was in fact doing so in a totally off-hand remark after a screening of the film Freedom Riders. (Filner himself was one of the Mississippi Freedom Riders.) There's been some dispute over whether Filner's remarks were accurately conveyed, but oddly, Filner's office has refused to either confirm or deny the statement. Note that the race is in June of next year, so I believe Filner gets a free shot while keeping his House seat.
• TX-23: Not so fast, Quico! Gary Martin of the Houston Chronicle says that Dems are looking at a few potential challengers to freshman GOPer Quico Canseco, including state Rep. Joaquin Castro and Pete Gallego, and state Sen. Carlos Uresti. Ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez is also apparently weighing a rematch. While the borders of the 23rd will undoubtedly shift somewhat, it probably can't change a whole lot thanks to the VRA (it's 66% Hispanic), so this race could heat up earlier than many others.
• WI-01: Food service company owner and Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban is apparently interested in challenging GOP Rep. Paul Ryan. Despite his leadership post and his inflexible conservatism, Ryan sits in a very swingish district that can't really be improved in redistricting for a variety of reasons.
• ME-St. Sen.: The Maine SoS has set May 10th as the date for a special election to fill the seat of state Sen. Larry Bliss (D). The reason for Bliss's resignation was certainly unusual and quite poignant: He couldn't find a job in Maine. State legislators work part-time and are only paid $13,000 a year. Bliss said that in the absence of other work, he'd been working as a "full-time" legislator and was really enjoying his job, but he could only find employment in California, prompting his resignation. Of course, this story really isn't that unusual at all, given how many people are still out of work and struggling terribly. Also of note: Bliss was one of only a handful of openly LGBT state legislators nationwide.
• PA-AG: Longtime Philly DA Lynne Abraham (D), who left office just last year, said she's considering a run for state AG, despite being 70 years old. (Devoted Swingnuts will recall that ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy is also thinking about a run.) Believe it or not, no Democrat has won the AG's office since it became an elected position in 1980.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: Unnamed sources tell the National Review they've seen polling showing the race between incumbent Justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg "near even."
• Census: Like in NYC, pols in Atlanta are wondering why the new Census numbers for their city are so much lower than expected - 420K vs. a projected 540K. Jacob Alperin-Sherrif (better known to you as DemocraticLuntz) has an excellent post comparing Census projections with actual numbers for cities between 100K and 1 million people. You need to click through for his must-see scatterplot. There is one massive outlier: Atlanta, which is more than six standard deviations away from the mean.
• Indiana: Despite total Republican control over the process, it's starting to look like the Indiana legislature won't finish their congressional map before the body adjourns on April 29th, largely because of a walk-out by Democrats which ground most work to a halt. But the Democrats just reached what they're saying is a favorable a deal with the Republicans, so perhaps the process will pick up again soon.
• Iowa: The state's independent redistricting panel will release the first draft of a new congressional map at 8:15 am local time on Thursday morning.
• Virginia: New maps for Congress, the state House and the state Senate could be released by the legislature today. Stay alert!
Those trendlines are pretty ancient (more than half a year old), yet little seems to have changed since last September. These numbers look quite good for incumbent Dem Steve Beshear, and in fact aren't too far off from PPP's late October survey. One note of caution, though, is that Braun's Kentucky polls were fairly favorable to Dems last cycle; their final KY-Sen numbers showed Rand Paul up seven (he won by 11.5).
Braun didn't test the GOP primary, but state Senate President David Williams (running on a ticket with the perfectly named Ag. Comm'r Richie Farmer) is widely considered to be the frontrunner. In an internal poll from last month, Williams' ticket took 47% to just 9% for teabagging businessman Phil Moffett and 10% for Jefferson Co. Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, the only woman in the race. We haven't seen any other responsive internals which might contradict this one... though hope always springs eternal. Still, don't hold your breath for too long - the Hotline takes a long look at the many ways in which Moffett's candidacy differs from Paul's, and I'm inclined to agree with most of them. In particular, note that Paul himself says he won't endorse in the primary.
This poll also included a test of the Kentucky Attorney General's race, which gives us a good chance to check up on our old buddy Jack Conway:
Conway looks to have a very nice lead over Vulcan ambassador Hopkins County Attorney Todd P'Pool. P'Pool was more of a second choice after SoS Trey Grayson, who lost the 2010 GOP senate primary to (of course) Rand Paul), decided Harvard was a better fit for him than the Bluegrass State.
• MO-Sen: Most likely you already saw this story yesterday, but the big story in the Missouri Senate race is that Politico's Dave Catanese seems to be the recipient of various leaks that ex-Sen. Jim Talent will announce soon that he isn't going to run for Senate. We won't start jumping up and down and honking our clown horn until we actually hear it from Talent, but this isn't a surprise, based on previous rumors out of the Show Me State and Talent's seeming decision to focus on hitching his wagon to Mitt Romney's star instead. Without a dominant establishment candidate in the field, it looks like even more GOPers are starting to sniff out the race: MO-08 Rep. Jo Ann Emerson is now on the record as at least "considering" a run. Emerson, who's had some mavericky moments in the House, would easily be the most moderate GOPer in the field if she ran (and may see a path there, with multiple tea partiers seeming poised to cannibalize each others' votes). Emerson's potential departure would create an open seat in the currently R+15 8th, an area that actually went for Bill Clinton but has fallen off the cliff for Dems in recent years, most recently with the fizzle of the touted Tommy Sowers campaign last year.
• NJ-Sen: PPP, while "cleaning out their fridge" as they said, found some week-old GOP Senate primary numbers from their New Jersey sample. They find state Sen. and 2006 candidate Tom Kean Jr. in good shape, with support from both moderates (which is probably what he would qualify as) and conservatives; he leads Lou Dobbs 42-30 with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno at 7, "someone else" at 6, and 15 undecided.
• KY-Gov: Filing day came and went without any last-minute shenanigans in Kentucky. Steve Beshear will get a totally free ride in the Democratic primary (looks like that primary from the scrap metal dealer didn't materialize), and will face one of three GOP opponents: state Senate president David Williams, teabagging businessman Phil Moffett, or Jefferson Co. Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw. The general election field in the AG race is already set; Jack Conway and Todd P'Pool didn't draw any primary challengers. The most activity seems to be in the Ag Commissioner race (vacated by Richie Farmer, who's running for Lt. Gov.), with 5 Dems and 2 GOPers running.
• MN-08: This probably isn't a surprise, but after his upset loss last year, 76-year-old Jim Oberstar has decided to opt for retirement rather than a rerun against new Rep. Chip Cravaack. Two other high-profile Dems, Duluth mayor Don Ness and state Sen. Tony Lourey have also recently said no. Two DFLers who are considering the race, though, are Duluth-based state Sen. Roger Reinert and Daniel Fanning, Al Franken's deputy state director.
• Omaha mayor: Omaha mayor Jim Suttle narrowly survived a recall attempt in last night's special election. He won 51-49. Suttle vows to do a better job of communicating with voters in the election's wake, although it remains an open question whether he runs again in 2013.
• Redistricting: Here's a new wrinkle in the fight over the Fair Districts initiatives in Florida: Rick Scott seems to be stalling implementation of the new standards (which would limit the state legislature's ability to gerrymander districts). The state "quietly withdrew" its request that the federal DOJ approve implementation of the initiatives, which jeopardizes whether they'll be in place in time for the actual business of redistricting. Florida, as a one-time part of the Deep South, is one of those states that requires DOJ preclearance for changes to its electoral regime under the Voting Rights Act.
Politico also has an interesting article today about the Congressional Black Caucus and redistricting, which will reshape many of their districts, seeing as how some of their members' districts have had the biggest population losses of any districts in the nation (OH-11, MI-13, MI-14, and MO-01 in particular). These districts seem like they can absorb some suburban votes without losing their lopsided Dem advantages, but they're probably more worried about members getting pitted against each other (as might happen with the two Detroit districts) or against another Dem (possible for Marcia Fudge and Lacy Clay). Other lingering questions are whether Sanford Bishop's GA-02 (the only CBC-held district that's legitimately swingy) gets shored up or made worse, and whether South Carolina can be compelled to eke out a second VRA seat.
• Turnout models: I rarely get the chance to say this, but if you look at only one scatterplot today, it should be this one. It's a remarkably-clear slope showing how predictable presidential approval is across demographic groups, and more evidence that the swing in the 2010 election was uniform across groups in response to macro factors (i.e. the stupid economy) rather than a failure of microtargeting. And here are some further thoughts on the matter from Larry Sabato's new book, pointing out the really steep dropoffs in 2010 turnout for the groups I tend to label the "casual voters" (reliably Dem lower-information voters, mostly young and/or people of color, who turn out for presidential races but not the less compelling stuff in between), and how the 2010 model isn't anything like what the 2012 model will resemble.
• CT-Sen, CT-Gov: OK, we can probably scratch Republican ex-Ambassador and rich guy Tom Foley from the list of likely Republican candidates for Joe Lieberman's Senate seat, if only by virtue of the fact that he's rhetorically moving himself up to the front of the line for the 2014 gubernatorial race (which would be a rematch against Dan Malloy). He says he'll keep intact his political operation from last time, where he lost narrowly. Meanwhile, I can't see this ever becoming reality, but a little wish-listing can't hurt: Connecticut liberals are already starting a draft movement to get the newly-available Keith Olbermann to think about running for the Senate seat.
• MI-Sen: The idea of Saul Anuzis (the state's former GOP party chair, and recent RNC election loser) stepping out from behind the curtain and running for Senate still seems a little odd, but it sounds like he's moving that way, dropping more public statements of interest and apparently polling the field now too. Meanwhile, this isn't really Senate related unless Debbie Stabenow mysteriously decided to retire and a Dem replacement was needed (and even then it probably isn't a good idea, considering how unpopular she became), but ex-Gov. Jennifer Granholm says she's permanently done with politics and moving on to academia with a new position at UC-Berkeley's school of public policy.
• MO-Sen: Ed Martin (whose main claim to fame is that he lost in MO-03 last year) has been doing everything he can to stay in the public eye, and it seems there's a method to his madness: he seems to be moving more decisively toward a Senate run. That seems a likely route toward getting flattened by someone known statewide like Jim Talent or Sarah Steelman, but he probably figures he has a couple advantages: one, if Talent doesn't run, Martin would be the only GOP primary candidate from the state's largest media market (St. Louis), and two, Martin is tight with the state's tea party grassroots, and while the Beltway astroturf types like the Club for Growth are big on Steelman, the actual teabagger boots on the ground have a lot of antipathy toward Steelman and are looking elsewhere.
• NJ-Sen: There are lots of politicians who are able to get away with having one penis reference in their names, but it seems like too much to overcome for someone with two penis references in his name. At any rate, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is considering the race, although insiders concede he isn't likely to go for it. Johnson has been a major Republican donor for years, and, as of yesterday, has some more time on his hands to consider the race.
• NV-Sen: More signs that John Ensign is moving full speed ahead on running for re-election: he's convened a meeting of his re-election steering committee for Feb. 1. The invitation for the meeting (to be held at the NRSC) comes from his main fundraisers (indicating that, yes, he still has fundraisers working for him).
• VA-Sen: I suppose George Allen making it official that he's running for Senate is big news, but we've known this for a week; it's gotten so meta that there have been leaks about upcoming leaks about his candidacy. At any rate, he actually sent out his official e-mail announcement to supporters today and unveiled a new fully operational website for his Senate campaign. Jim Webb's folks simply say that Webb's decision about whether or not to run for another term will happen sometime "this quarter."
• KY-Gov: When Jefferson Co. Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw started making noises about running for the GOP nomination in Kentucky, I assumed she was trying to leverage her way into getting the field cleared for her for a lower statewide office, but it looks like she's actually following through on her long shot gubernatorial bid, which pits her in the primary against establishment fave David Williams and tea party-backed businessman Phil Moffett. Filing deadlines in Kentucky are tomorrow, so the field looks pretty set. (Dem incumbent Steve Beshear has only some token opposition in the Dem primary, and I'm not making this up: scrap metal dealer Otis Hensley.)
• MS-Gov: Even if SoS Delbert Hosemann doesn't follow through on rumored plans to run for Governor, we'll still have at least one candidate with a name that seems to have emerged straight from a Faulkner novel: Pearl River County Supervisor Hudson Holliday. He officially joined the field in the GOP primary, where he seems like he'll be the third wheel against Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and businessman Dave Dennis.
• NH-Gov: We already have a poll out of the Republican primary field in the 2012 gubernatorial race, from a never-heard-of-'em-before firm called Strategic National. It looks like Ovide Lamontagne, if he's interested, may get a second whack at the governorship (remember he was the 1996 candidate, before falling off the map for a long time before re-emerging to almost win the 2010 GOP Senate primary); he leads the field at 37, with losing '10 candidate John Stephen at 14, state Sen. and ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley at 13, and Manchester mayor Ted Gatsas at 4.
• CT-05: Here are a few more Republican names that have bubbled up, that might get into the field in the now-open seat in the 5th, beyond the obvious re-run from state Sen. Jim Sam Caligiuri. Both the losers in the 2010 primary are also likely to run again, ex-Rob Simmons aide Justin Bernier and rich guy Mark Greenberg. State Sen. Andrew Roraback is also saying he's interested, while another state Sen., Rob Kane, is sounding pretty lukewarm about it.
• MI-09: Ex-state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski says he's planning on a rematch against Rep. Gary Peters, after losing narrowly in 2010. However, Raczkowski openly realizes he has some potential problems there (that go beyond his own weaknesses as a candidate): Peters may not have a district left to run in, either. With Michigan losing a seat, Republicans controlling the process, the bulk of the state's depopulation happening in the Detroit area, and the probable need to keep having two Detroit-area VRA seats, Peters is the likeliest target. (On the other hand, Peters could find himself drawn into a seat stretching across Detroit's northern suburbs with Sandy Levin, which might prompt the elderly Levin to retire, and that seat probably would be much more Dem-friendly than Peters' old seat.)
• NY-25: This strikes us as a disappointing move, given that he defended his progressive voting record pretty strongly during his campaign (although, unfortunately, most strongly in his concession statement): ex-Rep. Dan Maffei has taken a position with post-partisan centrist group Third Way. (Although, if nothing else, it points to the paucity of truly left-leaning think tanks and non-profits where Dems can park themselves and stay engaged within the Beltway for several years; there's no shortage of Heritages and Catos on the right, but this may have been the best option Maffei could find.) No indication on whether Maffei intends to make a 2012 rematch (although he'll probably want to wait to see whether the 25th winds up being the upstate district that gets chopped).
• UT-02: This may give a clue to the GOP's plans for redistricting (where their choices are to create four GOP seats in what may risk being a dummymander, or to decide to tolerate Jim Matheson's continued existence and create a Dem vote sink for him to strengthen their other districts). Incoming state GOP chair Thomas Wright has two goals for the cycle: raise $1 million, and beat "that rascal Jim Matheson." (At least he didn't call him a scalawag or a mugwump. Them's fightin' words.)
• CT-St. Leg.: There's a total of nine special elections pending in the upcoming months in both houses of Connecticut's legislature, all of which are seats that were previously held by Democrats (with eight of them heading off to join the Malloy administration and one of them heading to jail). To my eye (looking at the very helpful map provided by the Hartford Courant), these all look like they're in Dem-friendly areas (with the possible exceptions of HD-36 and HD-101?), but Republicans are hopeful they can make some gains somewhere.
• PA-St. Sen.: The fields have been picked (by the party committees in Berks County) for the upcoming special election to replace Michael O'Pake in the light-blue SD-11. Dems, as expected, picked former Berks County Commissioner Judy Schwank, while the GOP picked Berks County Register of Wills Larry Medaglia. (Interestingly, PA-06 loser Manan Trivedi was one of the other names considered for the Dems.) The Mar. 25 election theoretically will be a big test of whether the state GOP has any more continued momentum in SE Pennsylvania suburbs after their gains in November, although there are rumors of polling showing the locally-well-known Schwank leading in the 20-point realm against all potential opponents.
• State parties: One of the big stories over the weekend was that assorted tea partiers won three of the four state GOP chair races that were being contested. Maybe the most attention-getting one, because of '12 presidential implications, was the victory of Jack Kimball (who lost the '10 gubernatorial primary to John Stephen) over the Sununu dynasty's handpicked choice, Juliana Bergeron, in New Hampshire. However, the win of talk radio host Kirby Wilbur over incumbent Luke Esser in Washington also has substantial implications, inasmuch as former state Sen. Esser was a key ally of Rob McKenna (they both hail from suburban Bellevue and are among the last remnants of the state's moderate establishment tradition), and this may presage increased willpower on the right to mount a strong primary challenge to McKenna in the '12 gubernatorial race, despite the near-certainty that McKenna is the only Republican capable of winning the general election. Arizona also elected Tom Morrissey (against the wishes of both John McCain and Jon Kyl!). Oregon was the only state to buck the trend, electing Allen Alley (a moderate who lost the '10 gubernatorial primary, although he actually got most of the tea party support in that primary against the also-moderate-but-vapid Chris Dudley, geriatric John Lim, and laughable Bill Sizemore, and still seemed to have some goodwill reserves among that set).
• Voter suppression: With Wisconsin and Minnesota's Republican-held legislatures moving to maintain their power (by making it more difficult for Democrats to vote for Democrats, by imposing strict voter ID laws), the floodgates seem to be opening, indicating that the GOP's main priority isn't jobs but fighting the nonexistent rising tide of alleged voter fraud. Similar legislation is now emerging in legislatures in Texas, Kansas, and Iowa. It's also becoming clearer that a voter ID law is just one step in the process in Wisconsin where the ultimate goal is elimination of Wisconsin's fairly unique (and Dem-friendly) quirk of allowing same-day registration.
• FL-Sen: With everyone fixated on the three retirements in the Senate in the last week (although the Fix makes the good point this morning that by this point in the 2010 cycle, there had already been four retirements), Bill Nelson seems compelled to point out that he won't be one of them. In front of as many reporters as possible (at an AP gathering), he confirmed today that he's running again.
• MO-Sen, MO-06: Wow, this is out of nowhere (although I'm not sure whether this is going to have any legs beyond today), but potentially very interesting: Republican Rep. Sam Graves is suddenly expressing some interest in the Senate race, calling it a "great opportunity." He's been in the House since 2000 and is chair of the Small Business Committee, so giving that up would be a big move. He may be seeing the diminished likelihood of a Jim Talent run and sensing there's room for another establishmentarian-type candidate to go against the more tea-flavored Sarah Steelman. (This would open up MO-06 in the state's rural northwest, which was Dem-held before Graves but has shifted to the right, currently R+7; Dems tried to make it competitive in 2008 and didn't get any traction.)
• ND-Sen: Ready for a whole lot of names of people who might run for Senate? In fact, let me just blockquote the Bismarck Tribune, rather than transcribing it laboriously:
The list of Republicans whose names are being thrown out include Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, Rep. Rick Berg, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, Public Service Commissioners [Brian] Kalk and Kevin Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven's state director Shane Goettle, GOP state treasurer Bob Harms, and Great Plains Software developer Doug Burgum.
As for Democrats, names circulating include both [ex-state Sen. and radio host]Joel and [ex-AG] Heidi Heitkamp, former state Sen. Tracy Potter, USDA Rural Development Director Jasper Schneider, state Sen. Mac Schneider, U.S Attorney Tim Purdon, Conrad's state director Scott Stofferahn and former Byron Dorgan staffer Pam Gulleson, former agriculture commissioner Sara Vogel, former state Rep. Chris Griffin, State Sen. Tim Mathern of Fargo, Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor and even Earl Pomeroy.
The Bismarck Tribune article also gets a number of these people on record, although their comments are all various degrees of noncommittal. Kent Conrad tipped his hand a bit yesterday, giving nods in the Grand Forks Herald to both Heitkamps, as well as to Schneider. One other Dem who got mentioned a lot yesterday, Roger Johnson (the president of the National Farmers Union) has already said he's not interested. And in what's not a surprise, the Tea Partiers aren't happy with anyone of 'em (although some had some words of praise for Berg), but are still promising to "battle for control."
• VT-Sen: It looks like Republican state Auditor Tom Salmon's Facebook attacks on Bernie Sanders weren't just the work of a bored guy at work but, as many speculated, part of a coordinated plan to move toward a run against Sanders; he's now publicly saying that he he's interested in the race. Color me puzzled: why would Salmon (who was a Democrat until a year and a half ago) go after an entrenched institution like Sanders in 2012 when he could run for Gov. against Peter Shumlin, who's just getting situated and won by only a narrow margin in 2010?
• KY-Gov: This one gets filed straight to the Department of Foregone Conclusions, but it was made official today: Republican state Sen. president David Williams and Ag Comm. Richie Farmer filed their candidacy papers today, to go up against incumbent Dem Steve Beshear in November.
• WV-Gov: We're getting some pushback/clarification from Shelley Moore Capito's team regarding claims from gubernatorial candidate Betty Ireland that she wasn't going to run for Governor; a spokesperson says the only thing that's off the table is a run in the special election for Governor (which we know now will be held this November). She's still open to a bid for either Governor or Senate in 2012. Dave Catanese also wonders whether Capito's timeline is a little longer, i.e. a 2014 run against Jay Rockefeller (or for his open seat, if he retires, seeing as how he'll be 77 then). It's also looking like the candidates for November's special election will be picked by primary rather than by the parties; acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who was the main impediment to a 2011 election until yesterday's supreme court ruling, says he's working with SoS (and likely Dem primary opponent) Natalie Tennant to set special primaries in motion.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon seems to be laying groundwork for a rematch against Mike Grimm, who defeated him narrowly in 2010. He reached out to members of the Staten Island Democratic Association at a meeting last night.
• OR-01: Rep. David Wu has always struck people as a little odd (many of you probably remember his Klingons speech), but it seems like something has intensified lately, and it's starting to come out in the open. It's been revealed that in the last few months, he's lost a number of his key staffers amidst complaints about his public behavior, including his chief of staff (who left to join a Rep. with less seniority) and his communications director (who left without having another job lined up, which is even more highly unusual, especially in this economic climate). This chief fundraiser and chief pollster also say they don't plan to work with him any longer. This is a D+8 district with a robust Dem bench, which is good because this may be a difficult story for Wu to shake, especially given general rumblings of discontent with him that have been building over time.
• Mayors: Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter looks like he's in good shape for his 2011 re-election, according to a new poll from Municipoll. Nutter's at 47-39 against Generic D primary opponent, wins a three-way primary against Bill Green and Anthony Williams 46-21-18, and wins a three-way against Sam Katz and Williams 44-22-21. Interestingly (though consistent with the original coalition that elected him), Nutter has stronger support among whites (64% favorable) than he does among African-Americans, at 45%. (Nutter is black.) Nutter also just secured the support of the Laborers union. Even further down the weeds in Philly, Republican state Rep. (and, briefly, former speaker) Dennis O'Brien will run for a vacant city council seat in NE Philly. That's good news, because it might free up his state House seat and make any Dem attempt to retake the state House in 2012 easier, seeing as how his seat is one of the most Dem-leaning seats held by a Republican.
• Minnesota: Two stories developing in Minnesota; one, the legal battle over 2012 redistricting has already begun, with Minnesota its first flashpoint. With the GOP controlling the legislature (but not the governorship), Dems have filed a suit seeking an injunction requiring legislators to submit proposed redistricting plans directly to the court (where they'll probably wind up anyway, regardless of how this suit goes). Also, Minnesota GOP legislators are seeking to emulate their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin in making it more difficult to vote, seeking to push a voter ID bill.
• Redistricting: You may remember some Republican laments from a few days ago about the apparent failure of their MAPS program to raise the money needed to coordinate redistricting at a national level; those fears seem to be spreading, including to ex-Rep. Tom Reynolds, who's spearheading the process for the GOP this year. Part of the problem seems to be that they spent so much money winning control of state legislatures in November that nothing was reserved for coordinating the subsequent redistricting. Nathan Gonzales also previews how state legislators from both parties are currently hunkering down in Washington learning (since many weren't in office in 2000) the redistricting process from the ground up; in particular, they're learning the new technologies (like GIS programs like Maptitude), which obviously have come a long way since the last round of redistricting.
• Census: Hats off to the Census Bureau, who, just in time to go with their upcoming onslaught of 2010 data, have launched a new and improved version of American FactFinder (the main research tool on their site), a significant improvement over the rather clumsy and unintuitive existing version. I wouldn't go so far as to call the new version intuitive either, but it makes multi-variable searches and customized maps much easier.
• ND-Sen: This may be the earliest the air wars have ever been launched, especially in a Senate race, but there's already a major ad duel going on in the tiny (and dirt cheap) state of North Dakota, probably with an eye toward goading Kent Conrad into retirement (or backing him up so he doesn't get any ideas). On the GOP side, mysterious Iowa-based IE group American Action Forum fired the first shots (worth only $60K), hitting Conrad over TARP and HCR; Dem group Commonsense Ten fired back (for $30K, all radio), defending his fiscal hawkishness. And now comes word that Conrad himself is also going to dip into his war chest starting next week, also hitting back against AAF. NWOTSOTB, but it'll be a 60-second radio ad that runs all week. The bright side to the Conrad early alarm bells: that doesn't seem like the action of a man contemplating retirement.
• KY-Gov: In Kentucky, incumbent Dem Gov. Steve Beshear just filed his papers for re-election, coming up in November. As expected, his running mate will be former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson, rather than Dan Mongiardo. Beshear is sitting on $3.5 million for the race; while that's a lot more than the $624K that the GOP David Williams/Richie Farmer ticket has, note that Williams only started raising in the last quarter of 2010 and pulled in $753K. Williams' tea-flavored GOP primary rival, businessman Phil Moffett, has only an $8K balance after raising $20K last quarter but spending $30K. (UPDATE: Here's one other breaking bit of news that's an interesting consideration: GOP Secretary of State Trey Grayson has sped up his getting-the-hell-out-of-Kentucky timeline, resigning shortly to take a job at Harvard's Institute of Politics. That means Beshear gets to appoint a Dem to the SoS position, increasing the chances of holding the position in 2011. Beshear just announced that Bowling Green mayor Elaine Walker will get the position.)
• MT-Gov: Also on the financial front, ex-Rep. Rick Hill is in pole position among the various contestants for Montana's open gubernatorial seat. He's raised $103K so far (Montana, of course, is a small and cheap state), compared with fellow GOP rival Corey Stapleton's $86K so far. The only Dem who has declared, state Sen. Dave Wanzenried, has raised a grand total of $2K, leaving me to wonder if insiders expect AG Steve Bullock to get in shortly. (Bullock has raised $73K, although that could be used for either a gube or AG bid.)
• GA-08: Add ex-Rep. Jim Marshall to the growing list of Dems interested in trying to fight their way back into the House two years from now, saying he's not sure but "won't preclude" another run. With the GOP controlling redistricting in Georgia, though, Marshall might find himself with an even-more-unfriendly 8th in 2012.
• OH-06: And here's one more to add: Charlie Wilson says "I would like to run again," but with one big caveat: that there's a district drawn that's "somehow fair" for him. The GOP also controls the process in Ohio but will probably also need to chop at least one GOP-held seat, which may well come out of the state's depopulated southeast quadrant. A mashup of the swingy 6th and the more-reddish 18th would be less favorable to Wilson than the seat he just lost.
• California: Finally, here's another interesting data dump from Greg Giroux, looking at how California's gubernatorial and Senate races from 2010 broke down according to congressional district. If you're looking for an indication of how polarized (and/or expertly gerrymandered for incumbent protection) California's districts are, there was almost no deviation between how the House races broke and the statewide races broke. The only deviations: Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina both won in Jerry McNerney's CA-11, while Jerry Brown eked it out in Dan Lungren's CA-03.
Steve Beshear (D-inc): 45
Phil Moffett (R): 26
Steve Beshear certainly is looking relatively healthy, especially compared to the shellacking that Jack Conway just received at the hands of Rand Paul. Of course, it's not really a given that state Senate Majority Leader David Williams will be the Republican nominee, but the man is definitely trying desperately not to get Trey Grayson'd. At a recent chat at the University of Kentucky Law School Federalist Society, Williams came out of the closet as a 17th-er. (Yes, he actually said that the biggest defect in American government is the fact that the law allows citizens to directly elect their own Senators.) Moreover, he openly compared himself to John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech by stirring the crowd with an equally inspiring message for the 2010s: "I am a Tea Partier".