Remember back when Marion Berry's retirement in the R+8, trending-the-wrong-direction AR-01 was going to hand one more vulnerable southern seat to the Republicans? Turns out... eh, not so much:
Arkansas' filing deadline passed Monday afternoon and while Republicans made a lot of noise about their chances in the 1st district in the days after Rep. Marion Berry (D) announced his retirement, all the sound and fury may have actually signified nothing....
In the end, the only Republican to join the contest after Berry announced his retirement was Princella Smith, a former congressional aide to freshman Louisiana Republican Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao.
Smith will face off against the equally unknown and untested Rick Crawford, an Army veteran, farm broadcaster and businessman who entered the race in May 2009.
Republicans had sought to get one of several state legislators into the race -- state Sens. Davy Carter or Johnny Key. However, both said no, leaving the GOP without a backup plan. Meanwhile, top-tier Democrats piled into the race in this historically-Democratic district, including state Sen. Steve Bryles, former state Sen. Tim Wooldridge, state Rep. David Cook, and Berry's former CoS, Chad Causey. Like PA-12, here's a district where the Democratic tradition and the disparity between the two parties' benches may just save our bacon despite an ominous trend at the presidential level.
Filing information about the rest of the Arkansas races is here. AR-02 is still a very vulnerable seat to Republican takeover, with former US Attorney Tim Griffin armed with lots of money and Beltway connections. Dems still have a top-tier recruit here, though, state House speaker Robbie Wills, so even here we're in Tossup territory. Mike Ross in AR-04 seems to have emerged with only bottom-rung opposition, so hopefully he can contribute some time and money to shoring up the other races in the state. Democratic State Sen. Shane Broadway also seems poised to hold onto the Lt. Governor seat being vacated by Bill Halter; he faces off against only a pastor and a pizza restaurant owner.
• CA-Sen: The latest in palace intrigue in California supposes that Meg Whitman managed to pave the way for Tom Campbell's exit from the gubernatorial race and move to the Senate race, culminating in a private appeal to Campbell from Arnold Schwarzenegger to switch (using a soft touch, instead of the alleged sledgehammer that the Steve Poizner camp accuses Whitman's camp of wielding). Campbell says no, he made the decision all on his own (helped along by some internal polling, no doubt).
• FL-Sen: Continuing his role as right-wing kingmaker, or rainmaker, or rainy kingmaker, Jim DeMint orchestrated a moneybomb over recent days for upstart Florida candidate Marco Rubio that pulled in over $140K.
• SC-Sen: Attorney Chad McGowan, as close as the Dems have to a leading candidate to take on Jim DeMint this year, ended his campaign, citing family demands. It's possible, though, that McGowan's exit may lead to a slight upgrade (although not likely the kind that puts the race into play): Charleston Co. Commissioner Vic Rawl is now contemplating making the race, and self-financing Mullins McLeod is weighing a switch over from the gubernatorial bid where he's made little headway in a better-defined Democratic field.
• TX-Sen: It's looking less and less likely that the Texas Senate special election is ever going to happen (most likely, Kay Bailey Hutchison will wind up serving out the rest of her term in ignominy). If she does resign at some point, though, it doesn't look too promising for Democrats. PPP tested a generic ballot on the race, with Generic Republican winning 53-38. Former comptroller John Sharp may be in position to overperform Generic D a bit, but it'd still be an uphill climb. For one thing, he'd be running against Barack Obama's very low 33/61 approval in Texas.
• CT-Gov: Former state House speaker Jim Amann ended his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination today. That he was even in the race may be news to most Connecticut residents, given his low-single-digits support in recent polling, and Ned Lamont and ex-Stamford mayor Dan Malloy gobbling up most of the oxygen.
• MI-Gov: In the wake of Denise Ilitch's surprising decision to stand down, a different Democrat got into the gubernatorial field: former state treasurer (from the 1980s) Bob Bowman. He's been out of state for a long time, most recently as the CEO of major league baseball's interactive media wing, but if he's willing to self-finance, he could be an interesting wildcard here.
• WI-Gov: Details are sketchy, but a Democratic internal poll by the Mellman Group finds a very tight gubernatorial race, quite in line with what other pollsters have seen. Democratic Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett leads Republican Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker 40-39. There's no word on a Barrett/Mark Neumann matchup.
• AL-05: Another catastrophic success for the NRCC, as they blasted their newest member with some friendly fire. Pete Sessions sent out a fundraising letter to AL-05 voters letting them know that their "Democrat in Congress has been falling in line with Nancy Pelosi's destructive liberal agenda.." One small problem: Parker Griffith is now, quite famously, a Republican.
• AR-01: Unlike the deeply troublesome KS-03 and LA-03, thanks to their deep Arkansas bench, Democrats don't seem to be having trouble finding a replacement to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Marion Berry. The latest to step up is state Sen. Steve Bryles, who represents Blytheville in this mostly-rural district's northeast corner.
• AZ-03: It looks like a big Democratic name may be interested in tackling the GOP-leaning open seat left behind by retiring Rep. John Shadegg, after all. Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon has opened up an exploratory committee to consider a run, and has set a three or four-week timetable for deciding. Democratic attorney Jon Hulburd is already running and has had some fundraising success as well, so it seems unlikely he'd get out of the way for the more conservative Gordon.
• CA-19: An internal poll by POS offered by state Sen. Jeff Denham shows the Republican candidate with a solid lead over his carpetbagging neighbor, ex-Rep. Richard Pombo. Denham leads Pombo 28-12 in the GOP primary, and that expands to 38-11 when voters were informed that outgoing Rep. George Radanovich has endorsed Denham.
• CA-44: Yet another internal poll, this one from Tulchin and released by Democratic challenger Bill Hedrick, who came within a few thousand votes of upsetting Rep. Ken Calvert in 2008. Calvert has lousy re-elects - 38% say 'yes' while 41% say someone else - but Calvert leads a head-to-head against Hedrick, 49-35.
• FL-21, FL-25: New names are already surfacing for potential candidates in the 25th, where Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is creating an open seat by leaving for the somewhat safer 21st, vacated by his retiring brother, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. One name moving to the forefront is termed-out Republican state Sen. Majority leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla. However, it sounds like Mario plans to endorse state Rep. David Rivera (who's currently running for state Senate) instead. Two other possible GOP names include state Sen. Alex Villalobos, and Carlos Curbelo, currently an aide to Sen. George LeMieux. Joe Garcia, who came close to taking out Mario in 2008, seems to be the Dems' preferred candidate (although he previously ruled out a re-run, he might reconsider with an open seat).
• IA-01: Republicans landed Some Dude to run against Rep. Bruce Braley in the Dem-leaning 1st, a district which hasn't been on anyone's radar so far: insurance salesman Brian Cook. The NRCC had previously touted businessman Rod Blum for the race, but he says he's leaning against a bid.
• MA-10: Yet one more internal poll, and this one's a little alarming for Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt, who nobody thought of as a target until his district went strongly for Scott Brown in the Senate special election. The McLaughlin poll on behalf of Republican former state treasurer Joe Malone gives Malone a 37-34 lead over Delahunt among likely voters. Delahunt is still in positive territory, approval-wise, at 44/33.
• MS-01: Maybe this is the oppo that insiders said would sink Fox News pundit Angela McGlowan's House bid before it got out of the gate. In a radio interview last year, she suggested that gun owners should include an inventory of their guns on their federal tax forms, and in defending the idea went on to talk about "crazies... stockpiling guns." Starting out in a probably gun-loving district with a proposal that wouldn't pass muster among House Democrats, and framing it with decidedly lefty-sounding language... well, that's probably a deal-breaker.
• NC-08: Free advice to candidates, not just Democrats but anyone: don't waste time worrying about what people are saying in the anonymous comments section of blogs. (And, yes, I realize the irony of that coming from an pseudonymous blogger.) But most of all, don't actually get so hot under the collar that you weigh in in the comments section and embarrass yourself in the process. Tim D'Annunzio seems to be the leading GOP contender in the 8th, thanks in large measure to his self-funding, but his recent foray into the comments section at the Charlotte Observer (to defend his machine-gun-shooting fundraiser) may have cast his candidacy in a decidedly amateurish light.
• OH-14: Here's a swing district that has consistently eluded Democrats, where they've finally nailed down a challenger. Retired judge Bill O'Neill is back for another whack at Rep. Steve LaTourette in the suburban 14th. O'Neill ran against LaTourette in 2008 and didn't get much traction that year, though.
• Census: Here's some good news on the redistricting front: the Census Bureau has given states the green light to decide whether to count prisons as part of the local population, or whether to count prisoners according to their previous place of residence. The Census will provide states with 'group quarters' information to help them with the process. That's an especially big deal in New York, where the legislature is considering legislation that would count prisoners by previous residence, which would decidedly tip the balance away from GOP-leaning rural areas and back toward the cities.
• Redistricting: Some bad news on redistricting, though, from South Dakota (although, with its at-large House seat, it'll really only have an impact on state legislative redistricting). A legislative committee shot down plans to switch to an independent redistricting commission. Democrats proposed the idea, and unsurprisingly, the plan died along party lines (not much incentive for the GOP to switch, as they control the trifecta and probably will for the foreseeable future).
• Dogcatcher: With Martha Coakley's announcement that she's going to attempt to run for re-election, the whole idea of getting elected dogcatcher is back on people's minds. You may recall we had an extended thread on the matter some months ago... and here's an interesting discovery. There's an actual place in America - Duxbury, Vermont - where it's an elective position. (H/t David Kowalski.) Zeb Towne's term expires in 2010, so we'll keep monitoring this race as events warrant.
• CA-Sen: Possibly the most bizarre political ad (well, web video) of all time has just gotten unveiled by the Carly Fiorina campaign, which makes their "Carlyfornia Dreaming" website look reasoned and well-thought-out. I mean, they're going to be studying this in political rhetoric classes 50 years from now, as an example of what not to do. Not only is the imagery laughable (check out the glowing-eyed demon sheep at 2:24) but the metaphor completely falls apart (Tom Campbell is a "FCINO" (financial conservative in name only) and thus a crafty wolf, while good politicians are a herd of helpless mindless sheep?).
• CT-Sen: Even Rasmussen can't find a way to put a happy face on the tombstone piledriver the Connecticut GOP suffered with the Chris Dodd-for-Richard Blumenthal swap. They find Blumenthal leading ex-Rep. Rob Simmons 54-35 and Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling Linda McMahon 56-36. Simmons is actually very well-liked, at 60/26 favorables, but that's no match for Blumenthal at 70/27.
• IL-Sen: Republicans can content themselves with Rasmussen's first post-primary poll of the Senate field; they find GOP Rep. Mark Kirk leading Dem state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 46-40. This, of course, doesn't jibe with not only last week's PPP poll (with a 42-34 Alexi lead) but the last Rasmussen poll of the general, from December (with a 42-39 Alexi lead). Both those polls predate the strangely-timed consent decree between the FDIC and the Giannoulias-family-owned Broadway Bank, so it's possible Giannoulias might have taken a hit from that. Also, Rasmussen's numbers aren't that far off from an internal (pdf) from Magellan that the Kirk campaign was quick to release yesterday: 47-35. One suggestion that might cast a little doubt on the samples, though, is Barack Obama's approval ratings in his home state, oddly low at 54% and 51% respectively, only a few points ahead of his national average.
• IN-Sen: Ex-Sen. Dan Coats is leaving himself a lot of elbow room with the way he's carefully phrased what he's doing: "as I test the waters for a potential challenge..." I realize that SSP is pretty much powerless to change the nature of the political discourse, but we're getting very tired of the whole "I'm not running, but I'm running, wink wink" kabuki that seems to be standard practice these days (John Boozman, we're talking to you too). We fully intend to change the rating on this race, but not until Coats truly and officially gets in. At any rate, Coats may be wise leaving himself an escape hatch, if the dribs and drabs like this one keep piling up: one of his lobbying clients has been Hugo Chavez-connected oil company Harvest Natural Resources (but, then, making nice with Chavez is IOKIYAR, I guess).
• WI-Sen: If you're looking for a tea leaf on whether or not ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson is interested in taking on Russ Feingold this year, look no further: he just took a position as an advisor to a hedge fund. He'll consult with Peak Ridge Capital Group on agribusiness matters. Not only will that keep him occupied in the near future, but it's not really the kind of thing you want on your resume if trying to run at a time of anti-banker agitas. (Another hint: the talk of an ex-Rep. Mark Neumann switch from the Governor's race, to a rematch with Feingold, suddenly bubbling up.)
• IL-Gov: We have winners in the gubernatorial primaries, as all of Illinois's precincts reported by the end of the day yesterday. Pat Quinn wound up with a more than 8,000 vote margin over Dan Hynes (good for 50.4%), and Hynes conceded this morning. On the Republican side, state Sen. Kirk Dillard didn't make up as much ground in Cook County on fellow state Sen. Bill Brady as anticipated, and Brady wound up finishing with a 406-vote margin. There's no automatic recount law in Illinois, so it's up to Dillard to decide whether or not to proceed with a challenge.
Meanwhile, down the ballot, both parties seem somewhat aghast at the winners of their Lt. Governor primaries. News came out today that pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen, winner of the Democratic nod, was arrested four years ago for misdemeanor assault after holding a knife to the throat of a girlfriend (who had also been convicted of prostitution). Needless to say, Quinn is already distancing himself from Cohen, calling on him to step aside. (Although Governor and Lt. Governor are elected separately in primaries, they're then lashed together as a ticket for the general, which is how Rod Blagojevich and Quinn got put together despite their antipathy - I'm not sure if any other state does it that way.) Which isn't to say that the Republicans fared much better on that front, nominating random teabagging businessman Jason Plummer (who, like Cohen, won by pouring his own money into the race) instead of state Sen. Matt Murphy.
• NY-Gov: I can't see this being of any interest unless something goes seriously wrong and we somehow wind up with a David Paterson/Rick Lazio matchup and we need to shunt off some right-wing votes to get Paterson over the hump. But now there's a teabagger-linked rich guy, Buffalo real estate developer Carl Paladino, saying that he's considering a gubernatorial run, and that he "would go in as a pure independent."
• PA-Gov: Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato has the big financial edge in the Dem gubernatorial primary, and now he has some key labor backing as well. The Teamsters are the first major union to endorse in the primary, and they went for Onorato.
• TX-Gov: Looks like there's going to be a crazy Wang Dang Tango at Rick Perry's Houston rally on Sunday: not only is Sarah Palin going to be there to endorse Perry, but so too is the Motor City Madman, the Ten Terrible Fingers of Doom, the Rock 'n' Roll Caveman: Ted Nugent (who plans to perform). In case you're wondering where the normally reserved and understated Nugent stands on all things political, he recently said: "I think that Barack Hussein Obama should be put in jail. It is clear that Barack Hussein Obama is a communist. Mao Tse Tung lives and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. This country should be ashamed. I wanna throw up."
• AR-01: The first Democrat making moves to replace retiring Rep. Marion Berry is Berry's very own Chief of Staff, Chad Causey, who has already scheduled a fundraiser. State Sen. Steve Bryles, state Rep. Keith Ingram, and former state party chair Jason Willett are other Dems publicly eyeing the race. For the GOP, broadcaster Rick Crawford probably won't have the race to himself, with state Sen. Johnny Key interested. Princella Smith is also likely to get in - she'll definitely need a new job starting in November, as she's currently a staffer to Rep. Joe Cao.
• FL-24: The 24th seems like an apt target for Republicans, with a Republican lean and freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas not quite finding her footing - but fundraising has gone poorly for the two GOPers in the race, state Rep. Sandy Adams and Winter Park city councilor Karen Diebel, neither of whom has broken into the six digits in the last few quarters. The NRCC is now touting the likely entry of Craig Miller, the former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steakhouses. He's never held office before, but at least he brings his own money with him.
• NC-10: In the dark-red 10th, the only way odious chickenhawk Rep. Patrick McHenry is going to get dislodged is in a GOP primary - and it's starting to look like that's a possibility this year. Not one but two different opponents have outraised him (although mostly by dipping into their own wallets): dentist and Iredell Co. Commissioner Scott Keadle and businessman Vance Patterson. Keadle has some electoral experience, coming within 14 points of Mel Watt in NC-12 in 1998, during the brief period when the frequently-modified VRA district had a sizable white plurality. Keadle claims to be coming at McHenry from the right, which is hard to fathom as McHenry is already one of the most stridently conservative members of the House.
• NH-01: Another one-time NRCC fave who's fallen by the side of the road somewhat as he's put up quarter after quarter of mediocre fundraising is former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta. Sensing an opening, several other contenders have gotten into the GOP field; one, Richard Ashooh, has been exploring the race but made it official today. He comes with his own set of insider credentials, though: he's the VP of governmental relations for large locally-based defense contractor BAE Systems.
• NY-23: Talk about not learning from the past. If Assemblyman Will Barclay wins the GOP nomination, he may find himself getting Scozzafavaed by the same guy. Doug Hoffman plans to run on both the Republican and Conservative lines, but Conservative party chair Mike Long says he'll continue to back Hoffman on the Conservative line even if Hoffman loses the Republican primary.
• Redistricting: There's still a chance to get on the newly-created California legislative redistricting board. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 12. The state is taking notice that 73% of applicants are non-Hispanic whites and 70% are males, neither of which is very representative of the state's makeup, and is shelling out for a last-minute outreach campaign to bring in some more minority applicants. Part of the problem is that applicants can't have run for office or worked for a politician, which filters out many of the most politically engaged in minority communities. At any rate, it's an opportunity to get more progressives behind the wheel of shaping a more competitive legislative map for next year, so any SSPers in the Golden State are urged to apply.