• CT-Sen: Connecticut's open seat Senate race was always destined to be a high-dollar affair, and the money chase is well underway. Former SoS Susie Bysiewicz released a first quarter total of a respectable $500K, but Rep. Chris Murphy, her main rival in the Dem primary, just more than doubled up on that, with $1.1 million raised over the course of his first 10 weeks. (Of course, they've both picked their low hanging fruit on their first trip to the orchard, so the challenge will be to keep up that rate.)
• FL-Sen: PPP, who put out general election numbers on the Senate race last week, have the GOP primary numbers... and they find GOP voters saying "Uh, who?" (Y'know, like that guy who used to be the Senator... who somehow is known by only 26% of the sample?) Unfortunately, Connie Mack IV dropped out while the poll was in the field, so, better-known than the other options (perhaps courtesy of his dad, the former Sen. Connie Mack III, who the state's older and more confused voters might think is back) he leads the way at 28, with the actual candidates, ex-Sen. George LeMieux and state Sen. majority leader Mike Haridopolos at 14 and 13, respectively. Additional likely candidate Adam Hasner is back at 5. Don't look for any help on choosing from Marco Rubio: he's just announced that he won't endorse in the primary.
• HI-Sen: There still seem to be fans out there for losing '06 IL-06 candidate and Obama admin member Tammy Duckworth, eager to get her into elected office somewhere someday, and the place du jour seems to be Hawaii, where a Draft Duckworth page has popped up for the open Senate seat.
• MA-Sen: Salem mayor Kim Driscoll has been the occasional subject of Senate speculation for the Dem primary, along with the mayor of pretty much every other mid-sized city in the state. Nevertheless, she pulled her name out of contention yesterday (all part of the Democratic master plan of not having a candidate to deceptively lull the GOP into complacency, I'm sure). Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Scott Brown (last seen praising the Paul Ryan Abolition of Medicare Plan, rolled out his first quarter fundraising numbers: he raised $1.7 million in Q1, leaving him with $8.1 million cash on hand. That's, of course, huge, but the silver lining on that is that it doesn't leave him on track to hit his previously-announced super-gigantic $25 mil fundraising goal for the cycle.
• FL-Gov: With various newly-elected Republican governors in polling freefall, Rick Scott (who can't even get along with his GOP legislature, let alone his constituents) really seems to be leading the way down. Quinnipiac finds his approvals deep in the hole, currently 35/48, down from 35/22 in February (meaning he picked up no new fans in that period, but managed to piss off an additional quarter of the state). Voters says by a 53-37 margin that his budget proposals are unfair to people like them. Voters are also opposed to the legislature's proposal to stop collecting union dues from state workers' paychecks.
• MO-Gov: After spending Monday dragging out his fight with those who buy ink by the barrel (aka the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who broke the story on his fancy-pants hotel habit), Missouri Lt. Gov. and Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Kinder seemed to dial things down a notch yesterday: he says he'll 'voluntarily' reimburse the state $30K for those expenditures, and while not exactly apologizing, says he seeks "to move this nimbus off the horizon." Um, whatever that means.
• AZ-06: After getting mentioned a lot when Jeff Flake announced his Senate run, opening up the Mesa-based 6th, state Senate president Russell Pearce is now sounding unlikely to run according to insiders. (Blowback over his links to the Fiesta Bowl controversy may be the last straw, though, rather than his status as xenophobia's poster child.) A couple other GOP names have risen to the forefront: state House speaker Kirk Adams, who's considering, and former state Sen. majority leader Chuck Gray, who is already in.
• CA-36: One more big union endorsement for Janice Hahn in the primary fight against Debra Bowen to succeed Jane Harman: this one comes from the SEIU.
• CT-05: The open seat vacated by Chris Murphy is likely to draw a crowd, and here's a new Republican contender in this swingy, suburban district: Farmington town council chair and former FBI agent Mike Clark. Clark has a notable profile for helping to take down a fellow Republican while at the FBI: corrupt ex-Gov. John Rowland. He'll face Justin Bernier in the GOP primary, who lost the primary in 2010.
• FL-20: In case Debbie Wasserman Schultz's work load couldn't get any heavier, she just got a new heap of responsibility dumped in her lap: she'll become the new head of the DNC, to replace newly-minted Senate candidate Tim Kaine. She'll, of course, keep her day job as Representative.
• MN-08: The Dem-leaning 8th is as good a place as any to pick up a seat in 2012, but there's the wee problem of trying to find somebody to run there. The latest Dem possibility that drew everyone's interest, Yvonne Prettner Solon, the former Duluth-area state Sen. and newly-elected Lt. Governor, won't run here either.
• NH-St. House: I realize that with 400 members you're going to have a lot of bad apples, but still we're up to 3 GOP frosh having resigned already from the New Hampshire state House. Hot on the heels of a 91-year-old member resigning after advocating (literally) sending 'defectives' to Siberia to starve, Gary Wheaton just resigned for driving with a suspended license after a previous DUI (and then publicly suspected the arresting officer for targeting him because of his vote against collective bargaining). And somewhat less dramatically, Robert Huxley eventually got around to resigning after not getting around to showing up for any votes so far in the session.
• EMILY's List: EMILY's List is out with its first five fundraising targets for the 2012 cycle. Some of them are to be expected, with high-profile GOP freshmen and already-announced female opponents: Allen West (who may face West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel in FL-22), Paul Gosar (who faces a rematch with ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in AZ-01), and Charlie Bass (rematched with Ann McLane Kuster in NH-02). They also targeted Joe Heck in NV-03 and Chip Cravaack in MN-08, who don't have opponents yet but conceivably could match up with Dina Titus and Tarryl Clark, respectively.
• WATN?: Thirtysomething Carte Goodwin seemed to make a good impression during his half-a-year as a fill-in in the Senate (in between Robert Byrd and Joe Manchin), moving him to prime position on the Dems' West Virginia bench, but he says he's not running for anything else anytime soon. Or more accurately, he says the only the only thing he's running for "is the county line." (Uh, with the revenuers in pursuit?)
• CT-Sen: Former SoS Susan Bysiewicz said that she raised over half a mil in Q1. She also continued a theme of attacking Chris Murphy as some kind of skeezy Washington insider, saying "I'm sure the corporate PACs and DC lobbyists are lining up to support other candidates." Murphy is the only other announced candidate.
• FL-Sen: Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times tweeted last Wednesday he expects George LeMieux (R) to announce "next week"... which means this week.
• IN-Sen: Rep. Dan Burton, one of the most disliked Republicans in the state of Indiana, channels his inner Tobias Fünke (the man inside him?) and says, "I'm supporting Dick - there's two Dicks in the race." That'd be Richard "Dick" Lugar and Richard "Dick" Mourdock. Oh Burton, you blowhard!
• KY-Sen: I can't really believe Rand Paul is serious about a presidential bid, but then again, I thought the same thing about Michele Bachmann and was clearly wrong about that. Still, I'm mostly amused by the fact that he met with Iowa Republicans (including Gov. Terry Branstad) in Des Moines this past weekend. Rand might be trying to set himself up for a run in 2016... or he could also be doing a good job of inviting a primary challenge if he seeks re-election.
• MA-Sen: Teabaggers being pissed at Scott Brown are nothing new - though I do find their naivety endearing. (What did they think they were going to get?) What's sad is that one of their self-anointed leaders, some guy named Judson Phillips, can only muster up this in response to Brown's latest outrage (calling to reduce budget cuts): "Perhaps the Massachusetts Tea Party will step up with someone to challenge him in 2012." A resounding call to arms this ain't.
• ME-Sen: Freshman Sen. Pat Toomey says he won't endorse Olympia Snowe in her bid for re-election. Toomey, don't forget, has some residual teabagger cred, given that he was president of the Club for Growth.
• MO-Sen: Citizens United (yes, thatCitizens United) just gave GOP Rep. Todd Akin $10K in the hopes of luring him into the Senate race. I was wrong about Trent Franks, but I really do feel like Akin will get in here.
• MT-Sen: Republicans think they get lots of mileage out of attacking "welfare," but Denny Rehberg took this trope several steps further, declaring that Pell Grants are "turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century."
• NV-Sen: Rep. Shelley Berkley says she's heartened by the internal poll numbers she put out last week (42-38 over Republican Dean Heller), she still hasn't made up her mind, though now says she'll decide "fairly soon," whatever that means.
• NY-Sen: Kirsten Gillibrand set a personal record with her 1Q fundraising, taking in over $3 million.
• KY-Gov: Despite opposing the expansion of gambling in the state - a very big and very contentious issue - State Senate President (and GOP gubernatorial nominee) David Williams lost over $36,000 in casinos from 1999 to 2002, according to court documents related to his divorce.
• MO-Gov: Did GOP Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder just neutralize the whole "Air Claire" business? It turns out that Kinder, widely expected to run for governor, has spent an average of two months a year staying at St. Louis luxury hotels, all at taxpayer expense, including trips for society balls and baseball games.. You really need to read the whole piece to get the full flavor of Kinder's abuse of his office. Kinder also told a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "I'm not talking to you," then hung up the phone. This story's going to get worse, not better.
• UT-Gov, UT-Sen: As we've noted previously, the teabaggers are gunning for Gov. Gary Herbert, thanks to his support for immigration bills that are insufficiently punitive, in their view. Now the name of another potential primary challenger has surfaced: state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom. The linked article also says that David Kirkham, a key teabagger who helped oust Bob Bennett last year, is suggesting that Herbert, rather than Orrin Hatch, may be his compatriots' number one target this cycle. Hatch previously refused to take a position on his home state's legislation, but let's see if he turns on Herbert in the hopes of re-directing the teabaggers.
• WV-Gov: Julie Sobel at the Hotline has a complete wrapup of fundraising numbers for all the major candidates, both Dem and Republican, in the WV gubernatorial race.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: On Twitter, when Sarah Palin announced she was backing David Prosser, I called it the kiss of death. J. Pilmanis said no, she kissed a corpse. We'll find out for sure tomorrow! Anyhow, the ad wars have, of course, gone full-tilt in the final days of the campaign. Here's a roundup of some that we've seen:
Chris Murphy (D): 40
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 38
Fifth CD Rep. Chris Murphy holds a narrow lead over former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary-which won't be held for more than a year, and which could feature additional candidates (a few other people are poking their noses around the race). Murphy has a nine-point lead with men, but Bysiewicz's advantage with women is just three points. She does win African Americans by a large margin, but they only make up 11% of the primary electorate in our sample. The biggest difference between the candidates is in their favorables: Murphy scores an impressive 51-14 among Democrats, while Bysiewicz is at 45-27.
Even though no Republicans have officially declared their candidacies yet, we tested the general election (registered voters) as well:
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 44
Mark Boughton (R): 34
Chris Murphy (D): 52
Mark Boughton (R): 29
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 45
Michael Fedele (R): 35
Chris Murphy (D): 51
Michael Fedele (R): 29
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 45
Scott Frantz (R): 30
Chris Murphy (D): 51
Scott Frantz (R): 27
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 50
Linda McMahon (R): 39
Chris Murphy (D): 54
Linda McMahon (R): 38
Susan Bysiewicz (D): 42
Rob Simmons (R): 39
Chris Murphy (D): 49
Rob Simmons (R): 34
If I were Susan Bysiewicz, I'd be pretty pleased with these numbers-even the most popular Republicans can't crawl their way into the 40s. But if I were Chris Murphy, I'd be even more stoked, and it's not hard to see why: He crushes the nobodies by twenty-plus-point margins, bodyslams Linda McMahon by sixteen and hold even the semi-popular Rob Simmons to a fifteen point spread. Again, the difference lies in the favorables: Statewide, all voters like Murphy by a 40-27 spread. Bysiewicz, on the other hand, is under water at 31-41. It's a testament to how weak Republicans are in Connecticut that they do so poorly against her, with only Simmons making the race even appear to be competitive.
And that's just the nature of the state. Barack Obama's job approval here is a healthy 55-39, while freshman Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal is at 53-32. New Dem Gov. Dan Malloy doesn't fare as well, but his 39-47 rating is almost certainly due to the fact that he's actually trying to pass a responsible budget. You'll also be pleased to know that Joe Lieberman (if you still remember who he is) has sunk all the way to a 29-58 job approval score, and he's negative with Democrats, independents, and Republicans (in order of descending disgust).
I'm an avowed Chris Murphy partisan, but I'm a Democrat first and always, and I'm just glad to see that the Republicans will have an incredibly hard time making this race competitive. 2010 was their high-water mark, and even then, despite Linda McMahon's zillions, they still lost by twelve points. It's difficult to imagine them doing better in 2012.
• AZ-Sen, AZ-06: Rep. Jeff Flake, who announced his bid today, had to wait only a few hours before getting a valuable (for the GOP primary, at least) endorsement from the Club for Growth; he's a natural fit for them, given his draconian budgetary views and laissez-faire social views. Even before Flake had announced, his potentially strongest rival for the GOP nod, ex-Rep. John Shadegg had announced that he wasn't going to run. Shadegg's AZ-03 replacement, Rep. Ben Quayle confirmed that he won't be running either. The same goes for another Republican freshman, Rep. David Schweikert (that article also helpfully points out that famous Arizona residents Meghan McCain and Bristol Palin, who've both accomplished so much in the social media sphere in their short lives, are both too young to run for Senate). Former NFL player Kurt Warner has also taken himself out of consideration.
Buried in a Roll Call article on the whip race to replace Jon Kyl are a few more interesting bits: Trent Franks is "not expected" to run, while state Senate president and prime mover behind SB 1070 Russell Pearce is "out," but "plans to run" for AZ-06, being vacated by Flake. There's not much to report on the Dem side today, but there are further reports that ex-Gov., and current DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (who didn't poll well against Kyl according to PPP a few weeks ago, although they didn't test her against Flake) has been calling around to gauge her support.
• CT-Sen: Ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz rolled out her own long list of endorsements from local Dems, in response to a list unveiled several weeks ago by primary rival Chris Murphy. While Murphy's list was heavy on the 5th District, naturally, Bysiewicz's list is heavy on the 2nd District (which is interesting, as it may be an indication that Rep. Joe Courtney has decided against running... or it may be a preventative shot across Courtney's bow). Bysiewicz is from Middletown, which is in the 2nd although kind of on its periphery. In terms of the Republican field, there was a straw poll taken of state Tea Party Patriots members this weekend. Given the sample size of 54 and the self-selecting nature of the nuttiest of the nuttiest, it's barely worth mentioning, but they found Linda McMahon only barely winning with 15 votes, compared to Peter Schiff's 14. Rob Simmons and Tom Foley each got 6, with state Sen. Scott Frantz at 5 and Danbury mayor Mark Boughton at 4.
• FL-Sen, FL-13: Like I've said before, don't count out Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan for the Senate; the owner of numerous car dealerships is sitting on a big campaign account, has wealthy friends, and can self-fund too. And now he's publicly saying he's "not ruling it out."
• MO-Sen: Over the weekend in Joplin was the first public joint appearance between the two announced GOP candidates so far, Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin. While they superficially only attacked Claire McCaskill, Martin sneaked in some anti-Steelman attacks by implication, saying that he'll support "tort reform every time" and "take on the public sector unions." (While Steelman has the support of the DC-based tea party astroturfers, the local teabaggers are skeptical of her insufficient purity on those two issues.)
• NV-Sen: Given behavior lately that might charitably be described as "erratic," I've pretty much given up on trying to figure out Sharron Angle's plans (her travel schedule seems to take her mostly to early presidential states these days, in case you had any doubts about the scope of her delusions of grandeur). But now she's talking about Nevada Senate again, saying that she'd like to talk to John Ensign before deciding whether or not to challenge him in the primary.
• NY-Sen: As she becomes better-known to New Yorkers, Kirsten Gillibrand's numbers keep going up. Siena's newest poll finds her at 57/18 favorables, with a 52% re-elect (including even a plurality among Republicans). Liz Benjamin also notes that two Republican 2010 Gillibrand challengers - Joe DioGuardi (whom Gillibrand flatted) and David Malpass (whom DioGuardi beat in the GOP primary) - are both still considering the race. Ex-LG "Batshit Besty" McCaughey (who once ran for governor on the Liberal Party line) was also down in DC this past weekend, once again relishing her role as healthcare fabricator-in-chief at the loonier-than-thou CPAC conference - and also possibly trying to raise her profile for a potential run (something we noted a couple of weeks ago). Bring it on!
• OH-Sen: Newly elected state Treasurer Josh Mandel got some buzz at some point last month, and here's some more for him: the Plain Dealer, in a longer piece wondering why the Republican field (in what could be a pickup opportunity with the right candidate) isn't taking shape at all, points to him as a possible alternative in the face of disinterest from the A-list. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor seems to be working on building her portfolio (taking over the state Dept. of Insurance), suggesting a plate too full for a Senate bid, while Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve LaTourette are enjoying their newfound majority. Mandel seems to have the best fundraising chops of anyone beyond that initial top tier.
• VA-Sen, VA-01: Here's one more Republican name to add to the list in Virginia, and it's kind of an unexpected one, in that usually low-profile guys with safe red districts in the House tend to stay where they are. The 1st's Rob Wittman is saying he's "considering" the race, along with the requisite "never say never."
• WI-Gov: The AFL-CIO is already weighing into Wisconsin, even though the next gubernatorial election is three and three-quarters years away. In response to Scott Walker's ham-fisted attempt to limit collective bargaining rights for most state employees, the union is taking to the airwaves with TV spots. Obviously, the target isn't the next election but swinging public opinion against the members of the state legislature, who'll have the final say on the matter. (As a more general question, though, I've gotta wonder if we'll see much more of this type of issue advertising in off-years in the future, as we move more and more into "permanent campaign" mode and the ground needs to be seeded for the on-years.)
• WV-Gov: With Saturday's filing deadline come and gone, we have an official list of all the candidates in the gubernatorial special election, and with 14 names total, it's a doozy. Not much in the way of surprises, though; the only person expected to run who, in the end, didn't seems to be Dem state Sen. Brooks McCabe. For the Democrats, it's acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Sen. Jeff Kessler, SoS Natalie Tennant, state Treasurer John Perdue, state House speaker Rick Thompson, and some dude Arne Moltis. For the Republicans, it's ex-SoS Betty Ireland, Putnam Co. Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia, state Sen. Clark Barnes, state Del. Mitch Carmichael, ex-state Del. Larry Faircloth, and some dudes Bill Maloney, Cliff Ellis, and Ralph William Clark. National Journal's Sean Sullivan makes a good observation that in fields this crowded and in a state without runoffs, ballot position (which studies have shown can add 1-3% to a candidate's vote) may actually wind up making the difference here. The positions were determined by random draw; for the Dems, Tomblin is at the top while co-frontrunner Tennant is at the bottom. For the GOP, Ireland is 7 out of 8, while Maloney is listed first.
• CA-36: LA city councilor Janice Hahn keeps rolling out more endorsements in her attempt to get an early lock-down on the Dem nomination in the special election. Three big ones: two very relevant to California (new Assembly speaker John Perez, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein), one, um, not so much (Dick Gephardt).
• NY-10: Gov. Andrew Cuomo just tapped Democratic Assemblyman Darryl Towns to be the state's new Homes and Community Renewal agency. Ordinarily, a special election in the remarkably-blue AD-54 would be too far in the weeds even for us, but you may recognize his name: he's the son of long-time Rep. Ed Towns. The 76-year-old Towns is routinely viewed as a candidate for retirement (and his son a likely replacement), so this move is a puzzle: is it a sign that the elder Towns isn't going anywhere (perhaps permanently fastened to his House seat by all the moss growing there), or perhaps a way for the younger Towns to burnish his credentials a bit and differentiate him a bit from his somnolent dad?
• NY-26: One more name to strike off the Republican list in the 26th (not that I'd known he'd been on the list): Assemblyman Dan Burling said he wouldn't run, and threw his support behind fellow Assembly member Jane Corwin for the nomination.
• Redistricting: This local news piece on redistricting in Indiana exposes the most mind-numbing and tedious part of the process, one that gets easily overlooked: the process of turning census data into precinct data, seeing as how precincts exist in their own little world apart from blocks and tracts. Even though Indiana was one of the earliest to receive their data, this data-cleaning process is expected to take several weeks before the legislature can even begin tackling the numbers. Also, Indiana is one of the states that will allow citizens to get their hands on the data to try making their own maps... but because of licensing issues of some sort, they won't be making the data available online. If you're in-state, you can drop into one of a number of stations they'll be setting up around the state where you can tinker with the data in person, though.
• Site news: DavidNYC here. I'm back from my vacation and I've had the chance to read through all of the comments (every last one) in the post where I announced our impending move to Daily Kos. While many of my replies are "thank yous" for the very kind expressions of support you offered, I also did my best to answer specific questions where I could. Rest assured that this won't be the last I'll have to say on the subject before we make the changeover. I'll also take this opportunity to encourage you to create an account over at Daily Kos if you don't have one already, and to play around with the new site (DK4 just launched this past weeked). (D)
• CT-Sen: The Chris Murphy/Susan Bysiewicz primary still could turn into a chaotic battle royale, based on this week's indications. Rep. Joe Courtney is "leaning toward" the run (although that's not Courtney's own words, just another insider's interpretation), and says he'll have a decision soon. Ted Kennedy Jr. also doesn't have anything official to say, but he does seem to be stepping up his appearances around the state, including one in Bridgeport next week. One Dem we can probably rule out, though, is former state Treasurer and former Hartford deputy mayor Frank Borges, who disputed reports that he was looking into the race. Here's also one other Republican who might make the race who seems to have access to big fundraising pools, although it seems like he'd be starting in a big name rec hole against, say, Linda McMahon: state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, who represents wealthy Greenwich in the state's southwestern tip.
• MI-Sen: After sounding pretty thoroughly disinterested in his few public comments about the possibility of a Michigan Senate race, ex-Rep. and 2010 gubernatorial primary loser Peter Hoekstra is now publicly expressing some interest. He says that he's "considering it" and will make a decision in a few months. There's also a poll out of the GOP primary from GOP pollster Strategic National (no word on whose behalf the poll was taken) showing Hoekstra well in the lead, which may be prompting him to get more interested: he's at 33, with Terry Lynn Land at 15 and Saul Anuzis at all of 1, with 50% still undecided.
• ND-Sen: Rep. Rick Berg has been mentioned often as a potential GOP candidate for the open seat being vacated by Kent Conrad, and chatter seems to indicate the local party seems to have him at the top of the list in terms of someone to unite behind to avoid a divisive primary. Moving from the House to the Senate after only one term is still a pretty unusual move (although it may be less momentous in an at-large state). (In fact, here's a trivia question for you all, for which I don't know the answer: who was the last person to successfully jump to the Senate after only one term in the House? I can't even think of a one-termer getting his party's nomination since 1994, when Dem Sam Coppersmith ran and lost an open seat race in Arizona to Jon Kyl.) There's one other name bubbling up to add to the list of the ten-or-more Republicans already listed as possible candidates: Fargo-area state Sen. Tony Grindberg.
• NE-Sen: You might remember that the mysterious GOP dark money group American Future Fund ran some radio ads in North Dakota last month and Kent Conrad was announcing his retirement within a few weeks after that? Not that there's likely a causal relationship there, but maybe they're feeling like lightning might strike twice, and now they're running a similar ad against Ben Nelson in Nebraska.
• TX-Sen: San Antonio mayor Julian Castro had already given some vague statements of not intending to run for the Democratic nomination for the open Senate seat, but put a finer point on that today by announcing that he's kicking off his campaign for a second term as mayor. One Republican who has expressed some interest in the race but doesn't seem likely to run is Rep. Mike McCaul from TX-10; the likelier scenario, at least according to one expert, is that McCaul plans to run for state Attorney General in 2014, which will probably be vacated by current occupant Greg Abbott moving up to the Lt. Governor slot, presuming that David Dewhurst either becomes Senator or doesn't run again in '14.
• UT-Sen: You thought that Hasselbeck vs. Cromartie Twitter fight was exciting? That's got nothing on a good social media smackdown between rival right-wing astroturfers Club for Growth and Tea Party Express. In the wake of TPX head Sal Russo's comments yesterday praising Orrin Hatch, CfG just dissed TPX, saying they seem "to like Hatch's record in support of TARP, earmarks..." Roll Call has more on the Club's plans to go aggressively after Hatch. Russo also seems like he's getting undercut by his fellow TPX leader, Amy Kremer, who says that Hatch isn't off the hook yet and will be under their microscope for the cycle.
• VA-Sen: Jamie Radtke, the only person in the race so far offering a challenge from the right to presumed GOP frontrunner George Allen, let everyone know yesterday where she'd stand, putting in an appearance at the initial unveiling of the Senate Tea Party caucus (and its four members... or five if you count Pat Toomey, who was willing to speak to them but not join). Other interesting reading regarding Virginia is this profile of Jim Webb which doesn't offer many surprises but is a good overview of his ambivalence about the Senate race is pretty much in keeping with everything else about him. And buried in another boilerplate article is a pretty sharp smack at Allen from a fellow GOPer and the last person to successfully pivot from getting bounced out of the Senate to winning a later race (in 1988), Slade Gorton. Gorton says Allen, to win, will first need to apologize to voters, saying "I don't see anything from him about how he screwed up, even though he did."
• LA-Gov: See you later, Al Ater. After some semi-encouraging statements about a possible candidacy, the Democratic former Secretary of State now says he won't run for Governor this year. That still leaves the Dems without any sort of candidate to go against Bobby Jindal, with the clock definitely starting to tick louder.
• WV-Gov: Don't get too comfortable with the idea of a primary to pick the gubernatorial candidates in West Virginia (tentatively set for June 20); the legislature still has to enact that and there are some grumblings that it might not happen because of the expense involved, which would mean party conventions instead. That could give a boost to one of the less-known Democratic candidates who have stronger relations to organized labor, like House speaker Rick Thompson or treasurer John Perdue. The article also mentions a few other Republicans whose names are emerging in the race, most notably Putnam Co. Prosecutor Mark Sorasia (who'll be participating in an upcoming candidate forum), also mentioning former state Sen. Steve Harrison and state Del. Troy Andes.
• CT-05: The dance cards in the 5th district are definitely filling up. On the Democratic side, Audrey Blondin is saying that she'll run; she's a former Selectwoman from Litchfield, a member of the state party committee, and briefly ran for SoS in 2005. Also considering the Democratic primary is J. Paul Vance, the former leader of the Waterbury board of aldermen and a narrow loser to Michael Jarjura in the 2009 Dem mayoral primary. On the Republican side, Mike Clark is in; he's Farmington town council chair but he's best known for leading the FBI team that took down corrupt Gov. John Rowland, and was on Tom Foley's LG short-list. Several other possible names on the Republican field that are mentioned include state Sen. Kevin Witkos, Torrington mayor Ryan Bingham, and one possible heavyweight in the field (and the guy who actually was Foley's running mate), Danbury mayor Mark Boughton.
• FL-25: Freshman Rep. David Rivera seems to be in a world of trouble, with an entirely new angle on his corruption arising courtesy of an AP investigation: he paid himself nearly $60K in "unexplained" campaign reimbursements during his eight years in the state legislature. Between that and the already mounting investigation by Florida authorities and the FEC into potential payoffs from a dog track, there's apparently growing discontent with him behind the scenes in Republican leadership, who may be feeling pressure to make an example out of him as part of their "drain the swamp" promises (although Ethics Committee rules prevent them from using that vehicle, since they can't take up matters that are already under criminal investigation). Rumors persist that both parties are already sounding out candidates for a potential special election. He isn't getting much public support from John Boehner, whose only on-the-record comments are that he's taking a wait-and-see attitude on how things unfold.
• WI-01: Is this just a bit of monkeying around with Paul Ryan now that he's temporarily a celebrity, or are Dems seriously thinking about making a target out of him now that he's more notorious? (He's in what's currently an R+2 district, certainly within reach in a Dem-friendly year with a good candidate, and leads veteran House Republicans in terms of ideological out-of-whackness with his district lean... though that may have changed with the newest crop of teabaggers) At any rate, mailers are being sent out to voters in his district, having a bit of sport with his Medicare-voucherization proposals.
• Chicago mayor: We Ask America is out with another poll of the Chicago mayoral race (taken during the brief period when it looked like Rahm Emanuel might have been off the ballot). It looks like, as speculated, the whole debacle may have actually increased sympathy for Emanuel (with 72% of respondents saying his name should stay on the ballot), as this is the first poll to show him over the magic 50% mark that would help him avoid a runoff. He's at 52, with Gerry Chico at 14, Carol Mosely Braun at 11, and Miguel del Valle at 4. It also provides support for the theory that Chico, not Mosely Braun, would have been the chief beneficiary if Emanuel had gotten kicked off, as Chico led a Rahm-free option at 33, with Mosely Braun at 17 and del Valle at 7 (with 38 undecided).
• Nassau Co. Exec: This may pretty much spell doom for any future political efforts by Republican Nassau Co. Exec Ed Mangano, who was elected in a narrow upset over Tom Suozzi in 2009. Mangano has, since then, closely stuck to the teabagger/underpants gnome playbook of governance (step 1: cut taxes; step 2: ???; step 3: profit!), and lo and behold, found his county government insolvent. The state government has been forced to step in and seize control of the finance in the county on Long Island, one of the nation's wealthiest.
• Redistricting: I can't see this going anywhere legislatively even if Dems still held the majority (and I'm not sure it would pass constitutional muster anyway), but Heath Shuler and Jim Cooper are introducing legislation in the House that would switch every state away from partisan redistricting to requiring use of a five-person bipartisan commission. (They're picking up the flag from fellow Blue Dog John Tanner, for whom this was a personal hobby horse for many years until he recently left the House, but they may also have some personal stake in wanting this to succeed, seeing as how they suddenly find themselves in states where the Republicans now control the trifecta.) Also, the public rumblings of worry from prominent Republicans about how the GOP isn't financially or mentally prepared for this round of redistricting (something that seems dramatically out of character for them) seem to keep coming, this time from Ed Gillespie.
• Voting: Montana seems to be taking a cue from its nearby neighbors Oregon and Washington, and moving toward a vote-by-mail system. The measure cleared the House and will soon move to the state Senate. Despite the fact that the GOP controls that chamber and this was a Democratic bill, there was enough Republican support to move it forward. (Studies have shown that vote-by-mail tends to noticeably increase participation by traditionally-Democratic constituencies that ordinarily aren't very likely voters.)
• CT-Sen: Murphmentum! Rep. Chris Murphy, in the race to replace Joe Lieberman, seems to have a sizable early edge in both the primary and general elections, at least according to his internal poll from the Gotham Research Group (with a Jan. 3-5 sample period, so pre-Murphy's campaign launch and pre-Lieberman's retirement). In the primary, he leads a two-way race against Susan Bysiewicz, 40-31. In the general, he leads Linda McMahon 54-35 and leads Rob Simmons 46-34 (which is quite the testament to McMahon's toxicity). The spread on the primary numbers is close to the 47-35 mystery poll that was widely mentioned on Murphy's announcement day, although the Murphy campaign reiterates that that poll wasn't theirs.
• MN-Sen: Norm Coleman (currently heading American Action Network, who were big players on the dark money front in 2010) is saying that he's not ruling out another run for office, although couching that by saying he's enjoying being out of the news on a regular basis. No indication what he wants to run for, though.
• MO-Sen: Here's one more name to add to the list for Missouri... or to add back to the list, after briefly being off the list while the pursued the chairmanship of the RNC. Ann Wagner, a former ambassador to Luxembourg, former RNC vice-chair, and former campaign manager to Roy Blunt (can't get much more GOP establishment than that resume), is publicly weighing the race again. (She says she'd defer to Jim Talent, though, but that's looking less likely.) And here's an early endorsement for Ed Martin, the former MO-03 candidate who's emerging as something of the tea party favorite in the field, if he decides to run; he got the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly, Missouri-based 80s right-wing icon who still has a lot of pull in social conservative circles.
• OH-Sen: Rep. Jim Jordan is back in the news for saying that he's "leaning against" a run against Sherrod Brown. If I recall correctly, he's been "leaning against" the race for months, so things don't seem to have changed much here.
• LA-Gov: Louisiana Democrats seem to be turning their attention toward something that's previously eluded them: a potentially willing candidate to go up against Bobby Jindal. Former SoS Al Ater, well-regarded for getting the state electoral system back in gear after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, still sounds pretty noncommittal, perhaps most about the idea of spending his own money on the race (self-financing seems to be the Dems' main criteria for the race, and while Ater has money, he doesn't sound happy about spending much of it).
• IA-03: Christie Vilsack is seemingly moving toward a run for the House in 2012, meeting with donors and labor leaders to lay some groundwork. This seems strange, though, because all three of the state's House Dems say they're running for re-election, including 77-year-old Leonard Boswell. (Vilsack would be likeliest to run in the 3rd, or whatever the Des Moines-area district will be called once redistricting happens.) She won't make a formal decision until April, when the new four-district redistricting maps will be unveiled, but for now it looks like, unless she's going to run against Steve King, there's a collision course with an existing Dem.
• Chicago mayor: Fresh off a surprising setback in the Illinois Appellate Court, which reversed lower court rulings that he was a Chicago resident and eligible to become mayor, Rahm Emanuel has appealed to the state Supreme Court; they've announced they'll hear the case on an expedited basis, with no oral arguments, so we should be out of limbo pretty soon. There was a brief period where it looked like the city was going to go ahead and start printing ballots without Emanuel's name (which would basically be the kiss of death), but also today, a stay was ordered that pushes back the ballot printing until the case is fully decided. Also, in case you though this was all just about a legitimate case of differences in statutory interpretation, with grownups disagreeing about what an inadequately-specific law means, guess again. (Forget it, Jake. It's Chicago.) It turns out that two of the three Appellate Court judges on the case were slated by the 14th district Alderman Edward Burke, a local powerbroker who's a staunch Emanuel rival and a key Gery Chico backer. This leads to the question of whether supreme court justice Anne Burke, who may have a certain loyalty to Edward seeing as how she's married to him, will recuse herself from the Emanuel case.
• Omaha mayor: There's one special election on tap today: a recall election in Omaha, against mayor Jim Suttle. There's no scandal or malfeasance alleged, just anger about over usual teabagger grievances like "excessive taxes, broken promises, and union deals," as well as the unspoken obvious: while it's an ostensibly nonpartisan job, Suttle's a Democrat. (Omaha seems particularly trigger-happy about recalls; Mike Boyle was successfully recalled in 1987.)
• Senate: Somehow it doesn't seem unusual, but what George Allen is attempting (and what Jim Talent could attempt, too) is, in fact, highly unusual. Only five Senators have lost re-election and then come back to the Senate... but most of them (Slade Gorton most recently) were elected to their state's other Senate seat. What Allen is doing is even more unusual: defeating the guy who beat you six years ago in order to reclaim your seat seems to have happened all of once in history. Thanks to UMN's Smart Politics, it looks like the one time was in 1934, when Rhode Island Democrat Peter Gerry (the great-grandson of Elbridge Gerry, in case you're wondering) beat one-term Republican Felix Hebert, who had knocked him out in the GOP tsunami of 1928.
• DGA: The Democratic Governor's Association announced its new hires for the cycle, including the Patriot Majority's Dan Sena as its political director. We're especially happy to see their new hire for communication director: friend-to-the-site Lis Smith, last seen on Ted Strickland's campaign.
• Redistricting: There's some redistricting-related drama looming in New York, where the Senate Republicans are backing away from promises of a non-partisan redistricting map. Andrew Cuomo has signaled that he'd veto any map that wasn't non-partisan, but is now suggesting he can negotiate on that, in exchange for other priorities. There was also a smaller battle in Georgia, won by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (who, in his role as Senate president, got to reassert his authority over the process), where the stakes are lower since the GOP controls the trifecta. The battle was against Senate president pro tem Tommie Williams... Williams is from the south (unlike Nathan Deal, Cagle, and the House speaker, all from the north) and has a stake in keeping the underpopulated southern part of the state's interests represented at the table.
One of the big question marks for redistricting is Florida, where the initiative that passed, limiting gerrymandering, still has to run the gauntlet in the courts; the GOP in the state House are joining the suit against the initiative that was filed jointly by Mario Diaz-Balart and Corrine Brown (not surprising that they'd support it, since the GOP controls the trifecta and the legislature would get to resume gerrymandering if it's struck down). Finally, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a look at Pennsylvania redistricting prospects, concluding (rightly, in my estimation) that the axe is likely to fall in the southwest corner of the state because of its stagnant population, and suggesting that the likeliest removal from the House will be the loser of a Jason Altmire/Mark Critz mashup.
• CT-Sen: If you think the Chris Murphy/Susan Bysiewicz primary is an open-and-shut case, guess again: Ted Kennedy Jr.'s name seems to be getting a lot of mention now too. If the 49-year-old lawyer does get elected, if would bring the Kennedy-free interregnum in Congress to a close after only two years. Meanwhile, I don't think anybody was expecting him to give up his leadership slot for a run, but Rep. John Larson has confirmed he's not running for Senate, and isn't endorsing... yet. Rep. Chris Murphy seems to know that this race, with its expensive media markets, is going to cost a lot of money; he's putting a $10 million figure out there, although that of course could go even higher if he finds himself in a general election against Linda McMahon. Luckily for Murphy, MoveOn seems to be backing him up; while they didn't explicitly endorse, they e-mailed their donor base on his behalf today. If he can corner the "netroots candidate" niche in the primary, obviously that'll help him go a long way toward that money goal.
• MI-Sen: Could Saul Anuzis, who just lost his RNC chair bid, wind up being the Michigan Senate nominee for the GOP in 2012? Apparently that's an option on the table for him, although he tells Dave Catanese he hasn't "ruled it out or in." Anuzis is a primarily behind-the-scenes player, though, who's never won an election before. At least that gives him that much in common with Tim Leuliette, the only other person to have expressed much interest so far. Also, this isn't exactly Senate related, but here's another Greg Giroux special: a database showing the Michigan governor's race breakdown by current congressional district.
• MN-Sen: Marty Seifert, the state Rep. who lost the 2010 Republican nomination to the further-right Tom Emmer, has declined to run for either the 2012 or 2014 Senate races, leaving the state GOP still casting about for anyone to go up against Amy Klobuchar. They're still laying the groundwork for a hard run, though, already launching a new website trying to tar the often-moderate Klobuchar with the dreaded "liberal."
• NV-Sen: John Ensign confirms yet again that he's running for re-election (at least for now), though he says he expects a primary challenge and will have difficulty regaining the voters' trust. The main thing, though, he'll have difficulty is regaining money... he raised only $19K last quarter for his campaign account. (His legal fees are another story: he raised $550K for his legal defense fund last quarter, and spending $97K of that on lawyers. Likely rival Dean Heller, for his part, said at a press conference that he's keeping an eye on the race, but without a specific timetable for an announcement.
• RI-Sen: One well-known name (at least locally) who does seem interested in the Senate race (which so far hasn't drawn any takers) is Alan Hassenfeld, the former CEO of locally-based toymaker Hasbro. (Does that make him the real-life inspiration for Mr. Weed on the Family Guy?) At any rate, Hassenfeld is registered independent and contributed to and voted for the Moderate Party's gubernatorial candidate last year, so he seems like he might be running on their line, not for the GOP.
• VA-Sen: The rest of the Democratic A-list in Virginia seems to be shying away from the Senate race, meaning either Jim Webb is pretty certain to run again or else we're in a world of hurt. Terry McAuliffe, who in the end acquitted himself well in the '09 gubernatorial race, says he won't run if Webb doesn't (joining Tim Kaine in the "no thanks" pile). That's not a surprise, in that McAuliffe's interest in another whack at the gubernatorial race in 2013 is well-known.
• LA-Gov: We've been seeing a lot of polls with strange configurations lately, and this one from Market Research Insight (not a pollster we seem to have any track record from) may take the cake. As one might expect, they find Bobby Jindal looking pretty safe for re-election, but they test him against both Mary Mitch Landrieu (as a D) and John Kennedy (as an R) in what, I assume, is supposed to be a jungle primary format (despite no indications from either Landrieu or Kennedy that they're interested). At any rate, it's Jindal 51, Landrieu 25, Kennedy 10. More generically, they find Jindal with a 49/40 re-elect number.
• WV-Gov: Now this is highly unusual. Faced with a court mandate to hold a special election this year, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (the main person wanting to kick the election back to 2012), has declared that the special election won't be in November as one might expect, but rather on Oct. 4! The primaries will be held on June 20.
• KY-AG: After some last minute rumors this week that he wasn't going to run again, Jack Conway announced today that he's filing for re-election as Attorney General and putting together a new campaign team. Needless to say, that's a relief for those of us who want to keep building a bench in and contesting Kentucky.
• Chicago mayor: There's a new Chicago Tribune/WGN poll out of the mayoral race, and like other recent polls, it shows Rahm Emanuel with a big lead and continuing to climb, but still short of the 50% mark at which he could avoid a runoff. The poll finds him at 44, with Carol Mosely Braun (last seen sniping at Bill Clinton, telling him he's "turning his back" on minorities) at 21, Gery Chico at 16, and Miguel del Valle at 7. Emanuel is also announcing his financial haul, which, as you might guess, is huge (Senate-sized, really): $10.6 million raised through mid-January. With that in mind, he's sparing no expense when it comes to advertising, rolling out a $150K ad buy during the Bears/Packers game this weekend.
Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) jumped into the 2012 Senate race Thursday, saying in a statement that he decided to run to offer "a fresh, progressive voice." ...
"I've decided to run for the United States Senate in 2012 because I believe that I can be a stronger voice for the issues that matter to Connecticut, like creating good jobs and ending these costly wars, in the Senate," Murphy's statement read.
Murphy said entering the race was a "tough decision" but that ultimately, "what I've heard is that people feel that the Senate simply doesn't work anymore -- it's become an unjustifiable barrier to positive change, and Connecticut needs a fresh, progressive voice there that will push for both policy and institutional reform."
Murphy, a great friend of SSP, joins ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary fray. We're still waiting to hear whether 2nd District Rep. Joe Courtney, who is also reportedly interested in a run, will throw down, as well.
UPDATE: Here's Murphy's announcement video, referencing his relentless door-knocking habits:
There's also word today of a poll giving Murphy a 47-35 lead over Bysiewicz in the Dem primary, although we haven't seen a memo yet. This article says it's an internal poll from Murphy, but a source on the campaign tells us the numbers aren't theirs.
While we're girding for a major Dem primary, it's sounding like there's going to be some mortal combat on the GOP side too, with potentially as many as four retreads slugging it out. Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, who lost to Linda McMahon in last year's Senate primary, is already firing shots across her bow, although it's unclear whether he intends to run or is just trying to kneecap her so someone else gets a try. And while former Gov. candidate Tom Foley's interest has been known, now the guy he defeated in his primary, former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, is also saying he's considering the Senate race too.
Finally, there's the little matter of CT-05, which, unless Murphy abruptly reverses course, is our first confirmed open seat of 2012. While this district (which includes culturally-conservative blue-collar cities like Waterbury and New Britain, plus a lot of wealthy second-home territory in the state's northwest corner) is a Dem-leaning seat, it's the closest Connecticut comes to a swing seat, at D+2. The GOP sounds like they'd like a return engagement from former state Sen. and Waterbury mayor Sam Caligiuri, who got within 8 points of Murphy last year. Potential Dem candidates mentioned include state House speaker Chris Donovan and Simsbury First Selectwoman (and Ned Lamont's LG candidate) Mary Glassman.
This seemed like a pretty foregone conclusion based on all of yesterday's leaks and chatters, but at his lunchtime press conference today in Stamford, CT, Joe Lieberman just made it official: he will not be running for a fifth term in the Senate.
"I have decided it is time to turn the page to a new chapter, and so I will not be a candidate for re-election..."
"I promised [my wife] that when Regis leaves television, I'll leave the Senate."
The exit of Lieberman, who had many different ways of approaching the 2012 Senate race but probably no way of winning it, makes things easier for the Democrats here, turning this into a very straightforward two-way instead of a hard-to-game three-person race. Whether that Dem nominee will be Chris Murphy, Susan Bysiewicz, or somebody else... that's the new big question in Connecticut.
UPDATE: If you haven't seen it, here's an excellent overview of Lieberman's rise and fall, from Salon's Steve Kornacki, who as always knows his history. Our younger readers may not be familiar with Lieberman's first election in 1988, which he won by running to the right of iconoclastic Republican incumbent Lowell Weicker.
Democrat Susan Bysiewicz is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by longtime incumbent Joseph Lieberman - almost two years before the 2012 election.
Bysiewicz announced her intentions Tuesday morning in an e-mail that was sent to reporters.
"We need a senator who is 100 percent focused on helping our state, and Senator Joe Lieberman has been focused on everything but Connecticut,'' Bysiewicz said in a statement. "I will only work for the people of Connecticut so we can create jobs that keep our children and grandchildren here in Connecticut for generations to come.''
Bysiewicz's entry -- assuming she actually stays in the race -- could force a competitive Democratic primary between her and Rep. Chris Murphy, who has made every indication that he's interested in the race.
UPDATE: Bysiewicz is coming armed with an internal poll, too. The poll from Bennet Petts Normington (from December 13-16, of registered voters) gives her a lead in both the primary and the general, suggesting she hasn't been too badly harmed by a year's worth of public ooopsies. She leads Chris Murphy in a Dem primary 46-37, and if there's a three-way also involving Ted Kennedy Jr., she leads that 33-26-26. In a general that's Bysiewicz, Joe Lieberman, and Linda McMahon, she leads 34-30-28. She also leads a Bysiewicz/Lieberman/Tom Foley race 33-29-27, and leads a two-way race against Linda McMahon 54-36.
Also, Chris Murphy doesn't seem to be backing down; his post-Bysiewicz statement is the most candidate-ish thing today we've heard out of him yet:
However, Bysiewicz's announcement Tuesday prompted Murphy to send out this statement: "My interest in running for Senate in 2012 is well known in the state, and I expect to announce my decision very soon. All I can say now is that this is going to be a pretty busy few weeks."
UPDATE: Apparently tomorrow we'll know what Joe Lieberman's plans are for 2012. An announcement at a press conference is scheduled, although there's no suggestion yet what's being announced.
UPDATE 3: A few hours later, we are gettingmultiplereports that Lieberman's announcement tomorrow will be that he will retire.