• FL-Sen: It's official: Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who filed paperwork last week, formally joined the GOP Senate field yesterday, making his announcement on right-wing radio host Mark Levin's show. Despite his establishment pedigree, Hasner has endeared himself to movement conservatives, hitting almost all of the right notes in what I call "Tribal Clef" - like so, but when you sing just the right tune to please the teabaggers. He was for Marco Rubio before it was cool, likes to hate on Muslims, and tried to push a state constitutional amendment that would let Florida "opt out" of card check should the Employee Free Choice Act ever pass. One odd thing, though, is his support for electric cars, something that Rush Limbaugh likes to mock as some liberal attempt at social engineering.
• MA-Sen: Activist Bob Massie has hired one-time Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi. Trippi was once a netroots icon but really fell out of favor after he went to run the Senate campaign of zillionaire asshole Jeff Greene in Florida last year.
• ME-Sen: One possible Dem name we hadn't yet heard of as a possible challenger to Sen. Olympia Snow is state Sen. Phil Bartlett. Bartlett is just 32 years old, but will already be term-limited next year. (Maine seems to have a lot of very young legislators!) In the classic formulation, he says he's "not ruling out" a race.
• MO-Sen, MO-02: It's Apes-A-Poppin in the Missouri Senate race - and beyond. As Rep. Todd Akin inches closer to a senatorial run, teabagger favorite Ed Martin says he's thinking about running for Akin's potentially vacant seat, rather than competing against him in the Senate primary. Martin came close to beating Rep. Russ Carnahan in MO-03 last year, but that district is all but certain to get caved into Akin's present 2nd CD. Martin is a resident of St. Louis, though, so I'm not sure if he'd wind up in the new 2nd district (not that it necessarily matters).
Martin's newfound open-mindedness seems to come in response to a move by former state GOP chair Ann Wagner to create an exploratory committee for a possible run in whatever winds up being the successor to Akin's seat - again, assuming Akin runs for Senate, which Wagner thinks is "likely."
• NE-Sen: Ben Nelson told a Rotary Club gathering that he hasn't yet decided whether he'll run again in 2012. Also, help me out here, because I'm not understanding this: Is Nelson also saying in this article that he voted for healthcare reform because if he hadn't, a public option would have passed? I'm not getting this one at all.
• NM-Sen: Dem Hector Balderas, another candidate who telegraphed his intentions last week, also made his entry into his state's Senate primary official yesterday. He employed some good framing in his intro video:
Accountability and fiscal responsibility are not Republican words. And I'm tired of hearing them used as excuses to shortchange our children and break promises to our seniors.
As Sean Sullivan notes, he does take an indirect jab at Rep. Martin Heinrich, saying he doesn't have "the most connections in Washington" and that he "won't be the candidate of the lobbyists or the insiders." The contours of this race seem superficially akin to those in Connecticut, where a more powerful congressman is facing off against a (former) statewide elected official, but I'm hoping everyone keeps their noses clean here.
• NV-Sen: Silver State Dems are trying to do everything they can, it seems, to pressure Gov. Brian Sandoval into not appointing Rep. Dean Heller to John Ensign's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. I'm doubtful any of this will work (why should Sandoval care?), but if you're curious to see what Democrats are up to, click the link.
• IN-Gov: We're getting close to landing a pretty strong gubernatorial candidate in the Hoosier State. Former Dem state House Speaker John Gregg (whom we've mentioned in the past) says that he'll soon form an exploratory committee and that his "mind is made up." He's been pressing the flesh at Jefferson-Jackson dinners across the state lately, trying to re-build his name rec after a decade out of office. Still, with Mike Pence looking awfully lazy, I'm feeling perhaps a touch optimistic about this race.
• AR-04: The NRCC is airing a radio ad (I assume for peanuts) against Dem Rep. Mike Ross, attacking him for voting against all five budget proposals which came up for a vote in the House on April 15th. The main Republican Medicare-killing plan sponsored by Paul Ryan, the even crazier Republican Study Committee plan sponsored by Scott Garrett (which Dems almost tricked the GOP into passing), the Progressive Caucus plan sponsored by Raul Grijalva, the Congressional Black Caucus plan sponsored by Emanuel Cleaver, and I guess what you'd call the mainstream Democratic plan sponsored by Chris Van Hollen, which hasn't gotten a lot of attention.
So amusingly, the NRCC is trying to ding Ross for not voting for everything from Scott Garrett's vision for dystopia to a plan they'd readily denounce as neo-Stalinist. Ross should easily be able to turn this around and cast himself as an ardent defender of Medicare. (I'm sure I don't need to give him any pointers about wanking on the Grijalva or Cleaver plans.) They're also doing robocalls in another dozen or so seats held by other Dems who also voted against all five plans. Maybe this line of attack will work, but there are really very few districts left where it can.
• IN-08: Former six-term state Rep. Dave Crooks, who left office in 2008, says he's "pretty close to pulling the trigger" on a run against freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon. The 8th CD looks like it'll get made a touch more Democratic, something that Crooks acknowledges has figured in his plans. What's more, Bucshon so far has proven to be no great shakes - he had the poorest fundraising quarter of any congressman in Indiana. (Shades of John Hostettler, the last Republican to hold this seat before Bucshon?) I also like the fact that Crooks is already coming out hard against the Ryan plan.
In any event, Crooks says he's likely to make a formal announcement in the next 30 days, which would be a very good get for Team Blue. Warrick County Democratic Party Terry White is already in the race (which we noted previously), and former state Rep. Trent Van Haaften (who ran last year) is also still weighing a run.
• MN-08: Democrats have finally landed a challenger to the really meager Rep. Chip Cravaack: Daniel Fanning, the deputy state director for Sen. Al Franken and an Iraq war vet. I suspect that this will not be the last word on the Dem primary field, though. UPDATE: Seems I read the article a little too hastily. Fanning is just saying he's likely to run. He hasn't officially declared.
• NV-02: Speaking of Dean Heller (see NV-Sen bullet above), Sharron Angle is supposedly threatening to do exactly what I predicted she would, which is run an independent campaign in the free-for-all special election to replace Heller if she isn't tapped by the Republican Party. However, this "news" comes from the Las Vegas Review-Journal "newspaper" (as Jon Ralston would put it), and they admit it's nothing more than a rumor, calling it "the word circulating Monday."
Here's something that's not mere rumor: Dem Assemblywoman Debbie Smith says she won't run in any special in NV-02. We do still have other options here, though, like Treasurer Kate Marshall.
• NY-26: The first candidate-on-candidate Medicare attack ad belongs to Kathy Hochul, who nails Republican Jane Corwin for her support of the Ryan budget plan. The Fix says the buy is for 1,000 points, which is substantial. If I were Hochul, I'd hit this theme and little else for the next four weeks.
• OR-01: Whoa. After a couple months of nothing doing, it looks like the Democratic jalopy is about to start getting very full. Former state Sen. Ryan Deckert is now the third Dem to get in or near the race to unseat Rep. David Wu, and current state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici is the fourth, with both saying they are "considering" a run. Guys, you realize what happens when everyone piles into this rustbucket, right? Former Jeff Merkley state director Jon Isaacs says he thinks Wu can probably score from 35-45% of the vote, which means that unseating him will be very hard with more than one opponent. I'm inclined to agree.
• TX-14: LOL, I guess we have to put Ron Paul on the 2012 House Open Seat Watch now.
• NJ-St. Sen.: Even though an administrative judge already said he could run, Republican Secretary of State Kim Guadagno ruled that Carl Lewis is ineligible to appear on the ballot this November as a Democrat. It just so happens that Guadagno is also the Lt. Gov., which means, of course, she's under Chris Christie's considerable thumb. Why does this matter? Because Lewis had the temerity to insult the thin-skinned Don Christeone when he decided to run for office while also pursuing a plan to develop a state youth athletic program under the governor's auspices. That plan now sleeps with the fishes, and Guadagno's latest move amounts to delivering the dead carp wrapped in newspaper. Fortunately, Lewis says he'll appeal.
• WI Recall: Good news for Dem state Sens. Lena Taylor and Fred Risser: The deadline for the GOP to submit recall petitions for them came and went with nary a whisper. Meanwhile, Democrats plan to file signatures against a sixth (and probably final) Republican, Rob Cowles, this week.
• Colorado: Any attempts at bipartisan compromise have totally fallen apart at this point, with the GOP saying they'll produce a new plan of their own in response to the Democrats' announcement they they'll introduce a new map. With the legislature split, I have to believe this will head to court, unless the Dems can present something that the GOP fears less than the prospect of a judge-drawn map.
• Missouri: Republicans are still scrambling to try to create a new map that both the House and Senate can agree on in time to put it on Gov. Jay Nixon's desk and be able to schedule a veto over-ride before the current legislative session ends on May 13. The problem is that today is really the last day they can squeeze this in. Nixon has 15 days to review any bill he gets). It would take quite a breakthrough for this to happen, and lawmakers are apparently worried that if they have to wait until September to try an over-ride, Nixon will have the chance to sway wobbly legislators to his side. The GOP's redistricting chair says: "If you're term-limited out and looking for a job, the governor can dangle something in front of you." Dangle away, Jay!
• Virginia: Oh god. This is just not a headline I wanted to see: "Senate opens bipartisan negotiations on redistricting." Dems claim they "won't negotiate away our majority," but what does that mean? The Democratic majority in the state Senate is already cut pretty close to the bone, so I don't see how they have much room to give. At least if they go with a court-drawn map instead, they get a) a better map in the House even if they risk a worse map in the Senate and b) a shot at a second set of elections in 2012 with Obama at the top of the ticket - and fighting hard for VA, you can be sure. But if they play nice with Gov. Bob McDonnell, they could wind up with something resembling a dummymander. I'm pretty worried.
• AZ-Sen: Board of Regents member Fred Du Val, who I don't think we'd discussed before, said he won't seek the Democratic nomination to replace Jon Kyl. The article also mentions another possible Dem name that I hadn't previously seen, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke.
• FL-Sen: This article makes George LeMieux's candidacy appear exactly as lame as you'd expect. Not only is he lamely courting teabaggers, but a recent "Tax Day" rally drew "less than 100." Sounds like a lot less.
• MA-Sen: Apologies for the paywalled-link-not something I'd ordinarily do, but this story isn't available elsewhere. Anyhow, bigwigs constantly talking about him to the media has just got to be frustrating for Newton Mayor Setti Warren. First it was Gov. Deval Patrick, blabbing to the press that he was sure Warren was going to run. (Warren had to publicly back away from Patrick's remarks.) Now, it's the opposite: Rep. Barney Frank for some reason thought it would be a good idea to tell the National Journal: "I think it's a mistake for him to run, I've told him that." Well, if Frank's told Warren this, then why the fuck does he also have to tell the NJ and turn it into a public spectacle? And it's not just one off-hand remark - Frank made multiple statements talking down Warren's chances. Sheesh, just let Warren do what he wants to do. Jeez.
• ME-Sen: Dem House Minority Leader Emily Cain says she won't challenge Olympia Snowe next year. (Cain, just 30 years old, can certainly bide her time.) The same piece mentions another possible Democratic name, businessman Donato Tramuto, who may also be interested in a 2014 gubernatorial bid.
• MO-Sen: As Eli Yokley of PoliticMo observes, Todd Akin's visit with a bunch of teabaggers in Joplin, Missouri took him three hundred miles outside of his congressional district, as sure a sign as any that he's interested in taking on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Akin says he'll decide "in the near future." Interestingly, at the end of this article, he also whined about Democrats "beating up" Republicans over wanting to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it. That kvetching means our attacks are already working-and when you have to start explaining yourself in full-length paragraphs (as Akin tries to do), you're on the defensive and flailing.
• NM-Sen: Auditor Hector Balderas said on Friday that he'll decide whether to seek the Dem nod to replace the retiring Jeff Bingaman "within the next two weeks."
• TX-Sen: It appears that Democrats may have landed an interesting recruit in this race: Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq. Sanchez said he wouldn't "confirm or deny" the reports, but former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Dem, decided to crack out of turn, saying he spoke with Sanchez and that it sounded "like he's close to being a candidate." One black mark: Sanchez was in command of US forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, and he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram it was "pretty fair" to say the event ended his military career (though of course neither he nor any high-ranking officers were ever held responsible).
In other TX-Sen news, another one of Ron Paul's offspring, Fort Worth physician Robert Paul, says he has "thought about running" for Senate... but that's pretty much all he's said.
• NH-Gov: Mark Connolly is an interesting figure in New Hampshire politics: He's the former director of the state's Bureau of Securities Regulation, until he resigned last year to publicly blow the whistle on the state's mishandling of an investigation into a ponzi scheme run by an entity called Financial Resource Management. (You may recall that this scandal also tainted Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who had been NH AG at the time, but not enough to derail her Senate bid.) In any event, Connolly says he thinks Gov. John Lynch should seek a fifth-term and he'd support him if he does-but if Lynch declined to run, Connolly "would consider" doing so himself. (Note that Connolly also briefly considered a Senate run himself last cycle, but was wise enough to stand aside.)
• WA-Gov: I'm not really understanding Rob McKenna's path to victory. He's spent most of his career trying to convince people he's a "moderate," non-insane Republican, but then he signed on to the multi-state suit by mostly red-state Republican AGs to try to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional. He's since continued in that surprising vein: He just attended a teabagger "Tax Day" rally and seems to think he needs to court the wingnuts in order to be successful. Is he worried about a primary? Or is he concerned he can't win without teabaggers pushing for him at full throttle? Either way, it seems like he's screwing himself.
• FL-22: Kinda interesting: Former Gov. Charlie Crist just gave $1000 to Democrat "no not that" Patrick Murphy's campaign to oust Allen West. (They share a consultant in common.) Really, I can't believe Crist just didn't switch parties when he had the chance.
• OR-01: Carla Axtman, writing at the you-should-bookmark-`em-if-you-haven't-yet Blue Oregon, goes as far down into the weeds as it's possible to go without spontaneously commencing photosynthesis. In a look at the possible Dem field shaping up to primary Rep. David Wu, she mentions a couple of candidates we hadn't previously seen named before: state Rep. Brad Witt and Clatsop County Commissioner Dirk Rohne, a recent R-to-D switcher.
• NYC-Mayor: Kill me now: Dick Grasso, the d-bag ex-director of the New York Stock Exchange, says that if Eliot Spitzer runs for mayor, so will he. I just pray Spitzer isn't stupid enough to actually run, but if anything, this challenge from Grasso probably has Eliot's blood flowing and makes him more likely to do it. God.
• WATN?: Alan Hevesi, who had once served as NYC Comptroller and later comptroller for the whole state, was sentenced to one to four years in prison, after pleading guilty last fall to one count of official misconduct. Hevesi took bribes from financial firms (politely called "pay-to-play") in exchange for steering the state to invest its considerable pension funds with those firms. What a piece of shit. Anyhow, he could be out of jail in less than a year.
Another ex-pol who has very much landed on his feet is former PA Gov. Ed Rendell. Of course, you'd expect nothing less from Fast Eddie, and if you really are curious as to what he's up to, you're going to have to click the link, because it's way more than I can summarize.
• 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:
• MO-Sen: Well, it looks like Claire McCaskill has been trying to make me look like an idiot. After this site's repeated smack-downs of the "airplane" story as Politico-fueled b.s., it turns out that there is quite a bit more to it: McCaskill now says she owes $287,000 in unpaid property taxes on the plane. That's quite a bit. Of course, she says she's paying them, and she's also having her husband sell the plane - and she further notes that this problem only came to light because she reviewed the plane's records herself. But how do you forget to pay over a quarter mil in taxes? Man.
In other MO-Sen news, former state GOP chair Ann Wagner was in DC last week meeting with the NRSC about her bid. She still claims her first preference is to run for Senate, but based on the quotes in Roll Call's piece, it's sounding more and more like Rep. Todd Akin (R) will get in and she'll run for his seat. Of course, who knows what MO-02 will look like in a few months....
• PA-Sen: The National Journal's Alex Roarty says that Ed Stack, longtime CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods and Pittsburgh native, is thinking about seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Bob Casey. Stack is, of course, very rich.
• ND-Gov: Horse's mouth: Ex-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) is leaving the door just slightly ajar to a gubernatorial run, saying "I am not excluding anything nor am I focusing on politics right now." But he repeatedly told the Fargo-Moorhead Forum that he was concentrating on his new legal/lobbying job at Alston & Bird in DC.
• WV-Gov: SoS Natalie Tennant released a poll from GQR showing acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin leading the Dem primary field with 31, but with herself just behind at 27. Treasurer John Perdue is at 14, while state House Speaker Rick Thompson and state Sen. Jeff Kessler take 5 apiece.
• CA-36: Debra Bowen got her first endorsement from a member of Congress: Rep. Judy Chu, who filled Hilda Solis's 32nd CD seat when the latter became Secretary of Labor. Several other local officials have also endorsed. Also of note: The Courage Campaign is holding a candidate forum on Thursday, and if you click the link, you can submit a question.
• IA-03: Longtime SSPer (and blogger in her own right) desmoinesdem points out that Nancy Pelosi is coming to Iowa to do some fundraisers with Rep. Leonard Boswell, including one at the home of 2010 Dem Senate nominee Roxanne Conlin. Is this a suggestion to Christie Vilsack that perhaps she ought not run?
• KS-04: One political scientist is calling him "the congressman from Koch" - and you'll probably want to as well. Mike Pompeo, a loathsome man hated by many fellow Republicans, took in $80K in donations from Koch employees, was supported by the Koch front group Americans for Prosperity, and, for good measure, hired a Koch Industries attorney as his chief of staff. (Or more like, David and Charles installed a fixer to make sure their new paisan did as he was told.) Pompeo's been delivering: He's promoting legislation to defund a new consumer complaints database, and an EPA catalog of greenhouse-gas polluters. Personally, I think this dickbag could be very vulnerable to a GOP primary.
• NY-26: Crazy Jack Davis and David Bellavia both filed signatures to appear on the ballot as independents - but of course, now the fun can truly begin. If you weren't already aware, New York has just about the most draconian requirements for petitions in the land - they can be invalidated for as little as using the wrong color ink. I'd be pretty surprised if the GOP didn't try to nuke both of these guys from orbit, though Davis might be invulnerable, since he said he submitted over 12,000 petitions. Bellavia's camp would only say that they submitted "more" than the required 3,500. Unless he has at least double that number, once Christian Szell starts asking "Is it safe?", it's a good bet that Bellavia won't survive scrutiny.
• OR-01: Kari Chisholm of Blue Oregon has an excellent roundup of recent OR-01 stories, so I'm going to recommend you click through for his summaries and links. Two items of note: Republican state Sen. Bruce Starr says he won't challenge Rep. David Wu, and Wu is apparently starting to actively fundraise again, with an event this week in Portland. I've gotta ask: Who the heck would want to show up to such a thing?
• AZ-St. Sen.: A recall effort is underway against notorious Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, the architect of Arizona's infamous anti-immigrant legislation known as SB1070. The leader of the best-organized group claims they have thousands of signatures and are meeting their goals, but they aren't releasing any actual numbers.
• NYC-Mayor: Another Republican campaign, another fortune embezzled. Mike Bloomberg hired John Haggerty to forklift over a million bucks to the state's Independence Party, but instead, Haggerty laundered most of the cash through a consulting firm he owned and spent $750K on a home in Queens. Now a judge says that the evidence of Haggerty's guilt is "overwhelming." Can't say I feel too bad for Bloombo! (Other recent similar incidents involved Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and ex-Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut.)
• California: California Republicans are doing their best to ruin whatever advantages the state's new top-two primary system might give them - on purpose. While the top-two might free more moderate GOPers from the ultra-conservative stranglehold on primaries, the activist base wants none of that. Starting in 2014, the party will conduct "pre-primaries" by mail and award their formal endorsement to whoever wins those beauty contests. These people will get assistance from the state party and will also be listed as the "official" GOP candidate for that race. David Atkins thinks, though, that this is a feature, not a bug: The CA Republican Party needs just 1/3 of the members of one of the chamber of the state legislature to maintain California's absolutely dysfunctional system of state governance, and this helps ensure that they elect uncompromising crazies to the few seats they do win - which is all they require.
• California: Good news: The Republican firm that was a finalist to serve as the redistricting commission's mapping consultant was unanimously rejected in favor of an Oakland company called Q2 Data and Research. And while Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, which was selected as the panel's law firm, does have some well-connected Republican partners in their DC office (like Ted Olson and Miguel Estrada), it's big enough that you'll probably find the entire gamut from good to evil working under their umbrella (so let's hope we get "good").
• Louisiana: This Times-Picayune piece details the backroom wrangling going on over Louisiana's congressional map, which painfully has to shrink from seven to six seats. Scroll down to that grey call-out box on the left for links to actual maps. I believe we linked the Gallot maps before, but the Kostelka and Jackson maps should be new. (You'll find them at the end of some very long PDFs.) I note that of these plans seem to keep one Dem district by marrying New Orleans with Baton Rouge.
• New Jersey: NJ legislators are being weirdly good about not sharing their proposed state maps with the public, but folks who have seen them are chatting up reporters. One such person, Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray, thinks that the GOP is running afoul of the edicts set by commission boss Alan Rosenthal, and could get in trouble for their attempts to over-reach.
Sarah Steelman (R): 31
Todd Akin (R): 24
Ed Martin (R): 9
Ann Wagner (R): 2
Sarah Steelman (R): 37
Ed Martin (R): 18
Ann Wagner (R): 11
I don't have much to say here except that the primary vote share (either with or without Akin) almost perfectly correlates with how well known these candidates are - as in, a correlation of 1. Put another way, if you add each person's "don't know" share on the favorable/unfavorable question to their vote share on the horserace question, you get just about the same number for all candidates. This says to me that Ed Martin has a lot of work to do to get his name out there, and that Todd Akin (who has only just now ramped up to "considering" status) should not be scared off by Sarah Steelman's early lead.
And just for fun:
Mike Huckabee (R): 29
Newt Gingrich (R): 19
Sarah Palin (R): 14
Mitt Romney (R): 13
Ron Paul (R): 7
Mitch Daniels (R): 4
Tim Pawlenty (R): 3
Haley Barbour (R): 2
Less noteworthy than the difference between McCaskill's single point lead against Akin and her nine point advantage against Wagner is that McCaskill's support shows no variation from 45-46% across the four match ups. The Republicans get varying levels of support pretty much directly in line with their name recognition: 44% know Akin, 44% know Steelman, 34% know Martin, and only 26% know Wagner. The GOP field is largely anonymous at this point.
McCaskill's leads, even as small as they are, shouldn't be particularly reassuring for her. There are at least twice as many undecided Republicans as Democrats in each match up, suggesting that once the GOP candidates become better known they will probably catch up to her pretty quickly.
One thing to note, though, is that the gathering field for the GOP represents something of a B-team, especially with Akin unlikely to get in. And while the group as a whole, as Tom notes, is mostly unknown, they all have negative favorables among those who do know them, except for Steelman, who doesn't fare much better with a flat even 22-22. I think a Steelman-Martin primary could be extremely toxic, and something McCaskill has to be rooting for.
If there's a silver lining here, it's that PPP has a 38D, 37R, 25I sample. That's a lot less Dem than the 40D-34R that the 2008 exit polls had it as, but a little better than the than the 39R-37D 2006 exit polls.
• AZ-Sen: Maybe, just maybe, this will be the last time we'll hear ridiculous speculation about, Joe Arpaio, the thug sheriff of Maricopa County, running for higher office. The 78-year-old Arpaio said he won't seek Arizona's open senate seat, following his announcement a few weeks ago that he won't seek re-election as sheriff, either. I'm wondering if the two developments are not unrelated - Arpaio can silence the senate gossip because he no longer needs to use it to raise money for his next local race. Anyhow, I'll be glad to be done with this guy.UPDATE: My mistake. I misread a line in the link and thought Arpaio was finally retiring, too - but only Kyl is, unfortunately. Still, Arpaio did say that he will not seek Kyl's seat.
In other AZ news, what if you threw a teabagger convention and the Republican senate candidate didn't come? Jeff Flake was a no-show at the Tea Party Patriots' confab in Phoenix this past weekend, and the 'baggers seem happy he stayed away. Unlike, say, Maine's Olympia Snowe, Flake doesn't appear to be interested in making nice with the nutters. I'm convinced that a more suitable (to the movement conservatives) candidate will emerge.
• FL-Sen, FL-13: Not quite sure what to make of this - John Boehner was just down in Sarasota, FL, headlining a high-dollar fundraiser for a guy who hardly needs the money, super-rich car dealer Vern Buchanan. Is this Boehner trying to convince Buchanan to seek re-election to the House and avoid a throw-down with fellow Rep. Connie Mack? Or just the Speaker earning chits while playing a few rounds of golf during a Congressional recess?
• HI-Sen: This piece on the Hawaii senate race is worth reading in full. The nominal hook here is Sen. Dan Inouye's comments that, as Chair of the Appropriations Cmte. (and President Pro Tem of the senate), he won't have as much time to raise money for his old buddy Dan Akaka, who is facing re-election next year. But there are a whole host of other questions implicated here: Is this just Inouye trying to kick Akaka's ass into gear? (Akaka only has $66K on hand and faced a serious primary challenge from Rep. Ed Case in 2006.) Will Akaka (88 yo in 2012) actually even run again? Is former Gov. Linda Lingle going to run? If Akaka steps aside, who might take his place on the Dem side? Again, click the link to see the state of play.
• ME-Sen, ME-Gov: Eliot Cutler, the independent candidate for governor last year who came in just a couple of points behind the winner (Republican Paul LePage), says he is "unlikely" to challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe, proclaiming he has "no desire to live in Washington." He also says he isn't ruling out another gubernatorial bid in 2014. Also, one possible Dem candidate, former AG Janet Mills, just joined a law firm, suggesting she probably isn't interested in a senate race. (Mills became the first woman AG of Maine in 2009, but because the position is selected by the legislature, she was replaced by a Republican after the GOP swept into power last fall. NB: This is how you avoid Kelly Ayottes.)
• MI-Sen, MI-15: Rob Steele, last seen losing to Rep. John Dingell by 17 points in 2010, says he's considering a challenge to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (who lacks any real high-profile opposition at the moment). Steele also says he doesn't think he'll run again Dingell again, whose district might get re-drawn to still include heavily blue Ann Arbor.
• MO-Sen, MO-02: I thought Rep. Todd Akin had definitively said "no" to a senate bid, but in response to some renewed chatter about a possible run, he would only say: "Some people want to draft me for Senate but you know engineers. It's just one thing at a time." You know engineers! Anyhow, if there's a chance Akin might get in, this could help explain former state GOP chair Ann Wagner's recent remarks that she might run for MO-02. (Wagner, of course, is also in the mix for the senate race.)
• RI-Sen: State GOP chair Gio Cicione says he won't take on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, citing (like Cranston Mayor Matt Fung before him) the high cost of a race. These guys think a Rhode Island senate race would be expensive? They ought to check things out a state or two to the west. Anyhow, Dave Catanese caught up with former Providence mayor (and well-known felon) Buddy Cianci, whose name surfaced in PPP's most recent poll of the race. Cianci hasn't completely ruled out a run, but says it's not "realistic." Also of note, PPP has a report card out on Rhode Island politicians' job approval ratings.
• TX-Sen: Former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, who resigned just a few days ago, made it official: He's running for senate.
• VA-Sen: The already-painful Tim Kaine watch - is it a pimple or a boil? - will soon be over: the DNC chair promises he'll make a decision in a week, according to the AP's Charles Babbington. (I predict "gummy bear.") On the other side of the equation, ultra-far-right insano-Republican, state Delegate Bob Marshall, says he's considering another run. Marshall almost stole the GOP nomination for VA-Sen in 2008 from the super-sad Jim Gilmore, but that near-upset took place at a Republican convention - this time, the party's nominee will be selected in a primary.
• MO-Gov: Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder says he'll make an announcement "this spring," and if it's anything other than, "I'm running for governor," I think people will be shocked. Anyhow, mark your calendars - this means Kinder might open his trap again any time between March 20th and June 21st!
• NC-Gov: Since North Carolina is their home state, it looks like PPP will be testing NC-Gov just about every month. Incumbent Dem Bev Perdue trails almost-certain opponent Pat McCrory 49-37. (Last month it was 47-40.)
• CA-36: 2010 and 2006 primary candidate Marcy Winograd announced she's entering the special election for departing Rep. Jane Harman's seat. The CW says Winograd is likeliest to hurt SoS Debra Bowen, but I'm not really sure she's capable of making any material difference in this race.
• CT-05: Former one-term state House Rep. Elizabeth Esty announced she's running for Chris Murphy's now-open house seat. Esty (not to be confused with the DIY craft-selling website) narrowly lost a rematch in 2010 after narrowly winning a traditionally Republican district in 2008.
• NJ-06: Teabagger Anna Little, who won an upset primary victory in 2008 but lost to Rep. Frank Pallone by 11 points in the general election, says she's back for a rematch. The woman Little beat for the GOP nomination last year, richie rich Diane Gooch, is also weighing another bid.
• NM-01: Dem state Sen. Eric Griego says he'd "seriously consider" running for Rep. Martin Heinrich's seat if Heinrich makes the jump to the open-seat senate race.
• NY-26: Well, that explains that. In other news, Conservative Party chair Mike Long seems to be tipping his hand that his party will in fact support GOP nominee Jane Corwin.
• MO-SoS: MO SoS Robin Carnahan says she's running for re-election to her current post. Republican state Sen. Bill Stouffer, who lost a primary last year to Vicki Hartzler (who went on to beat Ike Skelton in the general), also says he'll run for the post.
• Census: Our friends across the pond in England and Wales will take their census this year. What makes this interesting is that for the first time, Britons will be able to submit their census forms online.
Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso has the goods on tomorrow night's special elections:
After the excitement of last week, this week is a bit of a letdown. There are three seats up: Florida's SD-33, formerly held by Frederica Wilson, is merely a formality, with the Democrat likely going to win 80-20 or so. There's also a formerly Dem-held Senate seat in Mississippi, SD-12; despite no party ID being on the ballot, I'm pretty confident in guessing all three candidates running are Dems (it's along the Mississippi River, so in heavily-Democratic territory). And in Maine, HD-11, an extremely Republican seat, is up. It would be helpful if Dems picked this one up, as the Republicans only have a slim majority in the House, but this was a seat that went 3-1 for the incumbent in 2010. There was apparently a split among Republicans, so there's a Republican running a write-in campaign, but it would still be one hell of a long shot.
• AZ-Sen: Former GOP Rep. Matt Salmon says he's considering getting into the senate race. Salmon held current candidate Jeff Flake's seat in the House before losing the 2002 gubernatorial race against now-DHS chief Janet Napolitano. Speaking of Flake, he was one of only three House Republicans to vote against the GOP-backed spending bill which contained $60 billion in cuts. Teabagger eyebrows were raised, but Flake claims he voted against it from the right, saying it didn't go far enough.
• MA-Sen: Speaking of teabaggers, Scott Brown, when directly asked if he was one (okay, he was asked if he was a "tea partier"), said "No, I'm a Republican from Massachusetts"(and I drive a truck!). I maintain that a tea-fueled primary challenge to Brown is still possible.
• MO-Sen, MO-02: GOP Rep. Jo Ann Emerson says she won't try to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill. Dave Catanese thinks that Emerson's "moderate profile" would have made it hard for her to win a primary. Also, former MO GOP chair Ann Wagner says she's still considering the race - but, interestingly, says she also might primary Rep. Todd Akin in MO-02.
• NV-Sen, NV-02: Major bummer, sports fans: Sharron Angle says she is NOT running for president, repeat NOT running for president! Hopefully, though, this means she'll go for the senate again, or possibly the 2nd CD.
• RI-Sen: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says he won't seek the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, citing the huge fundraising hurdles he'd face.
• VA-Sen: Attorney David McCormick becomes the latest Some Dude to enter the GOP nomination battle for Virginia's open senate seat.
• WI-Gov: By now you may have already gotten wind of the AFL-CIO poll conducted by GQR on the battle in Wisconsin. It was actually two separate polls taken a few days apart, combined into one. The topline numbers for Gov. Scott Walker don't look good - 51% job disapproval, and underwater unfavorables to the tune of a 39-49 spread.
• CA-36: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) released a poll on the Dem primary in the race to succeed soon-to-resign Rep. Jane Harman. The numbers, from PPP, show SoS Debra Bowen leading LA city councilor Janice Hahn 33-29, and just 21-20 without leaners. Obviously there are still tons of undecideds.
Hahn also released a poll of her own, taken by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. She refused to release toplines, claiming only that she has a "five-point lead." Misleadingly, her poll memo says that "Hahn's lead is larger than the survey's margin of error." The MoE is ±4.9%, so technically, yes, her lead is literally "larger" than the MoE, but it's not "outside the MoE," which is the metric people are usually concerned with. The press release accompanying the memo also repeats an amusingly idiotic line of attack on PPP, saying the PCCC survey "is not reliable given the fact that it was conducted by a robo call, rather than by an actual researcher."
One other detail: Hahn also just picked up the endorsement of new state Sen. Ted Lieu, who won a special election last week. Lieu's name had briefly surfaced as a possibility for the CA-36 race, too.
• CA-41: GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis, seventy-six years old and skipped over for key leadership roles after the GOP takeover of the House, won't say yet whether he'll seek an 18th term. Redistricting may play a big role here, as Lewis won't benefit from another incumbent protection plan, thanks to the new independent redistricting commission CA voters approved last fall.
• NY-14: Biden alert! The VPOTUS is in New York City today, doing a fundraiser to benefit both Rep. Carolyn Maloney and the DNC. A little surprised to see Maloney benefitting from this largesse, since Reshma Saujani said she won't try to primary Maloney again this cycle. (Then again, Reshma's already flip-flopped on that, so maybe she'll change her mind yet again.) I suppose it's possible that this district's lines will change enough to offer the possibility of a different primary challenger emerging, so this could be a defensive maneuver. Or it could just be a reward to a loyal backer.
• NY-24: Did Rep. Richard Hanna plagiarize a Cato Institute paper for an op-ed of his own in the Syracuse Post-Standard? Check it out and decide for yourself.
• NY-26: Carl Paladino, already on record as backing Jane Corwin's candidacy before she was tapped as the nominee, officially (re-)endorsed her. Some teabagger, Lenny Roberto, also endorsed Corwin, but there's always People's Front of Judean/Judean Popular Front splits between these guys.
Case in point: Iraq vet (and teabagger) David Bellavia's been calling local Conservative Party chair Ralph Lorigo, trying to scarf up the Cons' nomination. Crazy Jack Davis has been doing the same, but Lorigo didn't speak highly of him. Lorigo is responsible for Erie County, which carries the most weight in the 26th district. His Monroe County counterpart, Tom Cook, is the second biggest cheese, and says he's also gotten calls from Bellavia, Corwin, and, believe it or not, nominal Dem frontrunner Kathy Hochul. Cook didn't have kind words about Bellavia, but he noted the obvious truth: state party chair Michael Long is going to make all the decisions, and he appears to be leaning hard toward Corwin.
• OR-01: Rep. David Wu apologized for his behavior and said he's getting treatment (including medication) for whatever ails him... but that he has no plans to step down. Meanwhile, 2010 GOP challenger Rob Cornilles (who lost by 13 points last year) is being talked up for another run but hasn't decided yet.
• UT-02: The NRCC has an ad up (yes, already) attacking Jim Matheson over spending, but NWOTSOTB, so I'm guessing this is what Nathan Gonzales would call a "video press release."
• Philly Mayor: Wealthy businessman Tom Knox says he won't challenge Mayor Michael Nutter - and in fact, went ahead and endorse Nutter. It looks like the incumbent is probably set to cruise in the Democratic primary.
• Crossroads GPS: The Karl Rove dark money front group is launching a $450K radio ad buy, attacking a dozen Dems on spending and supporting ten Republicans. Full list at the link.
I think this is the first SurveyUSA poll of the 2012 cycle, and it seems consistent with the few other polls we've seen so far in the Show Me State: Claire McCaskill is below 50% in the danger zone but with a small lead against a non-Jim Talent candidate. In this case, it's Sam Graves, the MO-06 Rep. and potential Senate candidate who has suddenly started to throw his weight around in this race with the Jim Talent decision not to seek a rematch. They find McCaskill with a 48/45 approval (no comparable numbers for Graves).
Worth noting: this poll wasn't commissioned by a media outlet, but by the Republican consulting firm Axiom Strategies. From Tricia Miller's description, it sounds like they polled other general election matchups and the GOP primary as well, but only released the Graves numbers, saying that Graves tested the best against McCaskill. (The Roll Call article also gets fellow Reps. Todd Akin and Blaine Leutkemeyer on the record as saying they won't run, so now all the non-frosh GOP Reps. in the state are accounted for.)
As far as how we know that Jim Talent isn't going to run, well, we have word from the horse's mouth. Talent, in fact, publicly leaked it himself today (which means it really isn't that much of a leak, doesn't it?), telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that tomorrow he would make an official announcement that he wouldn't run. As expected, Talent confirmed that he's going to be focusing on Mitt Romney's campaign instead.