• AK-Sen: Nothing has really changed with the overall trajectory of the Alaska Senate race, but this is the first day that Lisa Murkowski has been able to claim a "lead" over Joe Miller (even though her victory has become increasingly clear each day). At the end of yesterday's counting, she had 92,164 votes to Miller's 90,448. 7,601 were subject to challenge but counted for her anyway (and, if Miller's lawsuit succeeds, could get reversed), but based on Murkowski's success at avoiding write-in challenges, is on track to win with or without those challenged ballots.
• FL-Sen: George LeMieux, whose year-and-a-half in the Senate is about to expire, is leaving with more of a whimper than a bang, if PPP is to be believed: his approvals are 11/28 (with 61% with no opinion), including 14/24 among Republicans. He's not looking like he'd have much impact in a challenge to Bill Nelson in 2012, which he's threatened (which isn't to say that Nelson is out of the woods, as a stronger Republican will no doubt come along). Among all the appointed Senators, he's still faring better than Roland Burris (18/57) but worse than Carte Goodwin (17/22) and Ted Kaufman (38/33). (Oh, and if you're still feeling like we lost out by not having Charlie Crist win the Senate race, guess again: Bob Dole! is reporting that Crist promised him he'd caucus with the GOP if he won the 3-way race. This comes after leaks in the waning days of the race that he'd caucus with the Democrats. Somehow, I expect any day now that Ralph Nader will reveal that Crist promised him that he'd caucus with the Green Party if he won the race.)
• IN-Sen: Richard Lugar made it official; he's running for re-election one more time. Lugar, who'll be 80 in 2012, probably has more to worry about in the Republican primary than he does in the general election, where aspiring Democrats would probably be more interested in the open gubernatorial seat.
• OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown will probably have a tougher re-election than his initial election, but it's unclear which Republican he'll face. The two who've gotten the most press are Mary Taylor, the current Auditor and newly-elected Lt. Governor, or Rep. Jim Jordan (a religious right fave from the state's rural west), but another possibility that the article broaches is long-time Rep. Steve LaTourette, one of the House's more moderate GOPers left. Either way, if Jordan or LaTourette were to try for the promotion, that would help the state GOP decide which of their seats to vaporize in the redistricting process (although LaTourette's, in the northeast corner and surrounded by Dem seats, would be much harder to work with). Ohio's losing two seats, though, and one more Dem seat is on the chopping block, especially since the biggest population losses have come in the northeast -- the likeliest outcome seems to be consolidation of districts that sets up either a Dennis Kucinich/Marcia Fudge or Dennis Kucinich/Betty Sutton mash-up.
• PA-Sen: The GOP feels like they have a shot against Bob Casey (who won by a near-overwhelming margin in 2006), given the state's turn toward the red this year. The big question, though, is who? If Tom Ridge didn't do it this year when it would have been a gimmee, he certainly isn't any likelier to do it in 2012. Hotline mentions a couple current suburban Reps., Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent, both of whom have tenaciously held down Dem-leaning districts that would be prime open seat battles if they left. Failing that, the bench looks pretty empty; they cite state Sen. Jake Corman as interested, as well as talk radio host and behind-the-scenes player Glen Meakem, who cited interest in running for 2010 but decided against it.
• MN-Gov: Minnesota's SoS (a Dem, Mark Ritchie) has laid out the timeline for the recount process. The race will be canvassed starting Nov. 23, and presuming a recount is necessary (which it will be unless something weird happens with the canvass, as Dem Mark Dayton leads Tom Emmer by less than one-half of a percent, triggering the automatic recount provision), the recounting will begin on Nov. 29.
• MD-01: Nothing like teabagger hypocrisy at work: freshly elected with a mandate to destroy the federal government, Andy Harris's first act in Washington was to demand all the free goodies from the federal government that he's entitled to, so long as other people are paying for them. At freshman orientation, Harris was observed expressing dismay that his gold-plated health care plan takes a month to kick in.
• NY-01, NY-25: Here are a couple more updates from overtime. In the 1st, Randy Altschuler's lead over Tim Bishop is currently 383, but there are more than 11,000 absentees to be counted starting today, and since they're all from one county (Suffolk), your guess is as good as mine how they break. In NY-25, Ann Marie Buerkle gained a tiny bit of ground as two GOP-leaning counties reported their absentees; she's now up 729. Dan Maffei's base, Dem-leaning Onondaga County, is about to start counting its 6,000 absentees. He should make up some ground, but he'll need to average 56% among the remaining absentee ballots, while he's only got 54% in Onondaga so far, though.
• DSCC: Dianne Feinstein told the press that Michael Bennet is, despite his previous demurrals, going to be the next DSCC chair. Does Michael Bennet know this? He's still saying no. The rest of the Dem leadership in the Senate (and the GOP, too) was elected without a hitch today, but the DSCC job still stands vacant.
• CA-AG: Things keep looking up for Kamala Harris in California, after a torrent of new votes yesterday from Alameda County (where the Dem stronghold of Oakland is). That batch broke 18,764 for Harris, and only 5,099 for Steve Cooley, which may be a decisive moment in the count.
• Chicago mayor: Rahm Emanuel is certainly looking like the early favorite in the Chicago mayoral race, courtesy of an Anzalone-Liszt poll commissioned by the Teamsters local (who haven't endorsed yet). Emanuel is at 36, with Danny Davis at 14, Carol Mosely Braun at 13, Gery Chico at 10, James Meeks at 7, and Miguel del Valle at 4. Now you may be noticing what I'm noticing, that there's significant splitting of the African-American vote here, and if you added Davis, Braun, and Meeks up into one super-candidate, they'd be in a dead heat with Emanuel. Well, don't forget that this election uses a runoff, so chances are good we'll see a head-to-head between Emanuel and one of the African-American challengers, and the poll finds Emanuel winning both those contests convincingly too: 54-33 versus Davis and 55-32 against Braun.
• MA-Sen: A superior court judge today ruled that Deval Patrick did not overstep his authority by unilaterally declaring that there was an emergency that required immediate implementation of the new temporary Senate appointment law (instead of the usual waiting period). Bring on the usual Republican kvetching about judicial activism, but the judge did note that the GOP did "not cite any case law in support of its argument." (Another interesting tidbit: Mitt Romney used his "emergency" power 14 times while in office, including to raise the boating speed limit in Charlton.) At any rate, this frees up Paul Kirk to be sworn in by Joe Biden this afternoon as the Bay State's junior senator until January.
• CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina has unleashed her killer app: her new website, titled "Carlyfornia Dreamin'." Unfortunately, the only killing that seems to be going on here is of her own credibility, as both Democrats and conservative Republicans alike are aghast at the site's... well... vapidity. It's more fuel for the fire for conservatives left wondering what -- if, as rumored, Fiorina isn't going to self-fund, her one potential advantage -- she brings to the table.
• KY-Sen: Following his latest "moneybomb" (Sep. 23, timed to coincide with Trey Grayson's DC fundraiser with much of the GOP Senate establishment), Rand Paul says he's raised more than $900K this quarter and expects to report $1 million at month's end.
• AZ-Gov: Fresh from posting godawful numbers in this week's PPP poll, Jan Brewer is already facing her first Republican primary opponent: Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker. Parker, who was the Bush administration's Asst. Sec. of Agriculture for Civil Rights, is African-American; Phoenix suburb Paradise Valley is small (pop. 13,000) but the state's wealthiest place (2000 MHI $150K).
• CA-Gov: With stories dogging Fiorina and Linda McMahon for their spotty voting records, now it's Meg Whitman's turn in the spotlight. A Sacramento Bee investigation finds that her failing to vote "on a few occasions," as she's previously said, actually means "almost always," with little record of voting or even registration in the six states and dozen counties where she's lived.
• MI-Gov: Moderate businessman Rick Snyder, who's languishing in the low single digits in the polls in the GOP gubernatorial field in Michigan, got a high-profile endorsement yesterday: from Bill Ford, chairman of Ford Motors.
• NV-Gov: CREW has filed an ethics complaint against ex-AG, ex-federal judge Brian Sandoval, who recently quit his judgeship to move to the Republican gubernatorial primary (against DOA incumbent Jim Gibbons). There are strict prohibitions against political activity by the federal judiciary, but he may have had conservations with political consultants who then included him in polling, which could have crossed the line.
• PA-Gov: In the Pennsylvania Republican primary in the open seat governor's race, conservative AG Tom Corbett got a big endorsement from moderate ex-Gov. Tom Ridge. Meanwhile, the moderate option in the primary, Rep. Jim Gerlach, unveiled a rather less impressive endorsement: conservative ex-Rep. John Peterson.
• KS-03: Steve Rose, the Republican publisher of the Johnson County Sun, announced last week that he'd run for the House against Rep. Dennis Moore. Today, he's already out of the race, citing health reasons.
• DGA: Another sign of Barack Obama's increasing engagement with the gubernatorial sphere (after the row over his involvement in the New York race): he's headlining a DGA fundraiser in DC on Oct. 1 expected to raise at least $500K.
• House: An interesting lawsuit was filed in federal court this week, demanding that the size of the House be increased. The crux is the disparity between, say, WY-AL with less than 500K residents and MT-AL with more than 900K residents; the suit invokes the "one person one vote" requirement with its roots in Baker v. Carr, but that's never been applied across state lines, only to equalizing districts within a state. It'll be interesting to see how far this gets. (By the way, Tom Schaller looks at how a bigger House would create a small partisan advantage for the Dems in the Electoral College. No discussion on whether it would lead to a bigger advantage in the House, although that would obviously turn on how the new smaller districts get gerrymandered into existence.)
• WATN?: The Abramoff investigation may finally take down ex-Rep. John Doolittle, who was just named as a co-conspirator by federal prosecutors in the corruption case of former aide Kevin Ring.
• Pollsters: The American Association for Public Opinion Research took the unusal step yesterday of reprimanding Strategic Vision, LLC (the one whose polls you often see here... not to be confused with well-thought-of market research firm Strategic Vision, Inc.) for failing to respond to requests for basic information about the make-up of their polls. Pollster.com's Mark Blumenthal had previously flagged SV for suspicious behavior.
• PA-Sen: Tom Ridge's appearance on Hardball yesterday may have set a new bar for equivocation. He wouldn't commit to whether or not he'd vote for would-be rival Pat Toomey in the GOP primary, instead veering off into extolling the virtues of the secret ballot. On the flipside, in a nice bit of symmetry, Arlen Specter told Fox News that he can't promise to vote with the Dems "all the time" on procedural votes. So, the takeaway is: nobody's promising anything.
• NY-Sen-B: Charles Schumer has ratcheted up his efforts to grease the wheels for Kirsten Gillibrand's re-election path in 2010, hooking her up with donors, lobbying to get her on the good committees, and trying to tamp down possible primary challenges. "There is not going to be a primary!" he recently announced at a fundraiser (to the laughs of the audience... although I'm not sure whether the insiders were laughing due to his comic timing or the audacity and/or futility of his statement).
• IL-Sen: Roland Burris is starting to seem like that last guest at the party who isn't getting the message that it's time to go home. Burris says he would like to keep his Senate seat, but will have to make "a formal decision in the next few weeks based on his ability to raise money for a campaign." With a total of $845 raised so far... well... you do the math.
• KY-Sen: One more Kentuckian is touring the state gauging potential support for the GOP Senate primary, which may or may not contain Jim Bunning. It's Rand Paul, a doctor who's never held elected office before but has one important ace in the hole: he's the son of Rep. Ron Paul, which, if nothing else, establishes his liberatarian bona fides and gives him a nationwide fundraising base of fringe weirdo small donors.
• NM-Gov: Two new candidates have emerged as possible contenders for the Republican nomination for governor in the Land of Enchantment: former state GOP chair Allen Weh (who was intrumental in the firing of US Attorney David Iglesias), who opened an exploratory committee this week, and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, who's in the "considering" stage. National Guard Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti is already in the race. This race could get more interesting if ex-Rep. Heather Wilson joined this paltry lot, but with the Dems already coalesced behind Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, the GOP is starting out in a hole here.
• CA-47: Remember how Bill Sali had his campaign HQ in the wrong district? GOP assemblyman Van Tran seems to be following in Rep. Brain Fade's fine footsteps, at least in the map skills department. He kicked off his campaign with an event in the Little Saigon neighborhood in Westminster... in CA-46.
• CA-32: In the run-up to the May special election, state Sen. Gil Cedillo has turned his fire toward the race's third wheel: Emanuel Pleitez. Pleitez, a 26-year-old up-and-comer who was part of the Obama transition team, threatens to eat into Cedillo's share of the Latino vote (which he'll need to dominate if he's to beat Board of Equalization chair Judy Chu). Cedillo is sending flyers using photos grabbed from Pleitez's Facebook page to make the case that he's too young and immature for Congress.
• TN-04: A stem-winding progressive-sounding speech came from a very unlikely place: Blue Dog Rep. Lincoln Davis, holder of a newly-minted R+13 seat, speaking at last weekend's Tennessee Democratic Party summit.
• Mayors: There's another batch of big-city mayoral elections this Saturday, all in Texas. In San Antonio, 34-year-old former city councilor Julian Castro is favored to win. Castro finished second four years ago to Phil Hardberger, who's now termed-out. In Austin, the best-known mayoral contender is Carole Strayhorn, who was mayor of Austin in the 1970s and ran for governor as an independent in the crazy 2006 gubernatorial election. Strayhorn, however, is probably too conservative for today's Austin, and the frontrunner seems to be city councilor Brewster McCracken.
• Census: The state of New York is ponying up $2 million in state funding to bolster participation in the 2010 Census, mostly for outreach campaigns to traditionally undercounted populations. Assumedly, they think this money will pay much greater dividends later, if a more accurate count reveals more New Yorkers and thus brings in more federal funding for social programs.
• LA-Sen: In a tantalizing item, the Hotline teases that "The DSCC won't let Rep. Melancon (D) alone." Does this mean Melancon could be back in the recruiting crosshairs, despite previously saying he was "not contemplating a run"? The Hotline's note is behind a subscription paywall; if you have access to it, please feel free to elaborate in comments.
For a few days there, it was looking like PA-Sen had turned from a coup for Democrats to a giant exploding cigar. Not just because Arlen Specter was having great trouble adjusting to Democratic, uh, behavioral norms, but also because GOP pollsters had former Governor and DHS Secretary Tom Ridge not only beating Pat Toomey in the primary, but also beating Specter in the general.
Ridge threw cold water on that idea this morning, issuing this following statement:
"After careful consideration and many conversations with friends and family and the leadership of my party, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for Senate," Ridge said in a statement.
"I am enormously grateful for the confidence my party expressed in me, the encouragement and kindness of my fellow citizens in Pennsylvania and the valuable counsel I received from so many of my party colleagues."
Without Ridge, GOP efforts to find an anti-Toomey may turn back to Rep. Jim Gerlach, who is looking to bail out of the increasingly blue PA-06 and has launched a gubernatorial exploratory committee, but has been publicly open to switching to the Senate race.
Amusingly, POS was Specter's pollster (they parted ways (PDF) after his switcheroo)... and now they're showing him trailing Tom Ridge in a general election matchup. A little post-breakup revenge polling? Ridge, who's supposedly "50-50" on a race, also seems to have something of a Santorum problem: On various official documents, he's listed his residence in Maryland, not Pennsylvania. This guy was governor and he doesn't even want to live in the Keystone State any longer? Jeez.
Anyhow, POS also has the first primary tests we've seen, with Ridge pounding Toomey. Doubtless Toomey's weak ID among Republicans is holding him back - 50% either have no opinion or have never heard of him. With movement conservatives already taking aim at Ridge, these numbers would be sure to change by the end of what would be a bruising, year-long primary.
Among all voters, meanwhile, Specter clocks in with a 50-40 favorability score, while Sestak has just a 15-3 rating. If Sestak mounted a serious campaign (presumably with labor backing), this too would change. Sestak has been talking pretty tough, though I'm a bit concerned that SEIU's Andy Stern might be using him to put pressure on Specter over EFCA. At the same time, Joe Torsella is apparently trying to gather anti-Specter Dems into his fold. But would Torsella, an acolyte of Ed Rendell, really stick it out against Specter, given that Fast Eddie pledged a clear primary to Arlen?
Specter, though, is making it harder and harder for Dems to stomach him. In fact, it seems that everything he's said since his switch has been designed to alienate rather than embrace his new party. He reiterated his newfound opposition to Employee Free Choice; said he'd still oppose Dawn Johnsen, Obama's choice to head the Office of Legal Counsel; declared he would not be a "loyal Democrat"; voted against Obama's budget; denied he was committed to the President's healthcare plan (contradicting Obama himself); said the one vote in his entire career that he publicly regrets was his vote against Jeff Sessions' nomination to a federal judgeship; and then this gem:
There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.
He's since tried to walk that back, hilariously claiming he "conclusively misspoke". I think Markos got it right - Specter seemes to be rejecting his (D) transplant. He's starting to piss me off more as a "Democrat" than he ever did as a Republican.
Arlen Specter (D-inc): 42
Pat Toomey (R): 36
PEG PAC describes itself as "Pennsylvania's oldest pro-business political action committee and the affiliated PAC of the Pennsylvania Business Council (PBC)". I personally don't know much about them, but I think the remarks of PBC's president tell us everything we need to know about where their political biases lie: "We don't know how [Specter's] positions and voting might change now that he has joined the Democrat Party." Democrat Party, huh? And Susquehanna is a Republican firm, FWIW.
Anyhow, the Ridge numbers are pretty similar to the Quinnipiac poll we saw yesterday, but this poll makes Toomey out to be a lot more competitive. Color me skeptical - though Dave Weigel does report that Toomey claims to have already raised half a million bucks since his April 15th entrance. In any event, Research 2000 will have a new poll out soon, so I'm waiting for that. And unlike the two surveys we've seen so far, it will test both the D and R primaries.
Speaking of Dem primaries, the anti-Specter sentiment appears to be heating up from labor quarters. SEIU's Andy Stern said yesterday, "It is hard to imagine any union supporting a candidate in the Democratic Party for the US Senate who doesn't have strong positions on both healthcare and Employee Free Choice." An AFL-CIO official said something similar. Personally, I like Stern's framing - yet another flip-flop on EFCA from Specter (were one to happen) would hardly be soothing and would not constitute a "strong position." So this leaves the door open for a primary challenge even if Specter does change his mind for the umpteenth time. And I increasingly think I'd like to see that challenge.
Specter gets an impressive 77-8 approval rating among Democrats, though that may fade as the afterglow wears off. His overall approvals jumped a bit, too, from 45-31 to 52-34. Former Gov. Tom Ridge, though, has an even better 55-19 rating - but if Arlen Specter was hopeless against Pat Toomey in a GOP primary, does the also-moderate Ridge really have a shadow of a chance? Nonetheless, he's apparently considering a run.
On the Democratic side, meanwhile, Rep. Joe Sestak continues to seriously explore a challenge to Specter. Appearing yesterday on CNN, he said of Specter, "I'm not sure he's a Democrat yet," and acted undaunted by Obama's support for party-switchin' Arlen. Sestak's also apparently meeting with SEIU's iconoclastic leader Andy Stern. The labor movement is of course deeply unhappy with a different Specter flip-flop: his shameful decision to abandon the Employee Free Choice Act.
Unsurprisingly, Specter also appeared on the Sunday talk shows, and he just provided the script for Sestak's (or Joe Torsella's, or Patrick Murphy's, etc.) first attack ad. Specter supposedly told Obama over the phone last week that "I'm a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda." But he told David Gregory yesterday:
I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that.
Pennsylvania's Democratic primary, just like the Republican contest, is closed, a fact Arlen already seems to be ignoring.
Not that it's a surprise, but we can now officially cross off Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz from the open seat watch:
Aides to Rep. Allyson Schwartz say the third-term Pennsylvania Democrat will not seek her party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Schwartz was among those widely talked about as a possible candidate, and had considered a Senate run. But after Arlen Specter's party switch, Schwartz plans to support him and will focus on having a larger role in health-care policy in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania GOP, apparently unhappy-to-fearful with the idea of a Toomey general election candidacy and the havoc that it might wreak downballot, is searching fiercely for an alternative. The Hill mentions ex-Gov. Tom Ridge and current Reps. Jim Gerlach, Charlie Dent and Tim Murphy as possibilities. I'm not sure if any of those guys (particularly Ridge, who isn't exactly a popular figure within the GOP's base himself) would be interested in that kind of fight, but who the hell knows anymore.