While we're talking about lessons to learn from the debacle in Massachusetts, two tough questions that need to be asked, discussed, and reflected on a great deal are:
1. How to get better at picking good candidates in primaries, and
2. What are the danger signs to look out for in a primary that might warn us a candidate that looks good in a primary will bomb in the general election?
• AR-Sen: Could Arkansas even handle one more Republican in its Senate field, without the entire state collapsing into a singularity? Looks like we'll find out, as former state Sen. Tim Jim Holt says he's considering a rematch. Holt, you'll recall, was Lincoln's 2004 opposition, coming within 56-44 while running a low-budget, socially conservative campaign.
• AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: The Cronkite-Eight Poll (conducted by Arizona St. Univ.) finds that AG Terry Goddard is in great shape against incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer; Goddard wins the matchup 47-28. They don't test any other potential matchups (including the Joe Arpaio possibility, which is suddenly on people's minds). They also have good news! for John McCain, who beats the unlikely-to-run ex-Gov. Janet Napolitano 50-41. They don't test the potential McCain/J.D. Hayworth primary. And speaking of Hayworth, I may have been more right than I thought about that throwaway "grifting" comment yesterday. Hayworth has been soliciting donations to pay down his campaign debt, but a quick look at the FEC's 2008 termination report for Hayworth's campaign indicates $0 CoH and $0 debt.
• MA-Sen: Rasmussen's newest poll of the Massachusetts Senate primary shows the closest race that anyone has seen -- although AG Martha Coakley is still in pole position. She's at 36%, followed by Rep. Michael Capuano at 21 (about where he was in the recent Globe poll) and Stephen Pagliuca at 14. The big gainer here (and where the chunk of Coakley votes may have gone) is Alan Khazei, who hasn't broken out of single digits before but is now also at 14.
• NY-Sen-B: I see lots of weird rumors in my day-to-day work here, and this one is among the weirdest: it has ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (of Tennessee) considering running against Kirsten Gillibrand in the New York senate primary. Ford has been living in New York for the last few years (and is currently an executive at Merrill Lynch -- not exactly a good political launching pad these days), so his run would at least be legal, but it's not clear whether he has the name rec among anyone but news junkies to overcome his lack of roots there. Glenn Thrush actually sources the whole thing to a comment from Democratic Underground, of all places, from a person claiming to have been polled by Ford. Also, a sort-of famous name was considering running as a Republican in the Senate race, but just decided against it: Theodore Roosevelt IV, a wealthy investment banker and environmentalist who sounds, like his great-grandpappy, like he doesn't have much in common with today's Republicans.
• VA-Gov: T-Mac may yet be back. Terry McAuliffe is in a high-profile effort to lure a factory to southern Virginia, suggesting to some that he's trying to remain in Virginia politics, trying to build up chits in the rural parts of the state with an eye toward a 2013 run.
• KS-03: Roll Call highlights a powwow held by the Kansas GOP for potential candidates in the open seat race in the 3rd, and list a few more names that we haven't heard yet. In addition to likely frontrunner ex-state Sen. Nick Jordan, also present were attorney Greg Musil, former county commission candidate Charlotte O'Hara, state Sen. Karin Brownlee, and state GOP chair Amanda Adkins. State Rep. Kevin Yoder is also running for the GOP, and state Sen. Jeff Colyer and surgeon Steve Reintjes are also listed as GOP possibilities.
• NC-04: We may have a winner for the worst-designed candidate website of all time, from Republican George Hutchins, running against Rep. David Price in the safe 4th. It looks like he ate a lot of pictures of Ronald Reagan and then vomited them all over a flag.
• NJ-03: Former Philadelphia Eagle Jon Runyan confirmed that he'll be running against freshman Dem Rep. John Adler. Strangely, though, he doesn't have any immediate plans to start fundraising or hitting the ground in the district; instead, he's starting a new job. He'll be playing for the San Diego Chargers for the rest of the season. Maybe his plan is to put all the money he earns toward his campaign, but it doesn't seem like the right way to get off on the right foot.
• NY-23: So, maybe ACORN didn't steal the election after all. Doug Hoffman has, by my estimation, now re-re-conceded (after two unconcessions), saying he won't challenge the election results or ask for a recount, and that the final count of absentee ballots "reaffirm the fact that Bill Owens won." Hoffman promises to stay active in politics; let's hope he's as effective in the campaign in 2010 as he was in the election's aftermath this year.
• WV-03: Another long-time Democrat in a newly-Republican-leaning Appalachian district is facing a challenge instead of usual free path to re-election, but this time it's a challenge from a fellow elected Dem. State Rep. Ralph Rodighiero has filed a pre-candidacy to run against Rep. Nick Rahall, who's been in the House since the 1970s. Rodighiero sounds like he's running at the behest of coal industry figures; although Rahall voted against cap and trade, the Natural Resources chair has tried to strike more of a balance on environmental issues than they might prefer (and with almost zero Republican bench in this district, this is their only foot in the door).
• IA-St. House: Dems held their own in a special election last night, retaining a Dem-controlled seat in Cedar Rapids. Democrat Kirsten Running-Marquardt got 75% of the vote against Republican Joshua Thurston in HD-33.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov: A new LA Times/USC poll (conducted by GQR and POS) finds a dead heat in the GOP Senate primary: conservative Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and vapid ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina are deadlocked at 27 each (despite the fact that DeVore is almost entirely unknown, with favorables of 6/4 -- the deal is that Fiorina is, other than Ahnold, the state's only political figure with negative favorables, at 9/12). They also looked at the GOP field in the governor's race and find ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman leading the field at 35, followed by ex-Rep. Tom Campbell at 27 and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner at 10. No general election matchups, but probably the most disspiriting number of all is that a whopping 80% of all Californians think the state's best days are behind it.
• FL-Sen: This seemed already pretty well established when they ran an anti-Crist ad last week, but it was made official today: the Club for Growth endorsed Marco Rubio in his primary challenge to Charlie Crist. Mmmmmm... cat fud.
• IL-Sen: State treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, whose easy path to the nomination seems to have gotten at least something of an obstacle in its way with the candidacy of former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, got a key endorsement: Rep. Luis Gutierrez. Giannoulias now has the endorsement of four of the state's House Dems.
• KS-Sen: Also on the endorsement front, Rep. Jerry Moran got one today in the Kansas Senate GOP primary from Arizona's Rep. Jeff Flake. Kind of odd, as Flake is one of the most conservative House members and Moran is the 'moderate' option in the race, but Flake is more on the libertarian side of things rather than a theocon.
• MA-Sen: Finally, something is happening in the sleepy Massachusetts Senate special election Democratic primary. Rep. Michael Capuano hit AG Martha Coakley from the left, attacking her for support for the death penalty, and the PATRIOT Act (Capuano was one of the few to vote against it). And now Coakley is saying she would have voted against the entire health care bill because of the Stupak poison pill, for which Capuano is now attacking her from the right (or at least the pragmatic).
• MT-Sen: Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg pushed back a bit against rumors last week that he was gearing up to run for Senate against Jon Tester in 2012, saying he had no "immediate" plans to run. Rehberg didn't categorically rule it out, though.
• NH-Sen: He's been acting like a candidate all year, but Ovide Lamontagne made it official: he's running for the GOP Senate nomination in New Hampshire. Lamontagne, a lawyer who defeated the establishment candidate in the GOP gubernatorial primary in 1996 (and went onto get demolished in the general), is probably the highest-profile primary challenger to establishment choice ex-AG Kelly Ayotte.
• NY-Sen-B: In case it wasn't clear that ex-Gov. George Pataki is interesting in running for President, not Senator, he's making another appearance in Iowa tomorrow, addressing the Scott County GOP Ronald Reagan Dinner in Davenport.
• PA-Sen: Here's a blast from the past, as one Arlen Specter opponent passed the torch to another. Lynn Yeakel, who lost the 1992 Senate race to Specter by only 3% amidst the media-designated "Year of the Woman," threw her support to Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic Senate primary on Friday.
• NV-Gov: Las Vegas's colorful Democratic mayor Oscar Goodman is still mulling over whether to get involved in the gubernatorial race (and sounding pretty lukewarm about it), but he says if he does it, it'll be as an independent and not as a Democrat, setting up a confusing anything-can-happen three-way in yet another state.
• VA-Gov: Here's a guy to add to the top of the "Do Not Hire" list right next to Bob Shrum: pollster David Petts, who it turns out is largely responsible for the Creigh Deeds strategy of going nonstop negative against Bob McDonnell, focusing on independents, and distancing himself from Barack Obama.
• IL-07: It was decisionmaking day for Rep. Danny Davis (who had previously signed up for both his House seat and Cook Co. Board President, but had to withdraw one filing today), and it's a bit of a surprise: he's running for re-election to the House. He had apparently become worried about the possibility of splitting votes with multiple other African-Americans in the race, so he heads back to his nice safe seat in the House. (The question will now be how many of the prominent local politicos who filed to run for the open seat primary now drop out.)
• IL-10: Democratic State Rep. Julie Hamos, who netted a big cash haul last quarter, is the first to hit the airwaves for the fast-approaching House primary against Dan Seals. She's running a TV spot touting her stand on health care.
• LA-02: So I guess the future isn't Cao, anymore? Rep. Joe Cao has drawn a lot of heat for his aisle-crossing on health care, but it doesn't look like he'll suffer any meaningful consequences from leadership, and he's even pushing back against Michael Steele's comments about "coming after" moderate rank-breakers, in understated fashion, saying "He has the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican party would need." Also, Cao has picked up an unusual ally: Alaska's Rep. Don Young is defending Cao's vote and even stood watch over Cao as he cast his vote, fending off the horde of GOP arm-twisters.
• NY-23: One of the lingering questions from last week: what the heck happened to all those Doug Hoffman voters that the polls showed? Mark Blumenthal assesses that most voters simply were in flux over that last weekend of polling as two separate events scrambled the status quo, and only made up their mind shortly before voting -- and that, in the end, Scozzafava voters disliked Hoffman more than they disliked Owens.
• PA-11: Hazleton mayor and narrow 2008 loser Lou Barletta is still trying to decide on a rematch with Rep. Paul Kanjorski. He's set a timeline for a late November decision.
• CA-LG: Moderate Republican state Senator Abel Maldonado seems to have the inside track on getting appointed as California's new Lt. Governor (left vacant by John Garamendi's election to the House), according to rumormongers. Maldonado seems the likeliest because he's about the only Republican who can clear the Democratic-controlled legislature, and Dems like the idea because he'd leave behind a Dem-leaning Senate district on the central coast that would be a good pickup target in a special election. There's also one other GOP-held vacancy coming up in the state Senate (SD-37, a traditionally Republican area in the Inland Empire but one where Obama won), vacated by John Benoit (who became a Riverside Co. Commissioner). Democratic Palm Springs school board member Justin Blake is already running there (along with possibly three different Republican Assemblymen), so there may be two good opportunities for Dems to get closer to the magic 2/3s mark in the Senate.
• NY-St. Ass.: As the orgy of own-eating continues, the rest of the Assembly's GOP leadership is considering stripping Dede Scozzafava of her status as minority leader pro tem (in retribution for her Bill Owens endorsement). If they do, start counting down the days until she switches parties.
• TX-St. House: Hopes still persist that the Dems can flip the Texas state House in 2010, where they were down only 76-74, but that got pushed back to 77-73 last week when long-time Democrat Chuck Hopson, representing a very conservative rural area in NE Texas, switched to the Republicans. Hopson still might not be able to save his butt; a GOP primary challenger, Michael Banks, already jumped in for 2010.
• HCR Vote: The AFSCME and HCAN are running "thank you" ads in 20 different districts for vulnerable Dems who voted for health care reform.
• Parties: I suppose it was only a matter of time before some clever wingnut figured this out. A conservative Orlando lawyer registered an official "Tea Party" with the secretary of state, making it one of 32 minor parties recognized in Florida.
• Polling: PPP wants your help! They're asking for polling suggestions in their blog comments, and also have a poll up on where to go next (Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, or Ohio?).
New York: In NY-23, we lost, apparently because the conservatives won, because in their brave new world winning no longer means earning more votes than the other candidates, but rather defeating the candidate that will vote with you most of the time in order to pave the way for the candidate who would theoretically vote with you all the time but has no chance of getting elected in your swing district. I quake in fear of next November, when conservatives will enjoy the mightiest of all glorious historic victories, with the crushing general election losses of Marco Rubio, Chuck DeVore, Rand Paul, Ovide Lamontagne, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Peter Schiff, Chuck Purgason, Ken Buck, and Patrick Hughes, thus purifying the soil for decades to come.
Uh, more specifically, in NY-23, Bill Owens (D) defeated Doug Hoffman (C) and Dede Scozzafava (R), 49-45-6, with about a 6,000 vote margin (out of 131,000) separating Owens and Hoffman.
Elsewhere in New York, two powerful incumbents got scares. New York City's I/R mayor Michael Bloomberg beat Democratic comptroller William Thompson by a much narrower-than-expected margin: 51-46. And Democratic Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi is barely leading Republican Ed Mangano, 48-48 (with a 237-vote margin, which may change as absentees are counted). Republicans picked up two open New York City council seats in Queens (including the one vacated by new comptroller John Liu), bringing the Democrats' control of that body down to a perilous 46-5.
New Jersey: Republican former US Attorney Chris Christie defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine in the Republicans' big score of the night, beating Corzine and independent Chris Daggett 49-44-6. The big story here may be the unexpected collapse in Daggett's numbers (he had been polling near 20% several weeks ago); I'd guess that a swath of moderate but fervently anti-Corzine voters realized that they were planning to waste their votes on a spoiler (Daggett) and in the end held their noses and voted for Christie. The other big story: the robo-pollsters (PPP, SurveyUSA) not only getting the result right but coming close on the spread, while some of the more traditional pollsters saw a Corzine victory. Christie's amply-cut jacket didn't have much in the way of coattails, though: Republicans picked up a total of only one seat in the Assembly, with Domenick DiCicco poised to pick up an open seat in Gloucester County in Philly's suburbs, leaving Dems in control of the chamber, 47-33.
Virginia: Here's where the Democrats really stunk it up, although the handwriting on the wall could be clearly seen from months away. In the gubernatorial race, Republican Bob McDonnell defeated Creigh Deeds by a substantial margin, 59-41. Further down the ticket, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was re-elected over Jody Wagner, 56-44, and Republican Ken Cuccinelli won the AG's race over Steve Shannon, 58-42. Democrats also took some damage in the House of Delegates, although they seemed to stave off total wipeout: Republicans netted five seats, to move the total from 53 (and 2 GOP-caucusing indies)-45 (with 2 formerly Dem vacancies) to 58 (plus the 2 indies)-39 (with one Dem incumbent-held seat, the 21st, going to recount).
Maine: In what seemed to be the night's biggest heartbreak for many in the netroots, Question 1, a vote to repeal gay marriage, passed by a 53-47 margin. Nevertheless, Mainers defeated an anti-tax initiative (Question 4, 40-60) and expanded medical marijuana access (Question 5, 59-41).
Washington: In the nation's other corner, Referendum 71, a vote to approve legislation creating "marriage in all but name" expanded domestic partnerships, is passing 51-49. (Assuming it passes, this would be, by my reckoning, the first time gay rights have been expanded through statewide vote; since King County has reported disproportionately few of the state's ballots, that margin is likely to grow.) Washington also rejected anti-tax I-1033, 44-56, and King County elected Dow Constantine as County Executive by a comfortable 57-43 over Susan Hutchison (in the first time this has been run as a nonpartisan race -- unfortunately for Hutchison, somewhere in the last few weeks her Republican cover got blown). The Seattle mayor's race will probably be the last race in the country to get resolved: with less than half reporting, anti-establishment progressive Mike McGinn leads establishment progressive Joe Mallahan 50-49.
California: In the night's other House election, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi defeated Republican attorney David Harmer in CA-10, 53-43 (with the balance going to Green and Peace & Freedom candidates). That's a bit underwhelming in a district where Barack Obama won 65-33, but in a low-turnout special, it's not remarkable.
North Carolina: Charlotte got only its second African-American mayor and its first Democratic mayor in 22 years, as 38-year-old Anthony Foxx beat the polls en route to a 51-49 over Republican Andy Lassiter. Democrats also now have an 8-3 edge on the city council. College town Chapel Hill now has an openly gay mayor: Mark Kleinschmidt, who narrowly defeated conservative Matt Czajkowski, 49-47.
Ohio: Somehow I can't see Cleveland becoming the next Las Vegas (maybe $pringfield, Ohio will), but Ohio voters just opted to legalize casino gambling in Issue 3, 53-47.
Pennsylvania: Republicans picked up a seat on the state Supreme Court; Jane Orie Melvin defeated Democrat Jack Panella 53-47. The GOP now controls the court 4-3, which has bad implications for state legislative redistricting next year.
Michigan: Another Dem screw-up that may bury the prospect of a pro-Democratic gerrymander in Michigan next year is a loss in the one hotly contested state Senate seat anywhere last night. In SD-19, Republican Mike Nofs won 61-34, picking up a seat formerly held by Democratic now-Rep. Mark Schauer. Republicans now control the Senate 22-16 (all seats are up in 2010, meaning Dems now need to flip four for control -- of course, they'd also need to hold the gubernatorial race, which may not happen either). In Detroit, incumbent Dave Bing held on to win the mayor's race, 58-42.
Georgia: We're headed to a runoff in Atlanta, where city councilor Mary Norwood and state Senator Kasim Reed finished 1 and 2, with 46% and 36% respectively. Reed may be able to pull it out, though, if he consolidates African-American votes in the general (the 3rd place finisher, Lisa Borders with 14%, is also African-American). The most interesting legislative race seems to be the previously Dem-held HD-141, where it's unclear whether Dem Darrell Black or GOPer Angela Gheesling-McCommon (each of whom got 23%, although Black has a 16-vote edge) will face off against independent Rusty Kidd (who got 44%) in the runoff.
Got any other races you want to share results from, or want to talk about? Let us know in the comments!
• CO-Sen: Former state Sen. Tom Wiens made it official; he's entering the Republican field in the Senate race. With former Lt. Governor Jane Norton wearing the mantle of establishment anointment in this race, Wien's entry may actually help Norton, by taking non-Norton votes away from conservative Weld County DA Ken Buck. Wiens is a wealthy rancher prepared to put up to half a million of his own dollars into the race.
• FL-Sen: If anyone has to sweating the movement conservatives' takedown of the pre-selected moderate establishment candidate in NY-23, it's gotta be Charlie Crist. Here's one more thing for him to worry about: his job approval according to a new St. Petersburg Times poll is only 42/55. They don't have him in as dire straits against Marco Rubio in the GOP primary as a number of other pollsters, though -- Crist leads Rubio 50-28 -- but the ultimate indignity is on the question of whether respondents would choose Crist or Jeb Bush to lead Florida right now, 47% opt for Bush (with 41 for Crist). On the Dem side, Rep. Kendrick Meek leads newly-announced former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre 26-6.
• IL-Sen, IL-07: There a lots of interesting plot lines forming as today is the filing deadline in Illinois. But the big one is: what the hell is up with Patrick Hughes? The real estate developer was considered to be the right-wingers' go-to guy to against alleged moderate Rep. Mark Kirk in the GOP primary, but now rumors are swirling that he doesn't have the signatures to qualify. There also seem to be some major ball-droppings for progressives: there's nobody challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski in the primary in IL-03, and there's nobody, period, to go up against GOP Rep. Peter Roskam in the R+0 IL-06. In the 7th, where it's unclear whether Rep. Danny Davis will be coming back or not (he's filed for his seat, but also for Cook County Board President), he's facing primary competition from only one elected official: state Sen. Rickey Hendon (Cook Co. Deputy Recorder of Deeds Darlena Williams-Burnett is also a big name, but I don't think deputy recorder is an elected position). Hendon says he'll bail out and run for Lt. Governor if Davis sticks around.
Meanwhile, on the Senate front, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is touting his own internal poll from GQR giving him a 3-point edge on Rep. Mark Kirk in a general election, 46-43. The same poll finds less-known Democrat former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman trailing Kirk 48-39.
• IN-Sen: Research 2000 (on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, rather than Kos) found last week that Blanche Lincoln was in serious trouble electorally and that her troubles would mount if she opposed health care reform. They also looked at Evan Bayh, and they found that, a) he's not in trouble (62/30 approvals, although no head-to-head test against his erstwhile opponent, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman), and b) a majority wouldn't be moved one way or the other by his health care actions.
• MA-Sen: The start of debates haven't done much to reshape things in the Democratic primary in the special election in the Bay State. AG Martha Coakley holds a 25-point lead over Rep. Michael Capuano, according to an R2K poll commissioned by local blog Blue Mass Group. Coakley is at 42 and Capuano at 16, with Stephen Pagliuca at 15 and Alan Khazei at 5. Only 52% of Coakley's voters are firm about it, though, but that's not much different from any of the other candidates.
• FL-Gov: That aforementioned St. Petersburg Times poll also looked at the governor's race, and they gave Democratic CFO Alex Sink her first lead in a while; she's up a single point on GOP AG Bill McCollum, 38-37. More trouble for McCollum: state Senator Paula Dockery, as threatened, now appears to be jumping into the Republican primary, which had been painstakingly cleared for him.
• MN-Gov: If a candidate falls in the Minnesota gubernatorial Republican field, does it make a sound? State Rep. Paul Kohls dropped out, having not gotten much traction according to recent straw polls. That leaves approximately eleventy-seven zillion Republicans left in the hunt.
• VA-Gov: He's dead, Jim. Four more polls on VA-Gov are out:
YouGov (pdf): McDonnell 53, Deeds 40
Mason-Dixon: McDonnell 53, Deeds 41
PPP (pdf): McDonnell 56, Deeds 42
SurveyUSA: McDonnell 58, Deeds 40
• MI-07: Unseated wingnut Tim Walberg -- who'd like to get his job back from freshman Dem Mark Schauer -- has some company in the GOP primary next year: attorney and Iraq vet Brian Rooney (the brother of Florida Rep. Tom Rooney) is getting in the race. It's not clear whether Rooney is any more moderate than Walberg, though; he's an attorney for the right-wing Thomas More Law Center, the theocons' answer to the ACLU.
• NY-23: A few more odds and ends in the 23rd. One more key Republican endorser working for Doug Hoffman now is Rudy Giuliani (like George Pataki, not the likeliest fellow you'd expect to see make common cause with the Conservative Party -- with neither of them having ruled out 2010 runs, they seem to want to be in good graces with the national GOP, who are all-in for Hoffman now). Rudy's crack team of robots is making calls on his behalf. Another possible useful endorsement: Watertown's mayor Jeff Graham is now backing Hoffman. Former candidate Dede Scozzafava, on the other hand, is now cutting robocalls on Democrat Bill Owens' behalf. Finally, here's an ill omen on the motivation front: sparse turnout was reported for Joe Biden's appearance on behalf of Owens.
• PA-06: One more Republican is getting in the field in the open seat race in the 6th: Howard Cohen, a consultant who is the former Revenue Secretary from the Dick Thornburgh administration decades ago. He'll face a financial gap against pharma exec Steven Welch, and a name rec gap against state Rep. Curt Schroder, though.
• AL-AG: One incumbent who looks badly endangered going into 2010 is Alabama's Republican Attorney General, Troy King. Having buddied up with the state's trial lawyers (thus angering the local business establishment) and also pissed off many local DAs by interfering in their cases, King has lost most establishment support in the upcoming GOP primary against Luther Strange. Two of Strange's biggest backers are both of the state's Senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby.
• ME-Init: Two more polls on Maine's Question 1 (where "yes" is a vote to overturn the state's gay marriage law), both pointing to an excruciatingly close vote. PPP (taken over the weekend) sees it passing 51-47, while Research 2000 (taken last week) gives a tiny edge to "no," 47-48. (R2K also confirms that Olympia Snowe's numbers are way off; the once bulletproof Snowe now has approvals of 50/44.)
• NYC: Three more polls all show Michael Bloomberg with an easy path to a third term, beating Democratic comptroller William Thompson. Bloomberg leads 50-38 according to Quinnipiac, 53-42 according to SurveyUSA, and 53-38 according to Marist (pdf).
• Mayors: There are fresh polls in a few other mayoral races. In St. Petersburg, Florida, one of the most hotly contended races around, Bill Foster leads Kathleen Ford 48-44 according to SurveyUSA. (Foster leads among both blacks and conservatives.) The racially polarized race in Charlotte gives a small edge to the conservative white candidate, Andy Lassiter, who leads 50-46 over Anthony Foxx. And in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, all we know is that someone with a difficult-to-spell last name will be mayor. Matt Czajkowski leads Mark Kleinschmidt 45-44. (Czajkowski seems to be the conservative and Kleinschmidt the liberal.)
• State legislatures: In case there wasn't enough to focus on tomorrow, Josh Goodman points to five legislative special elections tomorrow. The big one is Michigan's 19th Senate district, which was vacated by Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer. Republican former state Rep. Mike Nofs may have an edge for the pickup against Democratic state Rep. Martin Griffin, at least based on fundraising. There are also Dem-held seats up in Alabama's 65th House district, Missouri's 73rd House district, and Washington's 16th House district (the reddest Dem-held seat in Washington), and a GOP-held seat in South Carolina's 48th House district. (UPDATE: TheUnknown285 points us to a whopping seven legislative seats up from grabs in Georgia, too, in his diary.)
• NRCC: Pete Sessions Deathwatch, Vol. 1? This seems odd, given that he's had some pretty good success on the recruiting front, but apparently the behind-closed-doors potshots are hitting NRCC head Sessions just as heavily as they did Tom Cole last cycle. The complaints aren't about recruiting, though, but rather about fundraising, where the NRCC is still lagging the DCCC despite the superficial conventional wisdom that Republicans come into 2010 with momentum, and about not keeping enough of a lid on all those nagging intraparty skirmishes that somehow only the blogosphere ever seems to notice.
• Polling: Mark Blumenthal has a thought-provoking piece on polling the cap-and-trade issue. The key problem: no one knows exactly what it is (reminiscent of polling the public option question, too).
• Voting: States are still trying to figure out what to do about the new federal law intended to make sure that military ballots from overseas get counted. At least a dozen states are now actively considering moving their September primaries up in the calendar to comply (including Minnesota, Vermont, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin).
• FL-Sen: Everything's coming up Milhouse for Rep. Kendrick Meek these days: Rep. Corrine Brown decided not to challenge him in the primary, he's watching Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio go hammer and tongs at each other on the GOP side, and now he has the endorsement of Florida's currently most successful Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson.
• NH-Sen: Oh please oh please... the geniuses at the Club for Growth are considering getting involved in the New Hampshire Senate race, where the position-less campaign of Kelly Ayotte doesn't seem to be capturing their fancy. (This is buried at the end of an article on how they're still weighing involvement in FL-Sen.)
• NY-Gov: David Paterson is playing a different tune than before, sounding less defiant and ready to "reassess" if his numbers stay in the tank on into early 2010. Meanwhile, this may be a tea leaf that Rudy Giuliani isn't planning to run -- or simply one Suffolk County resident doing a favor for another one -- but Suffolk County (on Lon Gisland) GOP leader John Jay LaValle endorsed Rick Lazio last week, and now Orange County (in the Hudson Valley) GOP leader Bill DeProspo is also endorsing Lazio. (And with Lazio poised to get demolished in a Rudy primary, you wouldn't likely make that endorsement and risk the Rudy's wrath unless you had a sense that he wasn't running.) Finally, Erie County Exec Chris Collins had been considered a post-Rudy Plan B for the GOP, but he seems to have taken himself out of the running with bizarre remarks last weekend comparing Democratic Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver to both Hitler and the anti-Christ.
• VA-Gov: Two more Virginia polls to add to the pile today: Roanoke College (in its first and apparently only poll) finds Bob McDonnell with a 53-36 lead over Creigh Deeds. In another bit of bad news, Republicans lead Democrats 43-33 on a generic ballot question concerning the House of Delegates. Research 2000 also looks at the race, finding a 54-44 lead for McDonnell -- one of Deeds' best performances recently, although that's not saying much.
• IA-03: Republican state Sen. (and former mayor of the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale) Brad Zaun says he's seriously considering a run against Rep. Leonard Boswell in the 3rd next year. Mike Mahaffey, former state GOP chair, is set to decide by next week whether or not he'll run too.
• IL-18: Democrat D.K. Hirner will run for the nomination to face off against Rep. Aaron Schock in the Peoria-area 18th (who benefited from Democratic recruitment problems in his initial run in 2008). Hirner is the executive director of the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group.
• MN-03: Democratic psychiatrist Maureen Hackett filed campaign papers to run in the 3rd against freshman Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen (who won with only 49% of the vote in 2008). Minnesota PTA president Jim Meffert-Nelson is also planning to announce his bid soon, while state Sen. Teri Bonoff, the district's heavyweight Dem, is still weighing the race.
• NH-02: EMILY's List has one more endorsee: attorney Ann McLane Kuster, in the open seat race in the 2nd. You may be wondering "Wait, isn't Katrina Swett going to run there?" While Kuster is officially in the race and has been fundraising well, Swett hasn't committed to a bid yet, though... and more importantly, supports parental notification for abortion, making an endorsement unlikely.
• OH-15: Here's a positive development at both the micro and macro levels: little-known anti-abortion Ron Paul-supporter David Ryon dropped out of the Republican primary field against state Sen. Steve Stivers (who's seeking a rematch against freshman Democratic Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy), and he's going to go the third party route. This is good at a micro level because it's similar to what happened in 2008, when two minor right-wing candidates siphoned off 9% of the vote, allowing Kilroy to get past the pro-choice Stivers despite an underwhelming performance (and without Obama on the ballot driving turnout in a university-dominated district, Kilroy is poised to underwhelm again in 2010). And at a macro level, it may be an indication that various wingnuts are taking stock of the Doug Hoffman situation and saying "Hey, that could be me!" (Thus further exacerabting the rifts in the GOP.)
• OH-16: Buried at the end of an article that's mostly profiling alleged GOP frontrunner Jim Renacci, there's news that conservative former Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller is planning a third run in the primary in the 16th. Miller, if you'll recall, got 42% in the 2006 primary against long-time Rep. Ralph Regula (which was probably instrumental in prompting Regula's 2008 retirement), and then almost won the 2008 primary against state Sen. Kirk Schuring. So it's hardly a foregone conclusion that freshman Democratic Rep. John Boccieri will be facing Renacci next year.
• VA-07: Democratic real estate developer Charles Diradour has decided to scrap his nascent candidacy against Eric Cantor, so it's back to the drawing board for Dems in the reddish 7th. Cantor has the biggest bankroll of any House Republican, so it'd be an uphill fight, to say the least.
• NY-St. Sen.: With state Sen. Hiram Monserrate intending to stay in the Senate despite having been convicted of misdemeanor assault last week, the Queens Democratic Party (led by Rep. Joe Crowley) is taking the unusual step of recruiting and endorsing a primary challenger to him. Assemblyman Jose Peralta will be running against Monserrate with the local party's blessing. The Senate is also still considering whether to begin expulsion proceedings against Monserrate.
• PA-S. Ct.: Josh Goodman has a good catch on how the lone Supreme Court race on the ballot in Pennsylvania next week is actually a key race, in terms of state legislative redistricting in 2010. The state's legislative redistricting board has 5 seats, with two seats from each legislative chamber and the remaining seat chosen by the first 4. But if the two legislative chambers are controlled by different parties (as is currently the case), there's a deadlock, and the 5th member is chosen by the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court is also currently deadlocked between the parties (3-3, with the victor of next week's race the tiebreaking vote), so the Supreme Court race essentially is for control of state legislative redistricting for the next decade. In the one poll I've seen of the race, Democrat Jack Panella led GOPer Joan Orie Melvin 38-35.
• Polling: PPP is asking for your help again: they'd like to know what you'd like to see for a release schedule over the next week.
• Volunteering: Marriage/partnership equality campaigns in three states are looking for help down the home stretch. The best part is, you don't even have to leave your chair - all three organizations are looking for folks to make calls to help get out the vote. So if you'd like to help, follow the links for Maine, Washington state, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. The folks in Kalamazoo are also looking for in-person volunteers - click here if you are in the area. (D)
• CT-Sen: With Joe Lieberman back to his usual self-promoting mavericky ways, vis a vis the public option, and with the netroots worked up into a lather, it's a perfect time for Ned Lamont to step back into the spotlight. The 2006 Democratic primary winner attacked Lieberman's statements, although he sounded interested but noncommital about the idea of a 2012 rematch.
• FL-Sen: Here's another sign that the Charlie Crist camp is starting to take the Marco Rubio threat more seriously. They've launched an anti-Rubio website, TruthAboutRubio.com.
• KS-Sen: Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe endorsed Rep. Todd Tiahrt in the GOP primary in the open seat Senate race in Kansas. Inhofe seems to be the first sitting senator to endorse Tiahrt (although Rick Santorum already did); several senators (John McCain, John Thune, and Inhofe's colleague Tom Coburn) have already endorsed the less hardline Rep. Jerry Moran.
• MA-Sen: Rep. Niki Tsongas (the only woman in the Massachusetts House delegation) endorsed AG Martha Coakley in the Dem primary for the upcoming Senate special election. It's Coakley's first endorsement from a House member; four other House members have gotten behind Rep. Michael Capuano.
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): Franklin & Marshall has another poll of the Pennsylvania races out, and like a lot of other pollsters, they're finding that people aren't very enthused about Arlen Specter, and are getting even less enthusiastic, giving him a 28/46 favorable (down from 35/42 in August), and a 23/66 reading on the "deserves re-election" question. Specter currently leads ex-Rep. Pat Toomey 33-31 (down from 37-29 in August), and beats Rep. Joe Sestak in the Dem primary 30-18 (down from 37-11). Sestak loses to Toomey, 28-20. F&M also look at the gubernatorial primaries (no general matchups, though). AG Tom Corbett leads on the GOP side over Rep. Jim Gerlach, 30-8, while the Dem field plays out: 10 for Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato, 9 from Auditor Jack Wagner, 6 for ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel, 3 for Tom Knox, and 3 for Scranton mayor Chris Doherty.
• SD-Sen: Democrats may turn to an old family name for a Senate candidate against John Thune: Mark McGovern, the 37-year-old grandson of former Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern. McGovern is state director for Repower America, a clean energy advocacy group, and was state director for the 2008 Obama campaign.
• CT-Gov: The campaign for Democratic SoS Susan Bysiewicz is making references to an internal poll that has her trailing by only 6 to the once-thought-unassailable Jodi Rell in 2010, 47-41. (And that assumes Rell runs -- given her fundraising, and now the possibility of a hard race, she may not be on track to do so.) The poll also finds Bysiewicz overperforming Stamford mayor Dan Malloy (who loses to Rell 52-31), and beating Malloy in the primary, 44-12.
• SC-Gov: An impeachment resolution against Mark Sanford was introduced today by Republican state Rep. Greg Dellenny during the brief special session. However, fellow Republican speaker Bobby Harrell ruled it out of order, as outside the scope of the special session. It'll have to wait until January.
• VA-Gov (pdf): Looks like we'll have to wait another day (and probably a lot longer than that) for signs of life in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Virginia Commonwealth issued their first poll of the race, giving Bob McDonnell a 54-36 edge over Creigh Deeds (51-33 without leaners pushed). Rasmussen chimes in with similar numbers at 54-41 for McDonnell (finding a spreading McDonnell lead like most pollsters; two weeks ago they had it at 50-43). Pollster.com's regression line has the overall total moving today to the exact same result: 54-41.
• TX-Gov: Maybe this falls under the category of an endorsement you don't really want to tout, but Kay Bailey Hutchison needs every vote she can get in what looks like a tight GOP primary with incumbent Gov. Rick Perry. KBH secured the endorsement of Dick Cheney today.
• CA-19: I'm still not sure what conservative Rep. George Radanovich did to wrong the local GOP, but the hunt goes on for an even more conservative Republican to challenge him in the primary. One possible challenger is former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson, who's looking for a new political gig. (Patterson ran for Congress in 2002 in then-new CA-21, losing the GOP primary to Devin Nunes.) Patterson may also be interested in replacing termed-out Mike Villines in the state Assembly.
• FL-08: Buried in a longer Politico piece titled, appropriately, "Rivals shy away from Alan Grayson" are three more potential Republican challengers: first-term state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, attorney Will McBride (who lost the 2006 Senate primary to Katherine Harris), and businessman Bruce O'Donoghue. O'Donoghue, who's close to Mel Martinez, sounds like the likeliest of those three to run.
• NY-23: Big money continues to flow into the 23rd on the pro-Bill Owens side, with another $245K from the DCCC, and $200K from the AFSCME. MoveOn.org has also started flogging this race in its fundraising e-mails, saying that it's a chance to rebuke the Palin/teabagger wing of the GOPers. Meanwhile, Doug Hoffman continues to rack up the endorsements from people that no one in the 23rd has ever heard of: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and even Oklahoma House candidate Kevin Calvey and California Senate candidate Chuck DeVore. RNC chair Michael Steele is still standing by Dede Scozzafava, though.
• TN-09: It looks like former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton may self-destruct before Rep. Steve Cohen even lays into him in the Dem primary in the 9th. Herenton is reportedly the target of a criminal probe by the local US Attorney's office focusing on "personal business transactions" during his time as mayor. Herenton, naturally, is calling the investigation politically-motivated.
• VA-02: Here's a screwup for Ben Loyola, one of the Republicans jostling to take on freshman Dem Rep. Glenn Nye and one who made a big self-funding impact last quarter. Loyola may have low-balled estimates of the value of a division of his company that he sold to a Swedish firm, at best a disclosure violation in terms of reporting his net worth, and at worst an illegal campaign contribution.
• EMILY's List: EMILY's List added four Democratic House members to its list of endorsees. Three are swing-district freshmen (Debbie Halvorson, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Dina Titus), and the other one is the perpetually shaky Carol Shea-Porter.
• WA-Init: A slew of polls out of Washington yesterday and today, containing good news. UW's Washington Poll finds that R-71 (a referendum in favor of expanded domestic partnership) is passing 57-38, while I-1033 (the latest TABOR-style anti-tax initiative from initiative huckster Tim Eyman) is failing 40-49. These numbers are confirmed by SurveyUSA, which finds R-71 passing 50-43, and I-1033 going down 38-50. The Washington Poll also looks at the King County Executive race, which (though ostensibly nonpartisan) sees Democratic county councilor Dow Constantine beating Republican former news anchor Susan Hutchison 47-34 -- they don't have trendlines, and the only comparison point is SurveyUSA, who last showed Hutchison with a surprising 47-42 lead, so this one still bears watching. The Washington Poll finds Joe Mallahan leading Mike McGinn in the Seattle mayor's race, 44-36.
• Census: An independent analysis of the effect of the proposed David Vitter legislation that would only count U.S. citizens for purposes of reapportionment finds a very different looking House. California post-2010 would lose five House seats, and Texas would gain only one House seat (instead of the projected three). The proposed change would also spare Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania the expected loss of one seat each. (The study is worth a look also because it projects which states gain and lose seats according to normal rules, and also looks at which metro areas are experiencing 'brain drain.')
• CA-Sen: Everyone has been treating Carly Fiorina as already running for Senate, but she's never officially announced anything. It looks like Nov. 6 is her launch date, though; she has a "very important announcement" scheduled at a Pleasanton event.
• NV-Sen: With right-wing former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle's entry into the GOP primary a few days ago, I hinted at the prospect of a bloody civil war erupting in Nevada -- and here's some more fuel for that fire. Movement conservatives in the Silver State are setting up a specifically anti-Sue Lowden PAC, dedicated to stopping the media-designated frontrunner. The Fair Nevada Elections PAC seems run by Paulists, who remain upset over Lowden's actions in the 2008 caucus, when she was the state GOP party chair, which ended with voting being shut down when it looked like Ron Paul would wind up winning delegates. While there's no explicit Paulist in the primary (unlike, say, Kentucky and Connecticut), Angle seems like the most kindred spirit for these types.
• CA-Gov: Meg Whitman's sputtering campaign got a boost when she nailed down the endorsement of popular GOP moderate Richard Riordan, the former Los Angeles mayor -- which might keep her from losing votes to ex-Rep. Tom Campbell on her left. Her other opponent, state Treasurer Steve Poizner, also announced his own endorsement, from American Conservative Union head David Keene. Not that any Californian would have any idea who Keene is, but this seems like a more fruitful endorsement vein to mine, as all three candidates are on the party's moderate side -- good for the general, but bad for making it out of the primary dominated by California's rabid base.
• MA-Gov: There's a new poll of the Massachusetts governor's race showing embattled Dem incumbent Deval Patrick walloping his opponents -- and it comes from Rasmussen, of all places. Despite only 36% of respondents thinking Patrick should run (49% say don't run), Patrick leads GOPer Christy Mihos and independent Tim Cahill 34-23-23, and leads Charlie Baker and Cahill 34-24-23. This doesn't jibe at all with their previous poll from August, which gave the GOP candidates leads over Patrick but didn't account for Cahill's presence, absorbing anti-Patrick votes -- but it does pretty closely match Suffolk's September poll, so maybe Patrick is stabilizing a bit after some terrible numbers over the summer.
• NJ-Gov: After a week of unadulterated good news, the two most recent polls from New Jersey show Jon Corzine taking a slight turn for the worse. And the reason seems to be clear -- Chris Daggett is starting to lose votes, perhaps as a share of soft Daggett voters who dislike Corzine more than they dislike Chris Christie are realizing that they're contributing to a spoiler effect and shifting to Christie, helped along by RGA ads attacking Daggett. PPP (pdf) finds Christie leading Corzine and Daggett 42-38-13. Rasmussen gives toplines (based on their re-allocation of Daggett leaners) of 46-43-7 for Christie, while their "initial preference" this time, interestingly, gives an even better result for Christie, at 42-38-14. (Discussion underway in DCCylone and JFM110's diaries.
• OH-Gov (pdf): The Ohio Newspaper poll (conducted by University of Cincinnati) projects a close race in the Ohio gubernatorial race, as Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland leads GOP ex-Rep. John Kasich 49-46 among likely voters. Contrary to what one might expect, Kasich pulls closer among all registered voters, with a 48-47 Strickland lead.
• VA-Gov: Three different polls in Virginia, all of which showing Creigh Deeds trailing by double digits. (Ooops, almost typed "triple digits.") The Washington Post is the most encouraging with a mere 55-44 lead for Bob McDonnell; Deeds has a 56-43 lead in northern Virginia, which may help retain some of the tight House of Delegates seat there. PPP (pdf) sees the race as 55-40 for McD (with similar-sized leads for the GOP's LG and AG candidates); SurveyUSA has the widest spread, at 58-41 for McD. Deeds' fundraising seems to be dying down, also, as the establishment realizes this one is over; McDonnell outraised Deeds $4 million to $3.1 million in the first 3 weeks of October (with most of Deeds' money coming from the Tim Kaine-led DNC).
• FL-08: Alan Grayson saying something bombastic is getting to the point of not being newsworthy anymore (he called a Fed official a "K Street whore" on a radio show a month ago, although the pearls are just getting clutched today), but fellow camera-hogging Rep. Anthony Weiner gets some ups for saying what we're all thinking: "Is this news to you that this guy's one fry short of a Happy Meal?"
• IL-07: Rep. Danny Davis, after a drawn-out period of vacillation, finally got off the fence, and filed to run for President of the Cook County Board (although he plans to also file for his 7th District seat too; he has until Nov. 9 to withdraw one of his petitions). Assuming that he continues to follow through, this creates an open seat in the dark-blue, African-American-majority 7th and a hotly contested Dem primary.
• KY-St. Sen.: The special election is on, in Kentucky. GOP state Sen. Dan Kelly was appointed to a state circuit court judgeship yesterday, creating an open seat that Dems have a shot at picking up. The election is set for Dec. 8, the same day as a House special election to fill the seat of Dem Robin Webb (who was promoted to the state Senate in another recent special election).
• Mayors: The Charlotte mayoral race will go down to the wire; PPP finds that Anthony Foxx and John Lassiter each poll at 45. Foxx leads among African-Americans 80-9, while Lassiter leads among whites 63-29 (Charlotte is 33% black).
• Blue Dogs: Here's an interesting fundraising tidbit: donations to the Blue Dog PAC fell to only $12,500 in September (from only three donations -- from Ernst & Young, the Food Marketing Institute, and the NRA). They had averaged more than $176K per month in the first half of the year. Is this a blip, or a sign of things to come?
• FEC: If you can't get enough about campaign finance disclosures and regulations, we've got the blog for you. The FEC has its own blog now... if you can consider something that has no bomb-throwing invective or pictures of hilarious cats to be a blog.
• VA-Gov: It's grown exceedingly hard to see a path to victory for Creigh Deeds in Virginia's gubernatorial race. The polls aren't closing (if anything, the gap may be widening), and there's less than two weeks until election day. What's more, the highest echelons of the Democratic Party are now distancing themselves from Deeds, saying he rejected Barack Obama & Tim Kaine's "road map to victory." The Swing State Project is therefore changing its rating on this race from Lean R to Likely R. (D)
Also, while the second-guessing has begun, PPP suggests that it's just a bad year for Dems and/or a strong opponent in Bob McDonnell: they found that if Tim Kaine had been able to run for re-election, he'd be losing too, 51-43. Nevertheless, 57% think that governors should be able to run for re-election in Virginia (which is the only state left that doesn't allow gubernatorial re-elections), with 35% opposed. Still, Kaine probably wouldn't be running anti-cap-and-trade ads as Deeds is doing in the state's southwest; with the public option already with the Deeds' bus treads all over it, it's one more reason for the Democratic base to lose interest in him.
• CA-Sen: The war between movement conservative candidate Chuck DeVore and the NRSC just keeps building. DeVore is calling attention to a seemingly loose-lips quote from Carly Fiorina that "the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee has encouraged me to enter the race, reaffirming my belief that Chuck DeVore cannot beat Barbara Boxer," which he says contradicts the NRSC's claim they haven't endorsed in the race. Of course, that's not really an endorsement per se, but his camp also claims that the NRSC has rebuffed his attempts to dialogue with them.
• IA-Sen: Wealthy attorney and one-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roxanne Conlin seems to be moving closer to a matchup with Chuck Grassley. She's says she's "more likely than not" to step up. While Grassley would start out with the edge, it would push one more competitive race onto the map for 2010.
• MA-Sen: Rep. Michael Capuano pulled down the endorsement of the state's biggest union in his Democratic primary bid in the special Senate election: the 107,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association. Capuano has a 96% rating from the MTA's national affiliate, the National Education Association.
• NV-Sen: Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle has made it official: she's getting into the Nevada Senate race. She had sounded hesitant earlier, but she's emboldened either by her fundraising or by the general climate for conservative candidates right now to jump in. This sets up a confusing and potentially bloody 5-way primary in the Nevada GOP primary (although there's likely to be some field winnowing before then), and potentially, Angle could sneak through with, say, 33%, if she consolidates the hard-right/Club for Growth/teabagger vote (remember that she was the CfG's candidate in the open seat primary in NV-02 in 2006, where she barely lost to Dean Heller). With the opposition consisting of an establishment-backed but empty-suitish candidate in Sue Lowden, a random rich guy (John Chachas), a random name-recognition guy (Danny Tarkanian), and Mark Amodei as seemingly what passes for a moderate in the race, she seems likeliest to become the standard-bearer on the movement conservative right, especially if she somehow gets a CfG endorsement again. And the hard-right Angle would be a rather less imposing general election candidate for Harry Reid than, say, Lowden.
• NY-Sen-B: Former Governor George Pataki seems to be taking note of polls showing him competitive with Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate race, although he doesn't sound enthusiastic about it. His spokesperson tells the Daily News that he'll make a decision about the race in the coming weeks, but "friends" say that he's leaning toward "no."
• UT-Sen: The name of Tim Bridgewater (the former Utah County GOP chair who's lost several primary elections) surfaced earlier in the year in connection with a GOP primary challenge to Bob Bennett in the Senate race, but faded away as AG Mark Shurtleff seemed to gobble up all the oxygen to Bennett's right. Suddenly, Bridgewater's back, saying he'll join the primary field.
• GA-Gov: Rasmussen has another poll of the gubernatorial primaries in Georgia; the only news is that Thurbert Baker seems to be gaining on ex-gov Roy Barnes. Barnes still has a big lead on the Dem side at 43 (42 in August), followed by Baker at 19 (up from 9 in August), David Poythress at 4, Dubose Porter at 4, and Carl Camon at 3. On the GOP side, Insurance Comm. John Oxendine is in command at 27, with Karen Handel at 12, Nathan Deal at 9, and Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, and Austin Scott all at 3.
• IL-Gov: Rasmussen also looked at the Illinois governor's race, apparently as part of their IL-Sen sample from last week; since nobody seems to know who any of the Republicans are, they just ran a Generic D/Generic R ballot, which Generic D won, 43-36. Incumbent Dem Governor Pat Quinn clocks in with approvals that are much lower than any other pollster has seen, at 45/53.
• ME-Gov (pdf): PPP polled the Maine governor's race as part of its poll on Question 1, and finds what R2K found a few weeks ago, which is that nobody has any idea what's going on. As with R2K, they found "not sure" dominating the head-to-heads and even the favorability questions. Unlike R2K, though, they found that moderate GOP state Sen. Peter Mills matches up well against the Dems, beating state Sen. President Libby Mitchell 34-31 and ex-AG Steve Rowe 33-25. Mitchell beats rich guy Les Otten 34-26, but Otten beats Rowe 28-26. Meanwhile, one more sorta-prominent Republican now says he's seriously considering the race: Steve Abbott, who's currently Susan Collins' chief of staff.
• NJ-Gov: Two more polls split the difference between Jon Corzine and Chris Christie in New Jersey. Democracy Corps, who've usually been Corzine's most favorable pollster, finds a 3-point race, with Corzine at 42, Christie at 39, and Chris Daggett at 13. SurveyUSA, on the hand, has tended to lean toward Christie and continue to do so, giving him a 2-point lead, with Christie at 41, Corzine at 39, and Daggett at 19. Christie, for his part, is turning for help to the one Republican in New Jersey that most people still like: ex-Governor Tom Kean, who just cut a TV ad on Christie's behalf.
• RI-Gov: Businessman Rory Smith has announced his candidacy on the Republican side for Rhode Island governor. Insiders are comparing him to current GOP Gov. Don Carcieri, who was also a little-known businessman before winning in 2002; unlike Carcieri, though, Smith is socially liberal. He may have the field to himself; little-known state Rep. Joe Trillo, who was viewed as the default frontrunner after former Senate candidate Stephen Laffey declined, recently said that he too is leaning against the race.
• AK-AL: Trouble just keeps following Republican Rep. Don Young around, and there's more of it today. A retired oil industry exec from VECO, Bill Allen, told the Justice Department that his company gave paid for fundraising events for Young to the tune of $130K to $195K, and also gave gifts to Young which didn't get disclosed. This provides the first hard evidence linking Young to the same VECO scandal that took down Ted Stevens last year. Young has not been charged in the matter, although suspicion was cast his way in previous VECO-related testimony. Young, who narrowly won in 2008, faces another competitive race in 2010 (assuming he's still in office at that point) from Democratic state Rep. Harry Crawford.
• IL-08: On the "some dude" front, businessman (and apparently, not the former Eagles guitarist) Joe Walsh (who ran unsuccessfully against Sidney Yates in the 9th back in the 90s) announced that he'll run against Melissa Bean in the 8th.
• NY-23: Now that all the cool kids are endorsing Doug Hoffman, the floodgates are starting to open among the cognoscenti of the conservative movement: Rick Santorum endorsed, and so too did former presidential candidate MichaelSteve Forbes. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who seems like he's still trying to decide whether to be establishment or movement in 2012, has his finger in the air but said he'll probably endorsed and gave a clue by saying he had issues with the way Scozzafava got the nomination.
• VA-05: Also on the "some dude" front, businessman and first-time candidate Ron Ferrin got into the overstuffed Republican field to go against freshman Rep. Tom Perriello. State Sen. Robert Hurt seems to have the inside track, though.
• VA-St. House: One other worry for Democrats in Virginia is that Creigh Deeds' seeming negative coattails could cost them some seats in the state House of Delegates (where the GOP has a 53-43 edge, with 2 R-caucusing indies and 2 vacancies). Not Larry Sabato gives a preview of the hot races there, helpfully breaking it down into Tossup, Lean, and Likely for us. They see 2 GOP seats and 3 Dem seats as leaning toward takeovers, with 5 true tossups, but a strong McDonnell performance could push things more in the GOP direction.
• Campaign Finance: Here's an interesting development on the campaign finance arena, although experts are still trying to sort out just what it means. The FEC won't appeal an appellate court decision that would allow outside groups to spend significantly more money on elections. The case was brought by EMILY's List; the decision allows them and other 527s to use soft money (in addition to hard money) to pay for ads and GOTV. The Obama administration's Solicitor General, Elena Kagen, however, can still appeal the case without the FEC's involvement.
• 2010: It sounds like some of the more timid members of the House Democrats were in need of a pep talk, so Chris Van Hollen of the DCCC sent around a memo with a nice list of bullet points on why 2010 won't be 1994.
• ME-Sen: PPP looked at Olympia Snowe's approval ratings in the wake of her bipartisan-curious explorations of the last few weeks. Her overall approvals are 56/31 (not red-hot, but still in the top 5 among Senators PPP has polled recently), but interestingly, she's now doing much better among Dems (70% approval) than GOPers (45% approval), with indies split (51% approval). Still, only 32% of voters think she should switch parties (with no particular difference between Dems and Republicans on that question).
• NH-Sen: A $1,000 check is usually just a drop in the bucket in a Senate warchest. But when you're Kelly Ayotte, and you're trying to offer up as uncontroversial and substance-free an image as possible, the fact that that $1,000 check is from Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum speaks a little more loudly than you might want it to.
• NV-Sen: Research 2000 has new poll data out for Nevada, although it's on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, not Daily Kos. At any rate, they find numbers pretty consistent with other pollsters, with Harry Reid sporting 35/54 favorables and trailing Sue Lowden 47-42 and Jerry Danny Tarkanian 46-41 (both of whom might as well be "generic Republican" at this point). The poll also finds 54% support for a public option (including 84% of Dems and 55% of indies), and finds that 31% of all voters, including 46% of Democrats, less likely to vote for him if he fails to include a public option in health care reform.
• MN-Gov: One fascinating piece of trivia about Minnesota DFL nominating conventions is that, like the national convention, there are delegates, and then there are superdelegates. Minnesota Progressive is compiling a whip count among the superdelegates in the Governor's race. So far, the leaders are tied at 14 each: state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and state Sen. Tom Bakk.
• NJ-Gov: Rasmussen takes another look at the New Jersey governor's race; their purported topline result is 41 for Chris Christie, 39 for Jon Corzine, and 11 for Chris Daggett, which is an improvement over last week's 4-point spread for Christie. However, you may recall that last week they released two sets of results, an initial read (which found a tie) and then a re-allocated version that asked Daggett voters (and only Daggett voters) if they were really sure, which gave Christie a 4-point lead and which they flagged as their topline. This week, Rasmussen just toplined the version with Daggett voters re-allocated, without saying a peep about voters' initial preferences. TPM's Eric Kleefeld contacted Rasmussen and got the initial preferences version, which, lo and behold, gives Corzine a 37-36-16 lead. Would it kill Rasmussen to just admit that, sometimes, Democratic candidates actually lead in some races?
Meanwhile, as things further deteriorate for Chris Christie, New Jersey's senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, has called for a federal investigation into Christie's politicization of his U.S. Attorney office (starting with his election-year investigations into Bob Menendez). It's not clear whether that'll go anywhere (especially in the next two weeks), but it certainly helps keep doubts about Christie front and center. And if you're wondering why Christie's campaign is faltering, it may have something to do with his own admission that he doesn't really have that much to do with his own campaign strategy:
"That's what I hire other people to do for me, is to help to make those decisions for me," Christie replied. He added, "I'm out there working 14, 15, 16 hours a day. So the strategy decision is not something I'm generally engaged in."
• NY-Gov: You could knock me over with a feather, but there's actually a poll out today showing that David Paterson is in trouble (with an approval of 30/57). Quinnipiac finds that Paterson loses the general to Rudy Giuliani 54-32, and ties woeful Rick Lazio 38-38. Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, beats Giuliani 50-40 and Lazio 61-22. The primaries are foregone conclusions, with Cuomo beating Paterson 61-19 and Giuliani beating Lazio 74-9.
• OR-Gov: A lot of Oregonians are scratching their heads wondering where Jason Atkinson, the purported Republican frontrunner in the governor's race, is. Atkinson has raised only $2,000 and hasn't been updating his campaign blog or social media sites. Atkinson's legislative aide also tells the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes that she doesn't know what's happening with his candidacy.
• SC-Gov: Contrary to reports earlier in the week, it looks like impeachment of Mark Sanford can't come up during the one-day special session in the South Carolina legislature (which was called to patch the state's unemployment compensation system -- using those stimulus funds that Sanford fought against). Looks like he'll survive at least until the full legislative session next year.
• VA-Gov: Three items, none of which are any good for Creigh Deeds. The first is the new poll from SurveyUSA, which has usually been the most Bob McDonnell-friendly pollster but has never shown Deeds so far down: 59-40. Even if this is an outlier (and it probably is, as it shows McDonnell pulling in 55% in NoVa and 31% of all black voters), it can't be so much of an outlier that Deeds is anywhere near close. This is bolstered by today's PPP poll, which finds McDonnell leading Deeds 52-40 (up from a 5-pt lead post-thesis-gate). And during last night's debate, Deeds may have shut the door on any last-minute progressive interest in his campaign, when he said he'd consider having Virginia opt out of an opt-out public option. Of course, his camp is backpedaling today, saying that he "wasn't ruling anything out" -- but as any student of politics will tell you, every day you spend explaining what you really had meant to say is another day lost.
• CA-11: Not one but two more penny-ante Republicans got into the race against Democratic sophomore Rep. Jerry McNerney: construction company owner Robert Beadles and the former VP of Autism Speaks, Elizabeth Emken. That brings to a total of 8 the number of GOPers, with former US Marshal Tony Amador the only one with a competitive profile.
• CA-47: Audio has been released of Assemblyman and Congressional candidate Van Tran's brush with the law when he got involved in a friend's DUI traffic stop. Tran has denied that he was interfering with the police, but the audio doesn't exactly leave him sounding cooperative.
• FL-08: Yet another Republican backed off from the prospect of facing off against the suddenly mighty Alan Grayson -- although this is a guy I didn't even know was running: Marvin Hutson. Hutson instead endorsed Todd Long, the radio talk show host who nearly defeated incumbent Ric Keller in the 2008 GOP primary -- who, to my knowledge, doesn't actually seem to be running, at least not yet (and that could change, given the GOP's glaring hole here).
• IL-16: Here's a Democratic recruitment score (well, of the second-tier variety) in a district where Barack Obama won last year but the very conservative Republican incumbent, Don Manzullo, has skated with minor opposition for nearly two decades. George Gaulrapp, the mayor of Freeport (a town of 25,000 at the Rockford-based district's western end), will challenge Manzullo.
• NYC Mayor: Incumbent Michael Bloomberg continues to hold a sizable but not overwhelming lead over Democratic comptroller William Thompson in the New York mayoral race; he leads 53-41. Thompson doesn't seem likely to make up much ground without full-throated backing from Barack Obama, though, and he certainly isn't getting that; Obama gave Thompson no more than a "shout out" at a New York fundraiser last night.
• Mayors: The New York Times has a good profile of the Atlanta mayor's race, where the long string of black mayors may be broken. White city councilor Mary Norwood, from the affluent white Buckhead portion of the city, seems to be the frontrunner to succeed outgoing mayor Shirley Franklin, with the African-American vote split among city councilor Lisa Borders and former state legislator Kasim Reed (although polling indicates Norwood pulling in a fair amount of black support). This seems consistent with changing demographics, where GA-05 (which largely overlaps Atlanta city limits) has seen declining black and increasing white populations while the suburbs become much blacker.
• Census: Democratic Rep. Joe Baca has introduced legislation of his own to counter David Vitter's amendment to require the census to ask citizenship status. Baca's bill would require all residents to be counted in the census, regardless of legal status.