• FL-Sen: Do you remember Craig Miller? I barely do. He's the wealthy former steakhouse exec who was the Republican Plan C in the FL-24 primary last year... and in an amusing bit of synchronicity, came in third, behind now-Rep. Sandy Adams and the batshit nuts Karen Diebel. Hoping to fail upward, Miller is now looking at the Senate race and plans to decide "within the next few weeks." I have no idea what he thinks he niche might be, and it's not clear to me that he has the money to overwhelm the field.
• IN-Sen, IN-Gov: Former Rep. Tim Roemer says he's stepping down as ambassador to India. Could this presage a return to Hoosier politics? I'm skeptical, as Dems already have legit candidates lining up for both marquee statewide races. (And for what it's worth, an unnamed source told The Hill last month that Roemer wasn't likely to run for Senate.)
• MA-Sen: This is just weird. Despite repeatedly saying he isn't interested in running for Senate, Deval Patrick somehow keeps finding himself talking about the subject. This time, he said that he had talked with the President about other jobs, but wouldn't say whether Obama had asked him to run against Scott Brown. Patrick again said he doesn't want to run, and added: "I would say no to the president of the United States."
• ND-Sen: When the Club for Growth takes aim at an otherwise top-tier Republican candidate, you know you have premium-grade cat fud ready to be served. Le Club's target now is freshman Rep. Rick Berg, who went from a seemingly distant possibility to not-running-but-virtual-frontrunner status almost instantly a week ago. They're accusing Berg of being insufficiently pro-dystopia, i.e., not supporting enough cuts to federal government spending. I really hope they can find a dog... er... cat for this fight.
• NV-Sen: Sometimes PPP deliberately polls for the lulz, and sometimes, the lulz find them. In this case, it's the latter: Tom Jensen's band of merry robodialers found Dean Heller beating Sharron Angle in a hypothetical GOP primary by a score of... LOL... 84-8. ("El Exigente, what more could you want?" "Their names.") Meanwhile, on the Dem side, where there does appear to be an actual primary, Rep. Shelley Berkeley leads wealthy attorney Byron Georgiou by a 65-8 margin. Good times.
• PA-Sen: Apparently, there's two things Quinnipiac won't do: a) release sample compositions and b) test incumbents against hypothetical opponents whose names don't start with "Generic." Anyhow, Sen. Bob Casey has inched up to a 46-34 lead against "the Republican candidate." He was 45-35 two months ago.
• UT-Sen: Speaking of the Club for Growth, they just put out their 2010 scorecard, and Orrin Hatch's numbers really demonstrate the Club's power. Despite a lifetime score of 74% (30th among Senators in office last year), Hatch managed to rack up a 97% rating last year, tying him with several other Republicans for third place. What a difference a sword of Damocles makes.
• VA-Sen: Hmm. Ultra-wingnut Del. Bob Marshall's 2008 campaign manager just got hired by George Allen... and the dude didn't even tell his old boss first. Marshall's been looking at a possible Senate run, and I think he's the best hope (albeit not a great hope) we have of knocking off Allen in the GOP primary, but it's not clear what impact this will have on his plans. One positive tea-leaf: In response to the news, Marshall said, "You can tell who the candidates are not by where the consultants go, but where the volunteers go."
• PA-Gov: Uhh... did Gov. Tom Corbett just say that state universities sitting atop the Marcellus Shale should plug their budget gap by allowing exploitation of the natural gas reserves beneath them? Why yes he did. If you aren't familiar with the deeply fraught issue of hydraulic fracturing (also known as "hydrofracking" or just "fracking"), this NYT piece is a good place to start. Fracking is a devastatingly poisonous method of extracting gas, and Pennsylvania is at the epicenter of the fracking debate. Indeed, the EPA is investigating a fracking spill that took place there just last week. UPDATE: Hah, sheez. Corbett literally lifted this idea from an episode of Saved by the Bell! NOT kidding! Click the link!
• WV-Gov: Former Republican SoS Betty Ireland is finally out with her first TV ad, which I think has a weird soundtrack, odd staccato pacing, and (at least in the version her campaign posted to YouTube) crappy audio quality. I think she could definitely lose.
• AZ-06: Yesterday we noted that state House Speaker Kirk Adams was resigning his post. Later that day, he formally announced he was, as expected, running in the GOP primary in the open 6th CD. Retiring Sen. Jon Kyl immediately endorsed Adams, while Rep. Trent Franks endorsed Matt Salmon, who is also running for this post
• NV-02: Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad does a nice job digging up some facts about a 1954 special election to replace Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran, who passed away in September of that year. (If you've ever flown to Vegas, that's the guy the airport is named after.) There was some legal wrangling as to whether a special election was actually required, but once the state Supreme Court ruled yes, the parties selected their nominees by committee, not primary. That could possibly serve as precedent as SoS Ross Miller decides whether state law requires that parties choose their candidates, but Nevada's current statutes were revised only a decade ago, so the McCarran case may not be applicable.
• NY-23: A few weeks ago, the NRCC mocked a batch of miniscule radio ad buys by the DCCC and said: "At what point does a campaign committee blush when launching a 'paid advertising campaign?'" Apparently, that point must lie somewhere below $4,550, which is the amount the NRCC is spending on a tiny TV buy in Rep. Bill Owens' district. (It's some lame Pelosi-related attack.)
I'd also like to give some props to Steve Peoples of Roll Call for basically ignoring the contents of the ad and focusing on exactly what the NRCC is trying to accomplish here. I don't know if he wrote the headline, but it can't be what Republicans were hoping for: "NRCC Takes Turn With Small Ad Buy Targeting Earned Media." And in referring a radio ad against Rep. Mike Ross that we noted the other day, Peoples used the kind of language you might find on SSP, saying that the NRCC "convinced a local paper to write a story about the radio buy but refused at the time to disclose the size of the investment." (It turned out to be $2,550.) If you're going to write up a story like this, this is how it should be written.
• IN-SoS: The GOP-held state legislature has backed off a bit on attempting to rewrite the law in order to get around the Charlie White mess. (If this is the first you're hearing of the whole saga, I would suggest checking out our IN-SoS tag.) The proposed new law would give the governor the power to appoint replacement officers only on a prospective basis, so it won't affect the White situation. However, the legislation will still prevent the GOP from losing their major-party status (which was keyed to the SoS race) if the worst happens.
• NJ-St. Sen.: The legal wrangling over Democrat Carl Lewis's ballot eligibility has heated up quickly. Lewis has filed suits in both state and federal court, and a federal court judge has already ordered LG/SoS/Chris Christie goon Kim Guadagno to explain her decision booting Lewis from the ballot earlier this week. Lewis is still busy campaigning, and if he's ultimately declared eligible, I think all this rigmarole might wind up helping him, given that it's free media.
• Colorado: I'm guessing that Republicans are wishing state Sen. Greg Brophy hadn't cracked out of turn and admitted that proposed GOP maps had been deliberately "skewed to the right." That certainly won't help them when the entire matter winds up in court, which Republican state Rep. Don Coram acknowledged was inevitable anyway. In a bit worthy of Stephen Colbert, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post writes: "Brophy said Republicans got nervous when they heard Democrats were pushing so-called competitive seats, which he said favor Democrats...." Ah, indeed, the facts do have a well-known liberal bias.
Connecticut: According to the Greenwich Time, Dem state House Speaker Christopher Donovan has his eye on Rep. Chris Murphy's open 5th CD, and would very much like to have the blue stronghold of Bridgeport drawn into it. That would remove it from Rep. Jim Himes's district, but if you look at a map, it's rather hard to envision this happening without doing a lot of reshuffling. Of course, anything is possible, but given how minor CT's population deviations are, a serious reconfiguration of the map would seem to be uncalled for.
• Indiana: The Hoosier State is poised to become the fourth to finalize a redistricting map. The Republican-held state legislature has given its approval to a new plan, which now goes to GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature.
• Massachusetts: A seemingly clever bit of politics by Scott Brown, but there's a "but." Brown sent a letter to the state legislature's redistricting committee, advocating for a majority-minority congressional seat to be drawn in the Suffolk County region, and also to press for more maj-min districts in the state lege. Who knows whether the idiots in the legislature will listen to him, but Brown of course is simultaneously pushing for new district lines which will ultimately favor Republicans (by packing minorities) and, more importantly, he gets to look like he's protecting minority interests, all at no cost to himself.
Here's the "but": Brown doesn't seem to know what he's talking about. Rep. Mike Capuano, who would be most affected by Brown's proposal, fired back, saying his 8th CD already is majority-minority. It's about 54.5% "white" according to the Census, but that includes Hispanics who also identify as white, so the non-Hispanic white %age is almost certainly below 50%. (Some 19% of 8th CD residents identify as Hispanic, of any race.) Oops.
• Nevada: I'm not going to get into this one in too much detail (my brain can only hold so much redistricting-related information), but Nevada Republicans are now bitterly split over new maps that GOPers in the state Senate drew for the state Assembly. Why didn't the Assembly draw its own maps? They did, but the morons who drew them were advised not to release them because lawyers thought they didn't comply with the VRA. Meanwhile, Dems in both chambers worked together to release a joint set of plans. However, they still haven't released their congressional map. Anyhow, you can find more details under the "Related Documents" sections at both links.
• Oklahoma: Unsurprisingly, the map that the state House unanimously approved appears ready to sail through the state Senate, too. Shira Toeplitz suggested in her writeup (which is a few days old) that the new plan could be signed into law this week, but it hasn't actually been voted on by the full Senate as of this writing.
• Texas: The cat fud is ready to fly in Texas redistricting, where ruthless Republican leaders are prepared to run roughshod over their own incumbents in the aims of preserving and maximizing their advantage to the greatest extent possible. In other words, they're staying true to the spirit of Tom DeLay. In the abstract sense, it's a ruthlessness I admire, and I wish Dems would adopt it. In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if the final maps pass in spite of a lot of GOP defections - though maybe a few horse heads in a few beds will solve that problem.
• Virginia: I'm glad to see that Republicans in the state Senate are as happy to act like sheep as Democrats in the state House. The Democrats' new map passed yesterday by a 32-5 margin. Reading the linked article really makes me feel like this whole thing has been a grand kabuki, with Gov. Bob McDonnell playing everyone - even members of his own party - like puppets. McDonnell simply had to show he could extract a price from Democrats, and so he has. However, I note that the congressional map is now completely untethered from the legislative maps. If Democrats agree to an 8-3 map now, well, fuck them. Once McDonnell signs the lege plans into law, there's no going back, and there's no reason at all not to force the courts to draw a federal map.
• AZ-Sen: I keep saying that there's no way Jeff Flake waltzes to the GOP nomination, but the Republican party has yet to prove me right. Fortunately, my deliverance may come in the form of rich guy Wil Cardon, who is supposedly giving the race a "very strong look" - and can self-fund.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov, etc.: Like another failed Republican gubernatorial candidate before her, it looks like we won't have Meg Whitman to kick around anymore. Actually, that's kind of confusing, because of course we did get to kick Dick Nixon around quite a bit more... but not until he kicked all of us around first. Anyhow, uh, where was I? Oh yeah, the former eBay chief says she "doubts" whether she'll run for office again. Let's hope she means it.
• MA-Sen: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, and Deval Patrick still won't run for Senate.
• MT-Sen: For once, I'm hoping a Republican schedules more fundraisers - at least, fundraisers like this. Denny Rehberg just did an event in Denver that was co-hosted by BP's "director of government and public affairs" (i.e., their chief in-house lobbyist)... on the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Good optics!
• ND-Sen: This should scare absolutely no one off, from either party: Republican Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, the only declared candidate to succeed retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, raised all of $32K in Q1. John Hoeven he ain't. While we're on the subject of North Dakota, former Sen. Byron Dorgan, who retired last year, just donated the bulk of his remaining campaign funds - $1 million - to a new charity he founded, the Center for Native American Youth. A worthy cause, I'm sure, but I'll bet Joe Sestak would have really appreciated that extra mil.
• OH-Sen: It's weird how the GOP went from utterly dominating last year's Senate election in Ohio to digging out their barrel-bottom scrapers from the back of the utility shed. Ken Blackwell says he's talking to the NRSC about a possible run... though I guess it's not really clear if the NRSC is talking back. A lulzy quote: "You don't just come out and build the sort of support base that I have overnight." True - you probably need to spend two years running a crappy campaign to do as terribly as he did in the governor's race back in 2006.
• TN-Sen: This is a little odd: Sen. Bob Corker said he "came close" to not seeking re-election this cycle. Too bad we don't have a candidate who could make hay out of Corker's lack of fire in the belly (a phrase he actually uses with respect to some fantasy presidential run, but seems applicable to his day job, too).
• VA-Sen: It's starting to feel like the wingnut candidates are doing everything they can to make life easier for George Allen by piling into the clown car that is the GOP primary field. The latest is rich dude Tim Donner, whom we mentioned last month. Almost all of these weirdos claim to be teabaggers in good standing, so this almost assuredly means we'll see some People's Front of Judea/Judean People's Front nonsense, rather than a united effort to stop Allen. Lame.
• KY-Gov: Republican frontrunner David Williams raised just $450K in Q1 and has $670K on hand. (This compares to Gov. Steve Beshear, whose numbers we mentioned previously: $1.3m/$3.3m.)
• NC-Gov: PPP's monthly home-state poll shows Gov. Bev Perdue inching up against Republican Pat McCrory, trailing 49-38 instead of 50-36. That's very similar to a new SurveyUSA poll which has McCrory up 51-39.
• SC-Gov: The issues are a little too complex for me to try to summarize here in a digest bullet, but the link will take you to an interesting story exposing some pretty naïve political incompetence on the part of supposed GOP wunderkind Gov. Nikki Haley. One thing I'd like to remind folks of is that despite the Republican bloodbath of 2010, Haley didn't perform all that impressively. In fact, she had the second-narrowest win out of all 20 victorious GOP gubernatorial candidates, just 4.3%. Only Rick Scott won more narrowly, and he's Rick Scott. Dem Vincent Sheheen got almost no national attention but should have, given his strong performance in a tough state in an impossible year. If Haley continues to stumble, I think she could prove surprisingly vulnerable in 2014.
• IN-Sen: Chris "Count" Chocola, head of the Club for Growth and himself a Hoosier, says his organization may step in to help oust apostate Sen. Dick Lugar. The CFG has already talked to Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and if they get involved, they could make up for his lackluster fundraising so far.
• MA-Sen: Remember when ThinkProgress busted Scott Brown for sucking up to David Koch for donations while he was publicly saying he wasn't even thinking about 2012? His pitch worked, I guess: Koch Industries coughed up a $2,500 donation to Brown's campaign last quarter.
In other MA-Sen news, why does Barney Frank keep doing this? On Monday, he repeated his remarks that he thinks Newton Mayor Setti Warren shouldn't run for Senate, this time to local blog Newton TAB. I honestly think this is a bit embarrassing for Frank, and makes him look like a jackass. It's an admission that his private suggestions to Warren haven't been well-received, and that he's had to take to the press to accomplish what he apparently doesn't have the power to do on his own. It's ugly, and what's more, I don't even see the percentage in it. Why does Frank care so much whether Warren runs? Really, just enough.
• MN-Sen: Former state Sen. and unsuccessful 2010 SoS candidate Dan Severson says he might seek the Republican nod to challenge Amy Klobuchar, who so far has drawn no opponents. Severson says he'll decide by May. Also, attorney Chris Barden, another unsuccessful statewide candidate last year (he ran for AG), says he may attempt a Senate race, too.
• MO-Sen: It's getting' mighty crowded in here... well, maybe. Wealthy businessman John Brunner (who can at least partially self-fund) says he might join the GOP field to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Reps. Todd Akin and Blaine Leutekemeyer are also still weighing bids, while former Treasurer Sarah Steelman and teabagger fave Ed Martin are already in the race.
• TX-Sen: This is just weird. Ashwin Madia (who you may remember as the Dem candidate in MN-03 back in 2008) is also chair of the progressive veterans group VoteVets. His organization put out a statement the other day in which he said it was "encouraging" to see Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez considering the Texas Senate race as a Dem. It's strange, as Adam Serwer points out, because Sanchez had a very suspect record on torture during his tenure as US commander in Iraq, while VoteVets has been very critical of torture. Another spokesman for the group hurried to say that VoteVets was not issuing a formal statement of endorsement, just an attaboy for a fellow servicemember.
• VA-Sen: Teabagger Jamie Radtke raised just $55K in Q1 and has only $47K on hand. I'm betting that if George Allen does wind up dealing with a serious speed bump on his way to the GOP nomination, it's going to take the form of Del. Bob Marshall, not Radtke. Still a big if.
• VT-Sen, VT-AL: Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $770K in Q1 (not bad for the 49th-largest state in the nation) and has over a million in the bank. The Burlington Free Press pegs an uptick in donations to Sanders after his now-famous eight-hour speech on the Senate floor in which he blasted tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Welch now has a million on hand.
• NJ-Gov, NJ-Sen: Chris Christie's starting to smell like a plate of scungilli left out in the sun after a July picnic. His job approval has dropped to 47-46, according to Quinnipiac, from 52-40 just a couple of months ago. Sen. Bob Menendez isn't doing so hot either, 42-40, but those sorts of numbers are nothing new for him (and are actually better than what he was getting last year). In news of more immediate importance, Dems improved to 47-39 on the generic legislative ballot, up from 43-41. (Thanks to andgarden for spotting that question, tucked away at the very end of the poll.) Also fun: Q asked respondents for an unprompted, open-ended one-word description of Christie. The number one response, by far? "Bully," with 140 mentions.
• AL-05: This is just odd. Freshman Republican Mo Brooks cancelled a town hall and replaced it with one-on-one meetings with constituents-by appointment only. What makes this extra-weird is that these meetings are scheduled to take place across the state line in... Tennessee. Reminds me of this infamous incident from the classic MS-01 special back in 2008.
• IA-04: Some great number-crunching from G-squared: The new 4th CD went for Terry Branstad 59-37 in 2010, 50-48 for GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle in 2006, and 49-48 for Tom Vilsack in 2002. I'll go one further and tell you that Vilsack lost the new 4th in 1998, 47-52. Greg also says that Rep. Steve King currently represents 47% of new CD.
• IL-03: Politico has a profile of John Atkinson, the Democratic businessman who may challenge Rep. Dan Lipinski from the left. Atkinson, who has already raised a boatload, hasn't formally declared yet (and may be waiting on redistricting), but a main theme for him is Lipinski's vote against healthcare reform.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon, recently speaking to the Bay Ridge Democratic Club, definitely sounds like he's leaning toward a comeback. The linked piece from the Brooklyn Eagle contains McMahon's ruminations on why he lost last year, but I'm not sure I understand what he thinks the reasons are. On the one hand, he says "[t]here was a drop-off in progressive voters." On the other hand, he cited a memo from Third Way (ugh, but what do you expect) which polled Obama "switchers" and "dropouts." The memo claims that "[s]witchers were eager to vote in this election, whereas droppers didn't come out for a multitude of reasons, none of them being they were upset with Democrats."
What this misses out on, of course, is that Democratic organizations who were pissed with McMahon's vote against healthcare reform were less inclined to bust their asses for him and drag apathetic voters to the polls on his behalf-something members and officials of the Bay Ridge club made plain to him. (The article says some attendees used "harsher language," so since this is Brooklyn we're talking about, enjoy a moment or two imagining what this sounded like.) I'm not sure what McMahon thinks the solution is for next year, if he runs again, but it doesn't sound like he's ready to take back his anti-HCR vote. I think he'd be wise to do so.
• RI-01: Former Republican state Rep. John Loughlin, who lost by six points to now-Rep. David Cicilline last year, says he's considering a rematch, but first he's serving another tour of duty in Iraq. I wonder if Cicilline's self-inflicted wounds regarding the financial woes of Providence (the city of which he used to be mayor) will make him vulnerable-if not next year (which of course is a presidential year), then at some point in the near future... or in a primary.
• WI Recall: Republicans say they will file recall petitions against three Democrats today: Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, and Robert Wirch. Meanwhile, Greg Sargent says that Dems will file petitions against a fifth Republican, Alberta Darling, also today.
• WI Sup. Ct.: Yesterday, JoAnne Kloppenburg asked for a recount, which will come at state expense since the final margin of 7,316 votes was less than 0.5%. I'm pretty surprised at the decision, since overturning that kind of result seems almost inconceivable.
• Alaska (PDF): Dave Dittman, a pollster and former aide to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, tested Alaskans' feelings about local pols last month. Sen. Mark Begich, up for re-election in 2014, has a 57-33 job approval rating, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski is at 71-27 and Rep. Don Young is at 63-32. Joe Miller, who says he might run against Young next year or against Begich next cycle, has a hilariously awful favorability rating of 18-73. (FWIW, Sarah Palin is at 36-61.) Note that the poll had oddly long field dates: March 3 through March 17.
• Demographics: Aaron Blake has another good piece looking at the changing demographics of majority-black districts.
• House Majority PAC: The new Dem "super PAC" is out with its first-ever media buy (which they claim is "substantial"-you better be telling the truth), hitting ten GOP freshmen who voted for Paul Ryan's budget plan with radio ad. You can listen to a sample spot against Sean Duffy here. Click the first link for the other nine names.
• DCCC: Speaking of ad buys, props to Dave Catanese for busting what turned out to be a comically bullshit media "blitz" by the DCCC. I groused about this one yesterday, complaining that the size of the buy was sure to be "quite small," but I had no idea that it would be this comically small: The total purchase was just $6,000 across twenty-five districts, with just $40 (yes, $40!) spent against Larry Buchson in IN-08. Of course, it was the NRCC which provided this info to Catanese, which I'm not sure is such a smart move, since they play this stupid game, too. But my bigger concern is whether local reporters who wrote about these ads will be insulted by the joke dollar values and ignore the D-Trip in the future. I sure as hell would.
• Colorado: After instantly descending into a whole bunch of acrimony (mostly, it seemed to me, from the GOP side) after the first batch of maps were produced, both parties agreed to go back to the drawing board and start with a clean slate. Republicans sound a lot more excited about the prospect than Dems, but we'll see if this actually produces any kind of agreement... or if a stalemate eventually leads to court-drawn maps.
• Pennsylvania: No surprise here: The Republican majority on the PA Supreme Court picked a Republican superior court judge to serve as a tiebreaker on the panel which will re-draw Pennsylvania's state legislative maps. This is a direct consequence of a shameful loss of an open Dem-held seat on the court in 2009.
• Texas: A new plan for the Texas state House passed a House committee yesterday. The map increases the number of Latino districts from 28 to 30, but Democrats seem convinced that there are serious VRA issues with it.
• HI-Sen: Sen. Dan Inouye says in a new interview that he "will not take sides in the primary," and Politico ads that his "top aides insist" he won't be lending quiet, behind-the-scenes support to any candidates either. I hope that's true, since I was concerned Ed Case might have mended things with Inouye to the point that the latter might get behind the former. But without some special help, I think Case will have a hard time. Also, SMS Research took the most useless poll imaginable, pitting Case against former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in a primary... and absolutely no one else. Whatevs.
• ME-Sen: Olympia Snowe said she raised over $877K in Q1 and has over $2 million on hand.
• OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown said he raised $1.3 million in Q1 and has $2.5 million on hand.
• VA-Sen: George Allen said he raised $1.5 million in Q1 and has $1.25 million on hand.
• KY-Gov: TX Gov. Rick Perry, current chair of the RGA, says his organization won't decide how heavily it'll get involved in Kentucky's gubernatorial race until after the May 17th primary. He also declined to endorse frontrunner (and establishment choice) David Williams, saying he's "got a really good feeling about all the men and women who are running."
• CO-04: Republican Rep. Corey Gardner apparently raised over $300K in Q1.
• CT-04: Dem Rep. Jim Himes estimates he took in over $300K in Q1.
• IN-06, IN-05: Luke Messer, a former official with the state GOP who nearly beat Rep. Dan Burton in a primary last year, now finds himself living just outside Burton's 5th CD, according to new maps proposed by Republicans in charge of the state lege. Messer is now in the 6th, which is likely to be vacated by Mike Pence, who everyone thinks will run for governor. Messer says he's buddies with Pence and will consider running to replace him if Pence makes the leap for the statehouse, but he wouldn't rule out a rematch against Burton (though he says he wouldn't move in order to do so).
• MN-08: This is pretty wild: Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) says he's thinking about staging a comeback. It's wild because Nolan left office in 1981 and is now 68 years old. It's also rather strange because Nolan represented what was then the 6th CD, which is accurately represented in the map Joe Bodell presents. (His reader update is incorrect.) At the time, Nolan's district covered the southwestern and central portions of the state; today's 8th is in the northeastern corner (though they share one county in common, Mille Lacs). And to cap it all off, Nolan was touting himself at a Dem meeting in Bemidji, which is in the 7th CD. Actually, no - the real capper is that Nolan was a practitioner of the '60s & '70s fad of "Transcendental Meditation" (whose practitioners claimed they could levitate) and earned a mention in Time Magazine for it.
• MO-03: Not going gently... or padding the warchest for a different race, or perhaps something else down the line? Russ Carnahan raised $333K in Q1, his best first quarter ever, and has $286K on hand. Dave Catanese notes that Lacy Clay raised just $17K (though he has $222K in the bank). Would Carnahan really go up against Clay in a primary? What do you think?
• MS-02: Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson said she plans to challenge veteran Rep. Bennie Thompson in the Democratic primary next year. She also announced she's hiring pollster Celinda Lake. Hudson had previously said she wouldn't seek re-election to her current post. Thompson, meanwhile, ended last year with $1.7 million on hand and has warded off primary challengers before (most recently in 2006, in the form of Chuck Espy, son of former Rep. Mike Espy).
• SD-AL: Though it seems all but certain that ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin won't seek a rematch this cycle (among other things, she just accepted a teaching position at South Dakota State University, where she once worked), she did say she's open to the possibility of seeking office again at some point in the future. She didn't specify what post, so you can mentally flag this item as something other than just SD-AL if you like. Speaking of SD-AL, Rep. Kristi Noem (the woman who beat Sandlin) announced she took in $396K in Q1.
• LA-AG: Former Rep. Joe Cao says he plans to challenge Dem-cum-Republican AG Buddy Caldwell this fall. Cao specifically cited Caldwell's party switch (which only happened in February) and questioned his Republican bona fides - sort of an unusual move in a state where party switching has been very common. We'll see if he Cao actually has the chops to make a race of it. (Side note: A proud moment in SSP in-the-weeds history: Live-blogging the LA-AG runoff in 2007, when control of the state House was also at stake.)
• MS-AG: A rare bright spot for Mississippi Dems: Attorney General Jim Hood leads Republican Steve Simpson by 49-32 margin in PPP's latest poll.
• Special Elections: From Johnny L-T:
Two of the three elections last night were landslides; in South Carolina's SD-16, Republican Greg Gregory trounced Democrat Keith Brann and Libertarian Stan Smith by a 77-18-5 margin, while in Minnesota's SD-66, DFLer Mary Jo McGuire beat Republican Greg Copeland 80-20. In Connecticut's HD-128, Democrat Dan Fox won with 39%, while Republican Charles Pia (not Antonacci, my mistake) came in second with 24%. Independents John Mallozzi and Monique Thomas both made strong showings, pulling in 23% and 13%, respectively, and Green Rolf Maurer brought up the rear with about 1%. Note that Mallozzi failed to win the Democratic nomination, so he petitioned his way onto the ballot.
• Pay-to-Play: MaryNYC, the First Lady of the Swing State Project (aka my wife), has an interesting backgrounder on the SEC's new regulations which attempt to curtail Wall Street from engaging in "pay-to-play" with elected officials. What's interesting about the rules is that they make it very difficult for employees of financial firms to donate to state and local officeholders who have a stake in municipal investment decisions, but generally speaking doesn't affect donations to federal officeholders. So, in a hypothetical example, New Mexico state Auditor Hector Balderas, who is weighing a run for Senate, might find Wall Street's doors shut, while Rep. Martin Heinrich, who is already in the race, would face no such problems.
• Indiana: We'll have a lengthier redistricting-only digest later today, but I wanted to bring you this information ASAP. A source involved in Indiana politics informs me that these are the Obama percentages for each CD in the new map proposed by Republicans in the state lege:
• AZ-Sen: So what the heck happened with Trent Franks? The Arizona Guardian is reporting that the Republican Congressman had been promising people jobs on his pending Senate campaign, and that his people had even gone so far as to ensure proper media risers were available at the hotel where Franks was supposed to make his big announcement. Yet it all vanished in a heartbeat when Franks unexpectedly pulled the plug. Says the Guardian: "The good thing is, there's still another year-and-a-half to get the full story before the 2012 elections." Also, in case you haven't seen it yet, Dave Catanese penned a piece explaining the backstory on how he got burned by Franks' consultant. It just adds to all the weirdness.
• FL-Sen: Tucked inside that Quinnipiac poll which showed tough numbers for Obama was this nugget:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who like Obama is on the 2012 ballot, is in better shape, with a 47-26 percent approval rating, a 43-39 percent lead over an unidentified Republican and voters saying 43-35 percent that he deserves another term in the Senate.
• MI-Sen (PDF): A week or so ago, Republican-affiliated pollster Market Research Group offered some better-than-everyone-else approval ratings for Gov. Rick Snyder. Apparently, they also polled the Senate race at the same time, pitting Dem Debbie Stabenow against Some Dude Randy Hekman. Amusingly, the polling memo says the Senator has a "slim" 11-point lead over Hekman, 45-34. But the real problem is the sample, which is 26 R, 26 D, 43 I - in other words, nothing like reality.
MRG also polled a hypothetical state Supreme Court matchup between incumbent Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, which had Zahra up 38-33. (Moving from the statehouse to the high court is not unheard of in Michigan.) Speaking of Granholm, she was supposedly under consideration to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Board but says she withdrew her name (and likes Elizabeth Warren for the job). It sounds like Granholm is keeping pretty busy, and the article notes she's teaching at UC Berkeley, so perhaps she's enjoying the weather out in Cali a bit more than back home. But Granholm is a former state AG and was even supposedly a possible Supreme Court pick, so perhaps a judicial run is plausible.
• PA-Sen: Sam Rohrer, the teabaggy ex-state Rep. who got pounded by Tom Corbett in the PA-Gov GOP primary last year, says he's "50-50" on running against Bob Casey this cycle. Rohrer has the perfect pedigree: He runs the Pennsylvania chapter of the malevolent David Koch front group Americans for Prosperity.
NBC 4's reporter-anchor Craig Melvin is a tall African-American. Which apparently led to this exchange with former Sen. George Allen, according to Melvin's Twitter account Tuesday night:
"For the 2nd time in 5 months, fmr. gov. and sen candidate George Allen asks me,"what position did you play?" I did not a play a sport."
Actually, I changed my mind. If you still don't think George Allen is a racist fuck, read this coda from ThinkProgress writer Lee Feng. And no, Allen didn't apologize - he offered a classic bullshit "I'm sorry if I offended you" response. That's bullshit.
Anyhow, Roanoke College released a poll of the race, showing Allen leading Tim Kaine by 45-32 - a rather different picture than what we saw from PPP. However, the WaPo ran an above-the-item update warning readers to be "cautious" about this survey because "[r]esults were adjusted only for gender, and the resulting sample is not representative of Virginia's racial composition, its age structure or regional population densities." It also looks like the horserace question was asked after about a bajillion issue-related questions (PDF), some of them kind of weird.
Finally, in Some Dude news... some other Some Dude (an African-American minister named Earl Jackson) decided to get into the GOP primary, a race with a lot of Some Dudes already in it.
• GA-Gov: PPP did a re-do poll in Georgia, too, and found Dem ex-Gov. Roy Barnes would edge actual Gov. Nathan Deal by a single point today, 46-45. Tom says that this isn't a case of voter disgust with Deal (he has pretty meh ratings, not downright radioactive ones like Scott Walker), but rather a clear sign of last year's enthusiasm gap that will forever haunt us. There's also a smorgasbord of other Peach State odds-and-ends at the link.
• KY-Gov: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is out with his first radio ads of the campaign, touting his small-town roots, a week after his likely Republican opponent, David Williams, also went up on radio. Unlike Beshear, Williams faces a primary on May 17th, so he's also going up on cable TV with a new ad you can watch here. NWOTSOTB for any of these.
• MS-Gov: Turns out PPP did in fact test the Republican gubernatorial primary in Mississippi. Click through if you really, really care. (Hint: You won't.)
• UT-Gov: State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, a teabagger fave to challenge immigration apostate Gary Herbert for the governor's mansion, says on Facebook that he has "no plans or intentions to run." (Yes, it would be more awesome if his name were Stephen Sandstorm.)
• WV-Gov: In case you weren't sure where all the players in the Democratic primary field stand on the ideology spectrum (something we'll be rectifying with a more in-depth post shortly), this is a helpful guidepost: Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was endorsed by the WV Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber also endorsed the only two legit Republicans running, Betty Ireland and Bill Maloney.
• CA-26, CA-06: Assemblyman Anthony Portantino is getting some high-profile fundraising help: Steve Israel is coming out to Pacific Palisades this weekend for a breakfast event. The same piece also notes that Assemblyman Jared Huffman raised $120K for a federal account in Q1; Huffman is interested in 73-year-old Rep. Lynn Woolsey's seat, if she retires. Woolsey apparently will decide whether to seek another term by June.
• IL-08: I'm not exactly broken up by this news: Ex-Rep. Melissa Bean, whose race was the closest in the nation last year (she lost by 290 votes to a real piece of work), says she won't run again. She's now CEO of something called the Executives Club of Chicago, which doesn't really give off a man-of-the-people vibe, now does it?
• MI-09: If there's one guy repeatedly written off as a redistricting victim who I'd really love to see find a way to survive, it's Rep. Gary Peters. Despite what must have been an exhausting last several years raising money, the Michigan Dem wasted no time getting right back into the game, pulling in over $400K in Q1. He has half a mil on hand.
• NM-01: This Roll Call piece (also linked below in a redistricting item) mentions a few Dem names we hadn't discussed here before: state Rep. Al Park, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, who lost the 2008 primary for this seat.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon will join the "government relations" (i.e., lobbying) group at a mid-sized NYC law firm. He's apparently being brought on as "counsel" status, rather than as a partner, so this could just be a way-station to allow him to pay the bills as he weighs a re-match... but of course, he risks getting hit with the lobbyist taint.
• PA-17: Activist Sheila Dow-Ford confirms the rumors that she's considering another run against Rep. Tim Holden, against whom she took 35% in the Democratic primary last year. Holden could get a bluer district when all is said and done, so a challenge from the left is a real possibility - but as Dow-Ford herself notes, others are interested, and I wouldn't be surprised if some bigger-name candidates got in if the seat became markedly more Dem.
• UT-02: Huh - I can't exactly accuse the Salt Lake Tribune of burying the lede, since they put this in the second graf, but Rep. Jim Matheson says he's waiting to see what the new district lines look like before deciding whether to run again, or instead if he'll seek statewide office. A statewide run doesn't seem like a particularly appealing escape hatch, but both Gov. Gary Herbert (see item above) and Sen. Orrin Hatch could wind up damaged by teabaggers, so you never know. A couple of other statewide offices Matheson could see (Treasurer, Auditor) are up as well.
Also, Some Dude Chuck Williams, an Air Force vet who lost a couple of GOP primaries for Congress... in California... says he plans to challenge Matheson for his House seat, and that he'll run regardless of where the lines get drawn.
• VA-11: Via FEC Kenobi, Some Dude Christopher Perkins just filed as a Republican to challenge Gerry Connolly. That's a pretty un-Google-able name, so I can't tell you much about him... though I do know his home is worth $743,130!
• WV-01: Freshman Rep. David McKinley (R), who won a close race last year, says he's raised over half a mil in the first quarter. Note, though, that he still has $670K in campaign debt from last cycle.
• Allegheny Co. Exec.: PoliticsPA, via Municipoll, has a race out on the Allegheny, PA County Executive's race. I'm gonna admit straight off the bat that I don't know the players here, but click through for details.
• IN-SoS: So a judge allowed a Dem challenge to SoS Charlie White's eligibility to serve in office to proceed, but really, you just need to read Bob Bobson's summary of where things stand - and where things will head now. (Bob's been doing an awesome job of staying on top of this oftentimes-complicated story, so pay attention to him.)
• Champaign, IL Mayor: Here's a nice little election result that we otherwise missed: The avowedly teabagging mayor of Champaign, Illinois was narrowly defeated by a political newcomer on Tuesday night, the first time, in fact, that he'd ever been opposed in 12 years in office. I'm a little surprised that the university town of Champaign would have elected such a wingnut in the first place, but this is still good news.
• Specials: Johnny Longtorso:
Democrat Kevin Johnson won a 5-point victory over Republican Sonny Sanders in South Carolina's HD-64.
[On whether this seat was supposedly a Dem stronghold:]
I took another look at it; it's almost all of a county that Obama got around 56% in along with one or two precincts of an adjacent county, and it's about 50/50 white/black, so black turnout may have been low. So he just did a few points worse than Obama's numbers in 2008.
• Wisconsin Recall: Dems filed over 22,000 signatures to recall state Sen. Randy Hopper yesterday. Republicans claim they are close to filing petitions for Sen. Robert Wirch, one of the more endangered Dems on the list.
• WATN?: Ethan Hastert, son of ex-Speaker Denny the Hutt and victim of a genuinely impressive teabagger-fueled anybody-but-Ethan movement to deny him the GOP nomination in IL-14 last year, has managed to win elective office this year. He earned a council seat in the village of Elburn, IL, which has a population that is actually a few thousand smaller than my census tract. Don't call it a comeback!
• Arkansas: Total impasse: The state House rejected the state Senate's congressional redistricting plan, complementing the Senate's recent rejection of the House plan. Some procedural maneuvers may be used to try to get things moving forward again, which lawmakers are probably eager to do, since the legislative session was scheduled to end over a week ago.
• California: Look, it's basically impossible to find a law firm that knows anything about redistricting which has never had any prior political involvement. So I don't understand why it's coming as a surprise that Gibson Dunn, the firm hired by the redistricting commission, has a political fund and has used it to make donations. Oh wait, I think I do - it's because most (but by no means all) of those donations were made to Democrats, so the GOP is continuing its plan to do everything it can to "discredit" the entire process. It's especially silly, because the firm specifically tasked one Dem attorney and one Republican attorney to lead the effort... but then again, the GOP is especially silly.
• Louisiana: Nathan Gonzales has a good piece untangling the wreck that is Louisiana redistricting, and offering some insight into the behind-the-scenes process. I strongly encourage you to click through the link for the full flavor. (As an inducement, there's a bowl full of cat food inside.) Apparently, a compromise plan is in the works, but Nathan says that if an agreement isn't reached by next week, the lege will have to wait until next year to finish its work. (They can't call a special session?) Anyhow, like I say, read the whole thing.
• New Mexico: Though legislators won't hold a special session on redistricting until the fall, apparently a plan is brewing among Democrats to excise GOP-leaning Torrance County from the 1st CD. The problem, though, is that while Dems control the lege, Gov. Susana Martinez is, of course, a Republican - a very similar situation to the last round of map-drawing in 2001, which eventually ended up in court.
• Texas: You can play with various Texas map proposals at the link.
• Virginia: Two Virginia items. First, the House of Delegates approved the Republican gerrymander for that body, though most Democrats were actually stupid enough to vote in favor of the plan. (Hasn't anyone ever heard of a symbolic protest vote to at least signal to your supporters that you know you're getting the shaft, even if it's for the greater good?) Second, a (the?) congressional plan was released, and it's potentially not as bad as it could be. Have a look-see.
• AZ-Sen: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) will apparently announce a haul of more than $1 million in Q1.
• OH-Sen: A spokesman for Treasurer Josh Mandel says he'll file paperwork with the FEC "very shortly," but it's not clear from the writeup whether this means an exploratory committee (what I'm guessing) or if it's the real thing. Also of note: Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), whose name first came up as a possible candidate less than a week ago, quashed any notion that he might run against Sherrod Brown last Friday.
• VA-Sen: If you want to believe CNN's sources, Tim Kaine will announce a Senate bid in the next two weeks.
• WA-Sen, WA-10: Sue Rahr, the conservative King County Sheriff who inherited the job from now-Rep. Dave Reichert, said through a spokesman that she has no intention of running against Sen. Maria Cantwell - a rumor that seems to have gotten shot down before we'd ever heard of it here at SSP. However, a political consultant of Rahr's thinks the sheriff (who supposedly has crossover appeal) could run in Washington's new 10th CD, if a district emerges out of Reichert's 8th centered in the area north of I-90.
• ME-Gov: Will Paul LePage be the next Rick Scott? Like Florida's governor, Republican members of LePage's own legislature are starting to turn on him; eight state senators penned an op-ed declaring : "'Government by disrespect' should have no place in Augusta, and when it happens, we should all reject it."
• MO-Gov: I think it's going to get worse before it gets better for Republican LG Peter Kinder. Trying to push back against revelations that he spend taxpayer money to spend two months a year in St. Louis luxury hotels to attend baseball games, society balls, and teabagger conclaves since 2006, Kinder claimed that his office had been reviewed by two different state auditors, both of them Democrats: Susan Montee and Claire McCaskill (yes, her). The problem? Montee's audit faulted Kinder for "numerous mathematical errors and inconsistencies" regarding employee pay, and McCaskill's found that Kinder used a state-owned care for personal use. I'm sensing a theme here.
• WA-Gov: Could Christine Gregoire's claim to be undecided about seeking a third term really just be a way to ward off lame-duck syndrome? That's Jim Brunner's guess. The Seattle Times reporter points out that campaign finance filings show the Democrat had just $44K on hand at the end of February. At the comparable reporting deadline during the prior election cycle, she had $1.2 million in the bank. Meanwhile, other likely candidates are flush: Republican AG Rob McKenna has raised $800K and has $400K on hand, while Rep. Jay Inslee (D) had $1.2 million in his congressional account at the end of last year. The piece also notes that another possible Dem candidate, state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, has recently discussed a potential run for Lt. Gov. instead. (She'd have to primary Brad Owen, who has been in office since 1997, or push him into retirement.)
• FL-22: Whoa, I was definitely wrong to dismiss "no not that" Patrick Murphy as a Some Dude. One article described him as a 28-year-old accountant, but he's got family money - and, evidently, good connections. Murphy says he raised a majorly impressive $350K in less than a month, and only $30K of that is his own money. Even fundraising machine Ron Klein raised "only" $153K in the comparable quarter in 2005 (before he was first elected).
• NM-01: Terry Brunner, a former state director for the retiring Jeff Bingaman, had previously said he was thinking about running for his old boss's seat, but now says he's considering a run for the 1st CD instead.
• NV-01: Jon Ralston thinks former 3rd CD Rep. Dina Titus will run for Shelley Berkley's seat if the latter runs for Senate, but this is definitely a case of Schrödinger's Seat.
• OR-01: Former state Rep. Greg Macpherson is the first big-name Dem to say he's considering a primary challenge to embattled Rep. David Wu. He wants to wait until the district lines become clear, saying he'll only run if he lives in the district. (He doesn't live there now, but I suppose he could move even if redistricting doesn't help him, so I'm not sure how big an obstacle that is.) He also says he's considering a primary challenge to state AG John Kroger, the man who beat him in the Dem primary for that office in 2008.
• WI-07: Feeling the heat, Rep. Sean Duffy offered a half-assed non-apology, saying his "words were admittedly poorly chosen" when he whinged about getting paid only $174,000 a year as a member of Congress.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: Surprise, surprise: "Citizens for a Strong America," the potemkin right-wing group responsible for several attack ads in the race (including one even PolitiFact rated "pants on fire") turns out to be just a clone/offshoot of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' arch-evil front group.
• Special Elections: After a few weeks without any state lege races, Johnny Longtorso is back:
While everyone will be focused on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election (which is a phrase I never thought I'd type), there is one special occurring on Tuesday in South Carolina's HD-64, though it's in a safe Democratic seat. Democrat Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Manning, will face off against Republican Walter Sanders.
Also, a quick shout-out to Republican Mike "Pete" Huval, the newest member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from HD-46. He defeated another Republican (no Democrat ran) on Saturday for the seat vacated by now-State Sen. Fred Mills.
• Maps: The National Journal has an interesting set of maps which focus on a theme that DCCyclone has been hitting in comments: Namely, because of population growth among minorities, the share of the white vote that Obama needs in 2012 is lower than it was in 2008, assuming minority support for Obama stays the same. In a very pessimistic scenario where his minority support falls 10%, Obama would only lose three states he otherwise won in 2008 (FL, IN & NC), assuming he keeps the same share of the white vote. (But note that that latter assumption is unnecessary: Even under the reduced minority support scenario, Obama's white support could also drop considerably in many states and he'd still win.)
• Votes: A new study (full paper here) says that Dems who votes "yes" on healthcare reform saw their reelection margins reduced from 6 to 8 points. Something about this study seems incomplete to me, though, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I'll be really curious to read your thoughts in comments.
• VRA: This is interesting: Black lawmakers in Georgia have filed a lawsuit challenging to dissolve the charters of five very white cities in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. The plaintiffs argue that these cities, all formed between 2005 and 2008, were created to dilute minority voting power, and hence violate the VRA. Apparently, this is a novel application of the Voting Rights Act, so we'll see how it unfolds.
• Passings: Very sad news: Former Rep. John Adler, a longtime state Senator who served one term in NJ-03 before losing last year, passed away at the age of 51. Last month, Adler contracted an infection which led to heart disease from which he never recovered. His father also died young of heart disease, something Adler would mention on the campaign trail when describing his family's struggles after his father's death. As a state legislator, one of his signature accomplishments was a smoke-free air bill which banned smoking in many public places. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
In other news, former TN Gov. Ned McWherter also passed away yesterday. McWherter, who was 80, served two terms as governor in the late 80s and early 90s. One of the things McWherter is probably best known for is the creation TennCare, the state's expanded Medicaid program. His son Mike ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year.
• Arkansas: Rob Moritz of the Arkansas News Bureau has a good rundown of what's going on with Democrats' controversial redistricting plan, dubbed the "Fayetteville Finger." The plan has passed in the House but has stalled in the Senate, where a vote won't come until Thursday at the earliest. At the end of the piece, Moritz details several different alternate proposals pending in the Senate.
• Louisiana: A piece from Sunday's Times-Picayune said that votes were possible on Monday in the House and Senate on congressional maps, but I've not yet seen any subsequent coverage.
• Michigan: Aaron Blake's redistricting series takes him to Michigan, where he has a good explanation of just how difficult it will be for the GOP to shore up its current situation.
• Missouri: Check out this Google Maps version of the state House's proposed new federal district lines.
• New Jersey: Republicans started bitching and moaning about the state's new map even before it was officially chosen, but so far, they haven't said whether they'd challenge the map in court. Not really sure what grounds they'd have even if they wanted to give it a go.
• Nevada: The LVRJ has a piece on the debate in Nevada over whether to create a majority-Hispanic district, or whether to keep Hispanic voters spread out to keep all districts more Dem or more competitive. Most Republicans obviously like the former idea, while Dems (including some Latino lawmakers) are understandably skeptical. Also, it looks like abgin must have trekked all the way from Basque Country to make a presentation at a public hearing in Vegas last weekend: The LVRJ says that "[s]everal interest groups presented proposed maps, including one that likely wouldn't pass legal or political muster because it would create four new vertical congressional districts stretching from North to South."
• Texas: Ah, redistricting cat fud - it has a stench all its own. GOP Rep. Lamar Smith is apparently taking the non-insane view that Hispanic growth and the VRA require that two (well, at least two) of Texas's four new districts be majority-minority, and he's been working with Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar to create a compromise map. This has infuriated fellow Republican Rep. Joe Barton (aka Smokey Joe), who insists that at least three if not all four of the new seats be Republican-favored. And folks, the cat fud is real. Sayeth Politico:
Barton has harshly criticized Smith during Texas GOP delegation meetings, launching a profanity-laced tirade at Smith during one session early last month, and he's privately tried to oust Smith as the lead Republican negotiator on redistricting.
Politico's sources say that Smith is still favored among members of his own party, but that Gov. Rick Perry may be leaning toward Barton. Perry's alleged plan is to skip DoJ pre-clearance and go directly to federal court, perhaps hoping for a friendly conservative panel (backstopped by an unquestionably conservative Supreme Court), so that could turn Barton's dream into a reality... but I still think it's a serious stretch. The piece also reports that proposed maps have been circulated among Republicans, but of course, no one's sharing any copies.
• HI-Sen: Charles Djou reiterated that he'd wait until fellow GOPer Linda Lingle decides whether to run, which he expects by this summer. (So does that mean until Sept. 21st?)
• MA-Sen: This is some... creative spin from the DSCC. Dems, both named and un-named, are saying that the failure of a Democratic challenger to emerge against Scott Brown is all part of a plan, one that involves attacking Brown (by various proxies, it would seem) while giving the Republicans no Dem to attack in response. This plan is so super-genious, it ought to continue right up until November 6th, 2012.
• NV-Sen: The Lahontan Valley News, covering a Jeff-Jack dinner up north that Rep. Shelley Berkley just attended, says that the congresswoman " confirmed she wants to run" for Senate - but those are their words, not hers. Please hold the microphone closer to the horse's mouth!
• VA-Sen: President Obama showered some praise on Tim Kaine at a couple of fundraisers in NYC on Tuesday night. Is this part of a lengthy marketing campaign, or an attempted kick in the pants?
• CA-Gov: A lone unnamed source tells Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the SF Chronicle that newly-elected Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is planning to run for governor... in 2014. That would mean he either expects the Hon. Gov Jerry Brown, who will be 76 by then, to not run again, or he thinks it would be a good idea to challenge Brown in a primary. Given that it's Newsom we're talking about, I wouldn't be surprised if it's the latter.
• WV-Gov: Rick Thompson has another ad out. I'm told that several other Dems are on the air, but I checked all of their YouTube accounts and found no other ads.
• CA-36: The League of Conservation Voters just came out for Debra Bowen, while Rep. Linda Sanchez threw her support behind Janice Hahn.
• NY-26: Dem Kathy Hochul is out with her first ad (NWOTSOTB), in which she touts her accomplishments as a politician... all of which seem to have to do with cars, in one way or another.
• WI-07: Sean Duffy is just a total asshole, but my heart really goes out to the guy who questioned him at a town hall. Said the questioner:
I'm a builder. I haven't been building too many things in the last couple years with the economy down. My wife is a teacher. I'm fortunate enough to take a bus driving job. Love it. Just love it. But it's not very much money of course. It's working for us.
He drives a bus, and still considers himself lucky. Sean Duffy earns $174,000 a year as a member of Congress and complains that "I struggle to meet my bills." He also declared that the benefits the builder/bus driver's wife gets as a state employee are "gold-plated" and are better than those he gets as a federal employee. As Steve archly notes: "What, they don't have an Office of the Attending Physician in Marinette or Eau Claire?"
• Suffolk Co. Lege: It's some good news... for John McCain! It may also be further down into the weeds than we've ever gone at SSP. A Democrat, Sarah Anker, appears to have won a special election in a deeply Republican seat in the Suffolk County Legislature. Republicans are trying to claim that County Exec. Steve Levy's very high-profile troubles with the law (see SSP Amazing Digest #325) weighed them down in this race... but Levy's only been a Republican for less than a year!
• Farm Subsidies: An organization called the Environmental Working Group has a fascinating look at the 23 members of Congress (17 Republicans, 6 Democrats) who have received farm subsidies since 1995. Over the last fifteen years, this group of Republicans has pulled in over ten times as much ($5.3 million vs. $500K) than the Dems. Farm subsidies have been a campaign trail issue - they enrage teabaggers, who savaged the #1 recipient, TN-08 Rep. and agribusiness kingpin Stephen Fincher, in the GOP primary last year over the $3.4 million in federal largesse he's received over the years. The piece also notes that Dems tried to protect rural members by preserving the status quo back in 2008, but that of course has completely failed. With most of those big-age pols now washed out to the hog lagoon, maybe, just maybe, official Democratic policy toward these awful subsidies will change.
• Voter Suppression: The AP has a good roundup on the stepped-up Republican efforts to pass voter ID laws - despite the expense caused by these laws, and by the fact that pretty much no one nowhere has ever proven a single one of these overblown charges of "VOTER FRAUD!!!!!!!!111111111". States on the list include Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Fortunately, in Democratic-controlled Arkansas, the idea died in the Senate after it passed the House.
• Fundraising: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It's also the last day of the first fundraising quarter of the year, so time to start thinking about donations to your favorite Democrats.
• DC: The District of Columbia doesn't often appear in the digest, but this fits our style: The site Greater Greater Washington has a Google Maps-based game of sorts where you can redistrict the city's wards.
• Florida: Republican legislative leaders have forwarded on Florida's redistricting ballot measures (passed last year) to the Dept. of Justice for pre-clearance - an application weirdo Gov. Rick Scott withdrew earlier this year. But Mike Haridopolos (oh, you know him) and Dean Cannon, his counterpart in the state House, drafted their request to the DoJ in a way deliberately designed to undermine the amendments. They claimed they would hurt minority voting rights, but I don't really see how that's possible, since the VRA would trump any state laws. Hopefully the DoJ will see through this charade and clear these amendments promptly.
• Iowa: Start hitting refresh! Iowa's first-draft federal map will come out this morning.
• Louisiana: The state House voted to accept a new map on Tuesday, by a 70-28 margin. Most of the votes against were from black Democrats and also from Republicans from Jefferson Parish, which apparently loses a seat to Orleans Parish under this plan.
• Maine: Maine state law says that redistricting must be done in 2013 - which of course would be after the next round of Congressional elections. Two Mainers have filed a lawsuit challenging this practice on "one person, one vote" grounds, pointing out that every other state (except Montana, where federal redistricting isn't an issue) redraws their maps as soon as they get new Census data in.
• New York: Republican state Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos declared last night that redistricting reform is dead. He said the Senate would not take up legislation that would create an independent commission.
• Pennsylvania: Everyone seems to expect that Dems Jason Altmire and Mark Critz will get thrown into a single district by Republicans. Politico examines what the contours of such a mashup might look like.
• Texas: The Texas Tribune did a National Review-style poll of "insiders," asking them what the state's four new congressional districts will look like. 54% said they'll be 3-1 Republican, while 37% said 2-2 Dem.
• IN-Sen: An unnamed "Democratic strategist" quoted by The Hill suggests that ex-Rep. Tim Roemer (whose name hadn't really come up before this year) is unlikely to run for Senate. Honestly, I'm not sure if the wankerish Roemer would really excite anyone... but we don't seem to have a long list of possible names for this race.
• OH-Sen: PPP has another "everyone and the kitchen sink" primary polls, this time of the Republican senatorial primary in Ohio. In this case, the kitchen sink is named "Kenneth Blackwell," and he comes in first in an eleventy-billion-way test, with all of 17%. I don't think I've even heard Blackwell (last seen losing the 2006 gubernatorial race to Ted Strickland very badly) as a possible contender. Click the link for the other numbers.
• VA-Sen: I've got a new name you can root for: Tim Donner, a wealthy television production executive who is considering whether to challenge George Allen in the Republican primary. A spokesman tells Dave Catanese he's a "couple weeks away" from making a decision. It's not 100% clear whether he's a teabagger, but I suspect he is, given that his mouthpiece attacked bona fide teabagger (and hopeless Some Dude) Jamie Radtke for "working in government since she graduated from college," and because Donner thinks none of the candidates currently running "believe in the concept of a citizen legislature." That sounds like something a teabagger trying to channel Patrick Henry might say, no? At the very least, we should be hoping he'll rough Macaca up with a million or few.
• WV-Gov: This was expected, but it's still an important get: State House Speaker Rick Thompson (D) scored the backing of the AFL-CIO, a key endorsement in what will likely be a low-turnout special primary. (As we noted last week, Thompson also picked up the support of a couple of teachers unions.) The election is May 14th.
• CA-36: Marta Evry at Calitics takes a look at the ActBlue fundraising numbers so far for the key Democrats in the race. The numbers are a moving target, but as of Friday, Janice Hahn had taken in $49K from 200 donors, while Debra Bowen had pulled in $41K but from a much larger 474 donors. Oh, and Marcy Winograd has now achieved joke status, with $1K raised. Also, some teabagger also joined the race, making him the fourth Republican to get in.
• Wisconsin Recall: Some very good sleuthing by Madison TV station WKOW27: The alleged mistress of GOP state Sen. Randy Hopper (the name you can't forget) recently scored a government job, and Hopper said: "I want to keep my involvement of anything as a private matter. So, I'm going to maintain that." He didn't maintain that for very long, calling the station back and denying his involvement with the hiring. I'm not sure Jack McCoy ever got a witness to change his story so quickly - and incredibly. Even better, discovers WKOW, the woman in question got a 35% pay boost over the person who previously held the job. Scott Walker's government austerity in action.
In other news, Greg Sargent says that GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies is in the field with a survey testing anti-union messages on recall target Alberta Darling's behalf.
• DCCC: Biden alert! The VPOTUS was in Philadelphia on Friday, raising a cool $400K for the D-Triple-C. A long list of PA pols was in attendance, including ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy and a couple of unsuccessful 2010 candidates, Bryan Lentz and John Callahan. Also nice to see present: Arlen Specter, a guy whose age, brief tenure as an elected Dem, and inglorious exit from office would give him more than enough reason to stay away from this sort of thing forever. Too bad he didn't have the sense to join our team decades ago!
• Redistricting Roundup:
With the bulk of census data out, redistricting stories are coming fast and furious now.
• Arkansas: Talk Business has copies of a few different congressional maps proposed by various lawmakers, as well as descriptions of some others. Click the link to have a look.
• California: Ugh, gross: One of two finalist consulting firms to help California's new redistricting commission has hardcore Republican leanings, while two of four finalist law firms are similarly oriented. Of course, this is exactly what you risk when you leave things to a supposedly independent panel (that features a ridiculous level of Republican over-representation).
• Florida: One Democratic consultant thinks that Florida's population growth suggests that new districts (the state is getting two) could be anchored to regions that would favor two Republicans in particular: ex-LG Jeff Kottkamp and state Sen. Paula Dockery. Kottkamp lost the GOP primary for AG last year, while Dockery dropped out of the gubernatorial primary.
• Iowa: The Hawkeye State's independent redistricting commission will release its first proposes congressional and state maps on March 31st. (Remember, IA loses a House seat.) As the Des Moines Register points out, "Either chamber of the Iowa Legislature or Republican Gov. Terry Branstad can reject proposals twice. If they don't like the third, the Iowa Supreme Court decides the boundaries."
• Missouri: Show Me State lawmakers are starting their work on redistricting, but if they don't have a congressional plan by May 13th, then it'll get kicked over to the courts. State legislative maps aren't due until September.
• Mississippi: I'm not really sure I'm getting this: The NAACP is suing the state of Mississippi over its redistricting plans, but the legislature hasn't even passed anything yet. It seems like this case would fail from the get-go on ripeness grounds (i.e., a court would say that the dispute isn't ready to be heard because the plaintiff doesn't have actual maps to complain about), so I'm not really sure what the NAACP's angle is here.
• Pennsylvania: PoliticsPA talked to some insiders who are crediting Dave Wasserman's sources and saying that his most recent map is apparently pretty close to the plan that the state's Republicans are supposedly reaching consensus on. (Maybe both share the same sources, though - who knows?) Click through for all the details. The most salient feature is something a lot of people here have also proposed: a matchup between Jason Altmire and Mark Critz, the two most junior Democrats in the delegation, in order to deal with PA's loss of a seat.
• Virginia: Lawmakers are potentially looking to release state legislative maps as early as the end of the month - which makes sense, since VA holds its House and Senate elections this November.
• HI-Sen: I'm not sure where these rumors started - or if they're just tradmed speculation - but Gov. Neil Abercrombie says he hasn't tried to get retiring Sen. Dan Akaka to resign early in order to appoint a replacement (who could then run for a full term next year as an incumbent). Count me among those who thinks former Gov. Linda Lingle isn't as intimidating in real life as she might seem on paper - particularly given the fact that Barack Obama is running for re-election, and that her exit poll approvals in 2010 were a sucky 41-56. So I'm not convinced there'd even really be any point in trying to push an Akaka resignation.
• ME-Sen: As we wait for the Great Teabagger Hope to deliver our dreams, the Hotline has word of another possible challenger to Sen. Olympia Snowe: former state legislator Carol Weston, who is now the state director of the Maine branch of the David Koch front group Americans for Prosperity. That could mean access to serious resources - something Weston acknowledges is a key factor in deciding on a run. Anyhow, she's not ruling out a run, but claims she isn't really considering it yet. But she also says that as part of her job with AfP, she sometimes has to "reign in" Snowe - pretty denigrating words, if you ask me!
• MI-Sen: We've mentioned him before, but now he's making it official: Former juvenile court judge and all-around social conservative Randy Hekman says he'll seek the GOP line to challenge Debbie Stabenow. Hekman sounds decidedly Some Dude-level, though.
• NV-Sen: This time, the joke comes pre-written. The ultra-wealthy Sue Lowden still has hundreds of thousands in campaign debts and has now been sued by her former polling company, Denver-based Vitale & Associates, for unpaid bills. The pollster's attorney said Lowden is "probably driving around in her Bentley with a load of chickens in the back as barter to settle her campaign debts."
• PA-Sen: Pretty sweet re-elects for Bob Casey (D) in this new Muhlenberg College poll of registered voters: 48% say yes, 24% no, and 25% are unsure. Against Generic R, Casey pulls 41 to 27, but Muhlenberg also allowed people to say "it depends on the candidate" (not sure that's such a helpful choice), which scored 18. It's not entirely clear what the sample looked like, though, since the Mule only gives the breakdowns for their larger "all adults" sample (36D, 36R, 11I). In 2008, it was 44D, 37R, 18I.
• RI-Sen, RI-01: The head of the Rhode Island state police, Brendan Doherty, just unexpectedly announced that he would resign in April, and that's leading to talk he might be considering a run for office as a Republican. Though Doherty had originally been appointed by Republican Gov. Don Carcieri, he was re-appointed only last week by the new governor, Lincoln Chafee. Anyhow, Doherty supposedly is choosing between a challenge to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse or to freshman Rep. David Cicilline in the first district. He says he'll announce his plans at the end of May.
• VA-Sen, VA-11: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) is opting out of a Senate run, saying instead he'll seek re-election to a third term in the House. Like just about everyone else, he also declared that he wants to see Tim Kaine run. Speaking of which, Sen. Mark Warner said on the teevee this weekend that he thinks the odds of Kaine jumping in were "slim" but "are getting a lot better right now." I have no idea if Warner has any special insight, or if maybe he's just trying to pull a reverse-Inouye here (i.e., goad someone into running).
• NV-Gov: Jon Ralston calls it "one of the most brazen schemes in Nevada history" (not just electoral history! and this is Nevada!), while Rory Reid says everything he did was "fully disclosed and complied with the law." Ralston describes this "scheme" as the formation of "91 shell political action committees that were used to funnel three quarters of a million dollars into his campaign." Ralston's had wall-to-wall coverage at his site. Among other things, Reid's legal advisor wrote a letter to the campaign saying he thought the use of these PACs was legal - and, in a point that Ralston is seriously disputing, also said he got sign-off from the Secretary of State. I don't really think Reid had much of a future in NV politics anyway, but if Ralston's reading of the situation is right, this could spell a lot of trouble for him. If not, then it's just some sketchy politics-as-usual. Even Ralston himself acknowledges that "the point here is less whether it actually was legal... but whether it should be."
• CA-36: Finally some endorsements for Debra Bowen: She just announced the backing of state Sens. Alan Lowenthal and Fran Pavley, state Rep. Betsy Butler, and former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl.
• MN-08: This is from a couple of weeks ago, but still relevant: Duluth-area state Sen. Roger Reinert says he won't challenge freshman GOPer Chip Cravaack next year, adding his name to the list of Dems who have declined to run. Others who have said no: Duluth Mayor Don Ness; former state House Majority Leader Tony Sertich; state Rep. Tom Rukavina; and state Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (whom we'd previously mentioned). Man, that's a lot of dudes named Tom! (UPDATE: Just two - it's Tony, not Tom, Sertich.) That's most of the heaviest hitters, but another possible candidate is Duluth City Councilman Jeff Anderson, who told FOX 21 that he is "very interested" (their words) in the race.
• Milwaukee Co. Exec.: Huh - I'd managed to forget that Scott Walker didn't just emerge fully-formed out of a rent in David Koch's skull on January 1st, 2011. Until not that long ago, he was the Milwaukee County Executive, which means that his old seat is up in a special election next month. It should come as no surprise that Walker's extremely unpopular attempts at union busting have become the issue in the race, and Republican state Rep. Jeff Stone is suffering badly for it. Stone voted for Walker's budget bill, but now says he "would have preferred to leave the collective bargaining intact" - even though, as TPM notes, he voted against every Democratic amendment that would have done exactly that. Stone's nominally independent but really Democratic opponent, philanthropist Chris Abele, has been hammering him on this front. The April 5th vote is actually a run-off; last month, Stone took 43% while Abele scored 25%, splitting the Democratic vote with the remaining candidates (all of whom were on the lefty side of the equation).
• PA-AG: Columnist Jan Ting, who took 29% against Tom Carper in DE-Sen in 2006 but later left the GOP, says he has heard that former Rep. Patrick Murphy is considering a run for Pennsylvania Attorney General. A source also informs me that this is true. Note that most of PA's statewide positions other than governor are up in 2012, so this race would be coming on soon. Note, too, that it will be an open seat: Newly-elected Gov. Tom Corbett was himself AG, and he appointed Pittsburgh-area prosecutor Linda Kelly to take his place. Kelly, however, has said she won't run for the post next year.
• Ohio Ballot: Though it's gotten less attention than the fight in Wisconsin, Ohio is on the verge of passing legislation which strip collective bargaining rights from public workers. TPM reports that Ohio Dems are planning to put the law, known as SB 5, on the ballot (it'd take about 230,000 signatures), something which could happen either this November or next. This could wind up being a truly epic fight - though I'm also reminded of the last time Ohio Dems put up some lefty ballot measures in an odd-numbered year, and that didn't turn out so well. (The 2005 effort was called Reform Ohio Now, and you can read all about it in the SSP Deep Archives.) Still, I think our chances would be a lot better this time.
• KS Redistricting: In 2002, state lawmakers split the rather blue Douglas County (home to the city of Lawrence) between two congressional districts, the 2nd and 3rd. Now, though, thanks to growth in Johnson County, the third has to shed population (as we informed you last week), and one Democratic legislator is suggesting that Douglas could be reunited in a single CD. This seems unlikely, though, as it's manifestly in the Republican Party's interest to keep Lawrence cracked.
• NE Redistricting: There's a similar story playing out in neighboring Nebraska, where the now-famous 2nd CD (which gave Barack Obama a very narrow win - and a single electoral vote) also has to reduce its population. Light-blue Douglas County (no, I'm not losing it - different county, different state, same name as above) is currently entirely within the borders of NE-02, but it could potentially get cracked. The linked article discusses a number of different possible scenarios for the whole state, and even has some hypothetical maps.
• NJ Redistricting: No surprise here: Democrats and Republicans couldn't agree on a new map for New Jersey's state legislative districts, so the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court, Stuart Rabner, appointed Rutgers Prof. Alan Rosenthal as tiebreaker (click here for a detailed profile). That wasn't a surprise, either, as the 78-year-old Rosenthal performed the same duties during the last two rounds of redistricting for the U.S. House. Rosenthal is a Democrat but has a very non-partisan reputation. Last time, Democrats convinced the appointed tiebreaker, Larry Bartels, that their proposed gerrymander would improve minority representation. A similar outcome is probably not so likely this time.
• OR Redistricting: As you can see from all the above links, now that redistricting data has been released, we're starting to see a lot more redistricting-related stories with a little more meat to them. This piece outlines the issues facing Oregon and also explains some of the deadlines involved. If lawmakers don't enact a state lege map by July 1 (or the governor vetoes it), then the task falls to Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat. This is typically what's happened in the past, though apparently there's some hope that the evenly-divided state House (with its unusual dual Speakerships) will produce something both sides can agree on. Note that there is no similar deadline for congressional redistricting.
• PA Redistricting: Pennsylvania's congressional Republicans are headed to the state capital of Harrisburg this week, to discuss how best to gerrymander their map with their state legislative colleagues. Given that the GOP has absolute control over the redistricting process in PA, Democrats are going to get pretty fucked here, and PoliticsPA has a rundown of several possible scenarios that Republicans are supposedly considering.
• New York: An issue which first came up nationwide last cycle is still percolating in New York. As we explained in September 2009, a new federal law (the MOVE Act) requires that absentee ballots be mailed to all overseas and military voters at least 45 days before the general election. That's a problem in states with late primaries, like New York, where results can't be certified and ballots can't be printed in time to meet this deadline. A couple of states (I think just Vermont and Minnesota) moved their primaries up a bit to aide compliance, but others, like NY, had to get waivers from the Department of Justice that allowed them to send out ballots later. Despite getting such a waiver, many boards of election (including NYC's) still failed to comply with even the later deadline - and now the DoJ (which had to sue NY last year) is unhappy with the state's lack of further efforts to remedy these problems. An association of local election commissioners, at a meeting in January, voted to ask the state legislature to move the primary to June to avoid these issues altogether.