• MT-Sen: TPM's headline says it all: "23rd Richest Member Of Congress: I'm 'Struggling Like Everyone Else.'" Those words were indeed uttered by Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is worth anywhere from $6,598,014 and $56,244,998. It's not quite Fred Heineman, but it's not exactly far off, either.
• NM-Sen (PDF): Republican robo-pollster Magellan has a new survey out for the GOP primary. They find ex-Rep. Heather Wilson at 59, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez at 17, teabagging businessman Greg Sowards at 2, 11 other and 11 undecided. The supposedly RINO Wilson has what seems like preposterously good favorables, 84-12, among members of her own party. The linked PDF has faves for a whole host of other candidates, including some who weren't tested in the head-to-heads.
• NV-Sen: Joe Trippi's really becoming the go-to guy for rich vanity candidates whom no one wants to see run, isn't he? Fresh off the vomit-caked Jeff Greene debacle, Trippi's been hired by wealthy lawyer Byron Georgiou, who so far as refused entreaties to clear a path for Rep. Shelley Berkley. Georgiou's also arranged to bring on Dan Hart, a local consultant, and pollster Paul Maslin (as in Fairbank Maslin).
• WA-Sen, WA-Gov: Republican Rep. Dave Reichert suggested back in January that he might be thinking about a gubernatorial run, something he affirmed in a recent interview with a local tv station. What seems to be new is that he says he's also thinking about a run against Sen. Maria Cantwell. I can't imagine that working out well for him, and he's also quoted as saying that the "hardest part" of adjusting to life in DC was "getting used to sitting on the airplane." If he's still grumbling about those transcontinental flights all these years later, then it sounds to me like he'd prefer the governor's mansion to the Senate.
• WV-Gov: Rick Thompson has a new spot specifically noting that "across the country, the rights of workers are under attack" - and promising that he'll "stand up for workers" in West Virginia.
• NH-01: Joanne Dowdell, who is described as a "Portsmouth businesswoman" and has had some involvement in national Dem politics (she was a DNC committeewoman), says she plans to go up against ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the Democratic primary. It sounds like her politics, by her own admission, are pretty similar to CSP's, so I'm not really sure what the point of this is.
• NV-02: Gov. Brian Sandoval has set Sept. 13 as the date for the special election to replace Rep. Dean Heller. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Ross Miller will announce the rules for the special at a press conference later today. Oh, and Sharron Angle's sent out a fundraising email (decrying the "left wing of the Republican Party"), so she's obviously hoping Miller's framework leaves the door open for her.
• NY-13: The New Yorker has just about the most fearsome fact-checking department in the English-speaking world, so if you're going to call them liars, you're probably going to get your ass handed to you. That's exactly what's happening to Rep. Mike Grimm, who called Evan Ratliff's piece on his FBI days "fiction," "a witch hunt," and "a hatchet job." Ratliff has responded, and in so doing nailed Grimm on a few mistruths of his own. I don't know that this whole saga is going to have a huge impact in Grimm's district (I think the Ryan vote is a much bigger deal), but there are still a lot of documents we haven't seen. We may never see them, but they still loom out there like a sword of Damocles.
• NY-26: New ads from Jane Corwin and Crazy Jack Davis. Corwin's touts her record on creating jobs, while Davis goes on a rampage, talking directly to the camera about how both parties give bailouts to Wall Street, but he "can't be bought." NWOTSOTB in both cases. Meanwhile, NARAL is endorsing Dem Kathy Hochul, but also no word as yet if money will follow.
• Wisconsin Recall: A local judge agreed with the Government Accountability Board that eight recall elections (so not including one for GOPer Rob Cowles) could get consolidated on July 12. Democrats had asked that the recalls against Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper be certified right away, since those petitions were turned in first, and they're the two most-vulnerable Republicans, but the request was denied. Things may still get delayed if there are petition challenges, which are all but certain - indeed, Dems have already discovered the signature of a Democratic state Rep.'s long-dead father on one. (Republicans amusingly accused Democrats of planting the sig.)
The Journal Sentinel also has a look at state Assembly members who may run in these recalls, on both the Republican and Democratic sides. It's a tempting proposition because it's a free shot: These folks don't have to give up their current seats in order to run. Some of these names have already announced, while others are still considering. And finally, WisPolitics has a roundup of fundraising numbers for all the recall targets.
• Dark Money: Democrats have finally followed the GOP's lead and decided to create organizations to counter Karl Rove's American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS. Former Obama aide Bill Burton and former Rahm Emanuel aide Sean Sweeney will head up "Priorities USA" and "Priorities USA Action," with a goal of raising $100 million to help President Obama. These groups will be allowed to take in unlimited undisclosed donations. No word yet if they also plan on getting involved downballot.
• Colorado: Election lawyers out west looking for work now have at least one redistricting battle they can probably look forward to. Steam is coming out of Republican ears now that they've seen the Dems' new map, and I can't imagine any sort of compromise taking place now. The map the Democrats are going with is one that they've released before, called "City Integrity 4"; you can find a PDF of the bill as formally introduced before the legislature here.
• Missouri: Finally, the Dems do something right in redistricting: Gov. Jay Nixon just vetoed the legislature's last-minute compromise map, almost right after it landed on his desk. The CW said Nixon would wait until the very end of the legislative session to veto, to make an over-ride that much more difficult (or possibly push it into September), but it looks like Nixon chose instead to look publicly magnanimous. He's asked the GOP to send him a new map before the session ends, which makes him look gracious. I suspect that he also knows they can't over-ride, and his veto letter offered no specific complaints about the map, so he's cleverly made it impossible for the Republicans to satisfy him.
The GOP could try to make Nixon look bad by forcing a second veto, but given how difficult it was to hammer out a deal between the House and Senate, I think they'd have a hard time sending him a map that looked any different from the one he just axed. So it would look like silly gamesmanship if they tried to put forward the exact same plan. (That didn't exactly work out for Dick Saslaw in Virginia.) As long as the over-ride fails and Nixon sticks to his guns, this map will end up in court, which would count as a big win for Team Blue.
• Mississippi: I have to say, I never imagined this would work - but here we are. A three-judge federal court says they are "inclined" to agree with Democrats and the NAACP that state legislative elections should be held this year under maps that were approved in each chamber but not the other (and hence never signed into law), in order to correct serious one-person, one-vote imbalances. The court could still choose to allow elections under current lines, or draw its own map, but this seems to be the path of least resistance. Note that in VRA cases which go before three-judge trial court panels, appeals are taken directly to the Supreme Court - and the SCOTUS must rule on the case (they can't kick it by declining certiorari), which is a real legal rarity.
• Nevada: Nevada Democrats have released their congressional map, but we can't seem to find a copy of it online. If you see it anywhere, please let us know in comments.
• Virginia: Well, it's a done deal. Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the new legislative maps into law. (You can see them here.) Now we move on to the congressional map. The GOP could (and I guess will) probably try to wait until 2012 to do that, since they'll have a chance at re-taking the state Senate this fall. My view is that Democrats would be idiots to compromise and should take their chances with the voters this fall so that they can kick the map-making to the courts next year. Even if we get rocked this year, what's the worst the Republicans can do to us? Draw an 8-3 map? That's the only "compromise" they'll accept now anyway, and even that might not pass VRA muster. So there's no reason not to wait.
• REMINDER! We're moving over to Daily Kos Elections tomorrow, Tuesday, so bookmark our new home and be sure to create an account immediately, since there's a 24-hour waiting period before you can post comments. Full details on the move here.
• 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.
Rick Thompson (D): 38
Bill Maloney (R): 28
The West Virginia gubernatorial special election (which, remember, is being held on Oct. 4, not on Election Day in November) looks like it's shaping up without much drama: to replace popular conservaDem Joe Manchin, who moved on to the Senate, it looks like fellow popular conservaDem (and Manchin ally) Earl Roy Tomblin has a strong inside track. Tomblin, whose name rec has improved significantly in the months since PPP's previous (and only other poll) of the race, is now putting up very big margins against the Republican opposition.
Tomblin's favorables are 49/24, including a plurality, 39/33, among Republicans, and his 'not sures' are down to 27%, from 39% in January. His endorsement this week from the NRA ought to only help solidify his standing among right-of-center voters. The other less-known Democratic options (SoS Natalie Tennant's at 36/29, Treasurer John Perdue is at 27/27, and House speaker Rick Thompson is at 25/24) put up less convincing numbers, but thanks to high Democratic registration advantages, all also win, usually by comfortable margins. That's a turnaround from January, where Perdue tied Ireland and Thompson lost; only Tennant finds herself in worse position than before. (Bill Maloney, a mining industry businessman without political experience, wasn't polled by PPP in their January poll, so the trendlines are only partial.)
Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 32
John Perdue (D): 17
Natalie Tennant (D): 16
Rick Thompson (D): 15
Jeff Kessler (D): 5
Arne Moltis (D): 1
Betty Ireland (R): 31
Bill Maloney (R): 17
Clark Barnes (R): 8
Mitch Carmichael (R): 8
Mark Sorsaia (R): 4
Ralph William Clark (R): 2
Larry Faircloth (R): 2
Cliff Ellis (R): 1
The more important story for now, though, is the primaries, which will take place on May 14 (a Saturday, three weeks away). Unlike with the generals, this is PPP's first look at the primaries and assumedly will be their last; it's also our only primary poll outside of candidates' internals. Again, name rec carries the day: Tomblin has a sizable advantage. In fact, as Tom Jensen points out, despite the clutter in the Democratic field, Tomblin actually has a bigger lead there than does ex-SoS Betty Ireland on the GOP side (although watch out for that giant MoE in the GOP poll!). Maloney has set the pace on advertising on the GOP side, leaving Ireland playing catch-up. Maloney's latest ad, in fact, plays his ace in the hole: his firm's connections to the rescue of the Chilean miners earlier this year. (One other ad of note: John Perdue's newest ad actually features a jingle! That's such a throwback it's almost a little charming.)
For more on where the Dem candidates fit on the left-right spectrum, check out this excellent primer. This poses an interesting question for Democratic armchair quarterbacks, in terms of who to pull for (which is probably just a question of rooting, as this race certainly isn't much of a magnet for netroots dollars). Is it better to hope for the slam-dunk candidacy of Tomblin, or to go with a bit more of a roll-of-the-dice in the general to get someone, like Thompson or Tennant, who's a bit more to the left?
• HI-Sen: Very slow fundraising quarters from Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa, despite Dan Akaka's retirement announcement on March 2. Hirono raised around $100K and has $291K on hand, while Hanabusa took in a mere $33K and has only $72K in the bank.
More interestingly, despite Ed Case's attempts at rapprochement, Sen. Dan Inouye still has hard feelings about Case's primary challenge to Akaka in 2006 - and he didn't hesitate to say so in a recent interview. He all but said that Case lied to his face when he asked him lo those many years ago if he'd run against Akaka, and then added a few remarks that made it sounds like Case had definitely not succeeded in making amends. So unless Inouye is playing some weirdly deep game here, then it looks like my fears that he'd subtly back Case seem unfounded. Good.
• KY-Sen: I don't know if I care about this, or whether it even matters, but glibertarian maniac Rand Paul filed for re-election yesterday. I guess this means he thinks the United States won't collapse into anarchy by 2016, but he's probably still hoarding kruggerands (and toilet paper) just to be on the safe side.
• MN-Sen: It's sort of easy to forget that Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election this cycle. Dedicated and hard-working, she doesn't showboat and is a consummate team player. The fact that she crushed in her debut campaign with 58% of the vote and no Republican opponents loom even in the distant horizon definitely have the effect of putting this race on the mental back burner. But true to form, she's taking her campaign very seriously, raising $1 million in Q1 and holding on to $2.5 mil in the bank.
• NJ-Sen: Is Republican biotech millionaire John Crowley thinking about a Senate bid - again? Roll Call notes that Crowley is stepping down as CEO of his pharma company, which could be a sign he's interested in taking on Sen. Bob Menendez. But for some reason, the article fails to point out that Crowley was heavily recruited to run against Sen. Frank Lautenberg in 2008, and backed out at the last moment - twice. He was also talked about for a gubernatorial run in 2009 (which he obviously didn't pull the trigger on). So we'll see if he has the fire in the belly to actually do something this time.
• TX-Sen: Did you know that there's already a declared Democrat in the race? I didn't, but Some Dude Sean Hubbard is apparently running.
• WA-Sen: Sen. Maria Cantwell raised $1.2 million in Q1 and has about the same amount in the bank.
• KY-Gov: Gov. Steve Beshear raised an impressive $1.3 million in the first three months of the year and has $3.3 million on hand.
• WV-Gov: Treasurer John Perdue is up what I think is the first negative ad of the Dem primary. He principally after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for taking money from utility companies who have charged jacked-up prices, accusing him (and also Natalie Tennant and Rick Thompson) of being "in the pocket" of the big energy firms. Using smokestacks as negative imagery in a state like West Virginia is certainly an unusual choice, given how many people there rely on "smokestack industries" for their livelihoods. But I guess whoever wins this multi-way primary is expecting to do so with only a relatively small plurality.
• AZ-06: We previously mentioned that Republican ex-Rep. Matt Salmon was thinking about a bid to reclaim his old House seat, with Jeff Flake running for Senate, and now he's made it official. Salmon, a member of the GOP's class of '94, honored a term-limit pledge and declined to run for re-election in 2000. However, he did run and lose against Janet Napolitano in the governor's race in 2002.
• FL-14: This seems unexpected: Chauncey Goss, son of former Congressman and CIA Director Porter Goss, says he's thinking about challenging Rep. Connie Mack in the Republican primary. Goss acknowledges that such a fight would be an "uphill battle," but also suggests that he could wind up running in an open seat. It sounds like he thinks that a new seat could be drawn by splitting Lee County (currently the bulk of the 14th CD), but I still wonder if Mack might wind up retiring. (By the way, the current 14th was in fact the elder Goss's seat before he was tapped to run the CIA in 2004.)
• IA-04: Ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack told a gathering of state Senate Dems that they should "stay tuned" regarding his wife's political ambitions. That sounds to me like Christie Vilsack is very much leaning toward a run against Republican nutter Steve King. Tom also promised the race would be a "holy war," a phrase which I sure as hell hope he a) doesn't repeat for public consumption and b) means that Christie plans on seriously taking King the woodshed.
• MI-11, MI-Sen (?): The AP canvassed all 15 House incumbents in Michigan, and all but one confirmed they were seeking re-election. The holdout? 11th CD Republican Thad McCotter, who is in his fifth term. I've hesitantly flagged this item as MI-Sen as well, since it's possible that McCotter is hedging because he's thinking about challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow, though he hasn't really been talked about much.
• NM-01: Dem state Sen. Tim Keller, only 33 years old, says he won't seek Rep. Martin Heinrich's open House seat but will instead seek re-election next year.
• NY-10: Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who hasn't ruled out a primary challenge to Rep. Ed Towns, says in a new interview that he wants the chance to serve alongside Barack Obama. So that means he's either a) gotta run next year b) run in 2014 or c) get the Constitution amended.
• IN-SoS: It looks like Republicans have found a pretty simple way out of the Charlie White mess: change the law. If White, the Republican Secretary of State who is currently under indictment, gets removed from office, the next-highest vote-getter in the last election, Democrat Vop Osili, would take his place. But a bill moving through the state lege would give the governor the power to appoint a replacement instead. (It also would let the GOP avoid any related fallout from having recorded zero valid votes in the SoS contest, a race to which many other electoral perks are tied.) Sucky for Dems, but whatcha gonna do.
• NJ-St. Sen.: Republicans are challenging Olympian Carl Lewis's residency status, trying to get him thrown off the ballot. Lewis says he's owned homes in New Jersey since 2005, but has voted and paid taxes in California until last year. The Secretary of State will rule by Thursday, but that decision can be appealed.
• Philly Mayor: This is definitely unusual. Former Mayor John Street just changed his party registration from "Democrat" to "independent," which could allow him to challenge Mayor Michael Nutter for his old job, something Street refused to rule out. Also unexpectedly, Street's wacky ex-con brother Milton, who is in fact running against Nutter in the Dem primary, got three big union endorsements last week. Seems impossible to imagine him winning next month, though, no?
• WI Recall: As expected, petitions were filed against Sheila Harsdorf yesterday, making her the fourth Republican state Senator to achieve this dubious status. And in more good news, state Rep. Fred Clark is planning an announcement for Thursday, very likely to declare a run against Luther Olsen, against whom petitions were filed on Monday. On the flipside, Republicans say they will file signatures in three Dem-held districts this week, but time is running out for them: Their deadlines are mostly April 25 & 26 (ours aren't due until May 2).
• DCCC: I'm getting kind of tired of these "DCCC launches campaign against 25 Republicans" (and the mirror images from the NRCC), mostly because I think the amounts being spent are quite small, but anyway, here's another one, this time about Medicare.
• Passings: William Donald Schaefer, the iconic four-term Democratic mayor of Baltimore and two-term governor of Maryland, died on Monday at the age of 89. The Baltimore Sun has wall-to-wall coverage of Schaefer's passing, whose legendary career is hard to summarize, but you can start with the obituary at the first link.
• California: Newspaper editorial pages are usually filled with some of the worst goo-goo anti-gerrymandering handwringing, so I found this op-ed by George Skelton in the LA Times to be particularly delightful. Skelton wryly observes that California Dems can't get a tax deal done with Republicans because a key tool in their arsenal - offering to draw recalcitrant legislators good districts, and threatening them with bad ones - has been taken out of their hands. In other words, like a lot of California's supposedly well-meaning ballot initiatives, the independent redistricting commission is also having some unintended consequences. In the end, Skelton seems to come down on the side of the commission anyway, but I think he's right: When you limit legislators' ability to legislate, you limit their ability to do good things as well as bad.
• Iowa: We're done: Iowa is now the third state to complete a new congressional map, with Gov. Terry Brandstad signing off on the plans yesterday. At the bottom of the linked article, you'll also find a list of all state House and Senate incumbents who have been thrown together in the same district.
• Missouri: Some interesting backstory on the Dem side of redistricting in Missouri. Apparently, things got nasty between Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay just a couple of weeks ago: Carnahan asked Clay (and Emmanuel Cleaver, MO's other Dem member of the House) to help him ask Gov. Jay Nixon to veto the state legislature's new maps which throw Clay and Carnahan into one district together. (The seat would be heavily black, which would favor Clay.) Clay refused, leading to a heated moment on the House floor, but now apparently Carnahan has agreed not to run against him in a primary. Instead, Carnahan is supposedly being pushed toward a run in what would become the new 3rd CD, which at present is largely Todd Akin's district. That seat could open up if Akin runs for Senate, which I'd currently say is more likely than not.
Republicans, however, have not made any peace agreements and in fact appear to be in meltdown mode. Yesterday we mentioned that Republican leaders and congressmembers were gathering to discuss the impasse between competing maps, a meeting which reportedly became "acrimonious." I'll let Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum of the St. Louis Beacon summarize the key points of contention:
The Republican members of Congress generally want the Senate to drop consideration of its map and take up the map already passed by the Missouri House. But Senate leaders dislike some of the House's proposed boundaries. They also say they don't have the votes for a veto-proof majority of the House map.
I strongly suggest reading the entire Beacon article if you're interested in this topic - it's definitely one of the sharper tradmed pieces I've seen on redistricting in general this year. In any event, Republicans want a shot at over-riding a possible Nixon veto before the current legislative session ends on May 13, so time is running short here.
• New Jersey: With the Garden State losing a seat this decade, Aaron Blake runs through five different scenarios involving various incumbent-vs-incumbent matchups.
• Oklahoma: Yesterday, the state House unanimously passed a new congressional map (which makes very minimal changes to the existing district lines). Given that all five members of Congress have signed off on the plan, I'd be surprised if it doesn't breeze through the Senate as well - but we've already had more than our share of redistricting surprises this cycle, so I've stopped calling my bookie.
• Virginia: A committee in the Republican-held House made some minor tweaks to their map, which Gov. Bob McDonnell had previously vetoed. I'm sure this is just cosmetic b.s., because McDonnell really only cares about the Dem map that the Senate produced. In McDonnell's world, the first is a work of unparalleled bipartisanshippy beauty, while the second is a hideous Demmycrat gerrymander FROM HELL. That's fookin' politics for ya.
• HI-Sen: Both Rep. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa have confirmed to Roll Call that they are looking at the Dem primary to replace retiring Sen. Dan Akaka, and Hanabusa says she's meeting with the DSCC, presumably soon. She also says that the DS "has made it known it wants to speak with anyone interested in running, but it is not actively recruiting any one candidate" (Roll Call's phrasing).
• IN-Sen: So GOPer Richard Mourdock raised $157K, not much better than the $125K or so he predicted (in an obvious attempt to ensure he "exceeded analysts' estimates," as they might say after a Wall Street earnings call). But I flag this item because Roll Call says Mourdock plans to "raise money from a national donor base starting next year." Does this mean he's going the Sharron Angle/Michele Bachmann/Allen West BMW Direct-type direct mail scammery? (See related bullets below.) If so, then perhaps Dick Lugar is in better shape than he might have hoped.
• MO-Sen: This is news to me: Sophomore GOP Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer is apparently thinking about a Senate bid, and has reportedly even met with the NRSC about his intentions. Dave Catanese says that "uncertainty about redistricting" is spurring Luetkemeyer to consider other options, but I'm not sure I buy that, seeing as the new maps being considered by the Republican-held legislature offer him a very comfy seat. The real puzzler is why he's doing this when six-term Rep. Todd Akin seems to be gearing up for a Senate run, since there's almost no way the two would want to fight it out in a primary. Maybe Lute thinks he can be Plan B if Akin demurs.
Another reason cited by Catanese (which applies equally well to both congressmen) is ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman's crappy fundraising. She pulled in just $186K in Q1, which would be unimpressive for a supposedly serious candidate in almost any state. If Akin gets in, I think there's a non-zero chance that she'd drop out.
• MT-Sen: Nice: Sen. Jon Tester (D) raised $1.2 million in Q1 and has $1.5m on hand. His Republican opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg, raised less than half that, $580K, but has $932K in the bank.
• NE-Sen: Sen. Ben Nelson raised $1 million in Q1 and has $2.3 mil on hand. His chief Republican rival, AG Jon Bruning, raised $1.5 million and has $1.2 in the bank, but Nelson pointed out that $600K was transferred from Bruning's 2008 Senate account (when he briefly sought to primary Chuck Hagel; after Hagel announced his retirement, Bruning was squeezed out by former Gov. Mike Johanns).
• OH-Sen: Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin, whom we'd mentioned previously as a possible candidate, has filed paperwork for an exploratory committee, joining Treasurer Josh Mandel in this in-limbo category in the GOP primary.
• TN-Sen: I feel like there's an alternate universe not too dissimilar from our own where a Republican dude named Bob Corker is also freshman in the U.S. Senate, and he's also up for re-election, except Corker Prime is actually vulnerable. Here on Earth, though, it really seems like Corker is well out of reach for us. He raised an impressive $1.9 million in Q1 and has over $4 million in the bank - and there are no Democratic candidates on the horizon.
• MO-Gov: Gov. Jay Nixon lapped his likely Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, on the fundraising circuit, pulling in over twice as much money over the last six months, $1.7 million to $770K. Nixon also has a big cash-on-hand edge, $2.1 mil to $900K.
But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show? Well, pretty terrible, actually - Kinder's had just an awful few weeks in the press. After the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed his penchant for spending taxpayer money to stay in luxury hotels to attend baseball games and society balls, Kinder promised to reimburse the state $35K... but two weeks later, he still hasn't. That nimbus definitely isn't moving anywhere just yet, and it's his own damn fault. Let's hope he runs the rest of his campaign the same way.
• NC-Gov: This just doesn't seem good. Gov. Bev Perdue, whose public image has already suffered enough damage, was out-of-state Saturday afternoon when a series of deadly tornadoes touched down in North Carolina. She was attending a horse race in Kentucky and didn't make a public appearance back home until 11pm that night. I'm not going to predict what this will mean for Perdue, but it can't be helpful.
• WV-Gov: SoS Natalie Tennant's first ad is a hokey spot set on a farm, in which she decries politicians wasting money... and a cow can be heard to moo. (Or a bull. I don't know. It has horns. But small ones. So maybe still a cow? Do bulls moo? I'm from the city - sue me.) Tennant is generally seen as the candidate with the greatest appeal to liberals (yes, there are some in West Virginia), so she's clearly trying to play against type here.
• AZ-08: Rep. Gabby Giffords raised $358K in Q1 and has $556K in the bank.
• CA-19: Freshman GOP Rep. Jeff Denham (I admit it - I had already forgotten who he was and had to Google him) is already making a name for himself. That name is "idiot." He staged a mega-lavish DC fundraiser in January when he was sworn in which featured singer Leann Rimes and spent an amazing $212,250 on the event. Total raised? $212,900 - which means he netted exactly $650. That's quite the feat. It's even more amazing when you consider it was all supposed to benefit a joint fundraising committee for 11 GOP frosh. To rub it in, Michael Doyle of the Modesto Bee archly observes: "If the $650 netted from outside contributors were to be divvied up evenly, each of the 11 GOP lawmakers would receive $59."
• CA-36: Janice Hahn outraised Debra Bowen in Q1, $273K to $195K, and has about double the cash-on-hand, $171K to $93K. Surprisingly, Marcy Winograd managed to raise $50K. (And if you care, Republican Craig Hughey lent his campaign $250K.)
Bowen also put out an internal from the Feldman Group. In a test of apparently all the candidates who have filed, she and Hahn tie for 20, with Republican Mike Gin the next-closest at 8 and Winograd at 6. The memo also says that in a two-way runoff, Bowen leads 40-36 with 16% undecided. The poll also claims that Hahn's unfavorability rating is "double that of Bowen," but a self-respecting pollster really shouldn't include such tripe, because the refusal to release actual numbers means we're talking about something like a 12-to-6 comparison (i.e., meaningless). As mi hermano G.O.B. Bluth would say, "COME ON!"
• FL-08: Hah! Does Daniel Webster want to lose? The GOP freshman raised just $30K in Q1, but the really funny part is that the guy he defeated, Alan Grayson, raised more! Grayson took in $38K, apparently from small donors who hope he'll make a comeback bid.
• FL-22: Allen West raised a seemingly-impressive $434K in Q1, but as you know, he's a major practitioner of the churn-and-burn style of shady direct-mail fundraising, and it really shows in his burn rate. He spent an amazing $266K last quarter, which both as a raw total and a percentage rate is exceedingly high... but see the MN-06 and NV-02 items below.
• IA-04: Interesting, though not surprising: Politico says that DCCC chair Steve Israel warned Christie Vilsack off of challenging Dave Loebsack in the new 2nd CD, assuring her that the D-Trip would back the incumbent. He also apparently promised to support her if she took on Rep. Steve King (as she supposedly might do), though who knows what kind of $ that might translate into.
• IL-03: Insurance exec John Atkinson, who is apparently challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary, raised $535K in Q1, including $312K from his own pockets. Lipinski raised just $138K but has $637K on hand.
• MN-08: Freshman GOPer Chip Cravaack raised just $121K in Q1 - so why are we having such a hard time finding a Dem willing to take this guy on?
• MN-06: Michele Bachmann raised a MIND-OBLITERATING $1.7 million in the first quarter... and yes, I'm being sarcastic, because she also managed to spent $756K. Of course, netting a million bucks ain't bad (and she has $2.8 mil on hand), and if she truly pulls the trigger on a presidential run, I'll bet the spigots will open even wider. But that's still quite the burn rate.
• NV-02: Sharron Angle makes Allen West look as parsimonious as Scrooge by comparison. Everyone's favorite nutter (okay, it's a multi-way tie, but you know you love her) raised an amaaaaaaaaazing $700K in Q1, but spent an actually amazing $550K, mostly to BaseConnect, the scam artists formerly known as BMW Direct. She has only $176K in the bank.
• NY-26: Republican Jane Corwin is not fucking around: She raised just $102K in Q1, but gave her own campaign a whopping million dollars. Yow. Meanwhile, Crazy Jack Davis has raised zilch, but has loaned himself $1.5 mil and already spent $1.4 mil.
• Denver Mayor: SSP commenter Kretzy has a really good run-down on the May 3rd Denver mayor's race, necessitated by John Hickenlooper's ascension to the governor's mansion. I won't try to summarize it - you should just click through. Timely, too, because SUSA has a poll out on the race, showing James Mejia and Chris Romer tied at 22, with Michael Hancock next at 18. Again, read Kretzy's summary if you want to know more about these people.
• Wisconsin Recall: Signatures were filed yesterday to force a recall election for a third Republican state senator, Luther Olsen, and Dems expect to file petitions for Sheila Harsdorf today. (Number of Dem state sens who've had petitions filed against them so far: 0.) Also, the state's Government Accountability Board says it will try to consolidate the recalls into as few elections as possible.
• DSCC: In an item about Herb Kohl raising $0 last quarter (he can cut himself a fat check any time he pleases, so this isn't meaningful), Dave Catanese says that DSCC chair Patty Murray said "she was confident all of the remaining incumbents were running for reelection." Kohl is the most obvious candidate for retirement, and of course Murray could be wrong, but maybe this is it.
• Fundraising: The NYT has a list of fundraising by freshman Republicans, and also notes that IN-08 Rep. Larry Bucshon took in just $45K. Not really wise for a guy whose district is likely to be made at least a bit more competitive. The Fix also has a fundraising roundup.
• LCV: The League of Conservation Voters is launching a $250K radio ad campaign targeted at four members of the House who voted in favor of a bill that would bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The ads are hitting two Republicans running for Senate, Denny Rehberg and Dean Heller, as well as Energy Cmte Chair Fred Upton (R) and Jason Altmire (D). Here's a sample ad (targeted at Heller), which I actually find kinda weird and confusing.
• Passings: Former Rep. Harold Volkmer, who represented mostly rural northeastern Missouri's 9th CD for ten terms, passed away at the age of 80.
• Colorado: Now this at least is a fight that makes sense: Republicans control the Colorado House, while Dems control the Senate - and tempers have already exploded with the release of proposed redistricting plans from both sides. (See yesterday's digest for the maps.) Speaker of the House Frank McNulty flipped out, accusing Democrats of drawing districts that would benefit two legislators in particular: Senate President Brandon Shaffer and Sen. Morgan Carroll.
However, Carroll said she has no plans to run for Congress, while the Dem point-man on redistricting, Sen. Rollie Heath, pointed out that the new 4th CD (which McNulty thinks Shaffer wants to run in) has a 10 percent GOP registration edge... in other words, not the kind of seat you'd drawn for yourself if you were an ambitious Democrat. So either McNulty is just a garden-variety moran, or he's just trying to cast fact-free aspersions against the other side. We've seen a lot of this kind of crap from Colorado Republicans already, so door number two is a definite possibility (but of course, it's not mutually exclusive of door number 1).
• Missouri: Trying to unlock a stalemate that seems remarkably picayune to outsiders such as myself, Republican power brokers in Missouri met yesterday to talk things over. Among the participants were most of the Republicans in the state's congressional delegation, the heads of the state House and Senate, and the chair of the MO GOP. No sort of deal has been announced as yet.
• Virginia: Hah - so much for lawmakers racing back to work to deal with Gov. Bob McDonnell's veto of their redistricting plans. Legislators had planned to be off this week, so rank-and-file members declined leadership's entreaties to show up.
Probably the biggest Democratic primary of the year is coming up soon: the West Virginia special gubernatorial primary, on Saturday, May 14th. I felt like we weren't getting great insight into the key players, though, from traditional media accounts, so I asked a friend who is well-versed in Mountain State politics if he'd give us a neutral primer on all five serious Dem contenders. His guest-post, for which I am very grateful, is below.
First, let's accept as a given that all the candidates are running on a platform of more jobs, expanded energy production, and improving education in one order of priority or another. Here is a listing of the principal candidates in roughly right-to-left order on the ideological spectrum... though, based on their rapid scurrying as the primary nears, their positioning may shift a bit.
EARL RAY TOMBLIN
Tomblin is a 59-year-old veteran legislator, long-time President of the WV State Senate, and currently is acting Governor following Joe Manchin's resignation. From Chapmanville in the southwestern corner of the state, Tomblin is pro-life and aligned with the business-friendly wing of the West Virginia Democratic Party (WVDP). Running on a platform of "more jobs... lower taxes," Tomblin essentially offers a continuation of the Manchin Administration under new management. Tomblin draws wide support from the energy and other heavy industry, the Chamber of Commerce wing of the WVDP, and Manchin loyalists in the party apparatus at the state and county levels.
Tomblin's supporters say as Governor he will build on Manchin's progress in improving the business climate in West Virginia to create the jobs West Virginians need. They cite Tomblin recently forcing a cut in the state sales tax on food while keeping the state's budget in balance and the announcement by companies like Toyota and Macys of new and expanded operations as evidence Tomblin's approach works and illustrates his effective leadership.
Some of Tomblin's opponents say Tomblin favors business at the expense of working people. They claim Tomblin is a Democrat in Name Only and is in the pocket of out-of-state energy interests like American Electric Power and Dominion Resources, which plunder the state's natural resources and export the profits. Others claim as a 36-year legislator with ethical baggage, Tomblin is part of the problem, and not the solution, as his recent veto of health care measures in the state budget while retaining subsidies for gambling interests illustrate. Others argue Tomblin is too down-home to run strongly enough in the general election in the Northern and Eastern Panhandles.
Jeff Kessler is a 55-year-old trial lawyer, a four-term WV State Senator, and currently serves as interim WV Senate President while Tomblin acts as Governor. From Glen Dale in the Northern Panhandle, Kessler is pro-life, an advocate for gay rights, transparency in government reforms, and firmly in the pro-business camp of the WVDP, though he falls in the middle on labor issues. Kessler is running on a pro-business platform while highlighting his track records on ethics reforms, including the first state-level effort to regulate 527s. Kessler is endorsed by the WV Fraternal Order of Police.
Kessler's supporters say his vision, ethical leadership, and realistic focus on creating jobs through expanding the existing energy industry are what West Virginia needs in these uncertain times. They cite his proposal to create the West Virginia Future Fund, which would divert 25% of severance tax collected on natural gas to provide tax relief for working West Virginians as well as endow efforts to diversify the state's economy as evidence Kessler balances the needs for economic development and social needs. They argue Kessler offers a continuation of the Manchin Administration under new management without the ethical concerns and cornpone manner of Tomblin and, as a Casey-style Democrat, Kessler would be a stronger candidate in the general election in the swing regions. As a centrist, they argue, Kessler will be able to unite the bickering factions within the WVDP.
Some of his opponents say Kessler is just more of the same old Extraction Industry politics of exploit the land and export the profits. They say his strong support for expanded Marcellus Shale drilling involves needless environmental damage while only diverting a small portion of state revenues collected to public use. Others say the ambiguity inherent in his balanced stance between the interests of business and labor indicates a lack of depth and intensity to his commitments. Some argue Kessler's abandonment of his Chamber of Commerce wing allies to emerge as interim WV Senate President show he is a typical ambitious career politician who will sacrifice principle for expediency.
John Perdue is a 60-year-old former WV Department of Agriculture employee, a top aide to former Governor Gaston Caperton, and is currently serving his fourth term as State Treasurer. From Boone County and currently residing in Kanawha County, Perdue is pro-life, proud of maintaining the state's credit rating through the international financial crisis of the last several years, and generally has been considered a conventional center-left politician and an indicator of the center of gravity within the WVDP. Running on a platform of "investing in people," Perdue has recently taken a more aggressively populist line, calling for a freeze and eventual rollback on utility rates. Having held high position in state government for two decades, Perdue has significant support among government workers and has been endorsed by the Teamsters, WV Farm Bureau, and the WV Troopers Association.
Perdue's supporters say his performance as WV State Treasurer demonstrates his competence. Others cite his willingness to stand up to the powerful utility interests as showing his priorities are in order and he has the fire in the belly to fight for the little man. Others view his proposing the formation of a state-chartered Small Business Bank to meet the needs of WV businesses choked off from credit by the mistakes and greed of Wall Street as a taste of the innovative leadership Perdue could provide as governor. They note none of the other candidates have the executive experience and financial competence to guide the state through troubled times while building for the future.
Some of Perdue's opponents say he has done a poor job as State Treasurer as the state's budget crisis clearly shows. They say Perdue did and said nothing while the state's unfunded liabilities for pensions and other post-employment benefits soared to crippling levels and will only get worse in the future. Other opponents say Perdue, as a career bureaucrat and politician, is out of touch with how business works and thinks real people need government to tell them how to lead their lives. They say his attacks on the utilities are merely election-year posturing since he sat back and said nothing while rates went up in the first place and show Perdue is only speaking out now because he is behind in the polls and is desperate to shake things up. Others say Perdue's non-telegenic style is an electoral liability and his blandness is a sure-fire prescription for a general election loss.
Natalie Tennant was the first female Mountaineer (WVU's sports teams' mascot), a former television news anchor, and is currently serving her first term as WV Secretary of State. From Fairview in the north-central part of the state along the I-79 Corridor, Tennant is pro-choice and supported by EMILY's List. Running on a platform of change, Tennant cites the need for "a new way forward." Recently Tennant has declared support for the public employee causes in Wisconsin and Ohio. Her campaign and supporters have lately taken to characterizing her as "the most liberal" candidate in the Democratic field. Tennant has wide support among women generally and runs strong with younger professionals in the small cities of the state.
Tennant's supporters say as governor Tennant will bring a fresh perspective and innovative approaches to problem solving. They cite her private sector experience as a journalist and running her own media firm as well as her relative youth in comparison to the rest of the field as showing Tennant is not tainted with the Good Ol' Boy System, wheeling-and-dealing politics of the past. They say Tennant is the candidate best suited to break up the old ways of doing things which have kept the state mired in corruption. Tennant's supporters say as the only woman and only pro-choice candidate in the field she best reflects the views of the majority of WVDP voters.
Some of Tennant's opponents say Tennant is too inexperienced to serve as governor, citing her mishandling of the Byrd succession as evidence she is not ready for prime time. They note that in the low-risk and high-profile post of Secretary of State, she had only one hot potato land in her lap and fumbled it, misinterpreting the state's election laws and having to be bailed out by the Attorney General's office and a special session of the state legislature. Others say Tennant is deliberately unclear on the issues and is more interested in being all things to all people and getting elected rather than actually leading. Others point to her support from out-of-state pro-abortion groups while garnering few endorsements within the state as demonstrating she is out of touch with core West Virginia values.
Rick Thompson is a 58-year-old trial lawyer, former assistant prosecuting attorney, and currently serves as Speaker of the WV House of Delegates. From the Fort Gay area of Wayne County along the western border with Kentucky, Thompson is pro-life and strongly pro-labor, having been the go-to guy for the unions in dealing with the state legislature for a decade. Running on a theme of "West Virginia owes me nothing; I owe this state everything," Thompson's campaign focuses on the emotionally powerful goal of ending the generations-long migration of young people from West Virginia seeking work elsewhere. Thompson is the candidate of choice for most of the industrial unions as well as a favorite of the trial lawyers, having earned the endorsements of the United Mine Workers, the AFL-CIO, and both of the state's teachers' unions as well as being a favorite of the trial lawyers.
Thompson's supporters say, as governor, Thompson - with his blue-collar background and accomplished legislative track record - has the vision to level the playing field between business and labor while still creating the jobs West Virginia needs, not taxes. They note his economic program focuses on rolling back taxes on the small and mid-sized businesses which are the engine of job growth rather than subsidizing big out-of-state corporations. They say Thompson has always been a fighter for the little man and cite his recent victory over acting Governor Tomblin over granting public employees salary raises rather than a one-time bonus as proof of his effectiveness and ability to get things done in Charleston.
His opponents say Thompson is a rabble-rousing union hothead and a throwback to the bad old days when labor and management were always in conflict rather than working together. They claim Thompson is in the pocket of the unions and trial lawyers and will make decisions as governor favoring their interests rather than those of the state's population as a whole. Others say, if elected, Thompson will reverse the improved business climate in West Virginia achieved under Joe Manchin and cause the state to lose jobs to other states and overseas. Others say Thompson's track record of supporting almost every proposal for state spending and overly generous raises for state employees shows he is a tax-and-spend liberal who will bankrupt the state. Others are concerned, like Tomblin, Thompson might also be a bit cornpone for both Panhandles in the general election.
• 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.
• RI-Sen: Dem Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse raised over $1 million in the first fundraising quarter, which in Rhode Island terms is a buttload. He now has $1.6 million in cash on hand, which hopefully will act as a nice deterrent to any Republican stupid enough to consider this race. You know I love concern trolling, but even I can't work myself up to goad the GOP into this one.
• TX-Sen: Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said he raised $1.1 million and threw in another $1.6 million of his own money. There are a ton of other GOP candidates, both actual and potential, in this race, so I expect this primary to be wildly expensive.
• WV-Gov: Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who is seeking his current job on a more permanent basis, released an internal from the Global Strategy Group. It shows him at 36% and SoS Natalie Tennant at 22%, but the National Journal's writeup doesn't mention numbers for the other two or three legit Dems. The NJ also says than neither Tomblin nor Tennant have gone on the air, while Rick Thompson and John Perdue have, as we've mentioned previously.
• IN-08: The man I like to call F.E.C. Kenobi (aka Greg Giroux) brings us yet another candidate filing. This time it's Terry White, whom Greg describes as a "Dem lawyer/activist," seeking to run against GOP frosh Larry Bucshon. I'm pretty sure this is him. Looks like he has a background in criminal law, so apparently not a wealthy plaintiff's attorney (though he may be well-off).
• IN-SoS: Today, a judge is expected to rule on whether a lawsuit challenging Republican Secretary of State Charlie White's eligibility to serve in office can proceed. White, the guy supposed to be protecting the integrity of his state's elections, is accused of fraudulently registering to vote.
• LA-LG: Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser says he's thinking about challenging fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne this fall. If you watched a lot of cable TV news last year during the BP oil spill, you probably saw Nungesser's vocal complaints about the response to the crisis.
• Washington: Vote-by-mail is now a legal requirement for all of Washington state. This isn't a big deal, though, as Pierce County was the only jurisdiction which still conducted in-person voting - the rest of WA had long gone to all-mail. Notably, the legislation still allows for ballots to be postmarked on election day, which means the state will continue its frustrating tradition of seeing election results trickle in over a period of many days. (Neighboring Oregon, the other mail-only state, requires ballots to be postmarked arrive or be or turned in on election day.)
• WATN?: Ex-Rep. Curt Weldon was always a sick, crazy piece of work, and we should all be thankful that Joe Sestak turned his sorry ass out of Congress. I honestly don't think I would have ever cared enough about him to feature him in a Where Are They Now? item, except that he's managed to show up in Libya, of all places, and has written an op-ed in the New York Times in which he calls for "engagement" with Moammar Gadhafi. Reminds me a bit of Tom DeLay saying "give peace a chance" when Slobodan Milosevic was massacring Kosovars, except I think Weldon really means it. Why do I say that? Well, hop into my time capsule and take a deep dive into the SSP archives. That amazing photo-within-a-photo shows Weldon pinning a medal on Gadhafi's chest! Because the mastermind behind the Lockerbie bombing is exactly the sort of person an American elected official wants to be honoring. (I also encourage you to read that entire post just to see how twisted Weldon is.)
• Arkansas: Even though Dems control both houses of the state legislature (and the governor's mansion), things are at an impasse. The state Senate rejected the House plan, dubbed the "Fayetteville Finger," and adopted a different map of its own. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a very helpful page where you can mouse over each of the various proposals that are under consideration, including the new Senate map. Now some heads will have to be banged together to reach a compromise.
• Delaware: Don't laugh - mighty Delaware is starting up its redistricting process. Obviously this pertains only to the state lege, and lawmakers are accepting public comments and proposed plans through April 29th. So if you've worked something up in Dave's App, email House.Redistricting@state.de.us. The lege's ultimate deadline is in June.
• Iowa: Leaders on both sides sound like they're coming around to the new maps created by Iowa's independent commission. The situation here reminds me of gym class in middle school. Our stereotypically sadistic teacher would ask us if we wanted to play, say, basketball - and we had to either accept the choice right there, or decide to risk taking door #2, with no chance of going back. The alternative could be dodgeball (yes!)... or it could be running laps. Faced with the possibility of doing suicide drills (that is to say, a much worse second map from the commission), Republicans and Democrats alike seem ready to play a little b-ball instead.
In any event, an advisory commission will issue recommendations on the maps by April 11th, after which the lege has three days to decide whether to accept them. If no, then the process starts all over again.
Illinois: An interesting article about an unusual tool that Dem Gov. Pat Quinn has in his arsenal, called the "amendatory veto." It sounds like it's a particularly fine-grained type of line-item veto, which could be used to make direct changes to any redistricting maps the legislature sends to the governor. Of course, Illinois is one of the few places where we're large and in-charge, and it seems that Quinn has had a productive relationship with lawmakers so far, so it's unlikely Quinn would have to use it.
Also, some SSP mapmakers have been getting love from around the Internets lately. Silver spring's awe-inspiring map gets a nice shout-out from Chicagoist, and see our Oregon item below for another one.
• Louisiana: Louisiana continues to be the most vexing state to follow. On Tuesday, the state Senate adopted a "horizontal" congressional map (full-size PDF here) that was, believe it or not, authored by a Dem. (Yes, Republicans supposedly have a majority, but the President, selected by the governor, is a Dem. This is endlessly confusing.) The Senate also rejected a plan preferred by Gov. Bobby Jindal, while the House in turn rejected the Senate's map. Jindal threatened to veto any map that doesn't maintain two districts based in the northern part of the state, which suggests that the Senate plan is a non-starter. So even though Republicans would appear to control the trifecta, it seems that Louisiana's loose sense of partisan affiliation makes that mean a lot less than it would in other states.
• Missouri: The GOP-controlled state House approved its new map, which essentially eliminates Dem Russ Carnahan's 3rd CD, by a 106-53 vote. This falls three votes shy of a veto-proof margin, meaning that Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, could potentially wield veto power here. Three Republicans defected, but four African American Dem legislators sided with the GOP, apparently believing this map is good for Rep. Lacy Clay, who is black. (The Senate plan is very similar.)
• Mississippi: A pretty amazing story, if true, from Cottonmouth blog:
This afternoon in a closed door meeting of Republican Senators, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant told the crowd that 5th Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones would "take care of" legislative Republicans because Gov. Haley Barbour handled her nomination to the 5th Circuit when he was in the Reagan White House. Bryant went on to regale the caucus with his opinion that Chief Judge Jones would likely appoint Judge Leslie Southwick as the judge from the 5th Circuit, and that if that happened, "Democrats would come to us looking for a deal."
In a letter to House Speaker Billy McCoy, Bryant denied making these statements, but his denial contained some weird language. Specifically, he said: "My point was that Democrats appoint federal judges and Republicans appoint federal judges, but all judges take an oath to decide cases fairly based on the law and the facts." Was he honestly giving a civics 101 lesson to benighted members of his own caucus? Why discuss this kind of thing at all?
• New Jersey: The first casualty of NJ's new map is state Sen. John Girgenti (D), who earned the wrath of progressives - and a legitimate primary challenge from activist Jeff Gardner - for his cowardly vote against marriage equality in 2009. Girgenti's hometown was placed into a district largely belonging to another incumbent, Bob Gordon. Gardner will now run for Assembly instead.
• Nevada: Republicans in Nevada, like the Dems, have now filed a redistricting lawsuit, but I'm not getting it at all. If you click through to the PDF and scroll down to the prayer for relief on page nine, all you'll see is that they want to bar any elections from happening under current district lines. Nevada isn't some Southern state in the 1950s, refusing to undertake redistricting, so what gives?
• Oregon: Want to give your input into the Beaver State's redistricting process? Blue Oregon has a list of public hearings. Also, Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian gives some props to SaoMagnifico's proposed map, saying they show "it's possible to draw maps that do a good job of following county lines while achieving a partisan result."
• Pennsylvania: PA's state (not federal) maps are drawn by a five-member commission, whose first four members (2R, 2D) have to agree on the fifth. Pretty lulzy notion, of course, and the selection deadline has passed, so the choice will now fall to the state Supreme Court. Unfortunately, thanks to a loss a few years ago, Republicans control the court.
• Texas: Another lawsuit, though this one makes a lot more sense to me. Hispanic lawmakers are suing to enjoin Rick Perry and the legislature from conducting any redistricting activities because they allege that Latinos have been undercounted by the Census, and they want those numbers corrected. I'm pessimistic about these kinds of suits succeeding, though.
• Utah: State legislators are also cranking up the redistricting process here. Obviously issue #1 (and 2 and 3 and 4) will be how the new congressional map treats Dem Rep. Jim Matheson. The article doesn't say what, if any, deadlines lawmakers face, though.
• Virginia: At least some Republican legislators are hopping mad about the proposed state Senate map, and are considering filing suit to block it (dunno on what grounds). If the GOP is pissed off at this plan, isn't that a good thing?
• CT-Sen: Former SoS Susan Bysiewicz said that she raised over half a mil in Q1. She also continued a theme of attacking Chris Murphy as some kind of skeezy Washington insider, saying "I'm sure the corporate PACs and DC lobbyists are lining up to support other candidates." Murphy is the only other announced candidate.
• FL-Sen: Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times tweeted last Wednesday he expects George LeMieux (R) to announce "next week"... which means this week.
• IN-Sen: Rep. Dan Burton, one of the most disliked Republicans in the state of Indiana, channels his inner Tobias Fünke (the man inside him?) and says, "I'm supporting Dick - there's two Dicks in the race." That'd be Richard "Dick" Lugar and Richard "Dick" Mourdock. Oh Burton, you blowhard!
• KY-Sen: I can't really believe Rand Paul is serious about a presidential bid, but then again, I thought the same thing about Michele Bachmann and was clearly wrong about that. Still, I'm mostly amused by the fact that he met with Iowa Republicans (including Gov. Terry Branstad) in Des Moines this past weekend. Rand might be trying to set himself up for a run in 2016... or he could also be doing a good job of inviting a primary challenge if he seeks re-election.
• MA-Sen: Teabaggers being pissed at Scott Brown are nothing new - though I do find their naivety endearing. (What did they think they were going to get?) What's sad is that one of their self-anointed leaders, some guy named Judson Phillips, can only muster up this in response to Brown's latest outrage (calling to reduce budget cuts): "Perhaps the Massachusetts Tea Party will step up with someone to challenge him in 2012." A resounding call to arms this ain't.
• ME-Sen: Freshman Sen. Pat Toomey says he won't endorse Olympia Snowe in her bid for re-election. Toomey, don't forget, has some residual teabagger cred, given that he was president of the Club for Growth.
• MO-Sen: Citizens United (yes, thatCitizens United) just gave GOP Rep. Todd Akin $10K in the hopes of luring him into the Senate race. I was wrong about Trent Franks, but I really do feel like Akin will get in here.
• MT-Sen: Republicans think they get lots of mileage out of attacking "welfare," but Denny Rehberg took this trope several steps further, declaring that Pell Grants are "turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century."
• NV-Sen: Rep. Shelley Berkley says she's heartened by the internal poll numbers she put out last week (42-38 over Republican Dean Heller), she still hasn't made up her mind, though now says she'll decide "fairly soon," whatever that means.
• NY-Sen: Kirsten Gillibrand set a personal record with her 1Q fundraising, taking in over $3 million.
• KY-Gov: Despite opposing the expansion of gambling in the state - a very big and very contentious issue - State Senate President (and GOP gubernatorial nominee) David Williams lost over $36,000 in casinos from 1999 to 2002, according to court documents related to his divorce.
• MO-Gov: Did GOP Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder just neutralize the whole "Air Claire" business? It turns out that Kinder, widely expected to run for governor, has spent an average of two months a year staying at St. Louis luxury hotels, all at taxpayer expense, including trips for society balls and baseball games.. You really need to read the whole piece to get the full flavor of Kinder's abuse of his office. Kinder also told a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "I'm not talking to you," then hung up the phone. This story's going to get worse, not better.
• UT-Gov, UT-Sen: As we've noted previously, the teabaggers are gunning for Gov. Gary Herbert, thanks to his support for immigration bills that are insufficiently punitive, in their view. Now the name of another potential primary challenger has surfaced: state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom. The linked article also says that David Kirkham, a key teabagger who helped oust Bob Bennett last year, is suggesting that Herbert, rather than Orrin Hatch, may be his compatriots' number one target this cycle. Hatch previously refused to take a position on his home state's legislation, but let's see if he turns on Herbert in the hopes of re-directing the teabaggers.
• WV-Gov: Julie Sobel at the Hotline has a complete wrapup of fundraising numbers for all the major candidates, both Dem and Republican, in the WV gubernatorial race.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: On Twitter, when Sarah Palin announced she was backing David Prosser, I called it the kiss of death. J. Pilmanis said no, she kissed a corpse. We'll find out for sure tomorrow! Anyhow, the ad wars have, of course, gone full-tilt in the final days of the campaign. Here's a roundup of some that we've seen:
• AZ-Sen: The NYT has a piece about Dems tip-toeing around the Senate race as they wait for Gabby Giffords to recover (and make a decision), but I think it adds very little to the conversation. There isn't really any new information in the piece, so you can probably skip it.
• MA-Sen: Wow, the DSCC is doing a bang-up job on MA-Sen this week. A couple of days ago, they conned Roll Call into writing a piece which argued that the lack of a Democratic candidate was actually a good thing and all part of some devious plan. Now comes word that they've managed to leak a poll that shows Scott Brown with a ridiculous 73% approval rating and supposedly beating all comers by double digits. Aren't they supposed to only leak polls when they've got good news to share? Sheesh. This is just so sloppy. (Also, 73% approval? Really? Might want to think about hiring a new pollster for this race.)
Anyhow, another Dem is feeling out the race: Gerry Kavanaugh, who was once Ted Kennedy's chief of staff and is now a political consultant, says he's "thinking about" a run. Kavanaugh has never run for office before.
• MO-Sen: This is pretty weird. Tons of documents, including a lot of emails, generated during GOPer Sarah Steelman's tenure as state treasurer have disappeared, and the new treasurer (who is a Dem) is saying in response to freedom of information requests that they simply can't be found. As Catanese says, this ought to give Steelman's primary opponents some good fodder... especially if any of the missing docs ever turn up.
• NV-Sen: Rep. Shelley Berkley's leaked a poll (taken for her by the Mellman Group) which shows her up 42-38 over Republican Rep. Dean Heller in a hypothetical Senate race. The more I think about it, the more I feel this really is Berkley's moment and that she should definitely go for it. I think Obama's going to run a very strong campaign here, and I just think the timing is right.
• MI-Gov: Republican-linked pollster Marketing Research Group gives Gov. Rick Snyder the best numbers he's seen so far, with a 42-38 job approval rating. But spiderdem shows just how implausibly favorable to Snyder the sample composition is.
• UT-Gov, UT-01: Interesting: GOP Rep. Rob Bishop refused to answer a question about whether he plans to challenge Gov. Gary Herbert, instead seeming to make some crack about ex-Gov. John Huntsman's run for president. Herbert has raised some teabagger ire for signing an immigration reform package that would, among other things, allow for guest workers (the nutters call it "amnesty") - basically, the opposite approach from Arizona. I'm not sure if Bishop's expressed his views on this legislation, but he's definitely a hard-core anti-immigrant zealot.
• WV-Gov: Treasurer John Perdue is out with his first ad - and it's a two-minute long (!!) behemoth.
• AZ-01: This is an old (May 2010) but interesting article on ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's relationship with Apache Indians in her former district, who constitute an important voting bloc. I highlight it because, of course, she just announced her intention to seek a rematch against Republican Paul Gosar. Apache leaders, who supported her first election bid in 2008, felt betrayed over her support of a controversial copper mine on what they consider to be sacred land and walked away from her last year. However, as sacman701 points out, Kirkpatrick's vote drop-off in Apache County in 2010 was very minimal.
• MN-08: Here's something else interesting (okay, every bullet in the digest is an unparalleled gem and I love them all equally): Dem Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, who used to be a state Senator, is supposedly considering a run against freshman GOPer Chip Cravaack, according to a Politics in Minnesota source. One problem, as the piece notes, is that if she won, Republican Senate President Michelle Fischbach would become the new Lieutenant Governor. As someone who lived through the near-death experience of having Pedro Espada half-a-heartbeat away from the governor's mansion, I wouldn't blame Minnesota Dems if they wanted Prettner Solon to stay put!
• NY-01: I think a key reason why Dem Rep. Tim Bishop was able to hang on by the skin of his political teeth last year was because of the exceptionally nasty three-way GOP primary on the other side of the aisle - one which took place very late (September) to boot, giving eventual winner Randy Altschuler little time to recover. So it's very heartwarming to see that another 2010 candidate, George Demos, is already slagging Altschuler for failing to win "in a year Republicans couldn't lose." Both men are considering rematches, and according to Dave Catanese, are meeting with the NRCC. Cat fud comin'!
• PA-03: This is also interesting (there I go again!): Ex-Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper is considering a rematch against GOP frosh Mike Kelly. I say "interesting" because I wouldn't have considered her among the likeliest batch of people to seek a comeback, and I don't think I'd really heard her name since last November. Anyhow, Dahlkemper says she's spoken with the DCCC, and while she wouldn't announce a timetable for a decision, she doesn't want to wait until the fall (as she did in 2007 when she first ran). The same article also mentions another potential Dem candidate whose name has come up in recent days but apparently hasn't ruled anything out: Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott.
• WI-07: Sean Duffy's handlers seem to have a very 19th century understanding of the Internet: They've demanded the already-infamous video of him moaning about getting by on $174K a year get removed on copyright grounds. This is sure to make the story go away. Actually, I've changed my mind: They have a decidedly 21st century appreciation of the 'net: After they sent a takedown letter to Talking Points Memo, TPM re-posted a shorter version of the video - which now, in a reverse Breitbart claim, Duffy's people are saying was selectively edited. Of course, this is bullshit, but they've succeeded in getting CNN to repeat it as fact.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: This is really interesting (wow, I just can't help myself today): Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out that there are two key special elections in the state's two biggest Democratic counties on Tuesday, which of course coincide with the Supreme Court race. One we've mentioned before: In Milwaukee, voters will replace their former County Exec, who was none other than Scott Walker. The Dem there, Chris Abele, has devoted his campaign to linking his Republican opponent with Walker. Meanwhile, in Dane County (home of Madison), the exec decided last year to leave in the middle of her term, prompting a new election. While Dane is reliably liberal, Milwaukee isn't always, but given the contours of this year, Gilbert thinks the voter surge in Milwaukee is more likely to be left-leaning. But you should really read the whole piece, as there's a lot of interesting data (and a cool chart) that I can't convey in one short bullet.
• PPP: Politico has a feature-type piece about our buddies at Public Policy Polling, with some details about the deal with DK/SEIU, and a longer discussion of how PPP really has not becomes viewed as a left-leaning Rasmussen... mostly because their numbers are actually, ya know, good.
• Arkansas: Despite strenuous GOP opposition, Arkansas Dems are moving ahead with their so-called "Fayetteville finger" plan that moves the city into Dem Rep. Mike Ross's 4th CD. They did pass a new, somewhat modified plan (you can see a map at the link), but it still preserves the extension into Fayetteville. (Several Republicans plans have gotten voted down as well.)
• Louisiana: Hah! Remember that fucker Michael Jackson, who ran as an independent in 2008 and cost Dem Rep. Don Cazayoux his hard-won seat in Congress? Well, in his role as state Rep., he's put out a propose congressional map that would create two majority-minority districts in Louisiana. I assume they have no chance of seeing the light of day, though. You can find it here.
• Missouri: The first proposed congressional redistricting plan has emerged from the Missouri state House, and it looks pretty much exactly like what you'd expect: Russ Carnahan's district has been flushed down the oubliette. (Map at link.) The state Senate plans to release a map soon, too.
• Mississippi: Mississippi has a serious redistricting logjam, and with the end of the legislative session fast approaching, no one seems inclined to give in. The article I've linked says that Gov. Haley Barbour could call a special session, but Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (who after a big initial setback seems to have reasserted himself as the GOP's point man on redistricting) seems almost eager for the impasse to continue. If it does, that would mean two sets of elections: one this year under the old maps, and one next year under new maps. Bryant is really starting to warm to this, because Republicans would very likely take control of the state House this November under the existing lines, which would then give them a free a hand. But if a new plan (with a Dem gerrymander in the House) goes into place this year, it gives Democrats at least something of a chance of holding the House - which is why House Speaker Billy McCoy's over-reach was really so stupid.
• New Jersey: Things are coming to a head in the Garden State, with the final vote on a redistricting plan by the members of the state's bipartisan commission scheduled for noon on Sunday. What the maps actually will look like is anybody's guess, as the panel's leader/tiebreaker, Alan Rosenthal, has ordered repeated revampings. (Chris Christie has also been seen leaning heavily on the panel members.) Leaked maps (we haven't actually seen copies of them, but apparently everyone is willing to describe them to reporters) seem rife with intra-party intrigue, with several Dem state legislators who've fallen out of favor (including ex-acting Gov. Richard Codey) getting the short end of the redistricting stick. At the Congressional level, the same dynamic is playing out, with rumors that Rep. Frank Pallone of NJ-06 is the House member likeliest to get dealt the worst hand. Apparently he's also out of favor with the currently ruling Dem power brokers, who'd like to derail him from an anticipated statewide run. (The whole story is worth a read, for a guided tour of the byzantine behind-the-scenes working of New Jersey politics.)
• Virginia: The Virginia Public Access Project has some cool interactive charts you can play around with which show how the various redistricting proposals would affect the state legislature.