• CT-Sen: Connecticut's open seat Senate race was always destined to be a high-dollar affair, and the money chase is well underway. Former SoS Susie Bysiewicz released a first quarter total of a respectable $500K, but Rep. Chris Murphy, her main rival in the Dem primary, just more than doubled up on that, with $1.1 million raised over the course of his first 10 weeks. (Of course, they've both picked their low hanging fruit on their first trip to the orchard, so the challenge will be to keep up that rate.)
• FL-Sen: PPP, who put out general election numbers on the Senate race last week, have the GOP primary numbers... and they find GOP voters saying "Uh, who?" (Y'know, like that guy who used to be the Senator... who somehow is known by only 26% of the sample?) Unfortunately, Connie Mack IV dropped out while the poll was in the field, so, better-known than the other options (perhaps courtesy of his dad, the former Sen. Connie Mack III, who the state's older and more confused voters might think is back) he leads the way at 28, with the actual candidates, ex-Sen. George LeMieux and state Sen. majority leader Mike Haridopolos at 14 and 13, respectively. Additional likely candidate Adam Hasner is back at 5. Don't look for any help on choosing from Marco Rubio: he's just announced that he won't endorse in the primary.
• HI-Sen: There still seem to be fans out there for losing '06 IL-06 candidate and Obama admin member Tammy Duckworth, eager to get her into elected office somewhere someday, and the place du jour seems to be Hawaii, where a Draft Duckworth page has popped up for the open Senate seat.
• MA-Sen: Salem mayor Kim Driscoll has been the occasional subject of Senate speculation for the Dem primary, along with the mayor of pretty much every other mid-sized city in the state. Nevertheless, she pulled her name out of contention yesterday (all part of the Democratic master plan of not having a candidate to deceptively lull the GOP into complacency, I'm sure). Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Scott Brown (last seen praising the Paul Ryan Abolition of Medicare Plan, rolled out his first quarter fundraising numbers: he raised $1.7 million in Q1, leaving him with $8.1 million cash on hand. That's, of course, huge, but the silver lining on that is that it doesn't leave him on track to hit his previously-announced super-gigantic $25 mil fundraising goal for the cycle.
• FL-Gov: With various newly-elected Republican governors in polling freefall, Rick Scott (who can't even get along with his GOP legislature, let alone his constituents) really seems to be leading the way down. Quinnipiac finds his approvals deep in the hole, currently 35/48, down from 35/22 in February (meaning he picked up no new fans in that period, but managed to piss off an additional quarter of the state). Voters says by a 53-37 margin that his budget proposals are unfair to people like them. Voters are also opposed to the legislature's proposal to stop collecting union dues from state workers' paychecks.
• MO-Gov: After spending Monday dragging out his fight with those who buy ink by the barrel (aka the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who broke the story on his fancy-pants hotel habit), Missouri Lt. Gov. and Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Kinder seemed to dial things down a notch yesterday: he says he'll 'voluntarily' reimburse the state $30K for those expenditures, and while not exactly apologizing, says he seeks "to move this nimbus off the horizon." Um, whatever that means.
• AZ-06: After getting mentioned a lot when Jeff Flake announced his Senate run, opening up the Mesa-based 6th, state Senate president Russell Pearce is now sounding unlikely to run according to insiders. (Blowback over his links to the Fiesta Bowl controversy may be the last straw, though, rather than his status as xenophobia's poster child.) A couple other GOP names have risen to the forefront: state House speaker Kirk Adams, who's considering, and former state Sen. majority leader Chuck Gray, who is already in.
• CA-36: One more big union endorsement for Janice Hahn in the primary fight against Debra Bowen to succeed Jane Harman: this one comes from the SEIU.
• CT-05: The open seat vacated by Chris Murphy is likely to draw a crowd, and here's a new Republican contender in this swingy, suburban district: Farmington town council chair and former FBI agent Mike Clark. Clark has a notable profile for helping to take down a fellow Republican while at the FBI: corrupt ex-Gov. John Rowland. He'll face Justin Bernier in the GOP primary, who lost the primary in 2010.
• FL-20: In case Debbie Wasserman Schultz's work load couldn't get any heavier, she just got a new heap of responsibility dumped in her lap: she'll become the new head of the DNC, to replace newly-minted Senate candidate Tim Kaine. She'll, of course, keep her day job as Representative.
• MN-08: The Dem-leaning 8th is as good a place as any to pick up a seat in 2012, but there's the wee problem of trying to find somebody to run there. The latest Dem possibility that drew everyone's interest, Yvonne Prettner Solon, the former Duluth-area state Sen. and newly-elected Lt. Governor, won't run here either.
• NH-St. House: I realize that with 400 members you're going to have a lot of bad apples, but still we're up to 3 GOP frosh having resigned already from the New Hampshire state House. Hot on the heels of a 91-year-old member resigning after advocating (literally) sending 'defectives' to Siberia to starve, Gary Wheaton just resigned for driving with a suspended license after a previous DUI (and then publicly suspected the arresting officer for targeting him because of his vote against collective bargaining). And somewhat less dramatically, Robert Huxley eventually got around to resigning after not getting around to showing up for any votes so far in the session.
• EMILY's List: EMILY's List is out with its first five fundraising targets for the 2012 cycle. Some of them are to be expected, with high-profile GOP freshmen and already-announced female opponents: Allen West (who may face West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel in FL-22), Paul Gosar (who faces a rematch with ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in AZ-01), and Charlie Bass (rematched with Ann McLane Kuster in NH-02). They also targeted Joe Heck in NV-03 and Chip Cravaack in MN-08, who don't have opponents yet but conceivably could match up with Dina Titus and Tarryl Clark, respectively.
• WATN?: Thirtysomething Carte Goodwin seemed to make a good impression during his half-a-year as a fill-in in the Senate (in between Robert Byrd and Joe Manchin), moving him to prime position on the Dems' West Virginia bench, but he says he's not running for anything else anytime soon. Or more accurately, he says the only the only thing he's running for "is the county line." (Uh, with the revenuers in pursuit?)
• CT-Sen: This is starting to sound like a broken record, but Rep. Joe Courtney is in the news again for saying that he's still vaguely interested in getting into the Dem Senate primary. At least he has a somewhat more definite timetable, saying he'll decide "by the end of this month."
• FL-Sen: Quinnipiac is out with its first Florida poll of the 2012 cycle, and it's remarkably similar to the other polling they've been doing so far this cycle (like OH and PA): they find a surprisingly high number of people with no opinion about the incumbent Democrat, and find him polling in the mid-40s on a generic ballot question, but still winning by an OK margin. Bill Nelson's specific numbers vs. Generic R are 41-36; his approvals are pretty good at 45/21 and his re-elect is 43/33. On a related note, Nelson has the most cash of any Dem heading into 2012, in what, if only by virtue of the state's population, may be 2012's most expensive Senate race; he has more than $3 million CoH.
• MA-Sen, MA-04: I was a little surprised to see Barney Frank's name even on the long list of potential candidates for the Massachusetts Senate race - he's 70 years old and, if for some reason there's a Democratic wave election in 2012 he could get his gavel back - so it's not unusual to see his announcement today that he's running for another term in the House in 2012.
• MN-Sen: Courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio, here's a long list of additional Republicans who aren't running for Senate in Minnesota. (The list of ones who are running would be more interesting but is much shorter, since it has zero names on it, with the possible exception of Harold Shudlick, who lost the 2006 Senate nomination with a proto-teabag candidacy.) Most notably it includes former state Rep. Laura Brod (who's apparently on the short list to become a Univ. of Minnesota Regent instead), but also state Sen. Julie Rosen, state Sen. David Hann, Hennepin Co. Sheriff Rich Stanek, attorney Ron Schutz, and Bill Guidera, who is the state party's finance chair but is employed as "lobbyist for News Corp." A Roll Call article from several weeks ago buried a few other "no thanks" too: businesswoman Susan Marvin, former T-Paw CoS Charlie Weaver, and former state Rep. Paul Kohls. (H/t Brian Valco.)
• MT-Sen, MT-AL: After a lot of rumors last week, it's official as of today: Republican Senate candidate Steve Daines is dropping down to the open seat House race, where he probably becomes something of a frontrunner (rather than a speed bump for Denny Rehberg). He can transfer over the $200K he raised for his Senate race. The Fix has some additional names who might consider the House race (in addition to Democratic state Rep. Franke Wilmer, who started floating her name several days ago): businessman Neil Livingstone and state Sen. Roy Brown for the GOP, and state Sen. minority whip Kim Gillan, state Sen. Larry Jent, up-and-coming state Sen. Kendall Van Dyk (netroots candidate, anybody?), or attorney Tyler Gernant.
• WI-Sen: Is this the opening salvo of the 2012 Senate race? It comes from a familiar face (one who lost the 1998 Senate general election and 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary), ex-Rep. and real estate development magnate Mark Neumann. He engaged in the traditional pre-announcement tactic of penning an op-ed attacking the incumbent, in this case Herb Kohl and his vote against HCR repeal. If so, it would set up the battle of the self-funders.
• WV-Sen: The NRSC is out with its first ad of the cycle, and they're getting right to work going after Joe Manchin, after he surprised at least some people by keeping ranks with the Dems and voting against HCR repeal. No trucker hats or plaid here... instead, they seem to be taking that "San Francisco values" (read: gay gay gay!) tack pioneered by Sam Graves in a notorious MO-06 ad in 2008, by comparing joined-at-the-hip pals Barack Obama and Joe Manchin to other legendary campy duos, like Sonny and Cher, and Siegfried and Roy.
• IN-Gov: Somebody's not waiting for Mike Pence to make his move on the Indiana governor's race! I say "somebody" because I really have no idea who this guy is, although he's one step up from Some Dude by virtue of having been a Hamilton County Commissioner. Jim Wallace is the first to actually say he'll seek the Republican nomination; he's touting his business background (as a consultant to health insurance companies).
• WV-Gov: I'm not sure I've ever seen such a chaotically-planned election before, but now the state House and Senate in West Virginia can't agree on what date they're going to set for the special election to replace Joe Manchin. The House moved it up to Sep. 13, but then the Senate's bill kept it at Oct. 4, which was the date proposed by Earl Ray Tomblin. At least they're in agreement on the primary date, June 20. (There's also a rundown on filings so far: the three Dems to file are the one's you'd expect (Tomblin, Natalie Tennant, and Rick Thompson), while in addition to two expected GOPers (Betty Ireland, Mark Sorsaia), there's also one whose name I hadn't heard before, state Del. Patrick Lane.
• FL-25: You know you're in for a short stay in the House when the Beltway media is already compiling lists of likely successors during your first month on the job. The Fix's list of possible Republicans who might pick up after David Rivera in the event of a resignation/expulsion includes state Sen. Anitere Flores, former state Sen. Alex Villalobos, state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo, and former state Rep. J.C. Planas.
• MS-LG: With Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant the likeliest person to become Mississippi Governor in 2011, the jockeying to become Lt. Gov in 2011 (and thus probably become Governor in 2019) is underway. Republican state Treasurer Tate Reeves is the first to announce his bid.
• DCCC/Crossroads: The announcement that they were targeting 19 vulnerable Republicans this early in the cycle was a good move for the DCCC, but a lot of the wind subsequently went out of their sails when it was revealed (courtesy of Nathan Gonzales) that the effort was really more of a press release backed up by tiny radio ad buys, with a total of about $10,000 spent, working out to about $500 per member (and as low as $114 in VA-05, which is a cheap market, but still...). That was met by a retaliatory buy from the Karl Rove-linked GOP dark money outfit American Crossroads, where the clearly telegraphed subtext was "You're broke; we have money." They spent $90,000 to air radio ads in those same markets, which at less than $5,000 per member is still chicken feed but, in terms of The Math, noticeably larger. Of course, that $114 is a pretty good return on investment, if it got Robert Hurt publicly backpedaling on just how much he wants to cut infrastructure spending.
• Mayors: The Las Vegas mayoral race just took an interesting turn yesterday, when former school board president (and more notably, wife of outgoing mayor-for-life Oscar Goodman) Carol Goodman reversed course and said that she would, in fact, run for mayor. By virtue of name rec, that may catapult her to the front of the line.
• Redistricting: This may be our first-ever episode of Swingnuts in the News, but Josh Goodman (now writing for Stateline) has an interview with Dave Bradlee (of Dave's Redistricting App fame) in his new article on the rise of DIY redistricting in general. (He also briefly cites abgin's now-legendary map of New York state.) He also points out that at least two states, Idaho and Florida, will make similar applications available online for tinkerers, as well as the Public Mapping Project's efforts to create a more comprehensive public service.
• Census: The 2010 data for Louisiana, Missisippi, New Jersey, and Virginia is out... at least in cumbersome FTP form. American FactFinder won't have the data until later today or tomorrow. (Looks like Dave Wasserman's already cracked open the data and has tweeted one interesting tidbit: New Orleans' population came in 29.1% lower than 2000, and even 3.1% below the 2009 ACS estimate.
• MI-Sen: Peter Hoekstra, having just started as a "senior adviser" at Dickstein Shapiro, let Politico know that, despite all appearances associated with his new job, he hasn't ruled out a 2012 Senate bid, saying he's keeping his options open. (I know that on my first day on the job, I like to loudly tell everybody that I may not be working there much longer. Really helps you get off on the right foot with your boss.)
• MT-Sen: Jon Tester wasted no time in going after newly-announced Denny Rehberg, drawing connections between Rehberg and Michele Bachmann (and her proposed $4.5 billion in VA cuts). Bachmann will be a featured speaker at the event on Saturday where Rehberg formally announces. Tester raised $128K in Q4 with $562K, a decent amount for the small state of Montana but not much different from Rehberg's $553K war chest.
• TX-Sen: You might remember talk from a couple years ago where ESPN analyst Craig James was interested in running for what was then expected to be a Senate special election to replace a resigning Kay Bailey Hutchison. That faded into the mists of time, but here's the first statement of interest I've seen from him since the race re-opened up thanks to her retirement. It comes up in the context of him saying that, yes, he believes people in Lubbock would still vote for him despite his role in getting Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach fired.
• UT-Sen: An interesting piece about Orrin Hatch focuses mostly on how he's trying to avoid the fate of Bob Bennett by reaching out and engaging the local tea party crowd as much as possible; a local 'bagger comments that Hatch shouldn't expect their endorsement but his efforts will really limit the outrage that seemed to overwhelm Bennett. (Hatch also has an interesting selling point to offer them: if he's defeated but the GOP takes the Senate, that puts Olympia Snowe in charge of Finance.) Buried in the story is a provocative comment from Bennett's vanquisher, Mike Lee, who only says that he'll "fully support" the GOP nominee without saying anything about backing Hatch.
• AK-AL, NY-13: Here are two House races where the potential challenger has the financial advantage, according to new Q4 numbers. One is the possible GOP primary for Alaska's at-large seat, where Joe Miller has $825K left in the bank, thanks to money he didn't get a chance to spend on his legal defense, whereas Don Young has $170K CoH. (Miller, of course, hasn't said anything specific about a race against Young in 2012, but he and Young have publicly traded some barbs.) The other is NY-13, where surprise Republican victor Michael Grimm actually finds himself in debt, with a net minus-$36K while Democratic ex-Rep. Mike McMahon, who seems to be laying groundwork for a rematch, has $17K CoH leftover.
• IN-05, IN-06: Roll Call looks at the slowly-developing race to replace Mike Pence in the 6th. Most (if not all) the action is on the GOP side so far, with former Wayne Co. Sheriff Matt Strittmatter the only one with a campaign account open so far (which contains $39K). Other GOPers include 1990s-era ex. Rep. David McIntosh, Henry County Council president Nate LaMar, '10 Senate primary loser Don Bates, and '10 IN-05 primary loser Luke Messer... but it sounds like Messer, who almost beat the unloved Dan Burton, may be running in the 5th again, seeing as how Roll Call got Burton's office to confirm that Burton (frequent subject of retirement speculation) plans to run for re-election. One other wrinkle: Republican redistricting efforts to redden Joe Donnelly's IN-02 may wind up making IN-06 less Republican, so that might encourage Dems to at least consider playing in the 6th.
• MT-AL: With Montana's at-large House seat suddenly looking like it's on track to be an open seat, we may actually get some decent Democratic candidates in the race. It's occasionally been a competitive seat, currently at R+7, though not really hotly contested since the last time it was open, in 2000. Democratic State Rep. Franke Wilmer of Bozeman is already floating her name for the race. (If she won, she'd be the first woman in the seat since the legendary Jeannette Rankin.)
• SD-AL: Now this is interesting: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (haven't heard anything about a rematch, but this might perk up her ears) is actually leading a hypothetical rematch by one point (46-45) against new Republican Rep. Kristi Noem, according to PPP. PPP points out that she lost by three in 2010, so that small shift is consistent with the small nationwide bump upwards for the Dems over the last month or two. Herseth Sandlin's favorables are 55/36, compared with Noem's 38/35 approvals. Over on the Senate side, Tim Johnson (who isn't up until 2014) is at 47/41 approval.
• LA-AG: We've seen a couple dozen legislative party-switchers from the Democrats to the Republicans in southern states in the last few months, in the wake of several states' chambers finally completing their realignment all the way down to the state level, but nobody at a statewide level doing so... until now. Louisiana AG Buddy Caldwell, facing a potentially tough general election, plans to switch to Republican status. (I'd invoke the cautionary specter of Parker Griffith, but Louisiana uses a jungle primary so switching to a potentially tough primary instead may not be the kiss of death.) Since Caldwell was already the only Democratic AG who had joined the multi-state lawsuit against healthcare reform, his "Democrat" status was pretty negligible at this point.
• MA-St. House: This may be one of the largest constituencies where I've seen a race end in a tie (although I'm sure someone in the comments can come up with a historic example of an even bigger race that tied). The November election in Massachusetts's 6th Worcester district in the state House was just declared a tie by a superior court judge, and (rather than flipping a coin, drawing lots, or sending them to Thunderdome) a do-over special election was ordered. Democratic incumbent Geraldo Alicea and GOPer Peter Durant both got 6,587 votes. No date has been set yet, but we'll all be on pins and needles that night, seeing as how Dems control that chamber by only a 128-31 margin.
• CA-Referenda: A statewide special election is planned for some point in June, as Jerry Brown seeks a public mandate for extending increases in three different taxes (and he seems to think he has a better shot getting this through a public vote than the legislature). This is likely to be an entirely vote-by-mail affair, presaging a potential California shift in the direction of its west coast brethren. Somewhat counterintuitively (since vote-by-mail is usually considered to boost Dems), though, observers think this might skew the election toward older, whiter voters, as mail delivery is "unreliable in spots" (?!?) in heavily-minority Los Angeles County and voters there still tend to rely heavily on polling places. On the plus side, though, a recent PPIC poll found more support for extending the taxes among the 55+ set (56 yes/38 no) than among the entire population (where there was 50 yes/48 no support). Have the most seriously tax-hating seniors all fled to Arizona?
• Fundraising: The Fix has a bunch more Senate fundraising numbers to report, building on the numbers we gave you yesterday. For the Dems, Bob Casey Jr. seems to be fully engaged with his race, pulling in $621K in Q4 for $1.3 million CoH, while the publicity surrounding FiliBernie seems to have been a big cash cow for Bernie Sanders, who raised $485K for $536K CoH. Bob Menendez raised $237K for $2.4 million CoH, while freshly-elected Joe Manchin seemed to take a breather from fundraising, raising only $18K for $377K. Among not just vulnerable Republicans but basically everybody else in the Senate, Scott Brown is still the unstoppable money machine, in terms of both cash raised and CoH: $734K raised for $7.2 million CoH. Richard Lugar raised $173K for $2.35 million CoH, while Olympia Snowe raised $79K for $1.2 million CoH.
• Census: We're still waiting for this week's released of detailed 2010 data for Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia, but the Census Bureau is letting us know that next week they'll be out with four more: Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, and Maryland.
• WATN?: Rod Grams somehow managed to be one of the least memorable Senators of my lifetime who managed to serve a full term (surprisingly swept in in Minnesota in 1994, easily turned out in 2000), and now he's working a job that seems befitting his anonymity. He's working as a Hill staffer, and not even on the Senate side: he's the new chief of staff to new MN-08 Rep. Chip Cravaack. (Recall that Cravaack did what Grams couldn't do in 2006: knock off Jim Oberstar, in what was a strange comeback attempt by Grams.)
Joe Manchin (D-inc): 50
Shelley Moore Capito (R): 41
Joe Manchin (D-inc): 57
David McKinley (R): 28
Joe Manchin (D-inc): 60
John Raese (R): 31
I think, if you were to try and set up West Virginians' feelings about their politicians as a mathematical equation, it would look something like this: Joe Manchin > Shelley Moore Capito > (very large gap) > various other Dems > various other Republicans. This can be seen in PPP's sample this week, which starts with their look at the 2012 Senate race, with Manchin beating all Republican opponents and having made the jump to federal office with sky-high approvals down somewhat but mostly intact, at 52/32 (with much of the drop in approvals coming from liberals, believe it or not). Capito is in similar very-positive terrain at 54/30, but nevertheless loses to Manchin, probably because of the disparity in Dem vs. GOP registrations in West Virginia and that there's little Dem defection from Manchin.
Natalie Tennant (D): 48
Mike Stuart (R): 22
Rick Thompson (D): 29
Shelley Moore Capito (R): 54
Rick Thompson (D): 34
Clark Barnes (R): 24
Rick Thompson (D): 31
Betty Ireland (R): 37
Rick Thompson (D): 33
Mike Stuart (R): 22
If you have the stamina to wade through all 16 of these gubernatorial permutations, you can see a definite pattern: Dems win big, unless the GOP gets Shelley Moore Capito into the race, in which case she's favored (or unless Rick Thompson wins the nomination, as he manages to lose to Betty Ireland). The question PPP asks specifically says "If the candidates for governor this year were..." so, however, keep in mind that Capito has basically declined to run in the special election. Nevertheless, she hasn't ruled out a run in 2012, so assuming these numbers stay valid for another year, there's a distinct possibility that whichever Dem wins the special election in 2011 could have a very short tenure if Capito does decide to run in 2012. In fact, if Earl Ray Tomblin doesn't win the Dem primary, we could have two one-year gubernatorial terms in a row. Tomblin starts in a good place, though, with 42/20 approvals; Betty Ireland seems to fare the best of the "other" GOPers, with 33/19 faves.
If you're wondering, here's who all these various people are:
Earl Ray Tomblin: Democratic state Senate president and acting Governor until the October 2011 special election
John Perdue: Democratic state Treasurer
Natalie Tennant: Democratic Secretary of State
Rick Thompson: Democratic state House speaker
Shelley Moore Capito: Republican Rep. from WV-02
Clark Barnes: Republican state Senator
Betty Ireland: Republican ex-SoS
Mike Stuart: Republican state party chair
• FL-Sen: With everyone fixated on the three retirements in the Senate in the last week (although the Fix makes the good point this morning that by this point in the 2010 cycle, there had already been four retirements), Bill Nelson seems compelled to point out that he won't be one of them. In front of as many reporters as possible (at an AP gathering), he confirmed today that he's running again.
• MO-Sen, MO-06: Wow, this is out of nowhere (although I'm not sure whether this is going to have any legs beyond today), but potentially very interesting: Republican Rep. Sam Graves is suddenly expressing some interest in the Senate race, calling it a "great opportunity." He's been in the House since 2000 and is chair of the Small Business Committee, so giving that up would be a big move. He may be seeing the diminished likelihood of a Jim Talent run and sensing there's room for another establishmentarian-type candidate to go against the more tea-flavored Sarah Steelman. (This would open up MO-06 in the state's rural northwest, which was Dem-held before Graves but has shifted to the right, currently R+7; Dems tried to make it competitive in 2008 and didn't get any traction.)
• ND-Sen: Ready for a whole lot of names of people who might run for Senate? In fact, let me just blockquote the Bismarck Tribune, rather than transcribing it laboriously:
The list of Republicans whose names are being thrown out include Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, Rep. Rick Berg, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, Public Service Commissioners [Brian] Kalk and Kevin Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven's state director Shane Goettle, GOP state treasurer Bob Harms, and Great Plains Software developer Doug Burgum.
As for Democrats, names circulating include both [ex-state Sen. and radio host]Joel and [ex-AG] Heidi Heitkamp, former state Sen. Tracy Potter, USDA Rural Development Director Jasper Schneider, state Sen. Mac Schneider, U.S Attorney Tim Purdon, Conrad's state director Scott Stofferahn and former Byron Dorgan staffer Pam Gulleson, former agriculture commissioner Sara Vogel, former state Rep. Chris Griffin, State Sen. Tim Mathern of Fargo, Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor and even Earl Pomeroy.
The Bismarck Tribune article also gets a number of these people on record, although their comments are all various degrees of noncommittal. Kent Conrad tipped his hand a bit yesterday, giving nods in the Grand Forks Herald to both Heitkamps, as well as to Schneider. One other Dem who got mentioned a lot yesterday, Roger Johnson (the president of the National Farmers Union) has already said he's not interested. And in what's not a surprise, the Tea Partiers aren't happy with anyone of 'em (although some had some words of praise for Berg), but are still promising to "battle for control."
• VT-Sen: It looks like Republican state Auditor Tom Salmon's Facebook attacks on Bernie Sanders weren't just the work of a bored guy at work but, as many speculated, part of a coordinated plan to move toward a run against Sanders; he's now publicly saying that he he's interested in the race. Color me puzzled: why would Salmon (who was a Democrat until a year and a half ago) go after an entrenched institution like Sanders in 2012 when he could run for Gov. against Peter Shumlin, who's just getting situated and won by only a narrow margin in 2010?
• KY-Gov: This one gets filed straight to the Department of Foregone Conclusions, but it was made official today: Republican state Sen. president David Williams and Ag Comm. Richie Farmer filed their candidacy papers today, to go up against incumbent Dem Steve Beshear in November.
• WV-Gov: We're getting some pushback/clarification from Shelley Moore Capito's team regarding claims from gubernatorial candidate Betty Ireland that she wasn't going to run for Governor; a spokesperson says the only thing that's off the table is a run in the special election for Governor (which we know now will be held this November). She's still open to a bid for either Governor or Senate in 2012. Dave Catanese also wonders whether Capito's timeline is a little longer, i.e. a 2014 run against Jay Rockefeller (or for his open seat, if he retires, seeing as how he'll be 77 then). It's also looking like the candidates for November's special election will be picked by primary rather than by the parties; acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who was the main impediment to a 2011 election until yesterday's supreme court ruling, says he's working with SoS (and likely Dem primary opponent) Natalie Tennant to set special primaries in motion.
• NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon seems to be laying groundwork for a rematch against Mike Grimm, who defeated him narrowly in 2010. He reached out to members of the Staten Island Democratic Association at a meeting last night.
• OR-01: Rep. David Wu has always struck people as a little odd (many of you probably remember his Klingons speech), but it seems like something has intensified lately, and it's starting to come out in the open. It's been revealed that in the last few months, he's lost a number of his key staffers amidst complaints about his public behavior, including his chief of staff (who left to join a Rep. with less seniority) and his communications director (who left without having another job lined up, which is even more highly unusual, especially in this economic climate). This chief fundraiser and chief pollster also say they don't plan to work with him any longer. This is a D+8 district with a robust Dem bench, which is good because this may be a difficult story for Wu to shake, especially given general rumblings of discontent with him that have been building over time.
• Mayors: Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter looks like he's in good shape for his 2011 re-election, according to a new poll from Municipoll. Nutter's at 47-39 against Generic D primary opponent, wins a three-way primary against Bill Green and Anthony Williams 46-21-18, and wins a three-way against Sam Katz and Williams 44-22-21. Interestingly (though consistent with the original coalition that elected him), Nutter has stronger support among whites (64% favorable) than he does among African-Americans, at 45%. (Nutter is black.) Nutter also just secured the support of the Laborers union. Even further down the weeds in Philly, Republican state Rep. (and, briefly, former speaker) Dennis O'Brien will run for a vacant city council seat in NE Philly. That's good news, because it might free up his state House seat and make any Dem attempt to retake the state House in 2012 easier, seeing as how his seat is one of the most Dem-leaning seats held by a Republican.
• Minnesota: Two stories developing in Minnesota; one, the legal battle over 2012 redistricting has already begun, with Minnesota its first flashpoint. With the GOP controlling the legislature (but not the governorship), Dems have filed a suit seeking an injunction requiring legislators to submit proposed redistricting plans directly to the court (where they'll probably wind up anyway, regardless of how this suit goes). Also, Minnesota GOP legislators are seeking to emulate their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin in making it more difficult to vote, seeking to push a voter ID bill.
• Redistricting: You may remember some Republican laments from a few days ago about the apparent failure of their MAPS program to raise the money needed to coordinate redistricting at a national level; those fears seem to be spreading, including to ex-Rep. Tom Reynolds, who's spearheading the process for the GOP this year. Part of the problem seems to be that they spent so much money winning control of state legislatures in November that nothing was reserved for coordinating the subsequent redistricting. Nathan Gonzales also previews how state legislators from both parties are currently hunkering down in Washington learning (since many weren't in office in 2000) the redistricting process from the ground up; in particular, they're learning the new technologies (like GIS programs like Maptitude), which obviously have come a long way since the last round of redistricting.
• Census: Hats off to the Census Bureau, who, just in time to go with their upcoming onslaught of 2010 data, have launched a new and improved version of American FactFinder (the main research tool on their site), a significant improvement over the rather clumsy and unintuitive existing version. I wouldn't go so far as to call the new version intuitive either, but it makes multi-variable searches and customized maps much easier.
• AK-Sen: This shouldn't come as a surprise and I highly doubt that Joe Miller would listen to anything Mark Begich would say even if it weren't a surprise, but Begich is now encouraging Miller to drop his pointless challenge to Lisa Murkowski so Murkowski can get sworn in on schedule and the pork can continue to flow to the Last Frontier. Meanwhile, Miller is now actually saying that he would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling Inuits. In a Washington Times column, Miller blames the Native Alaskan corporations for backing Murkowski (via the Alaskans Standing Together PAC), and even (gasp! call the Fox voter fraud hotline!) putting boots on the ground to teach people how to spell "Murkowski" and bus people to the polls!!1!
• FL-Sen: If you were wondering if there was still a flicker of possibility that Jeb Bush was going to run against Bill Nelson, that's pretty much extinguished: Bush himself acknowledged that over the weekend, admitting there's a major problem given his support for immigration reform (and opposition to Arizona's new law) that puts him at odds with the ascendant teabaggery. Mike Haridopolos is also letting everyone know that he wouldn't be running if Bush were going to run, but that he's gotten Bush's green light. (The latter article also includes a few additional GOP names that we haven't seen yet in connection with this race, like sophomore Rep. Tom Rooney and Adam Hasner, the former state House majority leader.)
• IN-Sen: State Sen. Mike Delph is waving his arms around madly trying to get the tea partiers' attention for a possible primary against GOP apostate Richard Lugar, with a widely-circulated post to his own blog saying that he's "increasingly concerned" with Lugar's actions, especially support for the DREAM Act. The real question is whether state Treasurer Richard Mourdock gets in; Lugar's best shot at getting through, like Dan Coats in the 2010 Senate primary, is to have the multiple teabaggers cannibalizing each others' votes.
• NV-Sen: Democratic Rep. Shelly Berkley is mentioning some sort of timeline for deciding on whether to run for the Senate against John Ensign (or whoever decapitates him in the GOP primary): she's saying early 2011, probably before mid-February. Worth noting: she's sitting on $1.1 million CoH, more than your average Rep. and a good head start for a Senate bid.
• WV-Sen: John Raese, who has run and lost four times statewide, is pretty much ruling out another run for office, aware that it's probably not a good investment of his family fortune. Also, he says he's "worn out" (and probably wants to spend more time with his new glass conservatory). As for who will actually run, Shelly Moore Capito is naturally at the top of the GOP's wish list, but it sounds like she's more interested in running for Governor in 2012, making a run from some other self-funding B-lister against Manchin seem likely.
• MN-Gov: Tom Emmer's legal team, over the weekend, pulled a large number of frivolous challenges: 2,600 of them, all from Hennepin County (Minneapolis). Between this token act of perceptions-management, and signals from Emmer attorney (and ex-state supreme court chief justice) Eric Magnuson that Emmer isn't likely to prevail, it looks like we may actually get some resolution on this sooner rather than later.
• CA-11: I'm not sure if anyone was still wondering if David Harmer had conceded this race, as Jerry McNerney declared victory nearly a month ago and the AP also called it a few weeks ago, but he finally pulled the plug over the weekend. Harmer says he has no plans to run again.
• VA-09: Um, oooops. Here's one veteran Dem who seems to have gotten caught with his pants down, when a late move in the polls in what had previously seemed an OK race (recall the spike in the last SurveyUSA poll of this race) seemed to come too late for him to do a last-minute ad blitz. Rick Boucher had by far the most money left over of any House Dem who lost: $699K. (Chris Carney came in second with $262K.)
• DCCC: Another changing of the guard at the DCCC: Robby Mook is taking over as executive director, from Jon Vogel. He's following the same path as Vogel, having led the DCCC's independent expenditure arm during the 2010 cycle.
• NY-St. Sen.: The last two races in the New York state Senate are more or less resolved. Suzi Oppenheimer, as expected, has been declared the victor, and GOP opponent Bob Cohen has conceded. Craig Johnson, on the other hand, has lost, or at least was on the wrong end of the recount, although he plans to appeal. Assuming nothing changes in SD-7, the GOP will control the Senate 32-30 for this session.
• Redistricting: In Massachusetts, Democratic Secretary of State Bill Galvin is floating the idea of switching to an independent redistricting commission (albeit one that would apparently be non-binding). That's odd, since if there's one state where the Dems have firm control of the trifecta, it's the Bay State. As you might expect, Dem legislative leaders are expressing little interest in the idea. They're moving full speed ahead on the 2012 process, with state Senate president pro tem Stan Rosenberg in charge just as he was in 2002. As far as tea leaves for who might get protected in the elimination of that tenth House seat: I'm not sure if Rosenberg would be considered a John Olver ally, but it's worth noting that Rosenberg is, like Olver, from Amherst, and succeeded Olver in the state Senate, taking over Olver's old seat in 1991 upon Olver's special election to the House.
• NV-Sen: By far the most interesting news of what's been a very slow news day is that John Ensign appears to be running again, at least according to one of his spokespersons. While he's been acting like he'd run again (and he was probably encouraged by that recent PPP poll showing him leading Dean Heller in a GOP primary), it's still a little surprising, given the disrepair his fundraising operation has fallen into, and the pile of ethics and potentially criminal investigations he'll have to navigate next year. (H/t sebby123.)
• FL-Sen: Can't a man publish an op-ed in a major in-state newspaper without people thinking he's running for a higher office? Well, apparently not, based on reaction to a column written by Rep. Connie Mack IV in the Orlando Sentinel that took Bill Nelson to task over extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Beltway code-talkers are interpreting this as the first salvo of a likely Senate race.
• WV-Sen, WV-Gov, WV-02: GOP Rep. Shelly Moore Capito is sounding studiously noncommital about her plans for 2012. A challenge to newly-elected (in a special election) Sen. Joe Manchin? "I'm not ruling it out..." but also "I have given no thought to it..." (other than, by definition, the amount of thought needed in order to decide not to rule it out). She also didn't rule out running for Governor in 2012, although she did pretty explicitly rule out running for Governor if the legislature decides they should have a fast odd-numbered-year special election to replace Manchin in 2011. A Manchin/Capito match would be between two super-popular politicians: a Blankenship (the pollster, not the coal company) survey just found Manchin with 80% approvals and Capito at 77%.
• AL-02: Bobby Bright popped up today to criticize the Dems' decision to retain Nancy Pelosi as leader, but he also offered some vague "never say never" sentiments about a return engagement for his seat, saying he wouldn't rule it out in 2012.
• IN-06: With Mike Pence looking likelier that he's up and out of the House after this term -- although whether he's running for Governor or President is unclear -- Roll Call names some potential replacements. One is a blast from the past: ex-Rep. David McIntosh, who represented an earlier iteration of this district (then IN-02) from 1994 to 2000, when he lost the Governor's race. Other names include Wayne Co. Sheriff Matt Strittmatter, former state Rep. Luke Messer (whom you might remember from narrowly losing the IN-05 primary to Dan Burton this year), and rich guy Don Bates (who finished 4th in the IN-Sen primary this year, and has also been rumored for a Richard Lugar primary challenge).
• LA-SoS: Here's an interesting career pivot: soon-to-be-ex. Rep. Joe Cao is considering a run for Louisiana Secretary of State. He'd face a primary against Tom Schedler, a Republican who will be acting SoS for the next year (current SoS Jay Dardenne is about to be sworn in as Lt. Governor) and will be running for a permanent slot next year. (H/t GOPVOTER.)
• AK-Sen: As it gets more and more apparent that victory isn't going to come on the write-in-challenges front, the Joe Miller camp seems to be admitting as much. However, they aren't preparing to concede, as they see one last ace in the hole: absentee ballots, which are still trickling in. The last to arrive (ahead of Wednesday's deadline) will be the military overseas ballots, which Miller expects will break heavily in his favor (seeing as how many military members nearing the end of their commitment are probably looking forward to a profitable career on Miller's paramilitary goon squad). With Lisa Murkowski's lead holding at 40-35, though, it's unclear whether military ballots would show up in sufficient numbers to turn the tide even if they broke widely for Miller.
• DE-Sen, WV-Sen: Congratulations today to Chris Coons and Joe Manchin, both of whom are being sworn into the Senate this afternoon for the lame-duck session. It's also the first day on the job for Earl Ray Tomblin, who becomes the new West Virginia Governor in Manchin's absence. If you're wondering about Mark Kirk, he'll be sworn in next week thanks to vagaries of Illinois law. (If I may be allowed a brief moment of alma mater pride, Coons appears to be the first Amherst alum elected to the Senate since the ill-fated Thomas Eagleton.)
• MA-Sen: You may remember a boomlet that peaked last week for Senate speculation concerning Setti Warren, the "rock star" mayor of Newton. Well, that's over, as he's now saying his "intent" is to finish his term, which runs through 2013. However, a different young up-and-coming mayor of one of the Bay State's larger cities is now poking the Senate race with a stick: Will Flanagan, the 30-year-old mayor of the much more blue-collar Fall River, is gauging the race.
• TX-Sen: The Fix has a look at possible primary challengers to Kay Bailey Hutchison, who, with her bungled gubernatorial run and her TARP vote, seems to have painted a big target on her back aimed at Texas tea partiers looking for a promotion. Former SoS Roger Williams and former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones are already in the race (dating back to when it was expected that KBH would be on her way to the Governor's Mansion at this point), but the bigger names to watch are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams. Dewhurst is establishment but has the personal wealth to get a foothold here, while Williams has no money but is the favorite of the tea party set. Dallas mayor Tom Leppert is also mentioned as a wild-card. One Dem who won't be making the race is former Houston mayor Bill White, who in wake of his gubernatorial loss says he won't pivot to a Senate race. That probably frees up the Dem Senate slot for former comptroller John Sharp, who was going to run in the hypothetical special election that never happened and already has a big stack of cash saved up for the race.
• CT-Gov: If you're hearing zombie lies from Republican friends about the Connecticut gubernatorial race being stolen by the urban machines, here's a handy debunking point: exit polls show that the huge falloff in votes in Bridgeport neatly tracks the statewide falloff in Dem crossover votes for the Republican candidate in general from 2006 (when the broadly-popular Jodi Rell ran) to 2010.
• KY-Gov: One more Republican to keep in mind as a potential challenger in next year's off-year gubernatorial election: Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw. That's kind of a big step up to Governor, so it seems like she might be starting with a high negotiating position with the party to try to worm her way into the SoS slot instead (assuming Trey Grayson follows through on plans to run for AG instead).
• NC-02, TX-27: Here are updates on two of our outstanding races: recounts have been officially approved in both of 'em. Six counties in the 27th will be recounted, per Solomon Ortiz's request, as he trails by about 800. In the 2nd, the canvass was officially certified with Bobby Etheridge trailing by 1,489, but he'll be pursuing a recount as allowed under state law. While neither of these prospects looks that hopeful, we can take some solace in that the likely victors, Blake Farenthold and Renee Elmers, are some of the most amateur-hour entrants into the new House and hopefully likely to help define the new face of the Republican Party.
• NY-29: Best wishes for a quick recovery to soon-to-be-sworn-in Tom Reed, who literally just arrived in Washington and was immediately sickened by it. He was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lungs and says he'll be released in one or two days, ready to get to work.
• WA-01, WA-03: I'd hoped that Brian Baird was going to take his unique variety of douchiness to the private sector for good, but it looks like his strange retirement decision may have been an inspired case of district-shopping instead. He's moving to Edmonds in Seattle's northern suburbs, which just happens to be in the 1st District. Assuming that Jay Inslee follows through on his widely-known plans to run for Governor, lo and behold, the 1st will be an open seat in 2012. The 1st (which is a pretty safe district in its current configuration, and will probably keep similar lines in redistricting) has to be more appealing than the 3rd, which redistricting will probably move from a true swing district to a light-red one, as liberal Olympia will probably have to be exchanged for a Columbia Gorge-centered district that's based in Vancouver but that runs east into conservative Yakima County. (Which, unfortunately, would be tailor-made for Jaime Herrera, who's Latina but living in the Vancouver burbs, and will make her much harder to dislodge.) For more detail on Washington's likely 10-district map, see here.
• NY-St. Sen.: Here's an update on the three races that are holding New York State Senate control in the balance. Dem incumbent Craig Johnson trails by only 427, and seems to be gaining at a rapid clip as absentee votes get counted, so the trajectory indicates he might pull ahead by the end. Things seem more locked in with two more Dem incumbents, though: Suzi Oppenheimer leads by 504, while Antoine Thompson trails by 597. Wins by Johnson and Oppenheimer would set up a 31-31 tie.
• Chicago mayor: The election's been over for two weeks, and it's already time for the first new edition of SSP TV: Rahm Emanuel kicked off his mayoral bid with his first TV spot already. Rep. Danny Davis also made it official this weekend, launching his bid and dubbing himself the "grassroots" candidate. (He looks like he'll be giving up his House seat only in the event that he wins the mayoral race.)
• DSCC: After some hopeful signs that Michael Bennet might be willing to take on the role of DSCC head, he said "no thanks" late Friday. At this point, Beltway pundits seem to think that the shortest straw has Patty Murray's name on it.
• RGA: Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed on for another cycle at the helm of the Republican Governor's Association. I've seen speculation that he's doing it mostly to shut down rumors that he's really running for President, although it should be a pretty sleepy gubernatorial cycle and he might be able to juggle both tasks (since most big states elect governors during the midterms, and only a few open seats loom... Indiana, North Carolina, and Washington may be the highest-profile races).
• Redistricting: The Wall Street Journal has a good overview of what to expect with redistricting, and they seem to come to the same conclusion that I have: that the downside for the GOP of their strong performance in Dem-held red districts is that it means there are a lot fewer opportunities to turf anyone out through aggressive gerrymandering, and instead their efforts are going to have to more defensive, oriented toward shoring up the deadwood that washed ashore. Meaning, of course, that predictions of another large redistricting-driven gain in the House for the GOP aren't likely to come to pass, although it will still make it harder for the Dems to regain significant ground.
A couple articles are also out today dealing with the biggest redistricting prize of all, California, although whether it's a prize or not has much to do with what happens with the newly-created (by Prop 20) congressional redistricting commission; this week, out of the pool of 36,000 applicants, 36 finalists for the commission's citizen slots will be picked. Of particular interest is what exactly happens with the seats in northern Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, where there's a push underway to get a Hispanic district. (Worth noting: CA-28 already has a Hispanic majority, although Howard Berman seems pretty primary-proof there, and there don't seem to be enough parts and pieces elsewhere in the Valley to create another neatly-shaped one.)
• Demographics: Here's a big surprise, on the demographic front: there are reports that there are 100,000 fewer Hispanics in Arizona than there were when SB 1070 passed. That may not have a big impact on voting behavior (since those emigrants are probably unlikely voters), but a big impact on redistricting, where the possibility of a third VRA district in Arizona looms. Or maybe not... since the census only cares where you were on April 1, much of that fleeing may not have happened yet at that point.
• Dave's App: Exciting news from over in the diaries: version 2.0 of Dave's Redistricting App is available. You can check out all the details at the link, but two major improvements including use of street maps (making urban work much easier) and ability to save JPGs. Redistricting is going to be one of Swing State Project's main preoccupations over the next year, and Dave's App is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal.
• AK-Sen: The big news out of Alaska is that Joe Miller is now suing to disenfranchise bad spellers. It's probably his only path to victory, forcing the state to adhere to a strict absolutely-spelled-correctly standard for "Lisa Murkowski" instead of a looser standard of analyzing voter intent. Miller's lawyer is asking a federal judge for a hearing this afternoon, seeing as how the state is planning to begin the process of checking and counting the 92,000 write-in ballots cast. Miller did get a leg up from the absentee count (of 27,000 additional ballots) issued yesterday, though. Murkowski went into yesterday leading by 13,439 votes (a 7% spread) and came out leading by 11,333 (a 5% spread). That's not the end of the absentee and early-vote count, either; another 12,000 remain to be counted, on top of all the write-in analysis.
• MA-Sen: I wonder just what the heck Marty Meehan is planning to do with his millions of dollars ($4.5 mil -- compare that with likely candidate Mike Capuano's $91K CoH!) in cash on hand, currently getting moldy in some bank vault. The ex-Rep. and current university president deferred on yet another Senate run, saying he won't challenge Scott Brown in 2012. At any rate, even with the most-loaded potential challenger out (short of Some Millionaire showing up and swamping the race with self-funding), the Beltway CW still is still treating Scott Brown as the most endangered GOPer for 2012, and that seems to have gotten amplified with the generally-strong top-to-bottom performance of Dems last week in the Bay State, suggesting that the Senate special election may have operated in its own little unusual vacuum.
• ME-Sen: Turnabout's fair play, I guess. With the DC press trying to drum up some drama out of (possibly non-existent) GOP overtures to get Joe Manchin and Ben Nelson to switch parties, now there's word from, uh, somebody about Dem outreach to Olympia Snowe to get her to switch (and avoid a likely teabagging in a 2012 GOP primary).
• MT-Sen: We mentioned businessman and losing 2008 Lt. Gov. candidate Steve Daines yesterday as a potential challenger to Jon Tester, and it looks like he's already moving full speed ahead. He'll be announcing his bid this Saturday.
• NE-Sen: Right on cue, here's the first Republican-sponsored poll of the 2012 cycle showing Ben Nelson in deep shit. The poll, commissioned by the state Republican party from Voter/Consumer Research, finds Nelson trailing the one announced candidate, AG Jon Bruning, by a 50-35 margin. (He also trails Generic R 42-32, and Gov. Dave Heineman 59-31, although Heineman has already said he's not running.) Interestingly, he's still above water on his approvals, which are 50/41... but it's a red enough state that that may not be enough to save him.
• NV-Sen: PPP is turning its attention to 2012 already, and its first poll is a juicy place to start: the GOP primary in Nevada. This is something of a surprise, at least upending the conventional wisdom: John Ensign has significant leads over both his highest-profile potential primary opponents. He beats Rep. Dean Heller 45-37, and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki 55-27. Those leads may not hold up across a campaign, though, as Ensign has much higher name rec than either opponent. He's at 64/23 (remember, this is only Republicans in the sample, who, if David Vitter is any indication, are firm believers in the principle of IOKIYAR), while Heller is at 56/8 and Krolicki is at 45/9.
• RI-Sen: The names are also floating up for potential Republican challengers to Sheldon Whitehouse, with so-so approvals but not considered terribly vulnerable in his blue-state perch. State GOP chair Giovanni Cicione is publicly weighing a bid (although he's also saying that he's pushing outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri to make a bid, though he doesn't sound interested). Two other possibilities mentioned in the article include Warwick mayor Scott Avedisian and Cranston mayor Allen Fung.
• WV-Sen: This whole thing is getting a little too meta for me: with the perception out there of having gotten publicly burned on their attempts to get Joe Manchin to switch parties, now NRSC spokespersons are trying to say that the whole rumors of the outreach (which may or may not have actually happened) originated with the Manchin camp, so that he can bolster his bipartisan credentials. I can't decide whether the two camps are truly playing 3-D chess with each other or it's just devolved into high school mean-girls behavior at this point.
• CA-11, CA-20: Jerry McNerney keeps adding to his lead, making this one looking likely to get called soon. He's now up by 2,269 votes after a batch came in from blue Alameda County. We don't have any specific new numbers to report for you further south in the 20th, but the long-awaited dump of Fresno County ballots (where Jim Costa has led by a significant margin over Andy Vidak) is scheduled for later today, which is expected to push Costa into the lead (Vidak currently leads by only 145 right now, thanks to his home base of Kings County).
• FL-22: Allen West's hiring of a controversial talk show host as his chief of staff (payback for her constant boosterism of his campaign) is not only great fodder for the sheer litany of terrible things she's said (click the link for more), but it also may run into ethical and even FCC problems if she keeps her other job as radio host. The counsel for the House Committee on Standards of Ethical Conduct said the situation is "potentially problematic" because of conflicts of interest, and a different expert says it may also pave the way for demands for equal time on the air for whoever West's 2012 opponent is.
• PA-11: You may remember Corey O'Brien, the Lackawanna County Commissioner who lost the Dem primary in the 11th to Paul Kanjorski back in May. With the elderly Kanjorski not likely to try for a rematch, O'Brien looks to be in the driver's seat with regards to the Dem nomination for 2012 to go up against Lou Barletta in this D+4 district (though that's subject to the redistricting pen, of course). The buzz is he's a near-definite candidate, although he might face a primary bout with Scranton mayor (and, briefly, gubernatorial candidate) Chris Doherty.
• DCCC: In case you didn't know, lawyers get really expensive really fast. One of Chris Van Hollen's last acts as DCCC head is to send out a fundraising blast to donors, trying to round up $100K to cover potential recount activity in (according to him) nine different races.
• House: Nate Silver's new piece matches what I've seen a lot of in the comments (and my own perceptions, as well): the idea that 2012 should be a year of happy hunting for Dems in the House (although, especially with redistricting giving a boost to the GOP, a heavy lift to get back into the majority). The balance of mismatched seats has switched dramatically: now there are 12 Dems in seats that Obama lost (down from 50), and 55 GOPers in seats that Obama won (up from 28). Even if that's old news to you, the array of graphs is worth checking out.
• IA-St. Sen.: It looks like things have been finalized in Iowa, and the state Senate is at least one closely-decided legislative chamber that we pulled out of the fire. Democrat Tod Bowman's 71-vote victory in SD-13 gives the Dems 26-24 control over the body. (One other outstanding race, where the GOPer is narrowly leading, could also break for the Dems.) That leaves the Oregon state Senate as the chamber that's still probably the biggest question mark.
• Chicago mayor: We've been meaning for a while now to do a comprehensive who's-in-who's-out post about the mayoral race in Chicago, but here's a potentially big name that deserves immediate mention... if only because he's in the House, and if there's one thing SSP is all about at this point in the cycle, it's the Open Seat Watch. Rep. Danny Davis of IL-07 on Chicago's West Side (who'd previously flirted with and decided against a bid for Cook Co. Executive) is now expressing interest in the race, saying he's "ready to run." In a boost to his prospects, a coalition of black religious and community leaders that had previously supported ex-Sen. Carol Mosely Braun for the job has reversed course, and is now backing Davis.
• FL-Sen: It seems like the "permanent campaign" is pretty much the new normal these days, as everybody's already talking about who's gonna run in 2012. In Florida, the list of potential GOP challengers to Bill Nelson is deep even if Jeb Bush doesn't follow through on an unlikely bid. Appointed (and soon to be ex-)Sen. George LeMieux seems to be ramping up for a bid, although he might suffer for his Charlie Crist ties. Other GOPers mentioned include Rep. Connie Mack IV, state House majority leader Adam Hasner, state Senate president Mike Haridopolos, and newly-elected Rep. Daniel Webster.
• MA-Sen: As for the Dem field in Massachusetts, one prominent potential candidate is staying mum for now. Boston mayor Tom Menino welcomes the attention but is "focused on being mayor."
• MT-Sen: And then there's Montana, where freshman Jon Tester is probably one of the most vulnerable Senate Dems. At-large GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg is usually the first name you hear mentioned in that context, but he seems to be in no hurry to decide. Two other GOPers are making moves, though: businessman and losing 2008 Lt. Gov. nominee Steve Daines, and Neil Livingstone, CEO of a "crisis management firm" and frequent anti-terrorism talking head, are both actively looking at the race.
• WV-Sen, NE-Sen: It looks like Joe Manchin's spokesperson's denial yesterday of any interest in switching parties wasn't vehement enough, because Manchin had to reiterate that, no, he isn't considering it; in addition, Senate GOP spokespersons said those conversations alleged by Fox News apparently never even took place. The same situation applies in Nebraska, where Ben Nelson says that not only is he not interested in switching but that no one has reached out to him to do so. Encouragingly, at least from a rhetorical standpoint, Nelson also says "the party hasn't left me."
• MS-Gov: With two well-liked former Reps. idling around wondering what to do next year (Gene Taylor and Travis Childers), you'd think the Dems might actually be able to field a competitive candidate for Mississippi next year. According to at least one local pundit, a Childers comeback doesn't seem likely (more interested in state party chair), while Taylor seems to have running for something in mind but potentially just his old seat again in '12.
• OH-Gov: Here's a good post-mortem on Ted Strickland from Jonathan Chait, which suggests that Strickland managed to keep things close (despite the rest of the wipeout in Ohio) because a solid campaign that focused on just the right amount of populism. He ran well ahead of national Dems on average among groups like seniors and persons with high school educations.
• FL-22: Is Allen West the Bizarro World version of Alan Grayson? He's an ideological mismatch with his Florida district that leans the wrong way away from his party let alone his own amped-up version of its message, he has no built-in self-censor like most politicians, and he was elected more so by nationwide online supporters than the locals. And now he's hiring from his own echo chamber, turning for his Chief of Staff not a Capitol Hill pro but the conservative talk show host who helped bolster his campaign. Joyce Kaufman is the one who said on her show this summer that "if ballots don't work, bullets will."
• NY-23: Doug Hoffman is truly the gift that keeps on giving. The election's over, and he's still giving. He now says he didn't mean to send out a statement that he put out last week post-election, calling local Republican bosses the real "spoilers in this race." (Hoffman, of course, pulled in 6% of the vote last week, saving Bill Owens yet again.)
• NY-25: Trailing slightly with the absentee-counting process looming, Dan Maffei (like Tim Bishop in NY-01) is requesting a hand count of ballots (the electronic voting machines generate a paper trail). A judge also ruled that both camps may inspect the list of 11,000 absentee ballot requests, a prelim to each camp developing the list of which ballots they want to challenge.
• DCCC: It's sounding more and more like Rep. Steve Israel will be on tap to head the DCCC for the 2012 cycle. He was one of the three key deputies at the DCCC last year (along with Joe Crowley, who seems to be edging away from the job, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who seems interested too but not in as strong a position with the Pelosi-led core of leadership).
• House: Here's an interesting piece of trivia: only eight (8) House Dems did better, percentage-wise in 2010 than they did in 2008. Most are from safe urban districts (most notably Nancy Pelosi herself, despite the seven figures the right-roots raised for her opponent), although Jim Himes and Chellie Pingree were in competitive races and managed to gain ground.
• Polltopia: PPP puts together a helpful table of approval ratings on the various Senators up for re-election in 2012. It corresponds pretty closely with the general conventional wisdom about who's vulnerable: Joe Lieberman is in worst shape at 33/54, followed by Claire McCaskill and Debbie Stabenow (who actually are in slightly worse condition than John Ensign, though his problems go well beyond his approvals). Interestingly, the best-liked Senator statewide (Olympia Snowe at 56/34) may also be one of the most vulnerable, not in a general but to a teabagging in the GOP primary.