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Map of Texas' current state Senate districts (2015)
Texas' state Senate districts (click to enlarge)

In a move that election law expert Rick Hasen characterizes as "surprising," the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a potentially major case that could upend long-settled jurisprudence on the meaning of "one person, one vote." The suit, Evenwel v. Abbott, argues that the state of Texas should draw lines for its state Senate that equalize the voting population in each district, not the total population, as they do now.

And if the court were to side with the plaintiffs, Republicans would benefit. That's because there are fewer registered voters in urban, Democratic-leaning districts and far more in conservative rural seats. For instance, on the congressional level, California's sprawling 1st District—a vast, forested region nestled along the Oregon and Nevada borders—has about 521,000 eligible voters, according to one analyst, while the compact 40th District in Los Angeles has just 262,000. (When the lines were drawn in 2011, both had populations of 702,900.) And as you might expect, the former is represented by a Republican and the latter by a Democrat.

So if districts had to balance out voting-age populations, red seats would have to shed voters to blue seats, which are home to many more non-voters, chiefly non-citizens (often Hispanics), ex-felons without voting rights, and children. This would, of course, make those blue seats redder, which is why conservative groups are pushing this suit.

What's more, while this case is focused on legislative redistricting, there's no reason any ruling here couldn't also apply to congressional redistricting—and congressional reapportionment, which would mean that blue states would also likely lose a number of seats to red states. (Texas, ironically, with its large immigrant population, would be an exception, but the districts it would drop would be Democratic ones.)

However, there's a huge problem with this case's entire premise: It's almost impossible to count voters. Leah Libresco details the many reasons why, among them the fact that the Census doesn't ask about citizenship status. While the Census Bureau does get into more detail with its annual American Community Surveys, the ACS relies on statistical sampling—something the Supreme Court specifically barred for the purposes of the traditional decennial Census itself (which is currently used both for reapportionment and redistricting purposes).

Amusingly, Republicans were the victorious plaintiffs in that case (sampling would have uncovered many missing urban voters), so they might have unwittingly boxed themselves in. They also, as Libresco points out, hate the ACS and have tried to defund it, because heaven forbid the government should ever produce any useful statistical information that looks like science.

Of course, none of this may stop the Supreme Court's conservatives, who have shown no hesitation in curtailing minority voting rights. It'll be a while before they rule, though, but if they enshrine "one registered voter, one vote" into law, we'll be in for some serious upheaval.

Discuss
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum addresses his Michigan primary night rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 28, 2012.  REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
LOL.
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9:10 AM PT (Jeff Singer): PA-Sen: In the last few months, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has looked like the favorite in light-blue Pennsylvania. Two polls gave him a strong job approval rating, and national Democrats aren't happy to see their 2010 nominee, ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, making another run. However, a new survey from Public Policy Polling paints a very different picture of next year's Keystone State contest and finds that while Toomey starts with a lead, he's far from secure in a race that could decide control of the Senate.

• 44-35 vs. ex-Rep. Chris Carney

• 44-35 vs. state Sen. Vincent Hughes

• 44-34 vs. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski

• 46-41 vs. ex-Gov. Ed Rendell

• 42-38 vs. 2010 nominee Joe Sestak

• 44-33 vs. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams

Against all comers, Toomey takes between 42 and 46 percent of the vote, a bit far from the 50 percent mark he'd like to be at. PPP finds Toomey's approval rating underwater at 30-37, not a great place for an incumbent in a hostile state to be. A March Quinnipiac poll and May survey from Harper Polling gave Toomey a 49-24 and 54-32 approval rating respectively, and there's no easy explanation for why PPP finds something so different.

With the exception of Rendell, none of Toomey's prospective foes are well known: At least 70 percent of respondents have no opinion of Carney, Hughes, Pawlowski, or Williams. Sestak, who lost to Toomey 51-49 in 2010, is also anonymous to 54 percent of the state, but he has a narrow 24-22 rating from people who remember him. Sestak's built-in name recognition helps explain why he performs so much better than the four mostly-unknown Democrats. Sestak does a better job unifying his party at this early stage and he keeps more independents in the undecided column (though he performs slightly worse with the independents who have made up their minds). As the campaign progresses, Sestak and any other Democrats who run should pick up more support from Democrats as they become better known.

Right now, Sestak and Pawlowski are the only Democrats running. Carney, Hughes, and Williams have all expressed interest, though they've been silent about their plans over the last few months. There's no sign that Rendell wants to be a Senate candidate (though he plays one on TV), which may be just as well, since he posts a meh 42-47 favorable rating four years after leaving office.

While Sestak polls the best of the five Democrats and came close to beating Toomey in the 2010 GOP wave, the national and state parties are wary of him. Sestak has had a bad relationship with these groups ever since he successfully challenged party-switching incumbent Arlen Specter in the 2010 primary. Insiders believe that Sestak then proceeded to run an amateurish race, complaining about how little he coordinated with the rest of the party and relied on family members rather than professionals to staff his campaign. So far, Sestak has done little to reassure his critics that this time will be different, and his weak initial fundraising has only made things worse. Fairly or not, the Democratic establishment is convinced Sestak will cost them a pickup and they've been shopping for another candidate.

Pawlowski's weak 2014 gubernatorial campaign didn't leave anyone impressed, and he's going to need things to go a lot differently if he's going to emerge as a credible threat to Sestak. But the DSCC's top recruit Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro just turned them down and it's possible that when all is said and done, national Democrats will need to bite the bullet and choose between Pawlowski and Sestak.

Democrats need to net four seats to flip the Senate (five if they lose the White House) and Pennsylvania is likely to be a major target. Team Blue is going to be happy to see a poll showing Toomey vulnerable after months of pessimism, but we have a long way to go here. Toomey has worked hard to define himself as a moderate, and he'll have more than enough cash. Democratic infighting could also leave their eventual nominee bankrupt in this expensive state, and tensions between Sestak and the establishment could cause problems if he's their nominee again. This is going to be a key race in the battle for the Senate, and both parties will be watching all the developments closely.

9:43 AM PT (Jeff Singer): NJ-02, State Assembly: Max Pizarro at PolitickerNJ has out-nerded even us with his detailed look at New Jersey's 2017 state Senate contests. However, a state Assembly contest this November could have real ramifications for Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo next year.

Democrats have spent the last decade trying to convince state Sen. Jeff Van Drew to take on LoBiondo in this Obama 54-45 seat. Van Drew is once again mulling a bid, but his decision may depend on the fate of his protege Assemblyman Rob Andrzejczak this year. Andrzejczak is defending a 53-46 Obama seat and Pizarro argues that if he loses, Van Drew will be pressured to stay in the legislature to preserve South Jersey political power. Of course, it's quite possible that Van Drew will pass on another bid against LoBiondo even if Andrzejczak prevails, but it sounds like we won't get a decision until November at the earliest.

9:57 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Nashville Mayor: On Tuesday, the local SEIU endorsed real estate executive Bill Freeman, making it the first major group to get involved in this crowded race. SEIU Local 205 has a good win-record in Nashville politics, though they backed Bob Clement in his unsuccessful 2007 campaign here. Recent polls from Freeman and rival Howard Gentry show the wealthy Freeman well-positioned to advance to the runoff, though we have a long time to go before the August primary.

10:13 AM PT (Jeff Singer): NH-Gov: The University of New Hampshire takes a very early look at next year's gubernatorial contest. Like PPP found last month, they have Gov. Maggie Hassan with sky-high approval ratings. However, national Democrats are trying to recruit Hassan to face Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte next year and they polled matchups between Republican Executive Councilor Chris Sununu and two of his Democratic colleagues. Sununu takes 40 percent against each of them, which Colin Van Ostern and Chris Pappas scoop up a similar 23 and 26 percent respectively. PPP found a Sununu-Van Ostern duel looking quite a bit different, with the Republican only leading 37-34.

10:55 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IN-Gov: Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has been openly considering a run against GOP incumbent Mike Pence for the last few weeks, and it sounds like she's about to jump in. IndyPolitics reports that Ritz will announce her campaign next week: If she gets in, she'll face 2012 nominee John Gregg and state Sen. Karen Tallian. However, she won't need to worry about state House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, who tells Howey Politics that he's not going to run.

11:44 AM PT (Jeff Singer): AZ-01: Both parties were caught by surprise on Tuesday when Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced her Senate campaign. There are plenty of potential candidates from each party who are eyeing her swingy northern Arizona seat, but most of them are waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court decision to rule on the constitutionality of the state's independent redistricting commission. If the court rules the GOP's way, they'll have the opportunity to make this district as tough for Democrats to win as they can.

On the blue side, state Sen. Catherine Miranda wasted little time making her interest known, though she represents almost none of AZ-01 in the legislature. Former state Rep. Chris Deschene, who lost the 2010 secretary of state race 58-42, is also considering according to his spokeswoman. Deschene got plenty of attention last year when he ran for president of the Navajo Nation but was disqualified for not speaking Navajo fluently. Local Democrats say he'd be a top recruit, though he'd need to give up his post at the U.S. Department of Energy. Coconino County Board Chair Elizabeth Archuleta also says she's thinking about running, while Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon hasn't ruled anything out.

The Arizona Republic's Rebekah Sanders also mentions two other potential Democratic candidates, though there's no word if they're interested. State Sen. Carlyle Begay's district is entirely located in the 1st, though his support for this year's GOP state budget could be a liability in a primary. State Sen. Barbara McGuire's seat is split between AZ-01 and the safely red AZ-04, but she'd be an interesting recruit. In the last two cycles, McGuire pulled off narrow wins in a district that Romney carried 53-45, so she has experience winning in a difficult seat. Democratic consultant Andy Barr also tossed in 2014 gubernatorial nominee Fred DuVal's name, though DuVal previously said he's only interested in another statewide bid.

On the GOP side, rancher and 2014 candidate Gary Kiehne so far has the primary to himself, but he should have company soon. Ex-state House Speaker Andy Tobin, who narrowly beat Kiehne in the primary, confirms that he's interested but he's waiting for the redistricting case to play out. State Senate Majority Whip Steve Pierce has also confirmed his interest, and Speaker David Gowan's office has also said he might go for it. Most of Gowan's seat is in AZ-02 and he could also challenge Republican Rep. Martha McSally in the primary, but Gowan is likely to carve out a district for himself if he gets the chance.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu also didn't rule anything out. Babeu's 2012 bid for the neighboring AZ-04 ended after it emerged that he had dated an undocumented immigrant and then threatened to deport him. Babeu did win re-election that November and he went on to star in a spot for 2014 gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones, so maybe enough time has passed that he can run another serious House campaign. Some other potential GOP contenders include ex-Secretary of State and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, 2012 nominee Jonathan Paton, state Sen. Steve Smith, and state Residential Utility Consumer Office Director David Tenney.

1:54 PM PT (Jeff Singer): AZ-01: Babeu wasted little time releasing a survey from MBQF Consulting that shows him ahead in a hypothetical primary, albeit with a truckload of undecideds. Babeu leads Tobin 17-10, with Kiehne at 8, and 65 percent undecided. The entire survey was conducted May 26, the day Kirkpatrick announced her departure.

2:42 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NJ-Gov: Gov. Chris Christie's 2013 re-election, held in that bygone time when "Bridgegate," probably only meant someone was cheating during a card game, was a completely snoozer. However, 2017 is another story. The primaries are only two years away, and the Democrats especially are digging in for a long campaign.

Former Ambassador Phil Murphy, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop have all been working hard to make connections with local Democrats and increase their name recognition around the state. We could also see state Sen. Richard Codey, who served as acting governor from 2004 to 2005, state Sen. Ron Rice, and Assemblyman Troy Singleton get in. Additionally, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald might be interested, though he could also try for speaker.

On the GOP side, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno's name has been in contention for a while. However, state Sen. Kip Bateman, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, state Sen. and 2006 Senate nominee Tom Kean Jr., and Assemblyman Jay Webber are also potential candidates. We have a very long time to go before 2017 but in a state as big and expensive as New Jersey, serious candidates need to start gearing up early.

3:06 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NY-11: Ex-Rep. Michael McMahon has spent the last few cycles turning down Democratic recruitment efforts, but he's looking to return to elected office in another capacity. The Staten Island Democratic Party is nominating McMahon to serve as their standard bearer in this year's contest for district attorney and now that GOP state Sen. Andrew Lanza has declined to run, McMahon should start out the favorite. National Democrats held out some hope that McMahon would challenge newly-elected GOP Rep. Dan Donovan next year, but it is not to be.

3:15 PM PT (Jeff Singer): PA State Senate: Only last year, Keystone Democrats held out hope that they could finally end two decades of GOP control, or at least get close enough to finish the job in 2016. However, redistricting and the red wave allowed the Republicans to expand their majority from a close 27-23 to a formidable 30-20, and they may have an extra seat soon. On Wednesday, Democratic state Sen. Matt Smith announced he would resign to take a post at the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, and it's not going to be easy for Team Blue to hold onto his 56-43 Romney Western Pennsylvania seat.

3:46 PM PT: Redistricting: In a move that election law expert Rick Hasen characterizes as "surprising," the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a potentially major case that could upend long-settled jurisprudence on the meaning of "one person, one vote." The suit, Evenwel v. Abbott, argues that the state of Texas should draw lines for its state Senate that equalize the voting population in each district, not the total population, as they do now.

And if the court were to side with the plaintiffs, Republicans would benefit. That's because there are fewer registered voters in urban, Democratic-leaning districts and far more in conservative rural seats. For instance, on the congressional level, California's sprawling 1st District—a vast, forested region nestled along the Oregon and Nevada borders—has about 521,000 eligible voters, according to one analyst, while the compact 40th District in Los Angeles has just 262,000. (When the lines were drawn in 2011, both had populations of 702,900.) And as you might expect, the former is represented by a Republican and the latter by a Democrat.

So if districts had to balance out voting-age populations, red seats would have to shed voters to blue seats, which are home to many more non-voters, chiefly non-citizens (often Hispanics), ex-felons without voting rights, and children. This would, of course, make those blue seats redder, which is why conservative groups are pushing this suit. What's more, while this case is focused on legislative redistricting, there's no reason any ruling here couldn't also apply to congressional redistricting—and congressional reapportionment, which would mean that blue states would also lose a number of seats to red states.

But there's a huge problem with this case's entire premise: It's almost impossible to count voters. Leah Libresco details the many reasons why, among them the fact that the Census doesn't ask about citizenship status. While the Census Bureau does get into more detail with its annual American Community Surveys, the ACS relies on statistical sampling—something the Supreme Court specifically barred for the purposes of the traditional decennial Census itself (which is currently used both for reapportionment and redistricting purposes).

Amusingly, Republicans were the victorious plaintiffs in that case (sampling would have uncovered many missing urban voters), so they might have unwittingly boxed themselves in. They also, as Libresco points out, hate the ACS and have tried to defund it, because heaven forbid the government should ever produce any useful statistical information that looks like science.

Of course, none of this may stop the Supreme Court's conservatives, who have shown no hesitation in curtailing minority voting rights. It'll be a while before they rule, though, but if they enshrine "one registered voter, one vote" into law, we'll be in for some serious upheaval.

Discuss
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (R) arrives for a vote on whether to overturn a presidential veto of the Keystone XL pipeline, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 4, 2015. The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to overturn Obama's veto of legislation ap
Republican Sen. John McCain will face a credible Democratic foe next year
Leading Off:

AZ-Sen: Tuesday morning brought some exciting news for Arizona Democrats, as Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced she'd run against veteran GOP Sen. John McCain, who is seeking a sixth term in the Senate. It's a welcome but unexpected development: Kirkpatrick, who holds a vast, GOP-leaning seat in the state's northeast, had long been on the DSCC's wish list but had never spoken publicly about her interest in taking on McCain. Her entry instantly makes this race competitive, as a recent PPP poll showed McCain with a horrific 36-51 statewide approval rating and just a 42-36 lead on Kirkpatrick.

Those are very weak numbers for an incumbent, particularly in a red state like Arizona, but McCain actually faces a double-barreled threat. Hardcore conservatives have long despised McCain for his many apostasies—he's always preferred hobnobbing with the Sunday talk show set rather than party with the tea partiers—and he's already earned a primary challenge from state Sen. Kelli Ward. That same PPP poll found McCain up just 44-31 on the unknown Ward among Republican voters, another terribly weak result.

Ward's not a strong candidate, though (she's a "chemtrail" conspiracy theorist who's been spurned by anti-establishment groups like the Club for Growth), and McCain handily dispatched a similarly unimpressive primary opponent back in 2010. But Ward could keep McCain occupied, draining his coffers and dragging him to the right, as Kirkpatrick travels the state and raises money. And if a better option emerges in the GOP primary for the purity brigades, it's possible McCain might not even earn his party's nomination.

Democrats, though, can only hope for so much, and they're already quite fortunate that they've landed someone like Kirkpatrick, who has experience winning on difficult turf. However, her candidacy comes at a price. Kirkpatrick's 1st Congressional District went for Mitt Romney by a 50-48 margin, making it one of just five red seats held by a Democrat anywhere in the country, and odds are it will now return to the Republicans.

That's not just because it's a tough district for a Democrat to win: A case pending before the Supreme Court could invalidate Arizona's entire congressional map if the justices decide that the state's independent redistricting commission runs afoul of the constitution. If that happens, the GOP-dominated legislature would get to redraw the lines, and they'd make Kirkpatrick's district even more inhospitable for Democrats.

So the Senate race actually offers Kirkpatrick something of an escape hatch. A statewide win won't be easy, but when you combine McCain's unpopularity, the possibility that he gets dinged up in his primary, and the fact that Democrats nationwide should benefit from increased presidential turnout, that gives Kirkpatrick a real chance. (In 2012, Team Blue fell just 3 points short in Arizona's Senate race.) What's more, it improves Democratic odds of retaking the Senate, where the party needs a minimum of four seats to return to the majority.

There's also the outside chance that if Hillary Clinton tries expanding the presidential playing field, she could look to Arizona as a "reach" state. Kirkpatrick and Senate Democrats would love to see that, but whether or not that happens, we've got a real race on our hands. And for once, my friends, there's no way even the most sycophantic Beltway blowhard can spin this as good news for John McCain.

Continue Reading
The Club for Growth's new ad
When Democratic groups meddle in a Republican primary, no one would dispute that it means the candidate they're "helping"—like, say, Missouri's Todd Akin—is the one they would most prefer to face in the general election. Therefore, of course, the reverse must be true as well, so you can bet that the Club for Growth's new ad bashing Rep. Patrick Murphy and praising his potential rival for Florida's Democratic nomination for Senate, Rep. Alan Grayson, is aimed squarely at boosting the guy the Club thinks would be easiest to beat in 2016—Grayson, naturally.

The spot focuses on an obscure issue dear to the Club: the Export-Import Bank, an entity that provides subsidized loans to American exporters like Boeing. It's become a conservative bête noirethis article offers a good explanation of why—but many liberals loathe it, too. (Barack Obama once called it "a fund for corporate welfare," though his administration now backs the bank, which is up for congressional reauthorization.)

In the ad, the narrator commends Grayson for "oppos[ing] the Export-Import Bank, which spends billions of taxpayer dollars on a handful of giant corporations," while attacking Murphy for supporting Ex-Im and wanting "to funnel billions more to corporate fat cats." The size of the buy is $250,000, which means that not too many people will see this spot given the great expense of advertising across Florida's many media markets. But it's a sign that conservatives are ready to ratfuck the Democratic primary, and if the volatile Grayson does enter the race, they're likely to spend plenty more to assist him in winning his party's nomination.

Discuss
Ann Kirkpatrick
Ann Kirkpatrick
Tuesday morning brought some exciting news for Arizona Democrats, as Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced she'd run against veteran GOP Sen. John McCain, who is seeking a sixth term in the Senate. It's a welcome but unexpected development: Kirkpatrick, who holds a vast, GOP-leaning seat in the state's northeast, had long been on the DSCC's wish list but had never spoken publicly about her interest in taking on McCain. Her entry instantly makes this race competitive, as a recent PPP poll showed McCain with a horrific 36-51 statewide approval rating and just a 42-36 lead on Kirkpatrick.

Those are very weak numbers for an incumbent, particularly in a red state like Arizona, but McCain actually faces a double-barreled threat. Hardcore conservatives have long despised McCain for his many apostasies—he's always preferred hobnobbing with the Sunday talk show set rather than party with the tea partiers—and he's already earned a primary challenge from state Sen. Kelli Ward. That same PPP poll found McCain up just 44-31 on the unknown Ward among Republican voters, another terribly weak result.

Ward's not a strong candidate, though (she's a "chemtrail" conspiracy theorist who's been spurned by anti-establishment groups like the Club for Growth), and McCain handily dispatched a similarly unimpressive primary opponent back in 2010. But Ward could keep McCain occupied, draining his coffers and dragging him to the right, as Kirkpatrick travels the state and raises money. And if a better option emerges in the GOP primary for the purity brigades, it's possible McCain might not even earn his party's nomination.

Democrats, though, can only hope for so much, and they're already quite fortunate that they've landed someone like Kirkpatrick, who has experience winning on difficult turf. However, her candidacy comes at a price. Kirkpatrick's 1st Congressional District went for Mitt Romney by a 50-48 margin, making it one of just five red seats held by a Democrat anywhere in the country, and odds are it will now return to the Republicans.

That's not just because it's a tough district for a Democrat to win: A case pending before the Supreme Court could invalidate Arizona's entire congressional map if the justices decide that the state's independent redistricting commission runs afoul of the constitution. If that happens, the GOP-dominated legislature would get to redraw the lines, and they'd make Kirkpatrick's district even more inhospitable for Democrats.

So the Senate race actually offers Kirkpatrick something of an escape hatch. A statewide win won't be easy, but when you combine McCain's unpopularity, the possibility that he gets dinged up in his primary, and the fact that Democrats nationwide should benefit from increased presidential turnout, that gives Kirkpatrick a real chance. (In 2012, Team Blue fell just 3 points short in Arizona's Senate race.) What's more, it improves Democratic odds of retaking the Senate, where the party needs a minimum of four seats to return to the majority.

There's also the outside chance that if Hillary Clinton tries expanding the presidential playing field, she could look to Arizona as a "reach" state. Kirkpatrick and Senate Democrats would love to see that, but whether or not that happens, we've got a real race on our hands. And for once, my friends, there's no way even the most sycophantic Beltway blowhard can spin this as good news for John McCain.

Discuss
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8:22 AM PT: AZ-Sen, 01: Tuesday morning brought some exciting news for Arizona Democrats, as Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced she'd run against veteran GOP Sen. John McCain, who is seeking a sixth term in the Senate. It's a welcome but unexpected development: Kirkpatrick, who holds a vast, GOP-leaning seat in the state's northeast, had long been on the DSCC's wish list but had never spoken publicly about her interest in taking on McCain. Her entry instantly makes this race competitive, as a recent PPP poll showed McCain with a horrific 36-51 statewide approval rating and just a 42-36 lead on Kirkpatrick.

Those are very weak numbers for an incumbent, particularly in a red state like Arizona, but McCain actually faces a double-barreled threat. Hardcore conservatives have long despised McCain for his many apostasies—he's always preferred hobnobbing with the Sunday talk show set rather than party with the tea partiers—and he's already earned a primary challenge from state Sen. Kelli Ward. That same PPP poll found McCain up just 44-31 on the unknown Ward among Republican voters, another terribly weak result.

Ward's not a strong candidate, though (she's a "chemtrail" conspiracy theorist who's been spurned by anti-establishment groups like the Club for Growth), and McCain handily dispatched a similarly unimpressive primary opponent back in 2010. But Ward could keep McCain occupied, draining his coffers and dragging him to the right, as Kirkpatrick travels the state and raises money. And if a better option emerges in the GOP primary for the purity brigades, it's possible McCain might not even earn his party's nomination.

Democrats, though, can only hope for so much, and they're already quite fortunate that they've landed someone like Kirkpatrick, who has experience winning on difficult turf. However, her candidacy comes at a price. Kirkpatrick's 1st Congressional District went for Mitt Romney by a 50-48 margin, making it one of just five red seats held by a Democrat anywhere in the country, and odds are it will now return to the Republicans.

That's not just because it's a tough district for a Democrat to win: A case pending before the Supreme Court could invalidate Arizona's entire congressional map if the justices decide that the state's independent redistricting commission runs afoul of the constitution. If that happens, the GOP-dominated legislature would get to redraw the lines, and they'd make Kirkpatrick's district even more inhospitable for Democrats.

So the Senate race actually offers Kirkpatrick something of an escape hatch. A statewide win won't be easy, but when you combine McCain's unpopularity, the possibility that he gets dinged up in his primary, and the fact that Democrats nationwide should benefit from increased presidential turnout, that gives Kirkpatrick a real chance. (In 2012, Team Blue fell just 3 points short in Arizona's Senate race.) What's more, it improves Democratic odds of retaking the Senate, where the party needs a minimum of four seats to return to the majority.

There's also the outside chance that if Hillary Clinton tries expanding the presidential playing field, she could look to Arizona as a "reach" state. Kirkpatrick and Senate Democrats would love to see that, but whether or not that happens, we've got a real race on our hands. And for once, my friends, there's no way even the most sycophantic Beltway blowhard can spin this as good news for John McCain.

8:36 AM PT (Jeff Singer): LA-Gov: Right now, state Rep. John Bel Edwards is the only notable Democratic running in the Oct. 24 jungle primary, but that may be about to change. Tony Clayton, an attorney who is well-known in the Baton Rouge-area for prosecuting serial killer Derrick Todd Lee, tells LaPolitics Weekly that he's interested in joining the contest. Like Edwards, Clayton is a self-described conservative Democrat. However, while Edwards is white, Clayton is black, and he could have an easier time appealing to African American voters if he gets in (Clayton also used to chair the board of supervisors for the historically black Southern University system).

Neither Edwards or Clayton would have a great shot prevailing in November in this increasingly red state, but a Clayton campaign could have a major effect on the race. Polls consistently show Republican Sen. David Vitter and Edwards taking the top-two spots in the jungle primary and advancing to the Nov. 21 runoff, with fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne a bit further behind (and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle stuck in the single digits). As long as Edwards has the Democratic field to himself, it's going to be tough for Dardenne or Angelle to secure enough support to sneak into the runoff.

But if Clayton splits the blue side, it could give either of them a much better shot to advance. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore is also thinking about running as a left-leaning independent, and he could further help the non-Vitter Republicans by splitting the Democratic vote. While Vitter would be heavily favored in a runoff with a Democrat, Dardenne or Angelle could make things much more competitive. The filing deadline isn't until Sept. 10, so it could be a while before things fully develop here.

9:34 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Columbus Mayor: Democratic City Council President Andrew Ginther easily took enough support in the May 5 primary to advance to the November general, but he's only just learned the identity of his opponent. Democratic Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott outpolled Republican Terry Boyd by only 138 votes, but the GOP has decided not to seek a recount. Ginther has easily outraised Scott and he has collected far more influential endorsements, with the local AFL-CIO branch backing him last week. While Scott will be able to give Ginther a tougher contest than the underfunded Boyd would have, this is still very much Ginther's race to lose.

9:53 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Nashville Mayor: Filing closed Thursday for the Aug. 6 non-partisan primary for this open seat. Seven candidates have filed to run:

• Councilor Megan Barry

• Attorney Charles Robert Bone

• Former Metro Nashville School Board Chairman David Fox

• Real estate executive Bill Freeman

• Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry

• Charter school founder Jeremy Kane

• Businesswoman Linda Eskind Rebrovick

There's no obvious frontrunner at this early point in the race. However, as the only African American in the contest, Gentry (who took a close third place in 2007) has a good chance to secure enough support to advance to the runoff. Fox and Freeman are both personally wealthy, and Fox's ties to GOP groups could help him consolidate enough support from the city's conservative minority to advance. Barry, Bone, and Rebrovick also have some money to burn, while Kane and Gentry have so far been relying exclusively on donations.

10:16 AM PT (Jeff Singer): San Antonio Mayor: It's anyone's guess how the June 13 runoff between interim Mayor Ivy Taylor and ex-state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will go. However, Taylor got a small boost on Friday when she earned the endorsement of former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, who took 10 percent in the May 9 primary. So far former state Rep. Mike Villarreal, who took 26 percent, has not yet chosen a candidate.

10:36 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-06: Another Republican is flirting with a run for this safely red open seat. This time it's former St. Johns County Commissioner Mark Miner, who says he'll decide in a couple of months, though he says he'll stay out "[i]f the right person surfaces." If Miner gets in, that could be bad news for outgoing Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford, who is gearing up for a bid. Rutherford is best-known in the Jacksonville media market, which only makes up one-third of the district. Rutherford would love it if he faces several Orlando-area candidates and gets the chance to consolidate the Jacksonville-area vote, but a credible St. Johns County opponent would complicate things.

10:40 AM PT: NH-01: Following a solid week of calls from prominent fellow Republicans to resign from the House, Rep. Frank Guinta isn't just saying nuts to that—his chief of staff has declared that Guinta will run for re-election! When the news of Guinta's FEC fine for campaign finance skullduggery first broke, the congressman did indicate that he planned to seek another term, but that's the kind of thing you almost automatically say when scandal engulfs you. The fact that he's re-upped will delight New Hampshire Democrats.

It's also frustrating the GOP immensely. Even though Sen. Kelly Ayotte and several other top figures have demanded that Guinta go, Republicans are far from united in that sentiment, and some conservatives are even pissed at the establishment types for insisting on Guinta's ouster.

Meanwhile, the state party has refused to take sides, but insiders are talking up various potential candidates who could seek to expunge Guinta in a primary should he insist on his present course of action. Possibilities include two of Guinta's former primary opponents, businessman Dan Innis (who ran against him in 2014) and defense industry executive Rich Ashooh (2010), as well as former Deputy House Speaker Pam Tucker, state Rep. John Burt, and conservative activist Bob Burns. However, some of them, like Burns and Innis, only seem interested in running if Guinta doesn't, and right now, that's not happening.

P.S. Here's an interesting bit of trivia: New Hampshire hasn't held a special election for the U.S. House since January of 1932, when Democrats picked up the 1st District from the GOP. (That was a particularly crazy time: Republicans lost over 50 seats in the 1930 general election but clung to a narrow majority. However, over a dozen representatives-elect died before Congress could be seated, which back then didn't happen until 1932, allowing Democrats to take over the chamber thanks to a series of special elections.) New Hampshire's streak is the fourth-longest in the nation, after Idaho (which has never held a special election), Delaware (1900), and Utah (1930).

11:11 AM PT (David Jarman): WA-Gov, WA-Sen: What's with the sudden spike of interest in Washington's gubernatorial election? Republican pollster Gravis followed hot on the heels of Public Policy Polling in investigating the state of play in the Evergreen State. They poll the same four contenders against Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee; they find similar results for the two Republicans who are actually likely to run, Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant (trailing Inslee 45-35, compared with 46-34 per PPP) and state Sen. Andy Hill (trailing Inslee 44-36, compared with 45-31 per PPP). They find Rep. Dave "Reichart" [sic] faring a little better (trailing Inslee 43-39, compared with 45-34 per PPP), and, surprisingly, ex-AG Rob McKenna leading Inslee by a significant margin in the event of a rematch (leading Inslee 48-37, compared with a 43-38 Inslee lead over McKenna according to PPP).

What's really on Gravis's mind, though, is a proposed initiative to turn Washington into a right-to-work state (or, as their writeup describes it, "liberate its compulsory union membership laws" -- the actual poll question doesn't use that cartoonish phrasing, though it's still pretty slanted). With that leading question in mind, they find 45-33 support for the measure. Finally, they ask about the Senate race, and, similar to PPP, find Patty Murray easily beating both Reichert (52-42) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (51-40).

11:35 AM PT (David Jarman): WA-01: Washington's 1st district is swingy enough that it could present some trouble for Dems as an open seat, or in a Republican wave year. 2016 looks like it will be neither of those things, so it's a little surprising that a credible Republican is giving up her state House seat to take a shot at Democratic incumbent Suzan DelBene. Courtesy of Greg Giroux, it turns out that Elizabeth Scott filed candidacy papers with the FEC, though she hasn't announced anything official yet.

Scott is one of the more visible members of the state GOP's right flank, but her long odds in WA-01 are an example of how "rising star" Republicans in Washington who live west of the Cascades don't really have anything to rise to, beyond their legislative districts. Scott's run will free up one of the House seats in LD-39 in the rural parts of Snohomish County, which, despite its reputation as a weird tea party stronghold, is actually a pretty swingy district itself, at least by the presidential numbers (going 49-48 Obama in 2012). The gubernatorial numbers in the 39th are a better indicator, though: Jay Inslee lost here 45-55.

12:10 PM PT (Jeff Singer): WV-Gov: Billionaire Jim Justice's decision to run gives Democrats a well-connected candidate capable of spending massive amounts of money, but he comes with some liabilities. The National Journal reports that the GOP is already zeroing on Justice's history of late-fines and safety violations at his coal mines. The GOP is even accusing Justice of "flat-out not paying environmental fines," which isn't a line-of-attack you usually see from West Virginia Republicans.

By contrast, Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, who has filed pre-candidacy papers but hasn't declared yet, has a good relationship with the United Mine Workers of America and he sounds ready to portray Justice as "Republican-lite." U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, another potential Democratic candidate, is currently prosecuting the owner of the Upper Big Branch, where a 2010 accident claimed the lives of 29 people. While no Democrat is going to get very far in the Mountain State if they're seen as anti-coal, Kessler or Goodwin can draw some blood if they frame the primary as a battle between someone who puts miners in danger and someone who fights for their safety.

On the GOP side, state Senate President Bill Cole filed pre-candidacy papers on May 7 and promised a decision within two weeks. But Cole is pushing back his timetable, saying he'll make his final decision within a few weeks. Cole says he's talking to potential primary rivals Rep. David McKinley and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, but there's no hint that he's persuading them to sit next year's campaign out. Indeed, McKinley claims he's seen good poll numbers (he declined to share them) and said that while he'd like to avoid a contested primary, he's "not intimidated by the other two candidates."

1:39 PM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-18: Three Republicans are already running and a host of others are considering, and we have a new name for the maybe column. Brian Mast, who lost both his legs serving in Afghanistan, is reportedly mulling a bid, and the Palm Beach Post says he'll make a decision after his job at the Department of Homeland Security ends early next month. While Mast has never held office, he's been an active speaker at local Republican events, so he might have the connections he'll need to win here. Romney won this open seat 52-48, and both parties are hosting competitive primaries here.

1:49 PM PT: FL-Sen: When Democratic groups meddle in a Republican primary, no one would dispute that it means the candidate they're "helping"—like, say, Missouri's Todd Akin—is the one they would most prefer to face in the general election. Therefore, of course, the reverse must be true as well, so you can bet that the Club for Growth's new ad bashing Rep. Patrick Murphy and praising his potential rival for the Democratic nomination for Senate, Rep. Alan Grayson, is aimed squarely at boosting the guy the Club thinks would be easiest to beat in 2016—Grayson, naturally.

The spot focuses on an obscure issue dear to the Club: the Export-Import Bank, an entity that provides subsidized loans to American exporters like Boeing. It's become a conservative bête noirethis article offers a good explanation of why—but many liberals loathe it, too. (Barack Obama once called it "a fund for corporate welfare," though his administration now backs the bank, which is up for congressional reauthorization.)

In the ad, the narrator commends Grayson for "oppos[ing] the Export-Import Bank, which spends billions of taxpayer dollars on a handful of giant corporations," while attacking Murphy for supporting Ex-Im and wanting "to funnel billions more to corporate fat cats." The size of the buy is $250,000, which means that not too many people will see this spot given the great expense of advertising across Florida's many media markets. But it's a sign that conservatives are ready to ratfuck the Democratic primary, and if the volatile Grayson does enter the race, they're likely to spend plenty more to assist him in winning his party's nomination.

1:53 PM PT (Jeff Singer): IN-02: Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski recently passed on a Senate run, but she may have to fight her way through a competitive primary after all. Brian Howey reports that state Sen. Carlin Yoder is interested in challenging her for renomination, though Yoder has yet to say anything publicly.

Walorski used to be a prominent social conservative, but she's become much more establishment-flavored since she arrived in the House in 2013, and she even stressed bipartisanship during her last campaign. By contrast, Yoder serves as district director to neighboring congressman and Senate candidate Marlin Stutzman, who hails from the tea party wing of the party. Yoder's entire legislative district is located in the 2nd though, so he'll have some initial name-recognition if he gets in. Romney won this northern Indiana seat 56-42 but Democrats came very close to winning it in 2012, so Team Blue may make a play here.

2:08 PM PT (Jeff Singer): MO-02: A few weeks ago, Democratic state Rep. Bill Otto quietly opened up a campaign account for a run against GOP incumbent Ann Wagner, and on Tuesday he announced he was in. Otto has prevailed twice in a light-red seat, but it's not going to be easy for him to beat Wagner, a former RNC co-chair who is a talented fundraiser.

This suburban St. Louis seat is quite red, but not impossibly so. Obama passed over Missouri in 2012 and Romney ran up the score in the Show Me State, winning the 2nd 57-41. However, when Obama targeted Missouri four years before he held McCain to a more modest 53-46 victory. If Democrats go after the state's 10 electoral votes again they could give Otto a boost, but this seat is still going to be hard. In 2012 as Democratic state Treasurer Clint Zweifel was winning re-election statewide by a 50-45 margin he still lost the 2nd 49-48, and it's unlikely Team Blue is going to be carrying Missouri by a 5-point margin next year.

2:24 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NV-Sen, 01: After spending the last two months publicly considering a Senate campaign, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus announced on Tuesday that she won't go for it. Retiring Sen. Harry Reid and the DSCC have been circling the wagons for ex-state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, and Titus was probably the only potential candidate who could have given Masto any trouble in the primary. If Titus had left the House, several Democrats would have eyed her safely blue 1st District (including some candidates currently seeking the neighboring 4th), but it is not to be.

2:35 PM PT: PA-Sen, AG: Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro never seemed particularly interested in running for Senate, so it's no surprise that he's finally decided against making a bid next year. Both local and national Democrats had sought Shapiro out as an alternative to ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, whose lone-wolf style fills them with dread. But Shapiro was faced with the awkward proposition of either giving up his spot on the county commission or running for re-election this fall, then immediately turning around to wage difficult fights against both Sestak and then, were he to prevail in the primary, against GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.

Instead, Shapiro could set his sights on becoming state attorney general. That post is also up next year, but it would be a much easier target, since it's likely to be an open seat. (The current office-holder, Democrat Kathleen Kane, is the target of a criminal investigation and is almost certainly finished electorally.) Notably, Shapiro declined to comment about a possible AG run. Whether he seeks the job or not, though, he's just 41, so we're sure to hear about him again in the future.

2:49 PM PT (Jeff Singer): AZ-01: Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's Senate campaign opens up her northern Arizona seat, and both parties will likely target it if it keeps its current form. However, that's a huge if: As we've noted (see our AZ-Sen item above), Grand Canyon State Republicans will have the chance to redraw the district if the U.S. Supreme Court rules their way next month. However, Democratic state Sen. Catherine Miranda says she's considering a run. Miranda lives outside the current 1st District and very little of her legislative seat is here, though other Democrats will be reluctant to get in if AZ-01 gets redder.

Things are likely to get crowded on the GOP side regardless of what the Supreme Court runs. Rancher Gary Kiehne was already running against Kirkpatrick, though his 2014 campaign left plenty of Republicans with a bad taste in their mouths. Former state House Speaker and 2014 nominee Andy Tobin is considering another try, though like many politicians he's keeping an eye out for redistricting.

Roll Call's Emily Cahn also tells us that state House Speaker David Gowan is privately considering, and the Tucson Sentinel recently reported that he'll draw a seat for himself if he gets the chance. Some other potential GOP candidates include:

• Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu

• Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits

• State Senate Majority Whip Steve Pierce

• Arizona Residential Utility Consumer Office Director David Tenney

Babeu ran for the neighboring 4th District in 2012, but he dropped out after reports leaked that he dated an undocumented immigrant and threatened to deport him to keep the relationship a secret. But Babeu has expressed interest in another campaign, and enough time may have passed for him to be a viable candidate again.  

2:58 PM PT (Jeff Singer): CO-06: Democrats are planning to target Republican Rep. Mike Coffman's swingy suburban Denver seat whether or not he runs for Senate, and they think they've found their candidate. Alexis Levinson at Roll Call reports that state Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, who has met with the DCCC, has emerged as Team Blue's top choice here. Unlike the past two Denver-based nominees, Carroll hails from the area, and she has a reputation as a strong fundraiser.

However, the GOP is likely to go after her voting record: Carroll opposed a measure aimed at toughening sanctions on online child predators and voted for a tax increase. 2012 nominee Joe Miklosi also voted against the former bill, and Coffman didn't hesitate to attack him over it. If Carroll declines to get in, local Democrats think that Centennial Councilor Rebecca McClellan will run instead.

3:04 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NV-01: In case there was any doubt, Titus is running for re-election.

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9:01 AM PT (Jeff Singer): LA-Gov: On behalf of the conservative website The Hayride, GOP pollster MarblePort Polling gives us a glance at the Oct. 24 jungle primary. Like pretty much everyone, they find Republican Sen. David Vitter and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards looking good to secure the top-two spots and advance to the Nov. 21 general. They give Vitter and Edwards 38 and 27 percent respectively, with GOP Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne pretty far back with 15, and Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle bringing up the rear with 6.

These results are very similar to a recent Southern Media and Opinion Research poll, which also showed Edwards easily beating Dardenne for the second place spot. Given how Republican Louisiana has become in the last few cycles, it's hard to see Vitter losing a runoff to Edwards, though a Republican versus Republican contest between Vitter and Dardenne (or less likely, Vitter and Angelle) could be very interesting.

The gubernatorial field looks pretty set, but there's still one potential wildcard out there. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré has been considering the race, and he tells LaPolitics that he's still thinking about it. Honoré rose to prominence during Hurricane Katrina when he led the relief effort to New Orleans, and he shouldn't struggle for name recognition. In recent years, Honoré has decried the oil industry and opposed fracking, but his environmental positions haven't turned him into a Democrat: Honoré says if he runs, he'll likely do it as an independent.

It's possible that if Honoré gets in, he'll take enough Democratic voters away from Edwards to allow Dardenne to advance to a runoff with Vitter. However, MarblePort took a look at a hypothetical five-way jungle primary and found the opposite outcome. Vitter is still clearly in front with 34, while Edwards leads Dardenne by a wider 26-13. Honoré starts off making very little impact, taking only 7 to Angelle's 6.

MarblePort argues that because Honoré does so well among independents, he takes swing voters away and keeps someone like Dardenne from expanding his support. This is just one early poll and things could change, especially if Dardenne or his allies run some ads reminding Democratic voters that they have a lot in common with Honoré. But right now, a Vitter-Edwards runoff continues to look like the most likely scenario.

9:26 AM PT (Jeff Singer): NV-Sen, 01: Well, maybe Democratic Sen. Dina Titus is serious about a Senate bid after all. Titus had previously expressed interest in running to succeed Harry Reid, but after Reid, the DSCC, and EMILY's List rallied behind ex-state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, it looked unlikely she'd give up her safe House seat for a risky Senate bid. But Titus is once again saying that she's looking at the Senate race, and promises "a decision will be coming soon." Maybe Titus is just enjoying some extra time in the spotlight, but it does sound like she's really considering a "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" bid against the establishment-favored Masto.

If Titus goes ahead with it, it will open up her safely blue 1st District. There are no shortage of Democrats who could seek this Las Vegas seat, and a few of them may be already running for Congress. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen and ex-Assembywoman Lucy Flores are currently challenging GOP freshman Cresent Hardy in the 4th District, but they may be tempted to switch over to the 1st if Titus leaves (Kihuen ran for the 1st in 2012 but dropped out when he decided he couldn't beat Titus). Kihuen and Flores' legislative districts are mostly contained in the 1st, and if they won, they'd be insulated from even the worst GOP wave in this Obama 66-32 seat.

9:42 AM PT (David Jarman): Demographics: The Census Bureau has released its newest population estimates for the nation's major cities, many of which are still quickly growing. The biggest numeric gain was New York City, gaining 52,700 people between mid-2013 and mid-2014; San Jose, California, gets top billing in that it crossed the one million mark, bringing the total number of million-plus cities to 10. The biggest gainer, percentage-wise, though, was the fairly obscure San Marcos, Texas (up 7.9 percent over the year). Texas, in general, saw the biggest gains: 5 of the 10 largest population gains were in Texas (Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth), and 6 of the 13 biggest percentage-wise gains were also in Texas (in suburban/exurban places).

Jed Kolko, now writing for FiveThirty Eight, has a worthwhile critique of the whole enterprise, though; how populous a "city" is, has nothing to do with how "urban"-feeling it is, but rather is mostly about where the city limits arbitrarily got drawn. His maps of the Houston, New York City, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, that show which portions are urban, suburban, or rural, illustrate this point.  The "urban" portions of New York spill over the city limits into surrounding municipalities, while in Houston the "urban" portion stops well short of the city limits, leaving the city itself only 63 percent urban.

He does so using a neat method; his starting point for the urban/suburban divide -- which the Census Bureau doesn't make, as they only differentiate between urban and rural -- was to survey individuals and ask whether they considered themselves as living in an urban or suburban setting. From there, he was able to merge their responses with density data from the Census, to assign each ZIP code as urban, suburban, or rural.

9:46 AM PT (Jeff Singer): CO-Sen: National Republicans have not been remotely subtle about their goal to recruit Rep. Mike Coffman to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Coffman has won twice in a suburban Denver swing seat, and he's proven to be a very impressive fundraiser, though he's occasionally had his glitches. Coffman knows that he's the NRSC's top choice in the Centennial State and tells Roll Call that he'll probably decide "within the next month." Coffman didn't give any real hint as to which direction he's leaning, saying that he's "[s]till thinking. Never say never. But I haven’t ruled it out."

If Coffman says no, the GOP has some other possible candidates, but none of them exactly set the world on fire. El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn has been running for a while, but he's attracted little attention from anyone. State Sen. Ellen Roberts has expressed interest, though her eclectic mix of social views could be a liability in a GOP primary. Coffman's wife state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman could conceivably run if the congressman says no, but she hasn't shown much inclination to leave the job she was just elected to. Rep. Scott Tipton initially expressed interest, but he sounds unlikely to give up his seat now. There are some other names to watch, but there's no doubt the NRSC badly wants Coffman to be their standard bearer.

10:39 AM PT (Jeff Singer): AK-Sen, AL: Last week, Roll Call reported that state Sen. Mike Dunleavy may be interested in challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski or Rep. Don Young in the GOP primary. On Tuesday, Dunleavy spoke to the Alaska Dispatch News about his plans: He didn't mention Young at all, but acknowledged that he is looking at facing Murkowski.

Dunleavy conceded that Murkowski has "always treated me decently, and I think vice versa," but he criticized her record in the Senate on national security. Dunleavy also previewed a possible attack line when he accused the federal government of working to “basically strangle the development of the state of Alaska and make us a dependent.”

Dunleavy said that he'd start considering more seriously when the legislative session ends, but that may take a little while: Gov. Bill Walker is likely to call another 30-day special session once the current one ends this week. If Dunleavy runs, he could definitely draw some blood from Murkowski. The incumbent has a reputation as a moderate Republican, and she actually lost her 2010 primary to little-known businessman Joe Miller in a complete shocker (Murkowski won the general election with a write-in campaign).

Murkowski is laying the groundwork early to prepare for another challenge, and her new position as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee gives even skeptical Republicans a good reason to keep her in office. But if well-funded conservative groups decide to take aim at her, we could have a real race. Dunleavy also hails from the Mat-Su Valley, which is full of conservative primary voters. Dunleavy's chances will be a lot better if no other well-known Republicans get in, and he may be in luck. Roll Call previously reported that if Dunleavy opposes Murkowski, Miller is likely to take on Young.

Democrats know that they wouldn't have much of a shot at beating Murkowski but if it looks like she could lose her primary, it's possible that we'll see ex-Sen. Mark Begich try for a comeback. Even if Begich says no, Team Blue will probably try and recruit a respectable candidate if Murkowski looks like she's in trouble, though their bench is thin in the Last Frontier.

11:10 AM PT (Jeff Singer): KY-Gov: Tea partying businessman Matt Bevin emerged from Tuesday's GOP primary with only an 83-vote lead over state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, and it's no surprise that Comer is requesting that the results be recanvassed. However, as Al Cross of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues reminds us, the recanvass is unlikely to change much even in a contest this tight. Most of the voting process is electronic, so there's less room for mistakes. We saw that in 2010 in the state's 6th District, where just one vote moved after the recanvass.

The recanvass is scheduled for the morning of May 28 and we'll see where things stand after that. However, while Comer has promised to get behind Bevin if things don't change, he hasn't ruled out seeking a recount if he gains votes next Thursday. A recount would take a lot longer to finish and Democratic nominee Jack Conway would love it if Comer dragged things out, but it doesn't sound like Comer's going to try unless he thinks he has a real path to victory after May 28.

11:28 AM PT (Jeff Singer): PA-Sen: The Democratic primary to face Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has been locked in stasis for a while. National Democrats are dreading the idea of having Joe Sestak serve as their nominee again, and his weak first quarter haul didn't assuage any of their fears. However, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, the only other notable candidate, didn't impress anyone with his 2014 gubernatorial bid.

The DSCC has been reaching out to Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro but he's been non-committal. Meanwhile, potential candidates state Sen. Vincent Hughes, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, and ex-Rep. Chris Carney haven't said anything about their plans in months. Maybe a Shapiro decision can break the logjam, but it's anyone's guess when he'll make his 2016 plans clear.

Politico tells us that Democrats are looking for other potential candidates, and one of them may be Katie McGinty. McGinty ran for governor in 2014 and took only 8 percent of the vote, but she impressed eventual winner Tom Wolf. McGinty serves as Wolf's chief of staff and if she ran for Senate, she could count on more institutional support then she enjoyed last year. Of course, that's a big if, and there's no word if McGinty is even interested.

11:40 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-18: Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino came close to unseating Maryland Democrat John Delaney last year, but he decided to move to Florida rather than seek a rematch. But Bongino isn't putting his political ambitions on hold, telling Sunshine State News that he's considering running for this light red open seat. Bongino does have a good fundraising network, so he could stand out if he gets into what should be a crowded GOP primary. Of course, his opponents aren't going to hesitate to portray him as a carpetbagger. But even if the blows land, Bongino could still slip through if this contest is packed enough.

11:45 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-08: Hotel executive Kathleen Matthews has been talking about running for this safely blue open seat for a while, and it looks like she's all but in. Matthews just resigned from her post at Marriott, and it's very unlikely her decision isn't a prerequisite to a House bid. Four notable Democrats are already running for this suburban D.C. seat, and several more could join them before too long.

1:53 PM PT (Jeff Singer): Site News: The Daily Kos Elections Live Digest will be taking Friday and Monday off for the extended Memorial Day weekend. We'll be back here on Tuesday: In the meantime, have a great holiday!

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KY-Gov: We were expecting a tight GOP primary, but not this tight! With all precincts reporting, tea partying businessman Matt Bevin leads state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by just 83 votes, a 0.04 percent margin. Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner took third with 27.1 percent of the vote, while former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott brought up the rear with just 7.2 percent. Comer says he'll ask to have the results recanvassed, which won't take place until May 28. The Lexington Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman describes the process:
In a recanvass, printed vote totals are checked against figures sent to the state Board of Elections. No individual votes are actually recounted.
It's rare for election outcomes to change after the fact, but you never know what will happen in a race this close. However, Comer says that if he's still behind when all is said and done, he'll back Bevin.

Tuesday's vote brings an end to an incredibly nasty primary. A few weeks ago, Comer's college girlfriend came forward and accused him of abusing her two decades ago and taking her to get an abortion, and her former roommates confirmed parts of her story. Comer denied everything and in turn accused Heiner of paying her to lie. Comer also claimed that a blogger connected to Heiner threatened his running mate's children, a charge local prosecutors are investigating. Bevin managed to stay out of the slugfest, though Heiner ran a last-minute spot that sought to drag him into the muck with Comer.

Bevin's apparent victory comes just one year after his primary challenge against now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went down in flames. When Bevin entered the gubernatorial race at the last minute, he appeared to have a better shot of winning than he did in his prior attempt, but he was still the underdog. However, Bevin had the personal resources to join Heiner and Comer on television, and while McConnell was able to portray Bevin as a big-spending hypocrite, Bevin benefited from having the spotlight trained on his two major rivals. Heiner's allies ran ads against Bevin that rehashed some of McConnell's old attacks, but they weren't quite enough this time. However, if he proceeds to the general election, he can expect Team Blue to zero in on his many flaws.

The eventual Republican nominee will face Attorney General Jack Conway, who easily won the Democratic primary. While Kentucky is a conservative state, voters there have been much more willing to elect Democrats at the state level even as they've spurned them federally. A recent SurveyUSA poll gave Conway a hefty 48-37 lead against Bevin, though things may get closer once the wounds from this primary start to heal. At the very least, Conway won't mind if his would-be Republican foes spend a little extra time fighting with one another. (Jeff Singer)

Jacksonville Mayor: Voters went to the polls in the mayoral runoff in Florida's largest city, and Republican businessman Lenny Curry narrowly unseated Democratic incumbent Alvin Brown by a 51-49 margin. Brown was always in for a tough campaign in this conservative city, and the state GOP made winning city hall back a major priority. Brown did his best to appeal to crossover voters even though he was always at risk of jeopardizing his popularity with his party's base; in the end, he simply came up short. (Jeff Singer)

Philadelphia Mayor: Former City Councilor Jim Kenney won a decisive victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary, defeating state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams 56-26. Williams' pro-charter school allies heavily outspent Kenney's labor backers, but Kenney was able to win over key endorsements from notable African-American politicians, even though Kenney is white and Williams is black.

Kenney also benefited from ex-District Attorney Lynne Abraham's steep drop in support. While Abraham started the contest with high name recognition, she didn't have much money or any high-spending super PACs on her side, and in the end, she only took 8 percent of the vote.

A late gaffe by Williams also appears to have contributed to his defeat. Williams called for the dismissal of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, arguing that he was the architect of Philadelphia's stop-and-frisk policies. However, Ramsey was incredibly popular across racial lines, and Williams had no time to recover from this misstep. Philadelphia hasn't elected a non-Democratic mayor since the 1940s, and Kenney will be the heavy favorite in November. (Jeff Singer)

8:08 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Special Elections: Via Johnny Longtorso:

New Hampshire House, Rockingam-32: This was a Republican hold; Yvonne Dean-Bailey defeated Democrat Maureen Mann by a 52-48 margin.

Pennsylvania SD-05: Democrats easily held this seat, no doubt due in part to the mayoral primary occurring at the same time. Democrat John Sabatina Jr. defeated Republican Tim Dailey by a 76-24 margin.

The New Hampshire contest would have attracted little attention if it was held in almost any other state, but GOP presidential candidates couldn't resist the chance to wave the red flag for party activists. Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina stumped for Dean-Bailey, a 19-year old attending college in Massachusetts. Americans for Prosperity also got involved in get-out-the-vote efforts. Romney won this seat 54-45 so Dean-Bailey's win wasn't a huge surprise in the end.

8:25 AM PT (Jeff Singer): CA State Senate: Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer pulled off a 55-45 win over Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in the special election to succeed Rep. Mark DeSaulnier. While both candidates are Democrats, this contest attracted $7 million worth of spending. While Glazer has served a close advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, he has a terrible relationship with labor groups.

One major issue in the contest was whether Bay Area Rapid Transportation (BART) union workers should be allowed to strike. Glazer came down strongly against it, and he struck a chord with voters in this East Bay seat. A recent SurveyUSA poll, which gave Glazer a 45-35 lead just days before the vote, found that respondents said that BART workers should not be allowed to strike by a 60-30 margin. Two 2013 BART walkouts caused problems for local commuters, and the issue helped Republican Catherine Baker win a local Obama 58-40 Assembly seat last year. Glazer's reputation as am moderate also helped him make inroads with the seat's Republican minority, which appears to have overwhelmingly backed him against Bonilla.

8:39 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Charlotte Mayor: Republican ex-Councilor Edwin Peacock lost the 2013 race to Democrat Patrick Cannon by a respectable 53-47 margin, and he announced on Tuesday that he's trying again. Peacock should be favored against 2011 nominee Scott Stone in the GOP primary, and he may have a good chance to prevail here in November. Charlotte is a Democratic-leaning city, but Peacock's last race proved that city hall isn't out of reach for Republicans.

Peacock may not learn the identity of his opponent for a while though. Interim Mayor Dan Clodfelter, who replaced Cannon after his arrest and resignation last year, will face Councilors Michael Barnes and David Howard and former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary, and an Oct. 6 runoff will be held if no one takes more than 40 percent of the vote.

8:49 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Colorado Springs Mayor: Voters in Colorado's second-largest city went to the polls in Tuesday's runoff and to no one's surprise, former state Attorney General John Suthers defeated ex-Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace by a 68-32 margin. Suthers outpaced the moderate Makepeace by a 46-24 margin in the primary and with two conservative candidates taking most of the remaining vote, she didn't have much room to expand. Over the years, the GOP has attempted to convince Suthers to run for Senate or for governor but he's always declined, and it seems he's now found his dream job.

9:02 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Toledo Mayor: The special election to fill the final two years of the late Mayor Michael Collins' term is getting interesting. On Wednesday, his widow Sandy Drabik Collins announced that she would run as an independent, pledging to carry out his agenda.

Interim Democratic Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson is already running and she appears to have consolidated her party's support, but she could face another well-known Democrat. Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said this week that he's seriously thinking about another campaign, and he'll make a decision by the late summer. Finkbeiner voluntarily left office in 2009 and love him or hate him, he's not a boring guy. There will be no primary for this special election, and all the candidates will run together on one non-partisan ballot in November: The filing deadline is Sept. 4.

9:09 AM PT (Jeff Singer): DE-Gov: Democrats had been wondering why former state Attorney General Beau Biden hasn't made his 2016 plans clear, and it looks like we may have to keep waiting. On Tuesday, his father Vice President Joe Biden announced that Beau is receiving treatment at Walter Reed for an undisclosed illness. The younger Biden suffered a stoke in 2010 and had a small lesion removed in 2013.

9:25 AM PT (David Jarman): WA-Gov, WA-Sen: Washington's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee won only a narrow victory when first elected in 2012, but Public Policy Polling suggests he'll have an easier time of it when he runs for re-election, even if it's a rematch against ex-Attorney General Rob McKenna. Inslee sports a 41-42 job approval, consistent with an uneventful first few years and an improving economy; his strength in head-to-head matchups seems more about the fact that the Republicans don't have any top-tier options who seem interested in challenging him.

• 46-34 vs. Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant

• 45-31 vs. state Sen. Andy Hill

• 43-38 vs. ex-Attorney General/2012 opponent Rob McKenna

• 45-34 vs. Rep. Dave Reichert

The only potential opponent who comes within single digits is McKenna, who seemed like he was interested in a rematch right after the 2012 election but lately has seemed uninterested in re-emerging from the private sector. The only candidate who has actually declared, Bryant, trails by 11, and that's not purely an artifact of Bryant being largely unknown (with 5-12 favorable): you can see that Inslee polls at 43 vs. McKenna, while at 46 vs. Bryant, so McKenna's presence seems to change a few minds.

What's perhaps most surprising is that Dave Reichert, long considered the best option on the GOP's bench for a statewide run (an option he never exercises, preferring to keep his House seat, which got much safer after redistricting), performs closer in line with the nobodies than with McKenna. You can also see that in PPP's poll of Washington's 2016 Senate race, where he's also down by double digits against Patty Murray, who'll be seeking her fifth term. Perhaps some of the novelty of his "tough-guy-who's-also-moderate" shtick has worn off, as he's gotten more entrenched as a part of the national GOP's house.

• 47-37 vs. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

• 46-41 vs. McKenna

• 48-37 vs. Reichert

• 48-35 vs. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

While McKenna also comes within single-digits of Murray, Reichert performs about as well as Herrera Beutler. Bear in mind, though, that none of these named opponents has expressed any interest in running; McMorris Rodgers isn't going to give up her House GOP leadership slot for a suicide mission, and party elders would probably discourage Herrera Beutler from running anyway, since an open WA-03 would be at serious risk of flipping in a presidential year. Basically, any Republican with any juice would focus on the potentially-winnable gubernatorial race instead, meaning the person with the thankless task of opposing Murray will probably be either a random rich guy or a state legislator looking to build up some name rec.

Part of the unremarkable-ness of Inslee's tenure is that he and the legislature haven't really done much other than just keep the lights on (nothing big is going to happen as long as Republicans control the state Senate). Instead, the momentous changes have happened through the initiative process -- which is usually the case in the west coast states anyway, even when one party holds the trifecta. PPP also polled the recently passed initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana, recognizing same-sex marriage, and expanding background checks on gun purchases.

They found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that voters now approve of those choices by wider margins now than the original vote. For instance, while same-sex marriage was approved by an 8-point margin, respondents now approve of it by a 56-36 margin, and 53 percent say it's had no impact on them at all. Interestingly, gun purchase background checks are even more popular than either same-sex marriage or marijuana: respondents now approve of background checks by a 68-24 margin, and in a sample where 41 percent of respondents own guns, only 18 percent say the measure has had a negative impact on them.

9:32 AM PT (Jeff Singer): ME-02: Freshman Republican Bruce Poliquin will be a top Democratic target in his 53-44 Obama seat, but Team Blue knows it won't be easy to beat him. Maine's 2nd District hasn't ousted an incumbent member of Congress since 1916, and Poliquin has proven to be an incredibly good fundraiser. 2014 nominee Emily Cain, who lost to Poliquin by a 47-42 margin, is running again, but her $136,000 haul last quarter isn't scaring off one potential primary foe.

Bangor Councilor Joe Baldacci, the brother of former Gov. John Baldacci, has been mulling a campaign for a while. Last week, Baldacci released part of a mid-April PPP survey that he says shows him "in a statistical dead heat" with Poliquin. Baldacci hasn't committed to anything, but he's been meeting with local Democratic groups. But it appears we won't be seeing a rerun from former state Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson. While he has yet to rule anything out, he tells Roll Call that he's less likely to run since Cain is getting national Democratic support already. Jackson badly lost last year's primary to Cain, so it's not too surprising he doesn't have much of an appetite for another go.

9:50 AM PT (Jeff Singer): NV-Sen, 03: After initially ruling out a Senate run, Republican Rep. Joe Heck is now reportedly leaning strongly toward a bid. However, Roll Call reports that Heck is likely to wait on finalizing his plans until Gov. Brian Sandoval has completely and utterly ruled out a campaign. Sandoval is likely to make his announcement after the legislative session ends in early June. There's little reason to expect that Sandoval will jump in, but he hasn't said no yet.

Speculation has begun to turn to who would run to succeed Heck in the swingy 3rd District. GOP state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson looks likely to go for it, and tea partying Las Vegas Councilor Bob Beers may drop down from the Senate race to this contest. Beers hasn't attracted much attention in his year-long Senate bid, but he could draw some blood from Roberson if he can turn the spotlight on his support for Sandoval's proposed tax increases. Democrats will want to contest this seat especially if Heck leaves, but their top recruit philanthropist Susie Lee just kicked off her campaign for the neighboring 4th District.

10:06 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-06: Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford is about to leave office, and he seems to have his next campaign in mind. Rutherford tells First Coast Connect that he's "eyeing" this safely red open seat, and is "looking at putting a team together as we speak."

None of Jacksonville's Duval County is in the 6th, and only about one-third of the district is located in the Jacksonville media market. However, if enough Orlando-area candidates run, Rutherford might have a good shot in the GOP primary. And sure enough, former New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer is already in, and ex-Rep. Sandy Adams looks likely to take the plunge soon. However, state Sen. Travis Hutson's office has announced that he will not be joining them.

10:20 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-18: Palm Beach County Commissioners Priscilla Taylor and Melissa McKinlay are already facing off to succeed Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, and lawyer Jonathan Chane is reportedly considering joining them in the Democratic primary. It's often difficult to tell if these various attorneys are legit candidates or Some Dudes, but the fact that Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is the one relaying Chane's interest makes it sound like he has some connections.

Three Republicans are already running in this Romney 52-48 seat, and they may also be about to get come company. Stephen Leighton, who serves as the Community Operations & Emergency Management director at the Martin County sheriff's department, says he's interested. However, while his call for a "bipartisan, moderate representative" probably isn't going to gain much traction, he could hold back fellow Martin County moderate Rebecca Negron if he gets in.

K.C. Ingram Traylor, who has been active in opposing a proposed Miami-to-Orlando rail service, is also publicly considering, but she has her own apostasy. Traylor appeared in a spot for Murphy last year, arguing that the Democrat was "independent, like me." Something tells me that's not going to sit well with GOP primary voters.

10:43 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-Sen: GOP Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera recently said that he wouldn't make a final decision on whether or not to run until the late summer, but according to the National Journal, it's not indecision that's delaying him. Instead, Lopez-Cantera is using his time as a non-candidate to attract donors to his super PAC Reform Washington, which can raise unlimited amounts of money. Once Lopez-Cantera actually becomes a candidate he can't coordinate with the group, but right now there's nothing stopping him from working on building it up ahead of what will be an expensive race.

Jeb Bush is trying this approach in the presidential race, and a lot of politicians are going to be watching both men closely to see if it's worth trying something like this in future cycles. However, one downside is that would-be candidates can't hire campaign staff, so a long delay could cost them critical talent.

11:02 AM PT (Jeff Singer): KY-Gov: Matt Bevin's apparent 83-vote win in Tuesday's GOP primary wasn't just one of the tightest contests we've ever seen, it was the closest major party gubernatorial primary in Kentucky history. Smart Politics takes a look at both parties' history since the early 1900s and finds that before this, the closest Republican primary was in 1991, when Rep. Larry Hopkins beat lawyer Larry Forgy by a 50.6-49.4 margin. However, Hopkin's 1,945 vote win feels like a landslide compared to the cliffhanger we saw on Tuesday! Ultimately, Hopkins lost to Lt. Gov. Brereton Jones by a decisive 65-35 margin.

On the Democratic side, the closest gubernatorial primary was in 1983, when Lt. Gov. Martha Collins beat Louisville Mayor Harvey Sloane 34.0-33.3, or by 4,532 votes. The tight primary didn't keep Collins from defeating former Major league Baseball player and future Sen. Jim Bunning by a 55-44 margin though.

While Attorney General Jack Conway's primary was just an afterthought compared to the messy GOP race, he did make history on Tuesday. Smart Politics reports that Conway's 79-21 margin over perennial candidate Geoff Young was the most decisive showing in any contested Democratic gubernatorial primary. Because Democrats traditionally dominated the Blue Grass State, it makes sense that they'd have plenty of up-and-comers looking for promotions. But while Team Blue still holds the state House and most statewide offices, the party rallied behind Conway in preparation for what could be a tight race.

12:02 PM PT: NY-01: So it turns out that Long Island Democrats will have to fight it out for the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, but the latest entrant isn't exactly a Democrat herself. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst is a member of the Independence Party who has, in the past, received the backing of the Democratic Party under New York's fusion voting rules. However, she'll have to switch her registration to run in the Democratic primary, something she says she's doing.

Venture capitalist Dave Calone, who joined the race earlier this month, took a subtle dig at Throne-Holst after she announced her bid on Wednesday, calling himself a "lifelong Democrat." It's the kind of issue that could come up in a primary, but the DCCC isn't bothered by her party switch, though, as the committee has already met with her in D.C., as has EMILY's List. (The D-Trip has met with Calone, too.) Two other candidates are also considering the race, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn and former Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko.

12:08 PM PT (David Jarman): Philadelphia mayor: If you're wondering how Jim Kenney wound up winning the Democratic primary in the Philadelphia mayoral race with surprising ease, take a look at Philadelphia magazine's lengthy recap of the race, which touches on every nuance of this race. Kenney's feat initially seems surprising, since he was running against a well-known African-American state Senator in a city that's plurality-black, and he was splitting the blue-collar white vote with a former District Attorney with a law-and-order reputation.

Nevertheless,  here's their summary of how he won:

•Large numbers of black voters were unsatisfied with Williams, the only high-profile black candidate in the race. Many were looking for an alternative.

•Kenney locked up union support early — and not just the Electricians. He won the backing of the city employee unions, the teacher’s union, the hospital workers union, to name just a few. These are unions with large numbers of middle-class black voters, many of whom seem to have voted for Kenney.

•He secured what proved to be a critical early endorsement from a group of influential black political leaders in Northwest Philadelphia, headed by State Rep. Dwight Evans.
On top of that, Kenney managed to position himself well with middle- and upper-middle-class whites as the most progressive candidate on issues like LGBT rights and marijuana decriminalization. And Kenney was helped along by Williams' own problems, including ineffective ads from his pro-charter school backers (who never went negative against Kenney), and a late implosion when Williams went after the city's popular police chief.

1:29 PM PT: NY-02: Democrats would love to oust veteran GOP Rep. Peter King from his Long Island House seat, but he's held in with ox-like stubbornness for years even though his district gave 52 percent of its vote to Barack Obama. Will 2016 finally be the year that King is deposed? It would take a hell of a lot, but Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory, the chamber's presiding officer and an Army veteran, is going to give it a shot.

King has been in office since 1993 and has always won re-election handily. Even though he's quite conservative by his own admission, he's managed to carve out a reputation as a security-obsessed loudmouth who knows when to break with his party and support local interests. In other words, he knows how to appeal perfectly to worried New York suburbanites.

But lately, he's been making goofy noises about running for president—he even claims he's "50-50"!—and that's the kind of thing that never endears you to your constituents. It could also be a sign that King, who is 71, has finally gotten bored of the House. So whether he does or doesn't actually run (what a thing to type), Gregory will have the chance to make the case that the 2nd District deserves someone more engaged representing it. Add in a Hillary Clinton nomination at the top of the ticket and a surprise isn't impossible.

1:42 PM PT: MD-Sen: Here's an interesting bit of inside baseball that impinges on the Democratic primary for Senate in Maryland: According to a report in the New York Times, Rep. Donna Edwards joined a diverse group of fellow House members who tried to make the case to Nancy Pelosi earlier this year that Chris Van Hollen would have enough support from the caucus to succeed her as party leader, rather than Steny Hoyer, the current number two.

The lobbying effort failed, though. Pelosi reportedly refused to offer any assurances that she'd offer her own backing to Van Hollen, who then decided to run for Barbara Mikulski's open Senate seat instead. All this is trivia for junkies, of course, but as one nameless Van Hollen backer suggests to the Baltimore Sun, Edwards' criticism of Van Hollen's progressive credentials is "undermine[d]" by her support for his leadership bid. However, is this the kind of thing Van Hollen's camp will really push, though, and would voters even care? Probably not. Still, it's a rare look inside back rooms branching off the halls of power, and it shows that appearances can be very deceiving when it comes to political relationships.

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8:17 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IN-Gov: Less than a year ago, it looked quite possible that GOP Gov. Mike Pence would forgo his re-election campaign in order to run for president. But over the last few months, Pence sounded reluctant to risk his day job. In any case, the national firestorm over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act pretty much ended any chance Pence had at running a serious bid for the White House, and turned his once-safe re-election campaign into a much tougher slog. So it comes as no surprise that Pence's campaign says that he will announce on June 18 that he will seek a second term as governor.

8:37 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IL-08: Democratic state Sen. Tom Cullerton formed an exploratory committee shortly after Rep. Tammy Duckworth announced that she would run for Senate, and he made his campaign official this week. Cullerton comes from a powerful family (his cousin is the state Senate president) and is well-connected to labor. Cullerton will face businessman and 2012 candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi, and fellow state Sen. Mike Noland has also formed an exploratory committee. The Democratic nominee should be favored in this Obama 57-41 Chicagoland seat.

12:20 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NH-01: In what passes for good news for Rep. Frank Guinta these days, the New Hampshire Republican Party’s Executive Committee decided not to call for his resignation on Monday. Their statement wasn't exactly warm, saying that Guinta "[u]nless further information comes to light, the Executive Committee of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, will take no further action."

Guinta has been in hot water since last week, when he paid a fine to the FEC over an illegal six-figure 2010 donation from his parents, and prominent Republicans like Sen. Kelly Ayotte have called for his departure. Guinta has maintained that the donation was legal but hasn't convincingly explained why, and he awkwardly refused to answer questions from Roll Call on Monday.  

Guinta looks very likely to face a credible primary challenger if he follows through with his plans to seek another term, but, at least for now, his base isn't calling for his head. According to GOP pollster Reach Communications, registered Republicans in NH-01 agree Guinta should not resign by a 61-39 margin. It's unclear if Reach (whom we've never heard from before) allowed respondents to say if they were undecided or not. There's a big difference between saying that Guinta shouldn't resign in disgrace and saying that he should be renominated, but this survey may encourage him to keep hanging on. Democrats are going to contest this swing seat regardless, but they'd rather face a damaged Guinta than a fresh opponent.

12:26 PM PT (Jeff Singer): CA-17: Former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna came close to unseating fellow Democrat Mike Honda last year, and he's set to make a "special announcement" on May 30. It's probably too much for Honda fans to hope that Khanna raised $801,000 only to decide not to run again.

1:11 PM PT (Jeff Singer): PA-AG: Two years ago, Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Kane was a rising star in Pennsylvania politics who looked likely to serve in the Senate or governor's mansion before too long. Now, Kane is facing an indictment for allegedly leaking secretive information to embarrass political enemies. Over at Philadelphia Magazine, Robert Huber gives us a fascinating look at Kane's rise and fall.

2:01 PM PT: FL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson's divorce settlement with his estranged wife, which would reportedly have annulled their marriage, has fallen apart. We don't know why, though supposedly Grayson signed the agreement but his wife did not. Why is this even news, though? Because Grayson couldn't resist taking an ugly, public swipe at his wife—the mother of their five children—on his way into court:

"I'll sum it up for you. Gold diggers gotta dig. That's all I gotta say," Grayson said on Monday. "We had an agreement. She's trying to renege."
And Grayson's gotta grayse. Lately he's sent his acerbic rhetoric into turbo mode: He dubbed one local reporter a "shitting robot," berated two others, reportedly cursed at DSCC chair Jon Tester, and allegedly called Rep. Patrick Murphy, his would-be primary rival, a piece of shit. So Grayson's latest outburst is far from surprising, but it certainly doesn't help his hot-headed image, and this isn't exactly the kind of remark your average woman voter will like.

Meanwhile, we have a new name emerging on the GOP side. Marc Caputo reports that wealthy businessman Randy Fine might drop his bid for the state House and take on a much more ambitious Senate campaign. Supposedly, Fine is willing to self-fund "seven figures," though even at the higher end of the range, that's not terribly impressive for Florida (Gov. Rick Scott spent $70 million of his own money in 2010). Right now, the only declared Republican is Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Club for Growth acolyte, so you know that the establishment is looking for an alternative. Whether that's Fine or, say, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, remains to be seen.

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Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) announces she will run for the U.S. Senate seat of vacating California Senator Barbara Boxer during an event  in Santa Ana, California May 14, 2015. Sanchez said on Thursday she would take on California Attorney General Kamala Harris for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, the Los Angeles Times reported.   REUTERS/Mike Blake . - RTX1D0AX
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
Unreal. This is one of the grossest things we've seen from a Democratic candidate in a long while. Here's California Rep. Loretta Sanchez, demonstrating a "war whoop" to describe an East Indian supporter she once met with:
"So I'm going to his office, thinkin' that I'm going to go meet with a," she said, holding her hand in front of her mouth and making an echo sound. "Right? ... because he said Indian American."
Fellow Democrats pounded Sanchez, a newly minted Senate candidate who stumbled badly in her first week, until she coughed up an apology, but this is the kind of display that could (and probably should) prove disqualifying. What makes this more problematic is that Sanchez, whom the Sacramento Bee politely labeled as "unscripted," has an unfortunate history of racially clueless remarks: In her 2010 re-election campaign, she said that "Vietnamese and Republicans" were attempting "to take this seat from us … and give it to this Van Tran, who is very anti-immigrant and very anti-Hispanic." (Tran is Vietnamese, and Sanchez had to apologize then, too.)

One thing Sanchez may actually understand, though, is how precarious her situation is. She waited months to get into the race for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer's open seat, a delay that allowed state Attorney General Kamala Harris to raise millions and consolidate support from the Democratic establishment. After her dismaying blunder, Sanchez was asked if she might instead seek re-election to the House. Her response was very telling:

"I am running for the United States Senate, and we're running full bore to talk to people up and down California, and we think that by the time we finish, and [the June 2016 primary] rolls around, we're going to be moving into the general election."
Sanchez's failure to actually answer the question put to her means she hasn't ruled out the possibility of a quick about-face. It would be a humiliating climb-down, but it wouldn't be any more humiliating than what Sanchez has already put herself through.
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KY-Gov: Tuesday's GOP primary has been dominated by accusations that James Comer abused his girlfriend Marilyn Thomas in college. Along with Thomas, two of her former roommates have publicly stated that Comer abused her either physically or mentally. On Friday, GOP state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, who supports primary rival Hal Heiner, told the Courier-Journal that she has three lifelong friends who have known about Comer's actions for the last two decades, and Forgy Kerr says she "knows" that the allegations are true.

One of them, Tim Janes, said that he was best friends with Jim Coursey when he was dating Thomas in the mid-1990s, before Comer's political career started. Janes says that Thomas "confided to me in 1995 that Jamie Comer had abused her, how he controlled and how domineering he was to her." Coursey's sister also says that she knew for years that Thomas had been in an abusive relationship in college, though she wasn't aware of Comer's involvement. So far, Thomas' story doesn't appear to have knocked Comer out of contention, but he can't be happy that this is getting more oxygen right before the primary. (Jeff Singer)

NH-01: GOP Rep. Frank Guinta has been in hot water since he paid a huge fine to the FEC last week over a mysterious six-figure donation from 2010. Prominent Republicans aren't doing much to support him, and the Boston Globe's James Pindell reports that they're actively looking for another candidate. Guinta reiterated on Friday that he's running again in 2016, but it's likely that he's going to get a lot of pressure from the NRCC to resign or retire so they can have a candidate without his baggage. (Jeff Singer)

8:53 AM PT (Jeff Singer): LA-Gov: Sen. David Vitter continues to scoop up big GOP endorsements, with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise joining the pile. Unlike his House colleagues John Fleming and Charles Boustany, the powerful Scalise probably isn't looking for a Senate appointment (though he likely wouldn't say no if it were offered). Freshman Rep. Ralph Abraham endorsed Vitter last month, leaving Garrett Graves as the only GOP member of the delegation who isn't backing the senator yet.

10:06 AM PT (David Jarman): Demographics: The discussion of demographics and politics has taken a rather morbid turn lately, with a number of stories talking about the role of death (or, more broadly, generational replacement). Daniel McGraw, writing for Politico magazine, has a provocative addition to that trend, with a piece titled "The GOP is dying off. Literally." His article is based on some interesting math, combining exit polls with mortality data from the Census Bureau. He uses that to conclude that of the 61 million people who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, 2.75 million of them will be missing from the electorate in 2016 (inasmuch as they'll be dead). Of course, that's a two-way street, but only 2.3 million of the 66 million people who voted for Barack Obama instead (who are disproportionately younger) will die in that same period, a disparity of 453,000.

There are some nuances here that McGraw's article doesn't go into, though. For one thing, you may remember the discussion only a few weeks ago of how premature death rates among African-Americans have their own negative impact on Democratic political fortunes. Also, there's simply the matter that this is an ongoing, perpetual problem; the same trend of Republican-leaning voters dying at a greater rate applied in 2008 ... and yet, Mitt Romney got more votes than did John McCain. The slow erosion doesn't happen at a rate fast enough to outweigh other, bigger shifts in the electorate.

10:24 AM PT (David Jarman): Votes: The House voted on the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" last Wednesday; the bill passed with 238 Republican and 4 Democratic yes votes, to 180 Democratic and 4 Republican no votes. The four Dems who voted yes were three of the 'usual suspects,' Henry Cuellar, Dan Lipinski, and Collin Peterson, along with Rhode Island's Jim Langevin. The four Republicans were also three of the ones likeliest to break ranks (Bob Dold, Charlie Dent, and Richard Hanna) along with Rodney Frelinghuysen.

As a reminder of how far the Democrats have come, in terms of being nearly united on this issue, think back to our post from earlier this year on what happened to the 64 Dems who voted yes on the Stupak Amendment in 2009. Of that 64, only 12 remain (between losses and retirements -- though, of course, if the Dems still had a majority in the House, it'd probably include significantly more Blue Dogs in rural districts, meaning that we wouldn't likely have that same level of unity). And of those 12, only three voted 'yes' on a similar bill in 2015 to exclude abortion coverage from ACA plans. Who were those three? Once again, it was Cuellar, Lipinski, and Peterson.

10:32 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Jacksonville Mayor: Voters head to the polls Tuesday, and a new poll indicates we're in for a barnburner. VancoreJones Communications takes a look at the contest on behalf of a conservative business group, and gives Republican Lenny Curry a 44-43 edge over Democratic incumbent Alvin Brown. The only other recent poll we've seen comes from St. Pete Polls, and they showed Curry up 49-45. (Hat-Tip Marc Caputo).

Jacksonville is a conservative city, and Brown always knew he was in for a tough race. However, as Tyler Yeargain reminds us in a great preview to this contest, Brown may have alienated too many Democrats. While Brown's reluctance to back Obama in 2012 and refusal to side with Charlie Crist in last year's gubernatorial contest could have earned him some cross-over support, there's a real chance it will depress base turnout when all is said and done. We'll find out Tuesday if Brown can pull off a second win in this red area.

10:56 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Nashville Mayor: We have a while to go before the Aug. 6 non-partisan primary, but two candidates just released internal polls. First up is a May Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey from wealthy developer Bill Freeman, which we've summarize below:

• Real estate executive Bill Freeman: 20

• Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry: 16

• Councilor Megan Barry: 16

• Businesswoman Linda Eskind Rebrovick: 9

• Attorney Charles Robert Bone: 5

• Former Metro Nashville School Board Chairman David Fox: 4

• Charter school founder Jeremy Kane: 4

A previously unreleased Freeman poll from early April showed Gentry beating Barry 27-13, with Freeman at 11. Freeman has been airing ads, though it's unclear how much he's spending.

Gentry has also released his own poll, also conducted in May. The results of the Mellman Group survey are below:

• Gentry: 21

• Freeman: 19

• Barry: 10

• Rebrovick: 8

• Bone: 6

• Fox: 4

• Kane: 2

Most of the candidates haven't spent very much yet, so expect things to change before August. As the only African American candidate in the contest, Gentry has a good chance to advance to the runoff, but a lot is up in the air here.

11:02 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Special Elections: Via Johnny Longtorso:

New Hampshire House, Rockingham-32: This is an open Republican seat encompassing the towns of Candia, Deerfield, Northwood, and Nottingham. The Democratic candidate is Maureen Mann, who won this seat in 2012 by 21 votes but lost it 55-45 in 2014. She also held this seat from 2007 to 2010 when it elected five representatives; it's a single-member floterial seat now.

The Republican nominee is Yvonne Dean-Bailey, a 19-year-old college freshman at a school in Massachusetts (Scott Brown has apparently started a trend here). Mitt Romney carried this seat 54-45 in 2012, while Scott Brown and Walt Haverstein both won it 54-46 in 2014.

Pennsylvania SD-05: This is the seat vacated by Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, located in northeast Philadelphia. The candidates are Democratic state Rep. John Sabatina Jr. and Republican Tim Dailey, a high school teacher. This district went 63-36 for President Obama in 2012.

11:20 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Primaries: Tuesday brings us one of the year's biggest election nights, with Kentucky's unpredictable and nasty GOP gubernatorial primary headlining. We also have a Democratic mayoral primary in Philadelphia and a general election in Jacksonville, Florida to watch. Check out our primary preview for a rundown of each contest, as well as poll closing times: We'll be liveblogging the proceedings Tuesday starting at 6 ET.

11:20 AM PT (Jeff Singer): CA State Senate: Tuesday's runoff in California's 7th Senate District in the East Bay features two Democrats facing off against one another, but don't be fooled into thinking this isn't a high-stakes race. Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla has the support of labor and environmental groups, who have spent big for her. On the other side is Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, a longtime advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown. Despite that connection, Glazer has a terrible relationship with labor, and plenty of Democrats are furious at him for endorsing Republican Catharine Baker's successful Assembly bid last year.

Altogether, a monstrous $7 million has been dropped here. While Obama won this seat 61-37, the district's Republican minority could decide this contest, and they're likely to overwhelmingly back Glazer.

11:26 AM PT (Jeff Singer): NC-Gov: Sometimes, a candidate has been all-but-running for so long that you just can't muster up any excitement when they actually get in. So it is with Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who finally confirmed on Saturday that he's going to challenge Republican Gov. Pat McCrory next year. Cooper is unlikely to face any real primary opposition, and polls forecast a tight general election.

11:37 AM PT (Jeff Singer): LA-03: Rep. Charles Boustany is one of a few Republicans hoping that David Vitter will appoint them to the Senate should he win this year's gubernatorial contest. If Boustany departs, it's a good bet that we'll see a crowded GOP contest in his Romney 66-32 southwest Louisiana seat, and one local politician is already taking a look here. The Advocate's Will Sentell reports that state Rep. Brett Geymann is publicly expressing interest in succeeding Boustany. Louisiana holds its legislative elections this year, so Geymann wouldn't need to sacrifice his seat to run.

12:40 PM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-Sen: It's been a long time since we heard anything from Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, but he's still keeping his name in contention. Ruppersberger tells Capital News Service that he's likely to decide by the summer, adding that his "popular polling is very high in the Baltimore area. If I’m the only one from Baltimore, I’ll consider it." Of course, that's a big if. While both announced candidates, Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen, hail from the D.C. area, Baltimore-based congressman Elijah Cummings is mulling a bid and fellow congressman John Sarbanes has yet to rule anything out either.

12:52 PM PT (Jeff Singer): VA-10: Despite Barbara Comstock's easy win last year, Democrats are hoping to target the freshman Northern Virginia Republican in this Romney 50-49 seat before she can become entrenched. Roll Call recently noted that state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, Del. Kathleen Murphy, and non-profit director Cathleen Magennis Wyatt are being recruited, though Wexton and Murphy are unlikely to decide on anything until this year's legislative elections are over on November. The Washington Post's Rachel Weiner also tells us that local Democrats see Shenandoah University professor Karen Schultz as a potentially strong candidate. Schultz considered running here in 2014 but she deferred to eventual nominee John Foust. Schultz acquitted herself well in 2007, with her only narrowly losing a state Senate bid.

1:14 PM PT: CA-Sen, 46: Unreal. This is one of the grossest things we've seen from a Democratic candidate in a long while. Here's Rep. Loretta Sanchez, demonstrating a "war whoop" to describe an East Indian supporter she once met with:

"So I'm going to his office, thinkin' that I'm going to go meet with a," she said, holding her hand in front of her mouth and making an echo sound. "Right? ... because he said Indian American."
Fellow Democrats pounded Sanchez, a newly minted Senate candidate who stumbled badly in her first week, until she coughed up an apology, but this is the kind of display that could (and probably should) prove disqualifying. What makes this more problematic is that Sanchez, whom the Sacramento Bee politely labeled as "unscripted," has an unfortunate history of racially clueless remarks: In her 2010 re-election campaign, she said that "Vietnamese and Republicans" were attempting "to take this seat from us … and give it to this Van Tran, who is very anti-immigrant and very anti-Hispanic." (Tran is Vietnamese, and Sanchez had to apologize then, too.)

One thing Sanchez may actually understand, though, is how precarious her situation is. She waited months to get into the race for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer's open seat, a delay that allowed state Attorney General Kamala Harris to raise millions and consolidate support from the Democratic establishment. After her dismaying blunder, Sanchez was asked if she might instead seek re-election to the House. Her response was very telling:

"I am running for the United States Senate, and we're running full bore to talk to people up and down California, and we think that by the time we finish, and [the June 2016 primary] rolls around, we're going to be moving into the general election."
Sanchez's failure to actually answer the question put to her means she hasn't ruled out the possibility of a quick about-face. It would be a humiliating climb-down, but it wouldn't be any more humiliating than what Sanchez has already put herself through.

1:56 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NH-01: Rep. Frank Guinta has certainly seen better days. Last Wednesday, the New Hampshire Republican paid a fine to the FEC over a mysterious (and illegal) $355,000 campaign loan from his parents, perhaps thinking that he could put this long-running story behind him. However, Guinta's move only led to more questions about his honesty, and his own party wants him out of this swing district.

Last week, Sen. Kelly Ayotte did little to defend the incumbent, but she ditched any subtlety on Monday and publicly toldGuinta to get lost. State Senate President Chuck Morse and state House Speaker Shawn Jasper also called for his resignation, while state party chair Jennifer Horn called his situation "serious and extremely troubling." The hacks at the NRCC didn't exactly get Guinta's back either, saying only that they're "continuing to evaluate this very complex situation."

Guinta is at least acting like he doesn't care, saying on Monday that he won't resign, and that he'll fundraise to pay back the questionable loan (good luck finding donors). However, if Guinta won't go quietly, his party sounds ready to throw him into the shark tank. The Boston Globe reported on Friday that influential Republicans have already started discussing possible recruits, and they certainly have a lot of options. The Globe's James Pindell mentioned 14 different potential candidates, though it remains to be seen who's actually serious. One more notable name belongs to 2014 candidate Dan Innis, who lost the primary to Guinta and says he'd be interested in a second bid, but only if there's an open seat situation.

There's also been some speculation that ex-Massachusetts Sen. and 2014 New Hampshire Senate nominee Scott Brown could try again. However, given that a recent PPP survey gave Brown an atrocious 30-56 statewide favorable rating, it's unlikely the NRCC will be thrilled to have him as their standard-bearer. (It doesn't help that Brown has already dispensed with last year's comic fiction that he's a New Hampshirite: He recently reestablished his Masshole credentials by applying for a Massachusetts state pension.)

For the moment, Guinta seems determined to stick it out and perhaps go down fighting, but it's very hard to see him getting to the general election ballot unless a clown car full of over-eager Republicans runs against him in the primary. Democrats are going to target this swing seat no matter what happens, but right now, as unlikely as it may be, they're rooting for Guinta to hang on for dear life.

2:00 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NV-04: Three Democrats are already challenging freshman Republican Cresent Hardy in this Obama 54-44 seat, and we might be about to have our fourth contender. Via Jon Ralston, former state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says that he's "north of 90 percent" for getting in. Hardy's going to have a tough time next year no matter who he faces, but Oceguera may give him his best shot at victory. Back in 2012, Oceguera ran a disastrous campaign overt in the neighboring 3rd District, spending months refusing to say if he'd have voted for Obamacare. If he runs this time, maybe we'll finally find out?

2:04 PM PT (Jeff Singer): CA-Sen: A strong Sanchez campaign launch may have persuaded Xavier Becerra, another Latino House member from Southern California, from running. But Becerra is definitely still looking at the contest, and he says he expects to make up his mind by August.

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