Skip to main content


Messrs. Sturgeon, Miliband, Cameron, Clegg, Lannister, and Lannister
Two important things are currently going on, for fans of complex, impenetrable stories about people with impressively highbrow-sounding accents forming ever-shifting coalitions in order to try to gain control of an isolated island with bad weather. One is season 5 of Game of Thrones on HBO. The other is the United Kingdom parliamentary election, the first since 2010, to be held on May 7.

While there are plenty of wikis and fan sites devoted to Game of Thrones, I haven't seen anyone trying to apply FiveThirtyEight-style quantitative analysis to the question of who holds the Iron Throne. On the other hand, there are numerous sites devoted to predicting who holds No. 10 Downing Street. Polls currently show the Conservatives nearly neck-and-neck with Labour, who are poised for a comeback after the UK's economic recovery lagged the US's, thanks in part to the Conservatives' austerity agenda.

It's not a simple case of which party gets the most votes nationwide, though; there are 650 different constituencies in the House of Commons, and a first-past-the-post election in each one. Complicating matters greatly is that third (and fourth and fifth) parties play a much larger role in the UK. This means that not only are individual seats much more difficult to predict than in American congressional elections (because, in a left-leaning constituency, multiple left-of-center parties might split the vote in a way that lets the Conservatives win), but also that no party is likely to control a true majority of seats and that power must be held through a coalition.

For instance, the Conservatives (who, confusingly, you'll often see referred to as the Tories) won only 306 seats in the last election, and hold power today only because of a coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats. However, both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are expected to lose seats next week. Good news for Labour, right? Not quite: Labour is likely to pick up a number of seats from the Conservatives, but also lose a number of seats in their previous stronghold of Scotland to the Scottish National Party. While the SNP is perhaps even further to the left than Labour, they're focused on Scottish autonomy and not necessarily disposed to form a full coalition with Labour. One of the likeliest outcomes might be no coalition at all, but a Labour/SNP informal relationship that limps along until another election will be held.

The element of chaos that third parties bring to the mix (even greater this year, with the rising impact of the Greens on the left and the UK Independence Party on the right), is an enjoyable part of following UK politics. But another enjoyable aspect is simply the constituencies themselves: there are no boring, American-style numeric designations like CO-06 or FL-18 here. Instead, they have pleasing, evocative names, many of which sound like they're straight out of the mists of medieval times ... or from fantasy literature, like Game of Thrones itself. With that in mind, we thought a fun quiz mixing the two would be a good way to delve deeper into both. So, for each location below, which is it? A UK parliament constituency, or a location from Game of Thrones?


1. Amber Valley
2. Barrowlands
3. Beaconsfield
4. Casterly Rock
5. Castle Point
6. Eddisbury
7. Great Grimsby
8. Hazel Grove
9. Highgarden
10. King's Landing
11. Maidstone and the Weald
12. Mole Valley
13. Pyke
14. Riverrun
15. The Eyrie
16. The Wrekin
17. Vale of Glamorgan
18. White Harbor
19. Wolfswood
20. Wyre Forest
Head over the fold for the answers!
Continue Reading
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
Oregon's new Democratic Gov. Kate Brown
Leading Off:

OR-Gov: John Kitzhaber's resignation only weeks after starting his fourth term set off a variety of cascading effects in Oregon's political scene, putting then-Secretary of State and fellow Democrat Kate Brown into the governor's chair but also setting in motion an unusual 2016 special election. Republicans have had miserable luck trying to win back the governor's mansion even in midterm years, and they've been locked out since Vic Atiyeh left office in 1987. While you might think a special election after a scandalous resignation would give the out-party a shot, here it's against the backdrop of presidential turnout, so it's going to be even more of an uphill climb for the GOP. Brown has not officially announced she'll run, but it would be a massive surprise if she calls it quits next year.

But the GOP and some Democrats are watching for any vulnerability from Brown, who is still introducing herself to the state. Head below the fold for a look at who might oppose her next year.

Continue Reading
Chart of Population 18 Years and Older in Selected Group Quarters and Households by Race: 2009–2011
(click to enlarge)

The New York Times's Upshot released a fascinating piece of data journalism this week, which you may have already seen: the case of the "1.5 million missing black men." They aren't actually "missing," to the extent that we know where they are—most are either dead due to disproportionate mortality rates, or incarcerated due to disproportionate rates of imprisoned African Americans. This is especially startling when you look at the ratio of black women to black men age 25-54 who aren't in prison: it's 100 to 83.

While the Times article doesn't delve into political implications, they aren't difficult to figure out: a sizable piece of the Democratic Party's most reliable population segment (the Democratic vote share among African Americans often exceeds 90 percent) is left unable to vote. And since many of them are in states that disenfranchise felons, they're still unable to vote even when they're no longer "missing" and return to public life. Felon disenfranchisement often gets overlooked amidst the focus on voter ID requirements and registration list purges, but in terms of raw numbers of people affected, ending felon disenfranchisement would likely make the single biggest difference in easing the suppression of potential Democratic voters.

There's more over the fold.

Continue Reading
Oregon Governor Kate Brown speaks after being sworn in at the state capital building in Salem, Oregon February 18, 2015. Brown was sworn in as governor on Wednesday, taking over from a fellow Democrat who saw his decades-long political career crumble because of an influence-peddling scandal involving his fiancee. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4Q4VP
Newly inaugurated Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
John Kitzhaber's resignation only weeks after starting his fourth term set off a variety of cascading effects in Oregon's political scene, putting then-Secretary of State and fellow Democrat Kate Brown into the governor's chair but also setting in motion an unusual 2016 special election. Republicans have had miserable luck trying to win back the governor's mansion even in midterm years, and they've been locked out since Vic Atiyeh left office in 1987. While you might think a special election after a scandalous resignation would give the out-party a shot, here it's against the backdrop of presidential turnout, so it's going to be even more of an uphill climb for the GOP. Brown has not officially announced she'll run, but it would be a massive surprise if she calls it quits next year.

But the GOP and some Democrats are watching for any vulnerability from Brown, who is still introducing herself to the state. Head below the fold for a look at who might oppose her next year.

Continue Reading
One of the many valuable services performed by the folks at Pew Research is their biannual polling on party identification in America—in other words, how many people identify as Democratic, how many as Republican, and how many as independent. Looking at those statistics isn't unusual; Gallup, for instance, polls regularly on that too, and more frequently. However, Pew talks to far more people about this question (more than 25,000, for the 2014 survey), and asks a variety of demographic questions that let you drill down to the party ID for any ridiculously specific group of people. Want to know how many Hispanics earning more than $75,000 per year, or Asian millennials, or black midwesterners, or white agnostics, are Democrats and how many are Republicans? Now you can find out!

Over the fold we'll talk more about how party ID breaks down along different demographic lines, but the finding that seemed to get the most ink, at least in the beltway press, was the steadily increasing number of self-described independents. Independents are at their highest point in decades, at 39 percent of the population (Pew surveyed all adults, not just registered voters). Democrats are at 32 percent, and Republicans at 23. The number of independents hit its low-water mark in 2004 (only 30 percent), but has risen steadily since then.

However, you need to look at the trend lines on the graph to get the full picture. If you do, you'll notice that the Democratic line has been pretty flat for the last 20 years—they were at 33 percent of the population in 1992, so they've fallen only 1 percent over the course of two decades. Instead, most of the movement seems to be from the Republican column to the independents. GOPers went from 28 percent in 1992 to 23 now, while indies went up from 36 then to 39 percent now.

That seems to confirm what recent polls showed about the pool of independents becoming more conservative as the GOP shrinks. Remember in 2012 when Mitt Romney was suddenly getting a much larger share of independents in polls than Republican presidential candidates in previous races had, and Republican pundits became convinced that was evidence that Romney was on track to win (despite swing state polling that showed he was clearly going to lose)? In retrospect, it looks like the alternative hypothesis was totally right—an increasingly large number of hard-right, tea party types could no longer abide calling themselves Republicans and were dropping their party label, even as they still planned to vote for Republican candidates in the next general election.

There's more over the fold.

Continue Reading
Map of plurality religious groups by state, based on PRRI data
(click to enlarge)
The Public Religion Research Institute launched a new interactive feature last week called the "American Values Atlas," which lets you access a treasure trove of polling data (conducted by PRRI themselves, though Pew and Gallup also do a lot of religion-themed polling) on policy issues, but also on the demographic questions of who belongs to what religion, and where they live (which, as I've pointed out often, is a hugely important part of political geography, but something that the Census Bureau doesn't cover, meaning we need to look elsewhere for data).

If you're looking for a quick summary, PRRI hits a few of the big findings. America has ceased to be a majority-Protestant nation, and in 19 states, white Christians (of all denominations together) have ceased to be a majority. Even as Christians become a smaller segment of the country, at the same time, Christians are becoming less white as well (especially among Catholics, who are increasingly Latino, but even among evangelical Protestants as well; there has been strong recent growth among Latino evangelical churches, for instance).

Also worth noting is the rise of the "unaffiliated," people with no religious membership at all. They now comprise 22 percent of the population, and that's poised to grow significantly: young people (34 percent) are three times as likely to be unaffiliated as senior citizens (11 percent). Other non-Christian affiliations are poised to grow as well (based on the age of members): Hindus and Muslims have an average age of 36. Compare that with white evangelicals, who have an average age of 54.

The deluge of PRRI data prompted a variety of interesting new maps and charts from other sources over the last few days, as well; a good starting point may be the collection of maps that the Washington Post put together, parsing out which states have a Catholic plurality, which have an evangelical plurality, and which have an unaffiliated plurality. It also contains dozens more maps looking at each particular religion, and what percentage of people in each state are adherents.

If you want to see all that information condensed to one map, though, community member Dreaminonempty put together a composite map (the one featured at the top of this post) that looks at whether states have a Catholic, Protestant (all Protestant, not just evangelicals), or Mormon plurality, and how dominant that plurality (or majority) is.

There's more over the fold.

Continue Reading
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) addresses the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 9, 2012.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to forgo re-election in order to run for president
Leading Off:

FL-Sen: Both parties expect Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to seek the White House next year rather than run for re-election, though he hasn't announced his plans yet. There is no shortage of notable Republicans interested in replacing Rubio, though some would-be candidates may decide to sit out this cycle and run for governor or for the other Senate seat in 2018. On Thursday, two more prominent Republicans made it known that they're considering a bid.

Former state House Speaker Will Weatherford has been talked about as a potential Senate candidate for a while, and even Rubio himself recently touted him. Until now, Weatherford has been pretty quiet about his plans, but the Tampa Bay Times finally extracted a quote from him. Weatherford says that it's "too soon to make a decision," but he notably did not deny interest.

Rep. Vern Buchanan also told the Times that he's going to "take a look at it." Buchanan is a particularly interesting possibility, because he's personally wealthy (he owes a number of car dealerships) and would be able to self-fund ... perhaps not to the same extent as, say, Rick Scott, but at least enough to put a large operation in place quickly.

On the other hand, Buchanan has some previous black clouds hanging over him. There have been various lawsuits and ethics investigations regarding shady campaign finance practices, centered on those same auto dealerships. As recently as 2012, Democrats tried went after Buchanan over these stories, but he easily turned back a credible challenger that year and cruised to victory in 2014. But while these allegations have since petered out, opposition research by both primary and general election opponents are likely to bring them back to front and center. Romney won Buchanan's Sarasota-based 16th District by a 54-45 margin, so the NRCC probably won't have much to worry about if he runs for Senate.

Buchanan and Weatherford are far from the only Republicans eying Rubio's seat. State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (a close Rubio friend) recently met with national Republicans about a possible bid. Rep. Ron DeSantis has also been publicly considering a campaign, and there are a considerable number of other politicians who might jump in once Rubio finalizes his departure.

So far, things are far less chaotic on the Democratic side. Rep. Patrick Murphy has made it no secret that he's strongly considering running regardless of what Rubio eventually does, and his team didn't deny rumors that he'll kick off a campaign on March 23. The DSCC also hosted a meet-and-greet with Murphy on Thursday, something they probably wouldn't be doing if they didn't think he was in. Fellow Rep. Alan Grayson has also talked about joining the contest, but he's in no hurry to decide.

Continue Reading
Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford
Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford will be a top GOP target in 2016
Leading Off:

NE-02: There are a couple warning signs on the road ahead for freshman Rep. Brad Ashford, who will be a top GOP target in a seat that Romney won 53-46. For one thing, his fundraising is off to a slow start — he says he's raised about $150,000 this year, short of his $250,000 goal for the (almost over) first quarter. That's apparently generating a lot of heartburn at the DCCC, who've named him to their Frontline program for vulnerable incumbents. Ashford's stance on fundraising, per the article, is admirable, if quaint and reeking of loser-speak:

"If I don't get re-elected because I don't toe the party line, or I don't raise enough money by the first quarter, then I don't," Ashford said. "But I don't think that's going to make a difference. I think I'll be graded on how I do."
Perhaps more importantly, though, the tension over fundraising also seems to be generating a lot of turmoil within the office. Ashford has already lost a chief of staff and two communications directors after just two-and-a-half months in office. Roll Call's article draws an apt comparison to Nancy Boyda, who won a similarly-red Midwestern district in 2006 thanks to an unpopular incumbent, proceeded to run a laid-back, 20th-century style "grade me on my accomplishments" type-campaign, and promptly lost re-election. Ashford is going to have a tough fight next year no matter what, but if he doesn't pick up the slack, he may very well meet the same fate as Boyda.
Continue Reading
Daily Kos Elections Live Digest banner
Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here.
IL-18: Potential candidates are beginning to come out of the woodwork for the upcoming special election this conservative seat to replace Aaron Schock. On Monday, GOP state Sens. Darin LaHood, Bill Brady, and Jason Barickman all acknowledged that they're considering the race.

State Rep. Mike Unes also announced on Tuesday that he's "giving it the consideration it deserves." Mark Zalcman, the Some Dude who was already challenging Schock in the primary, is staying in to the excitement of just about no one. However, Peoria City Councilman Ryan Spain quickly made it clear that he wouldn't run. Not much activity is expected on the Democratic side, though state Sen. John Sullivan's name has been mentioned. Sullivan represents a 55-43 Romney seat so he does have experience winning over conservative voters, though a higher profile congressional campaign would not be easy. (Jeff Singer)

9:13 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-04: Two more candidates have jumped into the race to succeed Donna Edwards in this safely blue suburban DC seat. Former Prince George’s County Council Chairwoman Ingrid Turner and Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk are joining former Prince George’s County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey and ex-Lt. Gov and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Anthony Brown in the Democratic primary. There is a very deep bench here, so this field could get even larger.

9:29 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MS-01: We always knew there would be a crowded Republican contest to replace the late Alan Nunnelee, but maybe not this crowded. In the last few days, another three candidates have announced that they'll run in the May 12 special election, bringing us to 12 Republicans and one Libertarian. The most formidable is probably Sam Adcock, an executive at Airbus Helicopter and a former district director for then-Sen. Trent Lott. If Adcock has some money to burn and still has some connections to Magnolia state politics, he could definitely make an impact. Adcock is making national security a centerpiece for his campaign, which could help him stand out from the pack.

We've also heard from Ed Holliday, a dentist and active tea partier. If Holliday can consolidate far-right support, he might be able to advance to the June 2 runoff. However, he might have a hard time getting traction now that fellow tea partying physician Starner Jones is in. Finally, former Eupora Mayor Henry Ross is making a third bid for this seat. Ross performed poorly against Nunnelee in 2010 and 2012, so he probably shouldn't get his hopes up this time. The filing deadline is March 27, so there's time for still more candidates to join the race.

9:35 AM PT (Jeff Singer): TX-19: So much for that. Back in January, Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson made noises about challenging Rep. Randy Neugebauer in the GOP primary for this dark red Panhandle seat. But in early March, Robertson announced he wouldn't go for it. Neugebauer never looked particularly vulnerable and we shouldn't expect him to have any problems from here on out.

9:36 AM PT (David Nir): SD-Sen, AL, Gov: When U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson announced last month that he'd leave his government post, South Dakota Democrats were momentarily excited that he might run against either Sen. John Thune or Rep. Kristi Noem this cycle. But alas, it's not to be. Johnson, who just joined a private law firm, just told Roll Call that he does not have "any sort of plan or interest" in seeking either office "at the moment." However, Johnson could still run for governor in 2018, when GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard will be term-limited. Given the Democrats' shallow bench in the state, he'd probably be the party's top recruit.

9:48 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Chicago Mayor: Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his allies have had the airwaves to themselves since the primary ended, but Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garica is out with his first runoff spot. Garcia appears at a shuttered school and decries Rahm for closing down 49 others. Garcia then accuses Rahm of taking the money and sending it to elite private schools run by his donors. There's no word on the size of the buy, though Garcia's press release describes it as "substantial."

Garcia may also already have the material for his next spot too. In recent days, we've learned that the Chicago Housing Authority spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its pension and to buy government debt, rather than use the money to help the 280,000 person backlog find affordable housing.

9:57 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Houston Mayor: The entire city has been waiting breathlessly (ok, maybe mostly campaign consultants) to see if Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia will enter this year's open seat race. Garcia, a Democrat, would be a formidable contender, but he'd be required to immediately resign his post to run (the Harris County Commissioners Court is also expected to replace Garcia with a Republican, which plenty of local Democrats are not excited about). The Houston Chronicle's Theodore Schleifer reports that Garcia will in fact seek the mayor's office this November, and will make an announcement within a month. However, an anonymous source tells Schleifer that Garcia hasn't finalized his plans just yet.

10:03 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Great Mentioner: Joe Sestak narrowly lost his 2010 race to Republican Pat Toomey in the midst of the GOP wave, and it's not surprising that he's seeking a rematch. However, many Democratic power players are frantically searching for someone to challenge Sestak in the primary. While even Sestak's detractors acknowledge that his unconventional style can be an asset, they feel he ran a disorganized campaign last time that cost them this seat. In a new Daily Kos Great Mentioner post, we look at who might oppose Sestak in the Democratic primary.

10:08 AM PT (David Nir): House: With Aaron Schock's surprise departure from the House on Tuesday, we felt it was the perfect time to re-launch one of our favorite Daily Kos Elections features from cycles past: our House Open Seat Watch! So far, we already have 10 open seats in the 114th Congress, including three vacancies that will be resolved in special elections (including Schock's IL-18, of course).

But that's not all. James L. has meticulously compiled the most thorough list of potential retirements you'll find anywhere. In fact, we already have over 50 names, most of whom might run for higher office but some of whom might just bail outright. Of course, there are always surprises, so we'll be keeping this list updated all cycle long.

10:25 AM PT (David Nir): FL-Sen: While Rep. Patrick Murphy looks set to run for Senate any day now, Rep. Alan Grayson, a fellow Democrat, thinks this whole "getting an early start and introducing yourself to voters and raising money for difficult race in a giant state" idea is for the birds. In comments following Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's decision not to run for Senate, Grayson demonstrated his usual obnoxiousness by referring to himself in the third person—and referring to Murphy in the zeroth person:

"The stars are certainly starting to align for a Grayson-for-Senate run," he said. "But there's time. Qualifying for this office isn't until May 2016. What do they say? Fools rush in."

When asked if he thought Murphy was a fool, Grayson demurred by saying, "Moi?"

Yes, vous. The fact that Grayson is enmeshed in a messy divorce battle where he's accused his estranged wife of committing bigamy surely has nothing to do with his reticence. Nor, undoubtedly, does the fact that Grayson $30 million net worth would allow him to self-fund a late bid, while Murphy will actually have to work hard to raise money himself, starting right now.

Incidentally, it's that $30 million fortune Grayson is trying to keep out of his wife's hands with this bigamy claim. If a court doesn't buy it, then Grayson could find his bank account quite a bit slimmer. So even Alan Grayson might have to hit the campaign trail and shake the money tree earlier than he might like, if he runs for Senate at all. We'll see who looks the fool then.

10:29 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IL-18: The race is on to inherit soon-to-be-former Rep. Aaron Schock's Downton office. Romney won this Downstate Illinois seat 61-37, so most of the action in this special election will be in the GOP primary. State Sen. Darin LaHood, the son of former Rep. Ray LaHood, quickly announced he would run.

However, fellow state Sen. and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady will not be on the ballot, nor will his colleague Jason Barickman. There may still be a Brady in Winterfell though (yes, I know that's the wrong show). State Sen. Brady suggested his brother Ed Brady and state Rep. Dan Brady (no relation) as potential candidates. Ed runs a homebuilding company so he could conceivably self-fund, but the family business has earned its share of bad headlines. Dan Brady is "looking at" running, as is state Rep. Mike Unes. We might see a lot more Republicans come out of the woodwork here. Some other potential contenders include state Rep. Tom Demmer and former state Rep. Jil Tracy.

Democratic optimism is not high, but there are some local electeds who could jump in. State Sen. John Sullivan has been getting some attention, and the Journal-Courier's Greg Olson also great mentions his colleagues David Koehler and Andy Manar. Over at Roll Call, Emily Cahn gives us state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Peoria city official Sonni Choi Williams, state Department of Transportation advisor Kristin Dicenso, and 2008 nominee Colleen Callahan.

10:34 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IL-18: P.s: Check out this encouraging quote from Schock's father.

11:55 AM PT: OR-Gov: Republican Bud Pierce, the head of the Oregon Medical Association, hasn't officially declared his candidacy for the 2016 gubernatorial special election in Oregon — he's "contemplating" a run — but, per Blue Oregon, his new website makes pretty clear that he's running. It has "Bud Pierce for Governor" in the copyright footer, along with a whole lot of "Coming soon!" in the "issues" and "philosophy" sections. Most intriguing is mysterious Issue #5, which is denoted by an icon of a paper airplane.

12:23 PM PT: FL-Sen: Rick Scott seems to have stumbled across One Weird Trick that lets you win elections despite being personally unlikeable and enacting terrible policies: just dramatically outspend your opponents and run only in non-presidential years. And it looks like he might keep putting that trick to use: he's proposing running for the Senate once he's termed out of the governor's office ... but not for the probably-open seat in 2016, but rather 2018, where he'd face Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. While Nelson is fairly popular and was re-elected convincingly in 2012, he will be 76 in 2018, and might contemplate retirement at that point.

As for who might carry the Republican flag in 2016 if Marco Rubio runs, as expected, for President instead, the Republicans still have a deep bench of less-wealthy but also less-repellent options than Scott. Tuesday's reporting on Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's decision not to get into the Senate race mentioned that state CFO Jeff Atwater and Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera (a close personal friend of Rubio) have both been to Washington to seek support for the race. Three U.S. Reps. — Ron DeSantis, Vern Buchanan, and Curt Clawson — are also mentioned, as having been approached by activists to run.

1:29 PM PT: NE-02: There are a couple warning signs on the road ahead for freshman Rep. Brad Ashford, who'll be one of the Dems' toughest holds in 2016. For one thing, his fundraising is off to a slow start — he says he's raised about $150k this year, short of his $250k goal for the (almost over) first quarter — and that's apparently generating a lot of heartburn at the DCCC, who've named him to their Frontline program. Ashford's stance on fundraising, per the article, is admirable, if quaint and reeking of loser-speak:

“If I don’t get re-elected because I don’t toe the party line, or I don’t raise enough money by the first quarter, then I don’t,” Ashford said. “But I don’t think that’s going to make a difference. I think I’ll be graded on how I do.”
Perhaps more importantly, though, the tension over fundraising also seems to be generating a lot of turmoil within the office. Ashford has already lost a chief of staff and two communications directors, in his two-and-a-half months in office, at least one of whom went on to work for similarly-centrist (but much likelier to go places) Patrick Murphy instead. Roll Call's article draws an apt comparison to Nancy Boyda, who won a similarly-red Midwestern district in 2006 thanks to an unpopular incumbent, proceeded to run a laid-back, 20th-century style "grade me on my accomplishments" type-campaign, and promptly lost re-election.

1:32 PM PT: WATN?: This probably wasn't the sort of comeback Connecticut ex-Gov. John Rowland had in mind. He's coming back, all right ... to prison. Ten years after he was first imprisoned for accepting illegal gifts while in office, he was sentenced again on Wednesday to 30 months in prison after being convicted in federal court of hiding campaign work from election officials.

1:47 PM PT: CA-St. Sen.: We're poised for a big-money, business-vs.-labor special election in California's 7th Senate district, where candidates are jostling to move up after Mark DeSaulnier vacated the seat to move to the U.S. House. The top 2 primary on Tuesday night ended with two Democrats advancing, as you might expect from a dark-blue district in Contra Costa County in the Bay Area suburbs. Orinda mayor (and Jerry Brown's former campaign manager) Steven Glazer got 33 percent and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla got 25 percent, finishing ahead of ex-Asm. Joan Buchanan at 23 percent and the only Republican, Michaela Hertle, at 17.

Glazer, however, touts himself as a "fiscally responsible problem solver," and has a record of taking anti-union stances, including proposing banning BART strikes when running unsuccessfully for the state Assembly in 2014. Bonilla and Buchanan, on the other hand, competed for union backing, with Bonilla receiving the bulk of it. More than $2 million was spent, overall, on the primary, and that's likely to only increase ahead of the May 19 runoff.

In a way, though, it's indicative of progress: that California has become a blue-enough state that, like, say, Hawaii or Rhode Island, all the action in the business-vs.-labor fight occurs in the Democratic primary instead of the general election. (See the Mike Honda vs. Ro Khanna race in 2014 for another example.) Just because two people with "D" after their name are running, though, doesn't mean we can stop being vigilant, though.

2:15 PM PT: NV-04: Jon Ralston has some big, and somewhat surprising, news in Nevada's 4th district, which is one of the House Democrats' best pickup opportunities in 2016. The district went 54 Obama-44 Romney in 2012, but freshman Rep. Steven Horsford unexpectedly lost re-election in 2014 to underfunded then-state Asm. Cresent Hardy (well, maybe not that unexpectedly, if you'd been paying attention to abysmal early voting numbers from Democrats in the weeks leading up to the election).

With presidential year turnout in this district, Horsford had a reasonably clear route back to the House, and probably had the right of first refusal in terms of the nomination. However, Ralston revealed on Wednesday that Horsford has been telling people he will not run again. That potentially opens the door for former Asm. Lucy Flores, who lost the Lt. Governor race in 2014. That dimmed her 'rising star status a bit, though Flores's name has bubbled up in recent months as a potential replacement if Horsford didn't decide to try again.

Discuss
GOP Rep. Aaron Schock surfing
W-w-w-w-wiiiiiiiiiipeout!
Leading Off:

IL-18: One of the fastest (and funniest) implosions in the U.S. House in recent years is complete. It started only in early February, with an innocent-enough story in the Washington Post about how Republican Rep. Aaron Schock — then a young, rising-star politician from rural Illinois — had furnished his congressional office with lavish Downton Abbey-inspired office décor. Schock's strange evasiveness about that story just led to more stories about how he paid for the remodel, though, and things just started unraveling for Schock from there, as a pattern of gratuitous, improperly-reported, and perhaps even fraudulent expenses came to light.

Now, Schock is on his way to being a historical footnote (or if he's really unlucky, a punch line for decades to come) instead of, say, a future governor of Illinois. On Tuesday, he announced he would resign from the House, effective March 31. Schock's move comes a day after the Office of Congressional Ethics began contacting Schock's associates in an initial investigation.

In fact, just hours before he finalized his departure, Politico reported that there were huge discrepancies in Schock's mileage reimbursement requests. Schock billed the federal government for 170,000 miles logged in his Chevy Tahoe, but when he sold the vehicle in July 2014, the odometer only read 80,000 miles, meaning he overbilled by 90,000 miles (worth tens of thousands of dollars to him). In conjunction with Schock's prior answer from last week about whether he broke the law with any of his activities—"I certainly hope not" ... though he added the disclaimer that he's "not an attorney"—it sounds like he decided things were only going to get worse from here on out.

With Schock soon to be out of the picture, we can already start looking at the race to replace him. We have some early details on the special election to replace Schock. Gov. Bruce Rauner must call for an election within five days of Schock's resignation, and the race must occur within 115 days of that date—in other words, before the end of July). Romney won this Downstate Illinois seat, which includes Quincy and parts of Peoria and Springfield, by a 61-37 margin, so all the action will be in the GOP primary.

The Chicago Tribune has gotten three potential contestants on the record, all of whom, as of Tuesday, were variations on "maybe." State Sen. Darin LaHood says he's been getting a lot of encouragement, but he'll have a "formal decision" on Wednesday. LaHood is the son of moderate ex-Rep. Ray LaHood, who represented this area for 14 years before retiring and becoming Barack Obama's transportation secretary. The younger LaHood seems to have a good base of support, but it's possible his dad's apostasy may come back to haunt him in a primary against a more conservative opponent.

Fellow state Sen. Bill Brady says he is "very happy where I'm at, but I am not going to say no." Apart from being Obama's poker buddy during the president's tenure in Springfield, Brady is best known for serving his party's 2010 gubernatorial nominee. Despite posting a lead in most polls, Brady narrowly lost after Pat Quinn portrayed the Republican as a socially conservative extremist. This won't be a problem in a seat this red, but Brady's defeat may have done him some damage at home. Brady cratered in the area during the 2014 primary despite facing two opponents from the Chicago area.

Yet another state senator, Jason Barickman, says he'll "consider" the race but wants to talk it over with his family first. State Rep. Mike Unes also announced on Tuesday that he's "giving it the consideration it deserves." Mark Zalcman, the Some Dude who was already challenging Schock in the primary, is staying in to the excitement of just about no one. However, Peoria City Councilman Ryan Spain quickly made it clear that he wouldn't run. Not much activity is expected on the Democratic side, though state Sen. John Sullivan's name has been mentioned. Sullivan represents a 55-43 Romney seat so he does have experience winning over conservative voters, though a higher profile congressional campaign would not be easy.

Continue Reading
Rep. Aaron Schock on Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia
One of the fastest (and funniest) implosions in the U.S. House in recent years is complete. It started only in early February, with an innocent-enough story in the Washington Post about how Republican Rep. Aaron Schock—then a young, rising-star politician from the 18th congressional district in rural Illinois—had Downton Abbey-inspired office décor. Schock's strange evasiveness about that story just led to more stories about how he paid for the remodel, though, and things just started unraveling for Schock from there as a pattern of gratuitous and often improperly reported expenses came to light.

Today, Schock is on his way to being a historical footnote instead of, say, a future Illinois governor, as he announced his resignation:

“Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31,” Schock said in a statement....

“But the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself. I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve..."

On Monday, the House Office of Congressional Ethics began contacting Schock's associates in an initial investigation. In conjunction with Schock's prior answer from last week about whether he broke the law with any of his activities—"I certainly hope not..." though he added the disclaimer that he's "not an attorney"—it sounds like he decided things were only to get worse from here on out.

IL-18, designed to be a Republican vote sink centered on the Peoria area, went 37 Obama-61 Romney in 2012, so the special election is not likely to be a fruitful one for the Democrats. Schock had already attracted a GOP primary opponent since the scandal broke, attorney Mark Zalcman, but Zalcman is a small fry and the seat is likely to attract higher-profile Republican candidates now.

12:24 PM PT: Politico has added some detail to the initial story where they broke the Schock resignation. Their further inquiries about mileage reimbursement — a story that first emerged on Tuesday  — revealed some huge discrepancies in his mileage records. Schock billed the federal government for 170,000 miles logged in his Chevy Tahoe, but when he sold the vehicle in July 2014, the odometer only read 80,000 miles, meaning he overbilled by 90,000 miles (worth tens of thousands of dollars to him). That little problem sounds like it was the issue that pushed Schock over the edge.

We also have some early details on the special election to replace Schock. Gov. Bruce Rauner must call for an election within 5 days of Schock's resignation (set for March 31), and the election must occur within 115 days of that (so, before the end of July). The potential Republican successor getting the most mention is a familiar name: state Sen. Darin LaHood. He's the son of moderate ex-Rep. Ray LaHood, who served more than a decade in IL-18 before becoming Barack Obama's Transportation Secretary. (Though it's possible his dad's apostasy may come back to haunt the younger LaHood in a primary against a more conservative opponent.)


Discuss
Daily Kos Elections Live Digest banner
Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here.

8:41 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Nashville Mayor: Several wealthy candidates are seeking this open seat, and it was only a matter of time before one of them announced a big ad buy. Attorney Charles Robert Bone has reserved $923,000 in airtime from now until the August 6 non-partisan primary, and is out with his first spot. This being Nashville, it unsurprisingly features the narrators singing their argument that Bone will be a mayor for the whole city. Charter school founder Jeremy Kane is also on the air, though his $25,000 buy is far more modest. Kane emphasizes education, before transitioning into other issues.

8:53 AM PT: IL-Sen: Rep. Bill Foster is one of the Illinois House members who always get Great Mentioned in relation to the Democratic nomination to go against Mark Kirk in 2016, but he actually hadn't done anything more than not rule the race out in December. Until now ... Foster issued a statement on Tuesday saying that he's "seriously considering" the race, as well as tearing into Kirk's decision to sign on to the Tom Cotton letter to Iran.

As for Kirk, he's taking the race seriously, kicking his fundraising operations into high gear already. (Foster is one of the wealthiest members of Congress and could certainly self-fund, but this race is a high-enough priority that any top-tier Dem nominee will receive adequate funding.) Kirk raised $200,000 in one night on Monday, at an event with new Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in attendance. The show of force, however, may be just as oriented toward warding off potential primary challengers as well as Democratic opponents.

9:06 AM PT: IL-10: Ex-Rep. Brad Schneider seems to have settled on a third-straight matchup against Rep. Bob Dold, stating last week that he was "all but decided" on a rematch. Assuming he runs, though, he'll have some company in the Democratic primary: Nancy Rotering, the mayor since 2011 of Highland Park (popu. 30k), said on Wednesday that she'll be "definitely running." The primary could get expensive, but given the district's 58 Obama-41 Romney configuration, it's a prime opportunity in a presidential election year for whoever emerges from the primary.

While the DCCC seems to prefer Schneider, Rotering has some major backers within the local Dem establishment: she has the support of former Chicago inspector general (and 2010 IL-Sen candidate) David Hoffman, and two names familiar from previous losing efforts in IL-10: Dan Seals, and ex-state Rep. Julie Hamos. However, she'll still have an uphill effort in the primary, given Schneider's name recognition advantage; Schneider's camp shared an internal poll from Normington, Petts, and Associates from last week that gives Schneider a 56-12 edge over Rotering in a primary. Schneider has 88 percent name ID while Rotering has 25 percent.

10:01 AM PT (David Nir): FL-18: All signs are pointing to a Senate bid for Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, and one unconfirmed report even says he'll launch his campaign next week, so the Great Mentioner is already hard at work when it comes to replacements. Interest in this swingy coastal seat is sure to be high on both sides: On paper, the 18th District leans to the right (it went for Romney 51-48), but factor in a presidential race plus the possibility of Murphy at the top of the ticket and Democrats will be keen, too.

For the GOP, some possibilities include state Reps. Gayle Harrell and Pat Rooney, Jr. (the brother of FL-17 Rep. Tom Rooney); Stephen Leighton, a former district director for Tom Rooney; Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron (the wife of state Sen. Joe Negron); Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith; St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery; businessman Gary Uber; and former state Rep. Carl Domino, the hapless 2014 nominee. Uber and Mowery sound the most likely in the early going; Martin County Sheriff William Snyder, meanwhile, just took a pass.

The Democratic bench is smaller but by no means barren. Among the top options are Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, state Sen. Jeff Clemens, and state Rep. Dave Kerner, who says he has plans to meet with the DCCC. An open seat would be tough for Democrats to hold, but it's by no means impossible.

10:06 AM PT (David Nir): FL-18: One Democrat has also said no, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.

10:24 AM PT: AZ-Sen: Here's an illustration of how a state's lack of primary election runoffs can save the bacon of an incumbent who's loathed by his party's base. In a straight-up one-on-one primary challenge, John McCain runs the risk of getting edged out by someone running a tea-flavored challenge from his right. Throw more than one challenger into the mix, though, and the anti-establishment vote just gets split multiple ways, letting him win easily.

And that's potentially what's happening in the Republican primary in Arizona, where state Sen. Kelli Ward has been making a push to raise her profile ahead of a possible run against McCain, reaching out to the right-o-sphere, pushing a flurry of red-meat legislation, and even having her supporters start a Super PAC on her behalf. That clown-car problem seems to be making it less likely that a stronger challenger, Rep. Matt Salmon, though, would follow through with his interest in also running against McCain. Salmon would have the name rec, and support from DC anti-establishment groups like the Club for Growth, to have at least a plausible shot against McCain in a mano-a-mano fight. Salmon represents a Mesa-area seat and may be dimly remembered statewide from losing the 2002 gubernatorial race, while Ward isn't well-known outside of smallish Lake Havasu City (which is still part of the Phoenix media market, but is on the state's periphery).

10:37 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-Sen: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been publicly mulling a campaign for the Democratic nomination for this open seat. However, BuzzFeed's Darren Sands reports that while Rawlings-Blake hasn't closed the door on this contest, she's looking a lot less interested than she was even a few days ago. According to unnamed sources close to the mayor, she's very unlikely to run unless she has the financial commitments she thinks she'll need, or a big-named endorsement (she seems to have former Gov. Martin O'Malley in mind). Rawlings-Blake is up for re-election as mayor in 2016 and she may decide to keep her post and then seek the governorship in 2018 rather than risk her current job.

If Rawlings-Blake stays out, that could be good news for some of her would-be primary foes. Rep. Elijah Cummings has been talking about jumping in, and he'd rather not compete with another African American from Baltimore in what could be a crowded primary. Rep. Donna Edwards is already running and EMILY's list is reportedly talking to both her and Rawlings-Blake. EMILY's endorsement would bring some useful outside spending with it, and Edwards would benefit if she earned their backing. However, EMILY seems to prefer Rawlings-Blake to Edwards, and they've still trying to recruit her.

10:41 AM PT: FL-Sen: The Democratic field in the Florida Senate race (either against Marco Rubio, or for an open seat, if he goes all-in on a presidential bid) got even clearer on Wednesday, with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz confirming that she'll run for re-election to her House seat, rather than rolling the dice on a promotion. She floated a trial balloon in February, but that quickly got swallowed up by a wave of terrible press after big donor John Morgan leaked embarrassing e-mails offering to flip-flop on medical marijuana in exchange for his support. The DWS boomlet seemed to die down after that, but she made it official on Wednesday.

With ex-Gov. Charlie Crist also taking a pass on the Senate race this week, that leaves Rep. Patrick Murphy in pole position for the Democratic Party nomination. Rep. Alan Grayson has also expressed interest in the Senate primary, in fact reiterating on Wednesday that he'd be more likely to run if Wasserman Schultz weren't running ... but with an ongoing bigamy trial against his estranged wife, his mind may be elsewhere for the time being.

11:20 AM PT: IL-18: One of the fastest (and funniest) implosions in the U.S. House in recent years is complete. It started only in early February, with an innocent-enough story in the Washington Post about how Republican Rep. Aaron Schock — then a young, rising-star politician from rural Illinois — had Downton Abbey-inspired office décor. Schock's strange evasiveness about that story just led to more stories about how he paid for the remodel, though, and things just started unraveling for Schock from there as a pattern of gratuitous and often improperly-reported expenses came to light.

Today, Schock is on his way to being a historical footnote instead of, say, a future Illinois Governor, as he announced his resignation.

“Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31,” Schock said in a statement....

“But the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself. I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve..."

On Monday, the House Office of Congressional Ethics began contacting Schock's associates in an initial investigation. In conjunction with Schock's prior answer from last week about whether he broke the law with any of his activities — "I certainly hope not..." though he added the disclaimer that he's "not an attorney" — it sounds like he decided things were only to get worse from here on out.

12:03 PM PT: IL-Sen: Mark Kirk was quick to respond to Foster's statement of interest, responding with the same bluff bravado (or hubris?) that he did earlier when Rep. Tammy Duckworth also expressed her interest.

"I very much look forward to a Foster candidacy," Kirk told reporters when asked by The Washington Post about Foster's statement earlier in the day saying that he was "seriously considering" challenging Kirk. "I would welcome him coming in because I know I would beat him soundly."

12:23 PM PT: IL-18: Politico has added some detail to the initial story where they broke the Schock resignation. Their further inquiries about mileage reimbursement — a story that first emerged on Tuesday  — revealed some huge discrepancies in his mileage records. Schock billed the federal government for 170,000 miles logged in his Chevy Tahoe, but when he sold the vehicle in July 2014, the odometer only read 80,000 miles, meaning he overbilled by 90,000 miles (worth tens of thousands of dollars to him).

We also have some early details on the special election to replace Schock. Gov. Bruce Rauner must call for an election within 5 days of Schock's resignation (set for March 31), and the election must occur within 115 days of that (so, before the end of July). The potential Republican successor getting the most mention is a familiar name: state Sen. Darin LaHood. He's the son of moderate ex-Rep. Ray LaHood, who served more than a decade in IL-18 before becoming Barack Obama's Transportation Secretary. (Though it's possible his dad's apostasy may come back to haunt the younger LaHood in a primary against a more conservative opponent.)

1:24 PM PT: NC-03: Walter Jones Jr. will have to fight the Law and win if he wants to stick around in the House for another term. 33-year-old Phil Law, a businessman and Marine combat veteran from the Iraq war, announced that he'll run against Jones in the 2016 Republican primary.

Jones narrowly (51-45) won a victory in the 2014 GOP primary against former George W. Bush aide Taylor Griffin, so the iconoclastic Jones is at least somewhat vulnerable against well-funded opponents; it remains to be seen, however, whether Law has the same access to money (he's characterized as being "active in Onslow County politics," though that could mean anything). Jones is a rather slippery target for an establishment challenge, though, since — as someone partially aligned with the Paulist wing but also one of the few pro-minimum wage, pro-SCHIP GOPers — he's simultaneously to the left and to the right of the median GOPer.

1:40 PM PT: Campaign finance: Law professor Larry Lessig made some waves in the 2014 election with his "Super PAC to end Super PACs," Mayday PAC, and he outstripped fundraising expectations. The PAC designed to elect candidates who would support campaign finance reforms, though, didn't pan out where it actually matters, though: the business of getting any of its preferred candidates to win their races. On Monday, Lessig announced that Mayday wouldn't be back, at least in the form of spending money directly on races; instead, it'll be more of a "platform... to engage citizens as lobbyists," whatever that means.

One bit of good news in Dave Weigel's story, though, is the new project for Rick Weiland, the SD-Sen candidate who was one of Mayday's main beneficiaries. Weiland will be leading Takeitback.org, which is oriented toward bypassing candidates altogether and focusing on helping "citizens in other states improve their governments with referenda on economics and congressional redistricting."

3:53 PM PT: IL-18: The Chicago Tribune has gotten three potential Republican special election contestants on the record, all of whom, as of Tuesday, were variations on "maybe." State Sen. Darin LaHood says he's been getting a lot of encouragement, but he'll have a "formal decision tomorrow" (i.e. Wednesday). State Sen. Bill Brady, better-known for surprisingly losing the 2010 gubernatorial race to Pat Quinn, says he is "very happy where I'm at, but I am not going to say no." And state Sen. Jason Barickman says he'll "consider" the race but wants to talk it over with the family first.

3:58 PM PT: FL-Sen: As for a Republican replacement for Rubio, don't look for Rep. Tom Rooney. He says he's not going to run in 2016, but he is interested in running in 2018, when incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson will be up again (though the septuagenarian Nelson is a retirement possibility). Rooney did tout his fellow GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis for the '16 race, though.


Discuss
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.

RSS

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site