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9:12 AM PT (Jeff Singer): NRCC: On Friday, the NRCC added eight more members to its Patriot program, which designates which incumbents it plans to expend resources to protect. The names are below, with the Obama-Romney numbers for each district in parentheses, and each member's 2014 performance in brackets:

• Jeff Denham, CA-10 (51-47) [56-44]

• Steve Knight, CA-25 (48-50) [54-46, against another Republican]

• Rodney Davis, IL-13 (49-49) [59-41]

• Dan Benishek, MI-01 (45-54) [52-45]

• Tim Walberg, MI-07 (48-51) [53-41]

• Elise Stefanik, NY-21 (52-46) [55-34]

• Ryan Costello, PA-06 (48-51) [56-44]

• Barbara Comstock, VA-10 (49-50) [56-40]

While the first 12 Patriot members either represented blue seats or had close races in 2014, this new crop is a bit more safe. Only Dan Benishek, who holds Romney's best seat here, beat a Democrat by only a single-digit margin. Most of these districts are swingy or just light red, but these members look like they'd be in good shape absent a Democratic wave. National Democrats have some candidates in mind for CA-25, MI-01, PA-06, and VA-10, and already have a credible contender in MI-07. Things have been a lot more quiet in CA-10, IL-13, and NY-21, though we're still early in the cycle.

It is notable that the NRCC added Elise Stefanik, who represents a competitive Upstate New York seat, after the DCCC appeared to ignore her on their initial target list. It's also interesting that Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, who represents a 56-43 Obama seat but voted against John Boehner in this year's speaker election, has once again been omitted.

9:21 AM PT (David Jarman): UK parliamentary election: Game of Thrones and next week's elections in the United Kingdom are both impenetrably complex to the uninitiated, as tribal rivals form and break coalitions in the quest to control an isolated island with bad weather. Not only that, they both take place in locations with names like Casterly Rock and the Vale of Glamorgan. So which is it, a parliamentary constituency or a GoT location? Take our quiz and find out!

10:11 AM PT (Jeff Singer): DE-Gov: It's still anyone's guess if former Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden will run for governor next year. Biden took a job at the lawfirm Grant & Eisenhofer in January and is now expanding his work there, which is usually not something you do in preparation for a gubernatorial bid.

The firm's co-founder says that "doesn't change anything for him politically. He will make an excellent governor," but Biden's camp has said little about his political aspirations in months. Biden himself has kept a very low profile even before leaving office early this year, and he doesn't appear to be taking any steps to prepare for a bid. There has also been speculation that Biden's health hasn't been good, and his silence isn't exactly putting these rumors to rest.

One potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate is sounding impatient. New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon won't run against Biden, but he's likely to take a look if he sits the contest out. Gordon says he spoke with Biden last month and told him that he needed "to get out and let people know you're still running." Gordon says that he's talked to the people who are expected to run the Biden campaign "and they say they're getting ready for him to run," but Gordon notes that Biden needs to make an announcement at some point. Rep. John Carney has also talked about seeking the governorship if Biden doesn't, something he probably wouldn't be discussing if he thought the ex-attorney general was all-in.

If Biden knows he's going to run, there's no reason he can't just say so now and clear up any confusion. It sounds like he's genuinely unsure what to do, but he doesn't want to look publicly indecisive or feed rumors about his health.

10:43 AM PT (Jeff Singer): WATN: On Friday, former Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan, who has served as chancellor of UMass-Lowell since 2007, was chosen to head the entire UMass system. Aside from briefly flirting with a Senate bid in 2009, Meehan has shown no real interest in returning to elected office, and his new post probably takes him out of politics once and for all.

If Meehan is completely done running, there's no reason for him to continue to hold onto his $4.4 million war chest. Meehan's non-partisan job may prevent him from giving the money to the DCCC or to another candidate, but there's no reason for him not to refund his donors or donate it to charity. Of course, Meehan has had about 8 years to dispose of his funds, and he proved back in 2006 that he didn't care if the money went to waste, so we shouldn't get our hopes up.

11:13 AM PT (Jeff Singer): CA-25: Freshman Republican and noted ass-dropper Steve Knight just picked up his first Democratic opponent, though he'll have a lot to prove. Lou Vince, a police officer and town councilor in Agua Dulce (population 3,300) announced on Thursday that he's in. Vince ran for Los Angeles County sheriff last year and placed last in a field of seven candidates, taking only 5 percent. Santa Clarita Water Board Member Maria Gutzeit is also thinking about running and she has been talking to the DCCC.

On paper this northern Los Angeles County district is winnable for Team Blue. Romney only carried it 50-48, and Knight is a terrible fundraiser. But this area is ancestrally Republican, and the Knight name is well-regarded here. Knight served in the legislature for several years and his father Pete Knight also was a longtime politician and famous test pilot. 2016 may be the year this seat finally goes blue, but it's going to take a lot of work.

11:18 AM PT: Site News: FYI, Daily Kos will be offline for about one to three hours Saturday morning, starting at 11 AM ET. You can read more about the reason for the planned outage (the last before the upcoming major upgrade to Daily Kos itself) here.

11:29 AM PT (Jeff Singer): KY-Gov: State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has another ad out ahead of the May 19 GOP primary. This new spot takes a not-so-subtle shot at wealthy ex-Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner, with Comer starting by bragging about how he's "not a lawyer, a multimillionaire or a typical politician." (Personally, I think that claiming you're not a "typical politician" is the most typical politician thing ever, but I digress.)

Comer continues, saying where he comes from, "faith and family come first," another contrast between Heiner's Louisville background and Comer's rural upbringing. The rest of the ad is Comer talking about his accomplishments in office. This ad isn't the most hard-hitting stuff, but the airwaves might get a bit nastier in the next few weeks. Heiner's campaign was recently connected to a blogger who has been accusing Comer of domestic violence without any evidence, and Comer sounds like he's ready to make the story an issue.

11:47 AM PT (David Jarman): Philadelphia mayor: Here's a timely new ad from the campaign of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, who's neck-and-neck with Jim Kenney in the race for the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia's mayoral race. It prominently features Williams' young grandson, against a background message of "Zero tolerance for excessive force and police brutality." While his grandson is too young to make his own Dante de Blasio-style pitch to the camera, the message is still clear.

11:53 AM PT (David Jarman): UK parliamentary election: If the UK election has piqued your interest, one other time-suck you might check out is the interactive map of the demographics of every parliamentary constituency, courtesy of the Office for National Statistics and their data from the 2011 UK census. While there are lots of places online where you can see predicted votes in each constituency, if you're interested in the "why" behind the votes (i.e. how race, income, age and employment correlate with party support), here's the next step.

11:56 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-Sen: Well, maybe former state Attorney General Bill McCollum is serious about another Senate bid after all. The longtime GOP politician confirmed a few weeks ago that he was fielding calls urging him to run, but he didn't come across as especially excited. But on Thursday, McCollum said that he is interested and considering, and that he's "being told by other people in the party that there are concerns that the other potential candidates are not well known as we need to hold the seat." McCollum gave a loose timeline for when he'll decide, saying it will probably be "sometime this summer."

McCollum has managed to climb pretty high in Florida politics, but has always failed to reach the summit. McCollum represented an Orlando-area House seat for 20 years, but lost his first Senate bid to Democrat Bill Nelson by a 51-46 margin. McCollum tried again four years later but was defeated in the primary by Mel Martinez 45-31. McCollum won the attorney general post in 2006 and spent much of the 2010 cycle as the presumptive GOP nominee for governor. However, the ultra-wealthy Rick Scott threw his hat into the ring only a few months before the primary and spent his way to a 46-43 victory.

McCollum seemed done with elected office after that, but he might have one last campaign in him. McCollum is 70 which is a bit old to start a Senate career, though that's not stopping Ted Strickland from running over in Ohio.

12:06 PM PT: IL-Sen: Some key chunks of the Democratic establishment have already lined up behind Rep. Tammy Duckworth's bid for Senate, but fellow Rep. Robin Kelly continues to explore a run of her own, and according to Roll Call, she just met with the DSCC to discuss the race. It's anyone's guess what they might have discussed, though. Do D.C. Democrats prefer that Kelly stay out, or are they content to stand aside? We don't know, but Kelly's definitely not the wait-your-turn type, seeing as she took on a pair of seemingly more powerful candidates in the 2013 special election to replace disgraced ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson—and won.

In addition to Kelly, state Sen. Napoleon Harris and Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp are also considering the contest, but Kelly would almost certainly represent the biggest threat to Duckworth's hopes. On the flipside, as Emily Cahn points out, Zopp and Harris could cause trouble for Kelly, since all three would draw from a similar base of support among black voters in Chicago. Believe it or not, though, there's not an incredible amount of time left: Illinois holds its primary in March of next year, so Kelly et al. have to decide soon.

12:11 PM PT (Jeff Singer): PA-08: Well, here's a bit of a surprise. GOP state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo sounded pretty interested in running for this open Bucks County swing seat at the beginning of the year, but he announced on Friday that he'll sit the contest out.

The GOP has a good bench here so they should be able to recruit a viable candidate, but it's not clear who will step up. Bucks County Commission Chair Robert Loughery and state Rep. Scott Petri have both been mentioned, and they'll probably receive more encouragement now that DiGirolamo is out. Some Republicans  have expressed optimism that they can convince retiring Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick to reverse course, but Fitzpatrick has shown no interest in breaking his self-imposed term-limit. On the Democratic side, we have a duel between 2014 candidate Shaughnessy Naughton and state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.

12:29 PM PT (Jeff Singer): San Antonio Mayor: Holy shit, there's a poll! On behalf of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, Anderson Williams Research takes a look at the May 9 non-partisan primary. They find ex-state Sen. and 2014 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte taking first with 29, with interim Mayor Ivy Taylor close behind at 24. Former state Rep. Mike Villarreal and ex-Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson are at 18 and 17 percent respectively. In the likely event that no one clears 50 percent, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to a runoff.

We haven't seen any other polls here, though the San Antonio Express-News's Gilbert Garcia alludes to other surveys that show Taylor and Van de Putte making the runoff. Taylor's performance is a bit surprising given how late she got into the race and some bumps during her brief tenure as the city's chief executive.

However, Garcia argues that Republican voters are boosting Taylor against her three fellow Democrats. Back in 2013, Taylor was a vocal opponent of the city's non-discrimination ordinance that was aimed at protecting gay residents. Taylor stirred up more controversy last month when she characterized the NDO a "waste of time." Taylor has backtracked a bit, and is now calling for the NDO ordinance to be expanded. Still, plenty of gay groups don't trust her, while social conservatives are much more sympathetic. It doesn't hurt that Taylor's campaign manager worked on Republican Will Hurd's successful congressional race last year and that she's allied with two conservative city councilors.

1:08 PM PT (Jeff Singer): PA-08: And even though former GOP Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley  recently took a high-profile position with the United Way, he still gets mentioned as a potential contender.

Discuss

Fri May 01, 2015 at 10:16 AM PDT

What's going on with Beau Biden?

by Jeff Singer

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) with his son Beau Biden (L) acknowledge the audience at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, August 27, 2008. Democrats nominated Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) on Wed
Possible Delaware gubernatorial candidate Beau Biden with his father Vice President Joe Biden
It's still anyone's guess if former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden, will run for governor next year. Biden, a Democrat, took a job at the law firm Grant & Eisenhofer in January and is now expanding his work there, which is usually not something you do in preparation for a gubernatorial bid.

The firm's co-founder says that "doesn't change anything for him politically. He will make an excellent governor," but Biden's camp has said little about his political aspirations in months. Biden himself has kept a very low profile even before leaving office early this year, and he doesn't appear to be taking any steps to prepare for a bid. There has also been speculation that Biden's health hasn't been good, and his silence isn't exactly putting these rumors to rest.

One potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate is sounding impatient. New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon won't run against Biden, but he's likely to take a look if he sits the contest out. Gordon says he spoke with Biden last month and told him that he needed "to get out and let people know you're still running." Gordon says that he's talked to the people who are expected to run the Biden campaign "and they say they're getting ready for him to run," but Gordon notes that Biden needs to make an announcement at some point. Rep. John Carney has also talked about seeking the governorship if Biden doesn't, something he probably wouldn't be discussing if he thought the ex-attorney general was all-in.

If Biden knows he's going to run, there's no reason he can't just say so now and clear up any confusion. It sounds like he's genuinely unsure what to do, but he doesn't want to look publicly indecisive or feed rumors about his health.

Discuss
Republican Rep. Rod Blum and Rick Perry
Iowa Republican Rep. Rod Blum and friend
On Friday, the NRCC added eight more members to its Patriot program, which designates which incumbents it plans to expend resources to protect. While the first 12 Patriot members either represented blue seats or had close races in 2014, this new crop is a bit more safe.

But one of the most vulnerable members of the GOP caucus didn't make either list. Freshman Rod Blum sits in an eastern Iowa seat that Obama carried 56-43. While it's tough to see him winning re-election without another red wave, Iowans have proven that they're more than willing to split their tickets. But Blum didn't do much to ingratiate himself with the House leadership when he voted against John Boehner in this year's speakership race. While Republican presidential candidates seeking to win next year's Iowa caucus have showered Blum with attention, it hasn't translated into fundraising. Blum is wealthy enough to self-fund some of his campaign, but he probably can't win without national party support.

So who did make the Patriot list? The names are below, with the Obama-Romney numbers for each district in parentheses, and each member's 2014 performance in brackets:

• Jeff Denham, CA-10 (51-47) [56-44]

• Steve Knight, CA-25 (48-50) [54-46, against another Republican]

• Rodney Davis, IL-13 (49-49) [59-41]

• Dan Benishek, MI-01 (45-54) [52-45]

• Tim Walberg, MI-07 (48-51) [53-41]

• Elise Stefanik, NY-21 (52-46) [55-34]

• Ryan Costello, PA-06 (48-51) [56-44]

• Barbara Comstock, VA-10 (49-50) [56-40]

Only Dan Benishek, who holds Romney's best seat here, beat a Democrat by only a single-digit margin. Most of these districts are swingy or just light red, but these members look like they'd be in good shape absent a Democratic wave. National Democrats have some candidates in mind for CA-25, MI-01, PA-06, and VA-10, and already have a credible contender in MI-07. Things have been a lot more quiet in CA-10, IL-13, and NY-21, though we're still early in the cycle.

It is notable that the NRCC added Elise Stefanik, who represents a competitive Upstate New York seat, after the DCCC appeared to ignore her on their initial target list.

Discuss
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!
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Democrat John Gregg
Democrat John Gregg, who lost to Mike Pence 50-47 in 2012, is back for a rematch
Leading Off:

IN-Gov: On Thursday, former state House Speaker and 2012 Democratic nominee John Gregg announced that he would seek a rematch with Republican Gov. Mike Pence. Pence prevailed by a surprisingly narrow 50-47 margin last time, and the governor's popularity at home took a major hit after he started a national firestorm when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which could have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay people.

A few months ago, Pence looked safe in conservative Indiana, but two recent polls show him struggling in head-to-head matchups with Gregg. And while voters' anger over Pence's handling of the RFRA may fade in the next year-and-a-half, business groups may be less forgiving. Gregg himself says that he was encouraged to run by business people who knew that the RFRA could harm Indiana longterm: If they come to his aid, Pence will be in real trouble next year.

Still, not all Democrats are sold on Gregg. While they acknowledge he is personally very appealing, they were disappointed with his weak fundraising last time. And while Gregg opposed the RFRA, he's still quite socially conservative. A few other Democrats have been mentioned as potential primary challengers, and one of them seems to be moving towards a gubernatorial bid. Despite earlier announcing that she would run for a second term next year, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz now says that a gubernatorial campaign is "on the table," and that she'll decide by June.

A recent poll gave Pence only a 42-39 lead against Ritz, while Gregg trailed 43-37. Ritz has also won statewide once, unseating GOP incumbent Tony Bennett 53-47 in 2012. Pence and the Republican legislature have been working to strip Ritz of her duties in revenge for her opposition to their policies, claiming she badly handled a statewide test. But if Ritz runs, Team Red will definitely continue to portray her as incompetent.

It's not going to be easy to unseat even a wounded Pence in a state as red as Indiana. Still, Hoosiers have proven that they're willing to split their ballots, and if business groups take up arms against the governor, he'll be in real trouble. A few months ago this contest looked like a snoozer, but now it's become of one of 2016's must-watch races.

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8:17 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-04: Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is hoping that he can resurrect his political career after his disappointing performance in last year's gubernatorial contest. However, while there's no telling what will happen in the crowded Democratic primary in this safely blue seat, insiders are skeptical of Brown's chances.

Perhaps the most convincing argument against a Brown comeback that they give the National Journal's Kimberly Railey is his fundraising. While Brown and ex-Prince George's State Attorney Glenn Ivey were in the race for roughly the same amount of time, Ivey outraised him $116,000 to $52,000. For someone as well-connected as Brown, this is a pretty weak haul, though it's still early. Dels. Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Dereck Davis and former Prince George's County Councilor Ingrid Turner are also running, but they haven't been in the contest long enough to report any fundraising.

8:24 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IL-Sen: On Thursday, EMILY's List endorsed Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is currently the only Democrat running against Republican incumbent Mark Kirk. The move is a bit of a surprise considering that Rep. Robin Kelly and Chicago Urban League head Andrea Zopp are both mulling bids. Then again, given that EMILY is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast," it kind of makes sense that they'd reward a candidate for making her intentions clear long before anyone else.

8:56 AM PT (Jeff Singer): KY-Gov: Ex-Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner has looked like the favorite against state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and tea partying businessman Matt Bevin in the GOP primary, but this may complicate things. A blogger named Michael Adams has been accusing Comer of assaulting a woman he was dating back in college, but has provided no evidence to support his claims. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Adams has been meeting with Scott Crosbie, the husband of Heiner's running mate. Adams says he wasn't coordinating with the Heiner campaign, but emails show that he gave the Crosbies a "heads up" that a reporter was writing about the assault story.

Heiner has apologized for any role his campaign played in spreading the rumors, but Comer is not letting him off easy. Saying the campaign "should be ashamed," and that he would "explore every option" with his legal team. The May 19 GOP primary is coming up quickly, and this story could very well make the difference as voters start to tune in.

9:35 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-18: The race to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is finally beginning to take shape. In the blue corner, state Sen. Jeff Clemens has announced that he won't run for Congress (he gets some points for his headline: "Senator Jeff Clemens says no to huge pay raise"). Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor currently has the primary to herself, but her colleague Melissa McKinlay, a Clemens' ally, is mulling a bid.

On the GOP side, state Rep. Pat Rooney is still considering a bid, describing the odds that he runs as "50-50." Rooney, the president of his family's Kennel Club dog track, says next week's board meeting will help him decide if a campaign is feasible.

Conservative pundit Noelle Nikpour is also talking about running, though she doesn't sound inclined to challenge Rooney. Nikpour is only moving to Florida now: Even in a state full of transplants, that may smell too much like carpetbagging. Martin County School Board Member Rebecca Negron is still the only announced GOP candidate, but a few other politicians could get in. 2014 nominee Carl Domino sounds very interested (though he's not going to intimidate anyone given his devastating loss last time), and a few other Republicans have been mentioned. Romney won this seat 52-48, so the GOP probably starts out with an edge.

10:10 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IN-Gov: On Thursday, former state House Speaker and 2012 Democratic nominee John Gregg announced that he would seek a rematch with Republican Gov. Mike Pence. Pence prevailed by a surprisingly narrow 50-47 margin last time, and the governor's popularity at home took a major hit after he started a national firestorm when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which could have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay people.

A few months ago, Pence looked safe in conservative Indiana, but two recent polls show him struggling in head-to-head matchups with Gregg. And while voters' anger over Pence's handling of the RFRA may fade in the next year-and-a-half, traditional Republican business groups may be less forgiving. Gregg himself says that he was encouraged to run by business people who knew that the RFRA could harm Indiana longterm: If they come to his aid, Pence will be in real trouble next year.

Still, not all Democrats are sold on Gregg. While they acknowledge he is personally very appealing, they were disappointed with his weak fundraising last time. And while Gregg opposed the RFRA, he's still quite socially conservative. A few other Democrats have been mentioned as potential primary challengers, and one of them seems to be moving towards a gubernatorial bid. Despite earlier announcing that she would run for a second term next year, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz now says that a gubernatorial campaign is "on the table," and she says she'll decide by June.

A recent poll gave Pence only a 42-39 lead against Ritz, while Gregg trailed 43-37. Ritz has also won statewide once, unseating GOP incumbent Tony Bennett 53-47 in 2012. Pence and the Republican legislature have been working to strip Ritz of her duties in revenge for her opposition to their policies, claiming she badly handled a statewide test. If Ritz runs, Team Red will definitely continue to portray her as incompetent though.

It's not going to be easy to unseat even a wounded Pence in a state as red as Indiana. Still, Hoosiers have proven that they're willing to split their ballots, and if business groups take up arms against the governor, he'll be in real trouble. A few months ago this contest looked like a snoozer, but now it's become of one of 2016's must-watch races.

10:33 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IL-13: There hasn't been a lot of Democratic optimism about beating Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in this swing seat, and this certainly wouldn't help things. David Gill, who came close to beating Davis in 2012, says he's mulling another run... as an independent. Gill has filed with the FEC and says that he now considers the Democratic Party "a subsidiary of the Wall Street banks and large multinational corporations." Gill is also blaming his 2012 loss on a left-leaning independent: Let us not say irony is dead.

Gill was a perennial candidate who beat a weak DCCC-backed candidate in the 2012 primary, but was reluctantly embraced by national Democrats. Gill has never been a great fundraiser, but his name recognition can definitely cause problems for Democrats in a seat where they need everything to go right to win. Right now, only state Sen. Andy Manar has expressed any real interest in challenging Davis for Team Blue, though even he didn't seem to be jumping for joy at the prospect.

11:48 AM PT (Jeff Singer): FL-Sen, 16: Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan has announced that he will stay out of the Senate race, and will instead seek re-election to his conservative Sarasota-area seat. Buchanan seemed pretty lukewarm about a statewide bid so this doesn't exactly come as a shock, though it's going to disappoint a number of Republicans who were thinking of running to succeed him in the House. So far, Team Red doesn't have a viable candidate to face Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, but plenty of politicians are considering, with Rep. Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera looking like the most likely takers.

12:02 PM PT: NY-11: Another profile in courage from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: With less than a week to go before Tuesday's special election on Staten Island, he finally endorsed the Democratic nominee, New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile. Amusingly, Cuomo's statement was not issued by his own campaign but by the state Democratic Party, which couldn't even be bothered to tweet it out.

12:10 PM PT (Jeff Singer): Jacksonville Mayor: Despite earlier announcing that he wouldn't support Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown or GOP challenger Lenny Curry, third-place non-partisan primary finisher Bill Bishop is throwing his backing behind Brown. While Bishop is a Republican, he did well with unaffiliated voters in March, and his supporters might still be up for grabs. However, it's been over a month since the primary so his people may have already made up their minds, and early voting has started. What little polling we have says the May 19 contest in Florida's largest city will be close.

1:11 PM PT (David Jarman): Demographics: Here's an important post-script from the Urban Institute to the New York Times's important data-journalism piece from last week about America's 1.5 million "missing" black men. The ratio between black men and black women gets much smaller when you account for the Census's self-admitted problem with "undercounts" (i.e. simply not being able to find people in order to count them), and the fact that the undercount problem, like so many other things, hits black men disproportionately. They point out that it's a particularly strange omission for the Times given that its op-ed section has written about how Census undercounting diminishes government aid for poor communities, and that one of the most notorious alleged undercounts anywhere in the 2010 Census was right in their backyard, in Queens.

1:22 PM PT (David Jarman): Demographics: Pew Research's report several weeks ago about the relationship between political preferences and generational change was so data-rich that it's no surprise that they've gone back and rolled out more graphs on that subject. The first chart is especially interesting: it compares how the various generations stacked up in 1994 vs. 2014, and it shows how fluid political identity can be as you move through life.

Those cynical members of Generation X were the most conservative generation in 1994, but now they're the second-most liberal in 2014 (after the millennials, who weren't counted in 1994 because they hadn't aged into the electorate). On the other hand, the Silent Generation are now the most conservative but were the second-most liberal in 1994 (after the Greatest Generation, who aren't counted in 2014 because they've, euphemistically-speaking, aged out of the electorate). In other words, while the Silent Generation followed the nostrum incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill and became more conservative as they got older, Generation Xers have done the exact opposite!

1:29 PM PT (Jeff Singer): NV State Assembly: Back in February, we noted that anti-tax conservative activists were seeking to recall three GOP assemblymembers. The campaigns against Chris Edwards and Stephen Silberkraus never went anywhere, but Speaker John Hambrick's higher profile earned him more attention. Still, as Joshua Spivak has written, it's very difficult to force a recall vote in Nevada. And sure enough, Jon Ralston tells us that recall organizers came nowhere close to getting the signatures they needed.

2:02 PM PT (Jeff Singer): And sure enough, Jon Ralston tells us that recall organizers turned in only 270 signatures, when they needed 4,100.

Discuss
Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)
Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence
On Thursday, former state House Speaker and 2012 Democratic nominee John Gregg announced that he would seek a rematch with Republican Gov. Mike Pence. Pence prevailed by a surprisingly narrow 50-47 margin last time, and the governor's popularity at home took a major hit after he started a national firestorm when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which could have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay people.

A few months ago, Pence looked safe in conservative Indiana, but two recent polls show him struggling in head-to-head matchups with Gregg. And while voters' anger over Pence's handling of the RFRA may fade in the next year-and-a-half, traditional Republican business groups may be less forgiving. Gregg himself says that he was encouraged to run by business people who knew that the RFRA could harm Indiana long-term: If they come to his aid, Pence will be in real trouble next year.

Still, not all Democrats are sold on Gregg. While they acknowledge he is personally very appealing, they were disappointed with his weak fundraising last time. And while Gregg opposed the RFRA, he's still quite socially conservative. A few other Democrats have been mentioned as potential primary challengers, and one of them seems to be moving toward a gubernatorial bid. Despite earlier announcing that she would run for a second term next year, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz now says that a gubernatorial campaign is "on the table," and she says she'll decide by June.

A recent poll gave Pence only a 42-39 lead against Ritz, while Gregg trailed 43-37. Ritz has also won statewide once, unseating GOP incumbent Tony Bennett 53-47 in 2012. Pence and the Republican legislature have been working to strip Ritz of her duties in revenge for her opposition to their policies, claiming she badly handled a statewide test. If Ritz runs, Team Red will definitely continue to portray her as incompetent though.

It's not going to be easy to unseat even a wounded Pence in a state as red as Indiana. Still, Hoosiers have proven that they're willing to split their ballots, and if business groups take up arms against the governor, he'll be in real trouble. A few months ago this contest looked like a snoozer, but now it's become of one of 2016's must-watch races.

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West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
West Virginia Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Leading Off:

WV-03: Democrats finally lost this conservative southern West Virginia seat last year, with Republican Evan Jenkins unseating longtime Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall 55-45. Romney won this seat 65-33 and it's hard to see Team Blue recapturing this ancestrally Democratic seat anytime soon, but the party is reaching out to one of the few politicians who might have a shot here. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who is termed-out next year, confirms that he's been approached, and that he hasn't made "any final decisions on anything yet."

It's rare for someone to go from the governor's mansion to the House, but it's not unheard of. Mike Castle of Delaware and Bill Janklow of South Dakota successfully ran for their state's lone House seats as they were being termed-out. Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford also returned to Congress about two years after leaving Columbia, though few politicians are going to try emulating his career path. Still, it's often hard enough to convince former or soon-to-be-former governors to run for the Senate, where they're forced to go from being their state's top dog to becoming just one member of a 100-person chamber: Becoming a freshman House member is an even less appealing prospect.

Still, if the DCCC can land Tomblin, he'd be a good get. Tomblin carried the 3rd 54-42 during his 2012 re-election campaign, quite a bit better than his 50-46 statewide win. Tomblin will be 65 on Election Day, so he'd have some time to amass seniority if he sticks around. There are still several Democratic legislators in coal country so the DCCC has some backup options if Tomblin says no. But it won't be easy for anyone to beat the well-funded Jenkins, and there's little doubt that Tomblin would be the best candidate they can get.

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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) waves to the audience before speaking at the opening of the 2015 National Action Network Convention in New York City April 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTR4WJBW
Bernie Sanders
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a democratic socialist and caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, confirmed on Thursday Wednesday that he'll run for president as a Democrat. In an interview with the Associated Press, Sanders offered an explicitly populist, progressive message:
"What we have seen is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, we have seen a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels," Sanders told the AP.

"This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans. ... You know, this country just does not belong to a handful of billionaires."

Sanders is the second prominent Democrat to officially announce a campaign, following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders insists that he's not running merely in the hopes of pushing Clinton to the left or raising awareness for liberal issues, but national primary polls show him averaging just 6 percent; Clinton is at 61.
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8:57 AM PT (Jeff Singer): UT-Sen: Just days after former Romney aide Alex Dunn began talking about challenging Republican Sen. Mike Lee for renomination, Dunn has ruled out a campaign. Lee's enemies in the GOP will probably continue to search for someone to face him, but it's unclear who else might be interested. While the tea partying Lee may be vulnerable if a well-funded opponent jumps in, he's been working hard to make nice with his former detractors, and there's little sign that GOP primary voters are actually want to dump him.

9:08 AM PT (Jeff Singer): KY-Gov: As the May 19 GOP primary draws near, it's no surprise that the ads are really beginning to fly. Kentuckians for Growth, Opportunity and Prosperity has a new spot for state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, where they tout him as the only candidate who has successfully stood up to Obama. While there's no word of the size of the buy, the group has spent $620,000 in the last month.

Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner, who is the frontrunner according to some stale polling, also gets some air support. Citizens for a Sound Government goes after Comer, accusing him on voting to increase his own pension. The ad features a clip of Comer spending several seconds stammering when asked to explain his 2005 vote, before finally responding "that was a... clearly a bad vote." We also have a copy of a commercial for tea partying businessman Matt Bevin that was briefly pulled from YouTube, but I can't promise that it's worth the wait.

9:36 AM PT (Jeff Singer): WV-03: Democrats finally lost this conservative southern West Virginia seat last year, with Republican Evan Jenkins unseating longtime Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall 55-45. Romney won this seat 65-33 and it's hard to see Team Blue recapturing this ancestrally Democratic seat anytime soon, but the DCCC is reaching out to one of the few politicians who might have a shot here. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who is termed-out next year, confirms that he's been approached, and that he hasn't made "any final decisions on anything yet."

It's rare for someone to go from being a governor to a House member, but it's not unheard of. Mike Castle of Delaware and Bill Janklow of South Dakota successfully ran for their state's sole House seats as they were being termed-out. Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford also returned to Congress about two years after leaving the governor's mansion, though few politicians are going to try emulating Sanford's career path. Still, it's often hard enough to convince former or soon-to-be-former governors to run for the Senate, where they're forced to go from being their state's top dog to becoming just one member of a 100-person chamber: Becoming a freshman House member is an even less appealing prospect.

Still, if the DCCC can land Tomblin, he'd be a good get. Tomblin carried the 3rd 54-42 during his 2012 re-election campaign, quite a bit better than his 50-46 statewide win. Tomblin will be 65 on Election Day, so he'd have some time to amass seniority if he sticks around. There are still several Democratic legislators in coal country so the DCCC has some backup options if Tomblin says no, but it won't be easy for anyone to beat the well-funded Jenkins, and there's little doubt that Tomblin would be the best candidate they can get.

9:42 AM PT: United Kingdom: Our friends across the pond are holding parliamentary elections next week, and after a century of predictability, it looks like British politics are on the verge of some major changes. Whether you follow the UK closely or you're new to the country's political goings-on, you'll want to read community member David Beard's excellent new guide to the 2015 elections. He explains exactly how we've gotten to the present day, when small parties are set to influence the ultimate outcome in ways they haven't before. But the key question—whether Labour will be able to wrest power from the Conservatives—won't get resolved until May 7, so click on through for everything you need to know ahead of Election Day.

10:04 AM PT (Jeff Singer): WV-02: Pharmacy owner Ken Reed lost last year's open seat primary to Alex Mooney by a 36-22 margin, and he sounds ready to take another swing at the freshman Republican. Reed has begun fundraising, and says "[i]f we hit certain marks we’re good to go." Reed self-funded much of his 2014 bid and out-spent Mooney in the final weeks of the contest, so he might have the resources to make an impact. Still, it's going to be incredibly tough for Reed to actually unseat Mooney, who has stayed out of trouble during his first few months in Congress. While Mooney's decision to carpetbag from Maryland almost cost him the general election, that issue probably won't have the same resonance now that he's the incumbent.

10:15 AM PT (Jeff Singer): WV-01: Republican Rep. David McKinney hasn't had much trouble winning re-election in this northern West Virginia seat, but one local Democrat looks ready to face him. Mike Manypenny, who served three therms in the state House before losing his seat 54-46 in last year's GOP wave, has opened a campaign account, though he hasn't announced that he's in yet. McKinley is mulling a bid for governor and Democrats would have a better shot at an open seat. Still, Romney won this seat 62-36, and Team Blue has taken a huge beating here downballot in recent cycles.

10:21 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso briefs us on the outcome of the year's first special election for the 400-person New Hampshire House.

New Hampshire House, Rockingham 13: Republican Dennis Green won this seat, defeating Democrat Carol Croteau by a 60-40 margin. At 57-41 Romney, this is one of the most Republican state House districts in New Hampshire.
We already have another special scheduled in the Granite State for mid-May, and given how massive the state House is, we can probably expect a few more before the year ends.

10:27 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-08: Former Obama administration aide William Jawando recently formed a committee to run for this safely blue suburban Washington seat, and on Tuesday he announced that he's in. Jawando came close to winning a Democratic primary for state House last year and he sounds well-connected enough to raise the type of money he'll need to advertise in the expensive Washington media market. Jawando joins Del. Kumar Barve and state Sen. Jamie Raskin in the Democratic primary, but plenty of other candidates are contemplating campaigns here.

10:57 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Deaths: On Wednesday, former Illinois Democratic Gov. Dan Walker died at the age of 92. Walker served in the governor's mansion from 1973 to 1977, and in the Duluth Federal Prison Camp from 1987 to 1989.

Walker defeated then-Lt. Gov. and future Sen. Paul Simon in the 1972 Democratic primary, and unseated Republican incumbent Richard Ogilvie that November. But Walker's populist politics brought him into conflict with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and the legislature blocked much of his agenda. Walker lost renomination in 1976 to a Daley-backed candidate, and his 1982 comeback bid also ended in the primary.

Unlike his successors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, it wasn't Walker's political dealings that landed him in prison. Federal regulators seized his savings loan association and accused him of "unsafe and unsound" practices. Walker plead guilty to fraud, misapplication, and perjury, and was sentenced to seven years in jail, though he served less than 18 months.

12:33 PM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-07: Rep. Elijah Cummings has been exploring a Senate bid for a while, but until now we haven't heard much from his possible successors. However, Roll Call tells us that Howard County Councilman Calvin Ball is thinking about running for this safely blue seat if Cummings tries for a promotion.

Howard County only makes up about 22 percent of this seat, while half the population lives in Baltimore City, so Ball probably wouldn't start out with too much name recognition. But if Cummings leaves, there are no shortage of Democrats who could run here, so it's really impossible to handicap a hypothetical contest at this point.

2:10 PM PT: Iowa: PPP tossed in some district-level job favorability questions for each of the Hawkeye State's four members of the House in their latest Iowa poll, the numbers are at least somewhat optimistic for Democrats. In the 1st District, GOP Rep. Rod Blum sits at a 31-31 rating, while in the 3rd, Rep. David Young, another freshman Republican, is under water at 24-35. The 1st is the bluer of the two seats, so in a way it's more heartening that the weaker GOPer is in the tougher seat. (Note, though, that the 3rd had the smallest sample, around 255.)

In the 4th District, meanwhile, polarizing Republican Rep. Steve King manages an even 41-41 rating, and in the 2nd, Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack earns the only positive score, 44-35. Forget about GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, though. He has a strong 53-32 job approval rating, making him the most popular politician in the state, and Democrats have barely discussed the idea of challenging him seriously.

Discuss
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Outgoing Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Democrats finally lost this conservative southern West Virginia seat last year, with Republican Evan Jenkins unseating longtime Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall 55-45. Romney won this seat 65-33 and it's hard to see Team Blue recapturing this ancestrally Democratic seat anytime soon, but the party is reaching out to one of the few politicians who might have a shot here. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who is termed-out next year, confirms that he's been approached, and that he hasn't made "any final decisions on anything yet."

It's rare for someone to go from being a governor to a House member, but it's not unheard of. Mike Castle of Delaware and Bill Janklow of South Dakota successfully ran for their state's sole House seats as they were being termed-out. Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford also returned to Congress about two years after leaving the governor's mansion, though few politicians are going to try emulating Sanford's career path. Still, it's often hard enough to convince former or soon-to-be-former governors to run for the Senate, where they're forced to go from being their state's top dog to becoming just one member of a 100-person chamber: Becoming a freshman House member is an even less appealing prospect.

Still, if the DCCC can land Tomblin, he'd be a good get. Tomblin carried the 3rd 54-42 during his 2012 re-election campaign, quite a bit better than his 50-46 statewide win. Tomblin will be 65 on Election Day, so he'd have some time to amass seniority if he sticks around. There are still several Democratic legislators in coal country so the DCCC has some backup options if Tomblin says no, but it won't be easy for anyone to beat the well-funded Jenkins, and there's little doubt that Tomblin would be the best candidate they can get.

Discuss
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