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NY-13: Man. I'm not sure there's any seat that's experienced as much craziness in recent years as New York's 13th Congressional District. It would take me pages and pages just to bring you up to speed if you're new to NY-13; all I can recommend is that you head back deep into the SSP archives and work your way forward from May 1, 2008. On that eventful day, we learned that GOP Rep. Vito Fossella had been arrested for drunk driving in Virginia... and from there, the insanity could only explode (and explode and explode) further.

Fast forward to the present, where—as we once said of Vito—NY-13's newest Republican congressman, Mike Grimm, is on the ropes, due to allegations of extremely shady fundraising on his part (including, reportedly, envelopes filled with cash). Though Grimm's epitaph has not yet been written, the vultures are already swarming... and amazingly enough, one of them is Fossella. While he's careful to say that Grimm "should have the opportunity to explain and defend himself" and that speculation about his future is "premature," Fossella adds: "What the future brings, I cannot say." The Staten Island Advance further notes that Fossella has "not discussed a possible run for his old seat with his family," suggesting that a run is indeed possible—and leading a thousand wags to ask, "Which family?" (If you don't know why that's so funny, click here.) I suspect this race will get a lot crazier before it gets any saner.


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4Q Fundraising:

HI-Gov (last six months of 2011): Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D): $1.1 mil raised, $829K cash-on-hand

MO-Sen: Rep. Todd Akin (R): $231K raised, $1.2 mil cash-on-hand; John Brunner (R): $230K raised (plus $1 million self-funding), $210K cash-on-hand; Sarah Steelman (R): $84K raised, $570K cash-on-hand (man are these all terrible or what? Steelman's numbers would be crappy in a House race)

NM-Sen: Hector Balderas (D): $109K raised, $434K cash-on-hand

OH-Sen: Josh Mandel (R): $1.4 mil raised, $4.1 mil cash-on-hand

VT-Sen: Sen. Bernie Sanders (D): $787K raised, $2.9 mil cash-on-hand


HI-Sen: As promised, Honolulu Civil Beat also released a general election portion of its Senate poll, which finds ex-Rep. Ed Case and Rep. Mazie Hirono pulling in identical shares of the vote, but sees Republican Ex-Gov. Linda Lingle performing rather differently against each candidate. Case leads Lingle 46-33, but Hirono only leads 46-39. I'm not sure how to explain this, since Civil Beat didn't appear to ask candidate favorables, but John Temple says that since PPP's poll in October, "Case has had a much more visible campaign than Hirono." I'm iffy on that being the answer, though. Temple also points out that Case's wider leader isn't actually a good argument for his electability:

While the poll indicates Case is in a stronger position versus Lingle today, an analysis of what primary voters who back Hirono and Case will do in the general election shows more voters will switch to Lingle if Case wins the primary.

If Case beats Hirono, the poll shows that he would retain 58 percent of his supporters but that 40 percent would shift to Lingle. If Hirono beats Case, 86 percent of her supporters will stick with her, while just 12 percent would switch to Lingle.

Speaking of the primary poll—which showed Case with a lead—both the Hirono campaign and the DSCC attacked it, with the DSCC even releasing a memo criticizing the survey in a number of areas. Both pointed out that Merriman River Group, the firm which conducted the survey, also did polling for Case last year, and the DSCC memo (written by Peter Brodnitz of Benenson Strategy Group, which just happens to be Hirono's pollster) further took issue with the poll's methodology, saying that it tested all "likely voters," not merely primary voters.

Civil Beat defended its poll, saying that they'd been using Merriman before Case ever hired them, and arguing that Merriman's Hawaii polls last cycle were accurate. I don't think that stands up, though. Merriman's final poll of the Hawaii governor's race gave a five-point edge to Dem Neil Abercrombie; he won by 17.

And in Connecticut (the other state, oddly, where Merriman polls regularly), many of their numbers were also way off, as my colleague Steve Singiser demonstrated. They had Republican Sam Caligiuri beating Dem Rep. Chris Murphy by eight; that was the margin Murphy won by. They also showed GOPer Dan Debicella edging Rep. Jim Himes by two, even though Himes prevailed by six. And at one point, they had Dem Rep. John Larson up only 7; he won by 20. You get the idea.

So I really don't think Merriman's track record holds up well to scrutiny. I respect Civil Beat's work a great deal—I've expressed admiration for them many times recently—and I know Hawaii is a difficult state to poll, but I think they might want to consider switching to another pollster.

HI-Sen: This new Ed Case ad (his second) is so weirdly substance-free I'm not sure what to make of it. The spot frames the Democratic primary as a choice between Case and Mazie Hirono, and then has a bunch of "man-on-the-street"-type clips of people saying they're going with Case... but without offering a single reason why. I'm really dumbfounded. Here, see for yourself:

While we're at it, Hirono is out with her first ad, in which she specifically says she's the only candidate who opposed the Iraq war from the start and opposed the Bush tax cuts. It also has much higher production values than anything Case has put forth. Here, watch:
MO-Sen: Yow: PPP's latest poll of the Missouri Senate race "finds that Claire McCaskill's approval numbers have hit their lowest mark since Democrats' disastrous summer of 2010, and that she no longer leads any of her potential Republican opponents for reelection." Click the link for our full analysis of all the results at Daily Kos Elections.

VA-Sen: This Mason-Dixon poll, conducted "for a private client," flew under the radar last week, but it shows what every poll except for PPP's last survey have shown: a tie game between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen, at 46 apiece. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are also virtually deadlocked, with the president leading 46-45. For what it's worth (not a lot), Obama crushes Newt Gingrich, 49-38.

TX-Sen: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst just released another internal poll (again from Baselice & Associates) that's almost identical to the one he put out in early November. The newest survey has him at 50% in the GOP primary, versus just 9 for former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, 5 for former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, and a mere 3 for widely despised football analyst Craig James. You'll have to squint hard to see the differences from the prior poll, which had Dewhurst at 50, Leppert at 9, and Cruz at 6. (James wasn't in the race then.) Presumably this is pushback against a recent PPP poll which found a much tighter race: Dewhurst 36, Cruz 18. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to just accuse PPP of being a "biased Democrat polling firm"?


MO-Gov: Plastics magnate Dave Spence, recently seen trailing Some Dude Bill Randles for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, is up with his first ad of the race. Spence insists he'll create jobs without, of course, saying how he plans to do so. I also think the voice-over announcer used here (someone you've definitely heard many times before) is a little over-wrought for a run-of-the-mill positive spot—reminds me of the voice-over from this classic Miller High Life ad. Anyhow, you be the judge:

NH-Gov: Even though the GOP field had seemed set for some time, with 2010 Senate candidate Ovide Lamontange and conservative activist Kevin Smith preparing to out-wingnut each other, it looks like there may be another entrant. Businessman Steve Kenda says he's exploring a bid, and it sounds like he may be the sort of rich guy who could flood the race with money. The question is whether New Hampshire Republicans are interested in someone with this kind of profile, or whether they'll insist on a firebreather like Lamontage or Smith. Last cycle, in the Senate race, they picked the more moderate Kelly Ayotte instead of Lamontagne, but I wouldn't necessarily expect that kind of judgment to hold sway twice.

WI-Gov: State Sen. Tim Cullen wasn't ever really high on anyone's lists of Democrats in demand to run against Scott Walker in the recall election. Accordingly, his fundraising never really got off the ground (he raised a total of $157 in the last six months... that's not a typo, and there's no "K" after that number), and on Wednesday, he pulled the plug on his stillborn campaign. That leaves former Dane Co. Exec Kathleen Falk as the only Dem actively seeking the nomination, though new fundraising reports show Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (a possible entrant) sitting on a decent pile of cash, some $415K. (David Jarman & David Nir)


AZ-08: This is interesting: Even though state Rep. Matt Heinz just became the first Democrat to announce for the special election to replace Gabby Giffords, he also added that he'd defer to Giffords' former district director, Ron Barber, if Barber wanted to run to serve out the remainder of the term. In that case, says Heinz, he'd run in the primary for the regular November election. However, an unnamed Giffords staffer previously told Politico that Barber won't run, though we haven't yet heard anything from Barber on the record.

CA-30: You already knew that Rep. Howard Berman raised a terrifying one meelyon dollars in the fourth quarter of last year. I'd have thought his Democratic primary rival, fellow Rep. Brad Sherman, would at least try to keep pace, but it turns out Sherman pulled in a a mere $125K. That's almost shockingly small. Now, that said, Sherman does still have a sizable cash-on-hand advantage: $3.7 million versus Berman's $2.9 million. But another quarter like this and that discrepancy will disappear. So, too, may Sherman's hopes.

CA-38: Good news for progressives: State Sen. Ron Calderon is dropping his challenge to Rep. Linda Sanchez in the redrawn 38th Congressional District. Calderon very likely would have occupied ideological space to Sanchez's right, so we're better off having the incumbent in Congress. Calderon probably thought he had a shot because about half the turf in the 38th is new to Sanchez; on top of that, her campaign account was recently wiped out by Kinde Durkee, the rogue treasurer who embezzled funds from a whole swath of California Democrats. In any event, this is one less race to worry about now.

CO-07: After going from "rumored" to "considering," Joe Coors, Jr. has finally upgraded to "running": He will indeed take on Dem Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the 7th. This district actually got a touch redder, going from 59-40 Obama to 57-41, but it'll still be difficult turf for any Republican. Also, don't be fooled by that "Junior" hanging off the end of Coors' name: He's 69 years old.

FL-22, FL-18: The developments continue to come fast and furious in Florida's proposed new 18th and 22nd Congressional Districts, a pair of coastal seats that are drawing a lot of attention, despite the lack of final maps. On Tuesday, we learned that GOP Rep. Tom Rooney planned to vacate the 18th for the incumbent-less 17th a bit further inland. That let another Republican, freshman Allen West, to declare that he'd seek re-election in Rooney's 18th rather than the considerably bluer 22nd. Even though two Democrats—former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and accountant Patrick Murphy—have long been seeking to take a shot at West and have both raised a ton of money, several other Dems immediately started expressing interest now that the 22nd is open.

The first was Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom, who refused to rule out a run on Wednesday. Not long after, one of his fellow commissioners, Kristin Jacobs, who said she is "seriously" considering a bid. (I've gotta say, though: The fact that these names are only coming out of the woodwork now that West says he won't run here, though, doesn't make me think particularly highly of them. Frankel and Murphy had the courage to run when these guys were nowhere to be seen.) A couple of Democrats did decline, though: Ex-Rep. Ron Klein, who represented this seat for two terms before losing to West in 2010, and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who literally just won re-election to his current post on Tuesday.

Frankel, for her part, said that she's staying put, and she also released what looked like a message to would-be entrants in the form of a big-name endorsement from former CFO Alex Sink. (Sink, you'll recall, fell just short of Republican Rick Scott in the 2010 governor's race and was also the last Florida Democrat to win election to the state cabinet, back in 2006.) Murphy left things more open-ended in his public remarks on Tuesday, and a report later in the day on Wednesday in the Palm Beach Post stated that the proverbial "sources close to" Murphy say he's "giving serious thought" to following West north to the 18th CD. Murphy still lives in the redrawn 22nd, but West doesn't live in the 18th, either, and he doesn't even live in the old 22nd, so it's not like he could make a carpetbagging charge stick.

Whoever remains in the 22nd will still have a fight on their hands, though, against former State House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. After a day of fumbling (and much razzing in the Daily Digest) Hasner finally announced that he would, as reported, drop down from the Senate race to run as West's replacement. I've already said that I think Hasner is far too conservative for this 57% Obama seat; the fact that he touted an endorsement from none other than West (who himself realized he couldn't get re-elected here) in his announcement shows he may also be too stupid to win here.

Democrats will, of course, also need a challenger in the 18th, which is why Patrick Murphy is reportedly thinking about switching districts. If he doesn't, the Great Mentioner (that is to say, Daily Kos Elections) has a few ideas for your consideration. On is include St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft, a DCCC recruit against Tom Rooney in the old 16th (the predecessor to the new 18th) last cycle. Craft dropped out in March of 2010, though, after weak fundraising and, I'm sure, once he realized what a disaster the election was shaping up to be for Democrats. (He does have an interesting background, though.)

Another is former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, who was the D-Trip's first choice against Rooney in 2010 but who decided to run for attorney general instead. (He got spanked in the primary by fellow state Sen. Dan Gelber, who in turn got spanked by Republican Pam Bondi in the general.) However, Aronberg recently announced plans to run for Palm Beach County State Attorney, a seat which unexpectedly became open just a few weeks ago, so he's unlikely to change course.

Finally, on Twitter, Jeff DeLuca suggests one more name: St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara. If that unusual last name rings a bell, it's because he's a nephew of the late Frank Mascara, who represented Pennsylvania's old 20th District in Congress in the 1990s.

IL-16: Dave Catanese points out that in the primary matchup between Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Don Manzullo—sadly, the only confirmed Republican incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle in the nation—Kinzinger had the fundraising edge in the fourth quarter of last year: $286K to $170K. But more important is this tidbit from unnamed sources: "Informed Republicans say Manzullo is on retirement watch."

NJ-10: Back in November, we mentioned that Newark City Councilman Ronald Rice was reportedly gearing up to take on veteran Rep. Donald Payne in the Democratic primary. Now, at a recent campaign event, Rice rallied supporters with the mantra "It's time"—but he's still not committing to a run just yet. Indeed, it's almost getting to be past time, since new Jersey's primary is coming up in just five months on June 5.

PA-07: Well, damn. Local Democratic officials in the 7th District are saying that ex-Rep. Joe Sestak hasn't been circulating petitions and won't try to reclaim his old seat with a bid against freshman GOPer Pat Meehan. Pretty grating, though, that Sestak couldn't have at least made his intentions clear before the filing period began—and that he hasn't even spoken on the record about this, leaving Democrats scrambling to read tea leaves... and find a replacement.

PA-10, PA-11: And here's another former Dem congressman who won't be making a comeback bid this year: Chris Carney, who served the old 10th District for two terms before getting swept out in 2010's red tide. Carney had reportedly been considering a run in either the 10th or the 11th (both of which had been redrawn in redistricting), but now it's not to be.

WI-02: Just the other day, I was saying I'd been wrong about the state of play in the Democratic primary in WI-02, believing that Dane County Treasurer Dave Worzala had surprised everyone and raised more money in the fourth quarter than his two more prominent opponents, state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Roys. Well, it turns out I was wrong to think I was wrong. This post at WisPolitics said that Worzala had "outraised" the field, "pulling in $223,140."

Only that wasn't right. According to his FEC reports, Worzala raised just $49K. The other $170K was a loan from himself. (Oddly, it's not listed as such on the FEC's "detailed summary" page, but elsewhere on his report, it clearly states the money is from Worzala.) I don't know how this miscommunication happened, but it's important to take note of the situation, because it means Worzala is still at the back of the pack when it comes to fundraising strength. It also means that Pocan was the fundraising leader this quarter with $151K, while Roys was second with $77K.

Other Races:

PA-AG: Former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane has pumped a ton of family money into her bid for the Democratic nomination for attorney general: a $500K donation and a loan of $1.75 million, both from her husband. She's also out with an internal poll (PDF) from Benenson Strategy Group, though it's something of an odd choice, since it shows her trailing Patrick Murphy in the primary by a 40-24 margin. Of course, there's also an informed ballot question based on positive bios, which has Kane up big, 51-35. The memo also says the race is tied at 45 on the initial ballot among people who already know both candidates. I think the message here is: "I can beat Murphy once I get my name out there—and with my millions, I will." Murphy's no fundraising slouch, though: He's socked away $1 mil in the bank already (the hard way).

Grab Bag:

CO St. House: This sure is an unusual story. Colorado's state House is just barely in GOP control, by a 33-32 margin. One Republican lawmaker, though, is threatening to bolt her party and possibly become an independent, which could throw the chamber to the Democrats. Why? State Rep. Laura Bradford was recently arrested under suspicion of driving drunk, and police claimed she tried to invoke her status as a legislator during the incident. Bradford hotly denied this, and quite amazingly, the police reversed themselves and said that a sergeant lied about what had happened. Bradford is furious that the legislature has nevertheless decided to investigate her, and cites that as her reason for thinking about leaving the GOP. It sounds, though, like she's also run afoul of leadership in the past, so this might either be a fig-leaf or the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

SSP: Good news, everyone: The old Swing State Project archives are back online! Our host had mistakenly flagged the site as "inactive" and took it offline on Tuesday, but it's since been restored. Don't worry, we have no intention of taking the site down—among other things, we still regularly use it as a research tool and link back to stuff there regularly. And if for some reason we did decide to mothball the site, we'd certainly let you know in advance. Anyhow, bottom line is, we're all good.

Redistricting Roundup:

NY Redistricting: State Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Martin Dilan, have filed a lawsuit against the GOP's plans to add a brand-new 63rd seat to the Senate map. The New York state constitution does indeed contemplate the creation of new seats in the Senate, but there is some dispute over how to calculate the proper number. You can read the exact details in the complaint—I can't summarize the math any more succinctly.

But suffice it to say that there are two competing methods for figuring out how many Senate seats there should be, and as the complaint alleges (in ¶ 11), the GOP wants to use both techniques at the same time—one in Queens & Nassau County, and a different one in Staten Island & Suffolk County. Democrats say (¶ 14) that as long as you use one method consistently, you wind up with 62 seats. It's only because of this selective picking-and-choosing that Republicans are able to reach 63 seats, something Democrats allege is unconstitutional.

VA Redistricting: It's a story we've already seen a number of times this cycle: litigation over redistricting threatening to push a primary later. The latest chapter belongs to the state of Virginia, where Republicans have failed to get a key suit against the state's new congressional map dismissed. As a result, AG Ken Cuccinelli is now asking the legislature to move the June 12 primary to August, so that there's sufficient time for legal challenges to be resolved first. No word yet on whether the lege actually plans to follow suit, though.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by These Green Mountains and Daily Kos.

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