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Leading Off:

Fundraising: We're bringing back our monthly roundup of fundraising reports from the big six party committees, which file with the FEC on the 20th of each month. Overall, the Democrats had a strong January:

Committee Jan. Receipts Jan. Spent Cash-on-Hand CoH Change Debt
DCCC $6,080,512 $3,007,002 $4,561,731 $3,073,510 $12,556,407
NRCC $4,447,693 $3,190,681 $2,791,623 $1,257,012 $11,000,000
DSCC $4,200,000 $3,000,000 $1,190,041 $15,700,000
NRSC $1,500,000 $1,600,000 $3,300,000 ($80,789) $10,000,000
DNC $4,371,825 $3,994,747 $4,669,216 $377,078 $20,776,025
RNC $6,899,146 $4,586,341 $7,074,817 $2,312,805 $0
Total Dem $14,652,337 $7,001,749 $12,230,948 $4,640,629 $49,032,432
Total GOP $12,846,839 $9,377,023 $13,166,440 $3,489,028 $21,000,000

If you're new to these charts, "CoH Change" refers to how much each committee's cash stockpile moved upward or downward from the previous month. One thing you might also wonder is why there are some gaps and very round numbers As you may know, the Senate is still stuck in the 19th Century and refuses to require that fundraising reports—whether for individual senators or party committees like the DSCC and NRSC—be filed electronically. Instead, they're delivered on paper to the FEC, which must then scan them before posting them online, which typically takes a couple of weeks. It's insane, and it's absolutely antithetical to any notions of democratic transparency, which means it's just another reason why the Senate is the worst institution in America.

(Oh yeah, there is one way to see fundraising totals for both of these committees in something resembling a timely fashion: If you're near the Capitol, you can visit the Senate Clerk's office and take a glance at the cover page of the monthly reports. Really convenient.)

So because of this, unless we want to wait, we have to rely on data voluntarily released by the two committees, and as you can see, it's often incomplete. The DSCC had a pretty good month and so they've graced us with a some tidbits that they share with Beltway publications like Roll Call and Politico, but they seem to have left out their spending totals. The NRSC, meanwhile, waited until late in the day on Thursday to reveal its utterly embarrassing haul, but we won't let them hide.

Intro

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Senate:

GA-Sen: There was some tiresome back-and-forth all day Thursday about whether GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey actually plans to run for Senate, with Gingrey's camp kinda-sorta denying it, but now The Hill is citing various sources who say that Gingrey does indeed plan to run. One consultant, Tom Perdue, even said that Gingrey announced his intentions on a conference call with a dozen people. That's some incredibly sloppy roll-out and I wouldn't be surprised if it winds up being indicative of the kind of campaign Gingrey ends up running.

LA-Sen: Here's a new name to add to the pile of possible GOP Senate contenders: state board of education chief Chas Roemer, who is the son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer. I don't know if pops has much goodwill left, seeing as he ran a no-hope race for president last year, seeking the nominations of the Republican Party, the Reform Party, and Americans Elect! That's quite the trifecta, but to top it off, he wound up endorsing libertarian weirdo Gary Johnson in the end—not exactly a team player. Buddy's been irrelevant for a while, though, and Chas may well have carved out his own profile, so he could be a player despite his father going off the political deep end.

MA-Sen: Hardly a shocker: Two-time losing congressional candidate Sean Bielat says he won't try collecting signatures to get on the ballot for the Massachusetts Senate special election. Remarkably, he sent out an email appeal over the weekend begging supporters to raise an eye-popping $150,000 in just a few days, something that presumably didn't pan out. Anyhow, that leaves three Republicans—state Rep. Dan Winslow, businessman Gabriel Gomez, and former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan—all trying to gather 10,000 signatures apiece by the Feb. 27 deadline. We'll soon see if anyone's successful.

MT-Sen: What's this all about? At the very end of a short item on PPP's new poll showing ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer would defeat Sen. Max Baucus in a hypothetical Democratic primary, KPAX's Marnee Banks tosses out this bomb:

[Schweitzer] did however say he would have big news for us in the next week or so. In the meantime he is at his place on Georgetown Lake snowmobiling and putting logs on the fire.
Say what? Big news? What could it be? Well, if he's creating some new foundation or something like that, then grr. That's not "big news," and any reporter who relayed that information would have to feel kind of burned. And surely it can't be some presidential announcement—doing so this far out would be too goofy even for Schweitzer.

So could he really be planning a Senate run, after all that? If so, then why did he reiterate this line to Banks on Wednesday?

"I am not goofy enough to be in the House, and I'm not senile enough to be in the Senate."
That exact quote is something Schweitzer's used before, and it's, uh, not exactly the kind of thing you repeat right before announcing a bid for Senate. Also, for what it's worth, Schweitzer told Banks that he wasn't responsible for the post to his Facebook page that linked to the PPP poll; rather, he says his staff did that, and that he hadn't even seen the poll himself. Seems like a weird lack of message coordination. Anyhow, maybe he is just announcing a new charity or the like. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

In semi-related Montana news, I admit I haven't paid much attention to the hypothetical 2016 presidential matchups PPP's been doing, mostly because if Hillary Clinton actually runs, her sky-high favorability ratings will inevitably fall back to earth once people start remembering that yes, she's a full-blown Democrat. But the firm's Montana miscellany stands out to me because Clinton actually trails Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan by several points there, even though she's led them in a string of very red states that includes Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas. Either that means PPP wound up with an unusually red sample (we can only pray), or Montana really is looking rough for Democrats (which I fear is more likely).

There is one positive tidbit, though: Newly-elected Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock starts off with a 43-18 job approval rating, which is not too shabby.

NJ-Sen: I really wish Quinnipiac had asked about a hypothetical Democratic Senate primary now that Frank Lautenberg is retiring. Instead, all we've got is a matchup between Cory Booker and... Geraldo Rivera. That's good enough for some lulz, at least, even before seeing the numbers, just because Rivera is such a joke of a clown of a goofball—dude always makes me laugh. Anyway, the numbers are funny, too, since Booker pastes him 59-23. There was nothing in Al Capone's vault, and nothing in Geraldo's political future, either.

Gubernatorial:

FL-Gov: The reinvention of Gov. Rick Scott continues, now with his about-face on accepting billions in federal Medicaid funds as part of the Affordable Care Act. But this move is rife with pitfalls. For one, Scott is insisting on privatizing Medicaid statewide, and the federal government granted him a waiver to do so—though it may only be so much rope: The Miami Herald described the privatization as an expansion of "a five-county pilot program that has been rife with problems."

What's more, are the sorts of people who would benefit most from the expansion of Medicaid really going to want to now pull the lever for a Republican like Scott? That sounds implausible at best. And at the same time Scott is courting low-income Democrats who probably already loathe him, he's pissing off his base, with tea partiers calling him a "Benedict Arnold" and ambitious state Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam tweeting that the expansion "does not create jobs or strengthen our infrastructure. And it will cost Florida $5B over the next 10 years." Could that presage a primary challenge? We can only hope.

House:

IL-02: Debbie Halvorson has certainly run one of the weirdest campaigns we've seen in a while, alternately sticking to her guns on, well, guns, while complaining she's being attacked on guns, and also trying to put some daylight between herself and the NRA on, yeah, guns. So of course, in the midst of this muddle, she took time out from campaigning to... apply for a license to carry a concealed firearm. Even weirder, Halvorson doesn't even own a gun! I just don't know what to say about all that.

But this, on the other hand, is pretty simple:

Still, the Illinois State Rifle Association started fighting back on her behalf on Wednesday, sending out a direct mailer to thousands of its members living in the district asking them to vote for Ms. Halvorson, according to Richard A. Pearson, the association's executive director.

"We can't let that go unanswered," he said of the advertising campaign against her. His group had planned to endorse Ms. Halvorson in a news release on Thursday, but decided not to at the last minute, Mr. Pearson said, though he would not explain why.

I can explain why, not that you needed me to: Even the NRA (ISRA is their local affiliate) knows that their endorsement would be more damaging than helpful to Halvorson. That's really a first, since the NRA is typically accustomed to their endorsements being coveted. Yet now, they are forced to hold their fire (har har).

While we're on the subject, I also enjoyed Abby Livingston's new piece in Roll Call, in which she offered a couple of choice tidbits. Here is Halvorson, insisting she is somehow the front-runner in the race:

"People are with me. Our phones ring off the hook. There are Facebook posts."
There are Facebook posts! Indeed, there are. As Jair Herbstman wryly opined, Facebook posts must be the new yard signs—hence victory is inevitable for Halvorson. More importantly, Livingston had another good score as well, reporting that "Kelly boasted a double-digit lead over the field in Hutchinson's internal polling—an automated survey taken before she exited the race, according to a source familiar with it." Here's hoping that's accurate, and that it holds through election day.

MA-05: Heh. David Bernstein rounds up a few quotes from local pols who are pretending to be offended that some of their rivals have already made preparations to run for Congress if Ed Markey wins the upcoming Senate special election—and I say "pretending" because these same chutzpadik hacks admit they are eyeing the race themselves! That includes state Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung, both of whom think they can score points by feigning patience of their own and offense toward the haste of others. Whatever! This is politics, and being last out the gate is seldom a recipe for victory.

Anyway, interest in this seat is extremely hot among Democrats, particularly since this is a solidly blue seat that Ed Markey's held since before I was born. In addition to the three candidates who have already opened campaign accounts—state Rep. Carl Sciortino and state Sens. William Brownsberger and Katherine Clark—and the two whiners noted above, Bernstein digs deep on the Great Mentioner front to provide this comprehensive list:

State Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland tells me "I am seriously interested."

Others said to be interested include Wayland State Representative Tom Conroy, Cambridge State Representative Sean Garballey, Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Middlesex District Attorney Gerald Leone, Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn, and Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo.

Oh, and perhaps State Attorney General Martha Coakley, who lives in Medford, or former state senator Warren Tolman of Watertown — or any of the district's who's-who of current and former pols, administration officials, and business leaders.

Well, comprehensive except for the fact that, as Bernstein acknowledges, pretty much everyone who's anyone (and even some folks who aren't) could potentially run here. All signs point to an awesome multi-way primary.

SC-01: It's been a bit tricky to get a handle on the Republican primary for the SC-01 special election, mostly because the field is so damn crowded, there's been no polling, and trail guide Mark Sanford has been sucking up most of the oxygen. It also means there will almost definitely be a runoff, though figuring out who might earn the top two slots is no easy task. But here's one name to keep an eye on: state Sen. Larry Grooms, who just secured endorsements from two members of South Carolina's congressional delegation, Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan.

It's not that either of these guys have much juice in a district they don't represent, but rather the fact that Grooms has the connections and wherewithal to lock down high-level establishment support like that. Perhaps it won't mean much in the end, but it certainly separates Grooms from the Some Dudes.

Grab Bag:

Ideology: The full numbers for everyone in Congress for National Journal's annual vote ratings are out, after several days of teases. They have plenty of articles trying to milk the release every way possible, but this piece is the most interesting: It features a chart that looks at the average score for members in each of a variety of demographic categories. It's sorted by gender, by region, by race, by religion, and by length of tenure. (Amusing footnote: The most conservative categories among House Republican members are "Jewish" and "African-American," even more so than "South." Of course, that's because those samples consist entirely of Eric Cantor, Allen West, and Tim Scott.) (David Jarman)

Maps: Here's another fun one from the bizarro maps department: Geography Prof. Andrew Shears put together his vision of the "124 United States That Could've Been," based on the notion that countless state secession movements contemplated over the years had all succeeded. Some you may have heard of if this kind of alternate history appeals to you, like Absaroka or Jefferson. Others, I'm guessing, are going to be way more obscure—Red Wisconsin, anyone? Here's a glimpse of Shears' map, but you'll want to click through for the full-size version:

Alternate history U.S. map of 124 states
It looks to me like I'd still live in the state of New York (plus ça change), but how about you? Where would you wind up if your forebears had succeeded in creating a new state?
Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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