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Leading Off:

CO Recall: There are some new recall efforts underway that you may not yet know about, but you'll want to. Last fall, Democrats succeeded in winning the Colorado state House back from Republicans, giving them full control of the legislature and the governorship. That's allowed Democrats to pass a number of progressive pieces of legislation, including same-day voter registration, a state-level DREAM Act, civil unions, and, most notably, a trio of new gun safety measures, among them expanded background checks and magazine size limits.

It's those laws in particular that have gun activists in a predictable furor, and they're fighting back by attempting to recall several Democratic legislators, chief among them state Senate President John Morse. While the effort is nominally being spearheaded by a pop-up local group called the "Basic Freedom Defense Fund," the NRA itself is now spending money to push the recall forward. (Their crappy mailer (PDF) claims that more than 15 rounds now constitutes "standard capacity.")

Morse is term-limited next year and could resign to avoid the recall, but he doesn't want to hand the NRA an easy victory and is taking this very seriously. Organizers only need 7,178 valid signatures to force a recall, which would be held under forgiving California-style rules, where a "recall: yes/no" question is paired with a "so who do you want to replace Morse" question. Though Morse's 11th District is actually pretty blue, despite being nestled in the conservative city of Colorado Springs, he only narrowly survived in 2010 and his supporters have already begun advertising on his behalf. And importantly, a Republican doesn't have to beat him for the recall to succeed—Morse's opponents just need to get enough people to vote "yes" on the recall itself.

The good news is that progressives are already mobilizing in Morse's defense—and a separate recall campaign, against state Rep. Mike McLachlan, failed before it could even start, for lack of signatures. Recall proponents are also trying to put state Sens. Evie Hudak and Angela Giron on the ballot, though in both cases, they face much higher signature requirements than with Morse. Petitions for Morse, by the way, are due June 3, while Hudak and Giron's must be submitted a week later. We'll definitely be following all these affairs closely.


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KY-Sen: We've got the second former Miss America to show up in the Digest in as many days. Heather French Henry, the winner of the crown in 2000 and also the wife of ex-Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, says she's considering a bid against GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell next year. French Henry, who owns a dress boutique, doesn't sound especially enthused, but adds that "I certainly see myself, in the future, in some sort of political office."

MI-Sen, MI-Gov: EPIC-MRA has new data on Michigan's two big races coming up next year, for senator and governor, but like most of their polling, the undecideds are still really high. In a hypothetical Senate matchup, they have Dem Rep. Gary Peters (who has declared) leading GOP Rep. Mike Rogers (who hasn't) 37-30. Meanwhile, on the gubernatorial side, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and former Dem Rep. Mark Schauer are tied at 39 apiece, virtually identical to the results EPIC saw last month. Schauer hasn't formally launched a bid yet, but the National Journal reports that he's about to hire a campaign manager, so his candidacy is apparently all but a done deal.

MN-Sen: PPP has consistently shown freshman Sen. Al Franken in good shape for re-election, and their latest Minnesota poll is no different. Here's how Franken fares against a variety of potential Republican opponents, none of whom have actually declared:

• 51-36 vs. finance executive Mike McFadden

• 51-36 vs. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek

• 52-36 vs. state Sen. Julie Rosen

• 52-35 vs. state Sen. Julianne Ortman

• 54-37 vs. talk radio host Jason Lewis

• 55-38 vs. Rep. Michele Bachmann (54-40 in Jan.)

Of course, as Tom Jensen points out, all of these GOPers are little known, something that will probably change next year. (That excludes Bachmann, who is simply universally loathed.) But Franken sports a decent 51-42 job approval rating and is already over 50 percent. In a blue state, that's a good place to be a for an incumbent Democrat.

MT-Sen: As everyone waits for ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer, newly elected as president of the board of Stillwater Mining Co., to decide on whether he'll run for Montana's open Senate seat, several other Democrats—all women, interestingly enough—have expressed interest themselves. The roster includes state Auditor Monica Lindeen, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, and state Rep. Franke Wilmer, as well as EMILY's List chief Stephanie Schriock, whom we've previously mentioned.

All of these potential candidates, though, pretty much say they'd defer to Schweitzer, so all eyes remain on him. And there's one person who definitely isn't running. Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath was perhaps the most talked about alternative to Schweitzer, but he says he's staying put.


CO-Gov: What is it with Republicans who ran for Senate seats in southern New England in 2006 fanning out across the country to try their hands at seeking elective office in other states? First we had Connecticut's Alan "Gold" Schlesinger, who's taken up residence in sunny Florida, where he's vying for the GOP nomination in the state's 18th Congressional District. And now we have Steve Laffey, the former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, who lost a primary challenge to then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee but has now adopted Colorado as his new home state and just announced a bid for governor, of all things. Go figure!

NJ-Gov: Who even knew that Barbara Buono had this kind of cash on hand? Chris Christie's Democratic challenger is reportedly going up with a $1 million ad buy... which sounds quite big, but she's putting all her money into broadcast TV in the New York City media market. It doesn't get more expensive than that, so all this dough is only getting her a week of airtime, and some unknown (but probably not massive) number of gross ratings points, which are what really matters. An unnamed source tells Politico's Maggie Haberman that Buono has "money designated only for the primary race that she has to spend or lose," so at least that would explain the timing.

VA-Gov/LG: In states where the governor and lieutenant governor are nominated separately, sometimes you wind up with shotgun marriages that no one—except perhaps the gun-wielding farm girl's father—seems to want. But in the case of the Virginia GOP, it's one of the celebrants who's spending half his time pointing his firearm at the other, saying "keep away." The rest of the time? Well, Ken Cuccinelli knows he can't afford to alienate the same nightmarish conservative vanguard that saddled him with E.W. Jackson as his running mate, so instead of tying the knot, he's managed to twist himself into one. See, on the one hand:

At a campaign stop in Abingdon Monday, Cuccinelli reminded a crowd of supporters of the import of having a Republican as the tie-breaking vote in the evenly divided Virginia Senate, telling them Jackson can be trusted in that role.

"I don't need to know what the subject matter that's going to tie up 20-20 that the LG can vote on will be. I'm confident that we're going to get the right vote every single time out of E.W. Jackson," Cuccinelli said of the Chesapeake-based minister. "So I'm glad he's on this ticket, too."

Oh, but on the other:
"We are not defending any of our running mates' statements now or in the future," Cuccinelli said in a statement provided to The Virginian-Pilot. "The people of Virginia need to get comfortable with each candidate individually."
Evidently, Cuccinelli needs to get comfy with Jackson, too, though it's hard to see how that'll happen. The National Journal's headline sort of says it all: "Virginia Republicans Panicking Over Their Choice for Lieutenant Governor." Yep, their choice indeed. And though he may regret it now, Cuccinelli pushed for the convention that saddled the GOP with Jackson, so it's his choice, too, like it or not. Enjoy, suckers.


IA-01: You know that we here at Daily Kos Elections try to be as assiduous as humanly possible, but once in a while, something manages to slip through even our jaws of steel. So here's an item from last month that's worth belatedly noting anyway: State Sen. Liz Mathis declared she would not run for Bruce Braley's open House seat in IA-01. Mathis won a tough special election in 2011 where control of the entire Senate was at stake, and she'd likely have made a formidable candidate in the Democratic primary in this blue-leaning district.

But there are still quite a few folks who may yet be interested, in addition to the one guy who's declared so far, state Rep. Patrick Murphy, whom Jennifer Jacobs at the Des Moines Register calls "the leading Democratic candidate." She also mentions several other possible names: attorney Dave O'Brien, market research firm owner Monica Vernon, state Sen. Jeff Danielson, and Iowa Utilities Board member Swati Dandekar.

Dandekar has already created an exploratory committee, though if she were to run, that would be truly incendiary. Not only is Dandekar quite conservative as Democrats go, but it was her resignation two years ago—to accept an appointment for a high-paying state job from GOP Gov. Terry Branstad—that triggered the special election (ultimately won by Mathis) that put the Democrats' Senate majority in doubt. A number of local Dems are, as you'd expect, extremely miffed at the notion of a Dandekar candidacy.

Previous rounds of Great Mentioner talk coughed up a few other potentials, including state Rep. Tyler Olson and Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston. In addition to Mathis, though, two prominent Democrats have also said no: state Sen. Steve Sodders and state Senate President Pam Jochum.

PA-13, PA-Gov: We'll almost certainly see Montgomery County Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro run for higher office some day, but just not today. Shapiro, a 39-year-old Democrat, announced this week that he won't pursue a bid for the open 13th Congressional District or for governor next year, but he said that he intends to run for re-election as commissioner in 2015. Of course, if a tempting opportunity comes up in 2016, those plans could certainly change.

Fundraising: April fundraising reports are now available for all six of the major party committees:

Committee Apr. Receipts Apr. Spent Cash-on-Hand CoH Change Debt
DCCC $5,441,006 $3,918,653 $10,395,357 $1,522,353 $4,125,000
NRCC $5,052,932 $4,414,616 $8,746,610 $638,316 $6,250,000
DSCC $3,540,000 $8,600,000 $200,000 $15,000,000
NRSC $3,560,000 $7,000,000 $1,700,000 $9,500,000
DNC $6,323,548 $6,825,264 $5,391,999 ($501,715) $20,634,237
RNC $7,218,685 $6,101,130 $9,789,407 $1,117,555 $0
Total Dem $15,304,555 $10,743,917 $24,387,357 $1,220,638 $39,759,237
Total GOP $15,831,617 $10,515,746 $25,536,017 $3,455,871 $15,750,000
Last month's totals are available here. For the first time all year, the NRSC outraised the DSCC for the month, albeit very narrowly. But there was pretty much parity across the board in April, and both parties continued to pay down their debts. (Note, though, that the debt figures for the Senate committees are from March.)

Other Races:

OH-Treas: Oh man. What progressive wouldn't love to beat Josh Mandel twice in two years? Ohio's Republican state treasurer ran the most mendacious campaign of 2012, lying through his teeth without compunction about Sen. Sherrod Brown and his record, month after month. It didn't do him a bit of good, as Brown ran several points ahead of the president, winning by 6 and sending Mandel back to the treasurer's office—where he wasn't really doing any work in the first place. He is, however, up for re-election next year, and now Democrats officially have a candidate to take him on, state Rep. Connie Pillich.

Pillich's name may be familiar if you have a particularly good memory. In 2011, she expressed interest in running for Congress in either OH-01 or OH-02, but Republican redistricting efforts made both seats unappealing, and Pillich opted to seek re-election instead. Her own legislative district was targeted by redistricters nevertheless, but she wound up winning an 8-point victory—far more comfortable than the 600-vote win she miraculously held on with in 2010. Mandel, for all his faults, is a formidable fundraiser and will be a difficult opponent, but Pillich certainly is battle tested.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Daily Kos.

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