• NJ-Sen: At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced that a special election to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's Senate seat would take place on Oct. 16 (a Wednesday), with a primary to be held on Aug. 13. This move will undoubtedly please Democrats, who will have the chance to replace Lautenberg quickly. And Christie, who is up for re-election this November, gets to avoid sharing a ballot with a popular Democrat such as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has long had his eye on the Senate.
Republican partisans are upset, though, since an interim pick (which Christie did not yet announce) could have conceivably served through at least November 2014, giving the GOP one extra vote on the Senate floor for almost 18 months. And the advantages of quasi-incumbency might have given that temporary Republican senator a fighting chance of winning an election for a full term. Instead, the GOP will have just a few months to gear up for special election in a blue state, and even if the appointee were to run, Democrats would still be strongly favored.
Christie's decision also avoids a legal battle, as Democrats had been insisting that a special take place this year; now, they've gotten what they wanted. But the timing of the special is manifestly self-serving: Christie could have easily consolidated it with the November election, but instead he wants to spend $12 million in taxpayer money for no reason other than to improve his already considerable re-election chances. He certainly isn't earning any plaudits from good government types for the move.
In the meantime, ambitious Democrats will have to decide whether they want to make a go of this race, or whether they'll defer to the well-funded Booker, who is furthest along in his preparations to run. While everyone assumes Booker will go for it, he hasn't actually said anything one way or the other, and even after Lautenberg's retirement earlier this year, he maintained his insistence that he was still merely "exploring" a bid.
Meanwhile, according to unnamed sources, PolitickerNJ says that Rep. Frank Pallone, the other Democrat who had previously appeared closest to a bid, will run, and that Rep. Rush Holt, who had at least been taking a cursory look at the race before Lautenberg's death, is giving "serious" consideration to the special as well.
And for good measure, Rep. Bill Pascrell also says "I would think about it," but he played footsie with this year's governor's race for quite a while, even though it was quite clear he had no intention of running. But at least one Democratic member of New Jersey's congressional delegation is saying no: Rep. Rob Andrews, who rather disastrously tried to primary Lautenberg in 2006.
On the GOP side, enthusiasm is obviously running a lot lower, though a couple of lawmakers (state Sen. Michael Doherty and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick) say they aren't ruling it out, while two others are pulling their names from consideration (state Sen. Jennifer Beck and state Sen. Kevin O'Toole). For Republicans, though, a lot depends on whom Christie taps as an interim senator, though if that person wants to run in the special, she'll barely have time to catch her breath before the primary.
• MA-Sen: A new poll from New England College shows Dem Rep. Ed Markey up 52-40 over Republican Gabriel Gomez, a more comfortable lead than he's seen in most other recent polls. Note, though, that NEC hasn't polled Massachusetts before; they mostly survey their home state of New Hampshire, where they did a decent job on the presidential race last year, but where they also badly undershot Democrat Maggie Hassan's margin of victory in the gubernatorial contest. (To be fair, so did everyone else except UNH.)
Meanwhile, Markey is also out with a new negative ad featuring footage of Gomez saying he's "personally pro-life," that we should think about "increasing the retirement age" for Social Security, and that "I don't believe we need to do an assault weapon ban"—all contrasted with a clip of Gomez declaring, "I'm a new kind of Republican."
P.S. POTUS Alert! Barack Obama is reportedly coming to Boston on Wednesday morning for a Markey fundraiser. It's not clear if there will also be any kind of public rally as well.
• MI-Gov: PPP's new poll of the Michigan governor's race (their first since ex-Rep. Mark Schauer announced he'd run) finds results that are very similar to those from the firm's prior surveys. Despite low name recognition (15-23 favorables), Schauer holds a 42-38 lead over GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, compared to 40-36 in March. As we've opined before—and as anyone with any sense will tell you—any time an incumbent sits in the 30s, that's a scary, scary place to be. Snyder's job approval score has actually improved a touch (from 37-54 to 40-52), but his head-to-heads haven't budged, which ought to scare him even more.
Democrats also continue to hold a wide 48-38 lead on the generic legislative ballot, little changed from 48-36 previously. With Republicans in the legislature and Snyder both deeply unpopular, it could really be a wipeout here next year—if, of course, these numbers hold. (That's always the "if.") And it's simultaneously hard to see how this downward pressure on the GOP won't also affect their chances in the Senate race, though we'll see what PPP's numbers for that contest look like on Wednesday.
• OH-Gov: Governing magazine's Alan Greenblatt has a good new profile of Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the man who will almost certainly be the Democrats' pick to take on Gov. John Kasich next year. FitzGerald, you may be interested to learn, is actually the very first county executive in Cuyahoga history; prior to his victory in 2010, the county was run by a three-member board. The system was changed, though, because of a massive federal investigation into truly deep, ugly, and endemic corruption that had for years caused serious rot throughout the county.
And in the piece, FitzGerald, a former FBI agent, is credited with being an honest, serious reformer who has sharply turned things around for Cuyahoga, rooting out fraud, streamlining government, and even promoting economic development. Local folks seem to have a lot of praise for Fitz, but some worry that he's leaving too soon, and that the pressures of a gubernatorial campaign will distract him from his work at home. And going right at Kasich is definitely a risky move. If he fails, the 44-year-old FitzGerald could find his political career prematurely terminated. But if he was able to bring an intractably corrupt county to heel in such a short amount of time, then maybe he has the chops to topple a sitting governor.
• VA-Gov/LG/AG: Virginia office-seekers were just required to file new fundraising reports ahead of next week's primary, covering the period of April 1 through May 29, and Johnny Longtorso has helpfully rounded up all the key numbers:
GovernorRepublicans, as you'll recall, nominated their candidates at a convention last month. (That's how they gifted us with E.W. Jackson.) Further downballot, we also have numbers from the Democratic primary in the 63rd State House District, where Air Force vet Evandra Thompson is looking to unseat Delegate Rosalyn Dance:
Terry McAuliffe (D): $3.7M raised, $3.5M spent, $5.4M on hand
Ken Cuccinelli (R): $2.2M raised, $2.4M spent, $2.7M on hand
Aneesh Chopra (D): $523K raised, $1.0M spent, $427K on hand
Ralph Northam (D): $334K raised, $490K spent, $152K on hand
E.W. Jackson (R): $121K raised, $97K spent, $55K on hand
Mark Herring (D): $180K raised, $185K spent, $229K on hand
Justin Fairfax (D): $133K raised, $124K spent, $93K on hand
Mark Obenshain (R): $219K raised, $330K spent, $68K on hand
Dance: $82K raised, $23K spent, $62K on handHouse:
Thompson: $37K raised, $18K spent, $21K on hand
• FL-24: Sometimes BuzzFeed being BuzzFeed is exactly what the world needs. In this case, it's an overview of Rep. Frederica Wilson's extraordinary hat collection.
• IA-01: Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon just announced her candidacy for Iowa's open 1st Congressional District, making her the second Democrat to do so, along with state Rep. Patrick Murphy. Interestingly, Vernon was elected to the city council as a Republican in 2007, but won re-election as a Democrat in 2011.
• IL-13: Here's some great news: Former Miss America Erika Harold will indeed go ahead with a challenge to freshman GOP Rep. Rodney Davis, a move she strongly hinted at but would not confirm when the prospect first came up a few weeks ago. So why should Democrats be excited? As we explained previously, Harold, whom local Republicans passed over in favor of Davis last year when then-Rep. Tim Johnson unexpectedly retired, will almost certainly run to Davis's right in the primary. That's something Davis can ill afford: The 13th has a light blue hue, and no Republican won a closer election in 2012 than Davis did.
So if Harold wins the nomination, then Democrats, who are set to rally around ex-judge Ann Callis, will get to face a less electable wingnut who won't have any of the advantages of incumbency. And if Davis hangs on, he'll likely have had to lurch to the right, and his coffers will also probably get drained. (Harold, an attorney and former Miss America, seems decently well-connected.) Indeed, you wonder if a guy like Davis, a former congressional staffer, could have won a GOP primary in the first place; certainly he was lucky to get tapped via smoke-filled room rather than have to go before Republican voters. But it looks like his luck may have just run out.
• MN-06: Former state Rep. Tom Emmer looks poised to enter the race to succeed Michele Bachmann: He has an announcement planned for Wednesday evening in the district, and he also has a splash site up at emmerforcongress.com. Emmer is best-known for his failed 2010 bid for governor, which he lost by fewer than 9,000 votes to Democrat Mark Dayton despite the huge GOP wave that year. Third-party candidate Tom Horner's 12 percent share might have bollixed things up for Emmer, though he certainly did himself no favors. In particular, Emmer became notorious for his desire to cut the minimum wage for restaurant servers because of his claim that some earn "over $100,000 a year" with tips. (The average annual pay for waiters at the time, including tips, was under $23,000 a year.)
• MT Ballot: Here's something interesting. A group of Republican—yes, I said Republican—lawmakers in Montana have launched a new effort to put a measure on next year's ballot that would require dark money groups to disclose their political spending and their donor lists. The measure is based on similar legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jim Peterson, which died earlier this year when a majority of his own party prevented the bill from coming to a vote on the House floor.
What's particularly noteworthy is that Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock supported Peterson's bill, and while he hasn't signed on for the ballot measure yet, that's probably because it's still early; the newly-formed organization behind the drive, Stop Dark Money Montana, says it will release draft language within a month. Another organizer also says he expects other Democrats to sign on, and given general progressive hostility toward Citizens United and the unregulated flow of dark money, I'm sure he's right. So this one could be very much worth watching.
• Demographics: Which state should Democrats be more focused on long-term, at least as far as putting the last piece in place to solidify their advantage at the presidential level: Texas ... or Georgia? Zac McCrary (from Dem pollster Anzalone Liszt) has an interesting piece up at HuffPo that throws his lot in with Team Georgia. Not only is the climb to 50 percent for Dems in Georgia is a shorter one than in Texas, but the state is also rapidly becoming less rural and less white. In particular, he focuses on suburban Gwinnett County, which is diversifying quickly and poised to become the state's most populous county.
Don't write off Team Texas, though. This chart, courtesy of Michael Li, makes the argument for the long-term supremacy of the Lone Star State without saying a single word. It maps out Anglos vs. Hispanic populations broken down by age. The critical mass among Hispanics is below 10 years of age, while the biggest bulge among Anglos is in the 50-60 year-old set. (David Jarman)
• Polltopia: Gallup has been dragging out its apology tour for the last half a year to the extent that we can barely be bothered to pay attention anymore. At any rate, they've finally released their long-promised mea culpa memo, which lists the four main reasons why their 2012 polling was so far off: misidentification of likely voters; improper weighted by region, faulty race/ethnicity weighting, and failing to call enough unlisted landline users (who skew Dem). None of these things should surprise you, though, since most of these failures have already been detailed in previous months by HuffPo Pollster's Mark Blumenthal. And if you don't want to read the whole memo, you can just read Blumenthal's summary. (David Jarman)
• State Legislatures: So what's it actually like being in the super-minority in your state legislature? It's not as bad as you might think, at least according to a new profile by Greg Giroux, in which he talks to legislative Democrats in Wyoming and Republicans in Rhode Island and Hawaii (or "Republican" in Hawaii, since there's only one of them in the Senate). In fact, it's "surprisingly functional," according to one Wyoming Dem. (David Jarman)