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Leading Off:

NRCC: Wow. This is some seriously nasty shit. Politico reports that senior Republican Rep. Randy Forbes has been waging a "lengthy crusade" to convince the NRCC not to support two prominent GOP House recruits, former Massachusetts state Sen. Richard Tisei and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, simply because they are gay. Yeah, you read that right. So let's unpack this bigotry.

First off, on a purely electoral level, Forbes is a raving idiot, because both DeMaio and Tisei could definitely win—yet he'd rather forego two pickup opportunities because he's personally squicked out by gay people. That's so insane I can't even. But then, of course, there's the whole GOP rebranding fail, for the eleventy millionth time. "Top House Republican doesn't want teh gay in his caucus" certainly sends an open and inclusive message, does it not? Whether it's minorities, women, or LGBT Americans, Republicans really keep doing an excellent job with their outreach.

There's also an internal subtext to this story, too. House Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon looks likely to retire, and Forbes is angling for his post. So presumably some of his opponents shared this story with Politico to try to sabotage him, though Forbes hasn't denied anything. In fact, he reiterated his discomfort, saying, "There would be a different situation if they tried to force other members to give money" to DeMaio or Tisei.

So will any of this actually hurt Forbes? No one in his party denounced him; the furthest anyone went was NRCC chief Greg Walden, who said the committee would support candidates regardless of sexual orientation. So you really have to wonder how guys like Tisei and DeMaio feel, not only about getting dumped on by a top party leader, but about the fact that Forbes is walking away apparently unpunished for his prejudice. Then again, it's not like gay Republicans don't already know what their party is really like.


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MT-Sen: State Rep. Champ Edmunds, who was quite exercised over Rep. Steve Daines' vote to re-open the federal government following the GOP-induced shutdown, confirms that he's staying in the race. Unfortunately for conservative purists (and cat fud lovers), a recent PPP poll showed Daines obliterating Edmunds in the Republican primary, 66-7.

NC-Sen: The Senate Majority PAC is running a huge new $750,000 ad buy on behalf of Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, one of the largest single expenditures from anyone we've seen so far this cycle. The spot features various reg'lar folks praising Hagan for "protect[ing] Medicare and Social Security," and for "forc[ing] insurance companies to cover cancer and other pre-existing conditions." That last one right there is the Affordable Care Act, yo! The end features a couple of jabs at Hagan's likely GOP opponent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, for being buddy-buddy with insurers.

WV-Sen, WV-03, ID-02: Following up on their pro-Mitch McConnell ad released earlier in the week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also touting three other Republicans: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for Senate in West Virginia; state Sen. Evan Jenkins, who is running against Rep. Nick Rahall in the same state; and Rep. Mike Simpson, who faces a Club for Growth-backed challenge from attorney Bryan Smith in Idaho. The Chamber praises Capito for her pro-coal views, while Evans is portrayed as a fighter against Obamacare and Simpson is touted as a "conservative" who will thwart the craaazy Nancy Pelosi. Reportedly, the Chamber is spending around $84,000 on the Simpson spot and $105,000 for Jenkins; no word on the Capito ad.


CA-Gov: Field Research is out with the first properly simulated test of the virtually unpolled California governor's race. They mash all the likely Republican candidates together with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on a single ballot, which accurately reflects how June's top-two primary will work. It doesn't really matter a whole lot, though, since Brown absolutely crushes with 52 percent, while ex-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado takes just 11, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly 9, and former Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari 3.

But hey, whaddya know, two polls in one day. PPIC has the race Brown 46, Donnelly 16, and Maldonado 7. PPIC sampled likely voters, Field registered voters.

FL-Gov: Sorry, but what the hell?

"I had just had, the day before, a procedure on my left knee. And I'm on crutches. And I get to the point of which I'm trying to get on the escalator to get down to the level where the little train is. And so I'm concentrating on that as I get onto the escalator with these crutches and he (a Politico reporter) has asked me a whole bunch of questions and I've answered them and then he says something about, I don't even remember what the question was."
That's Sen. Bill Nelson, offering an absurd justification about why he poormouthed fellow Democrat Charlie Crist's chances in his race against Gov. Rick Scott—a race that Nelson still hasn't ruled out joining. Nelson's refusal to either endorse Crist or run himself has reportedly been harming Crist's fundraising, and his latest pronouncement is no help. Says Nelson, in the same interview: "I have no plans to run for governor and I have no intention of running for governor."

As we've pointed out all along, that's a very different beast from just saying "I am not running for governor." And as a result, Nelson's received a heap of criticism for not being a team player, which explains his ridiculous excuse-making. (Seriously? "I talked smack about Crist because I didn't want to trip down the escalator"?) Unfortunately, Florida's filing deadline is not until May 2, so we might have to endure another six months of this if Nelson won't make up his mind.

ME-Gov: GOP Gov. Paul LePage recently expressed his views on global warming. He's for it. Lately he's also been talking about child labor. He's for it, too. Who says Republicans are the party of no?

OH-Gov: Argh. So this whole lieutenant governor running mate story just isn't going well at all for Democrat Ed FitzGerald. A couple of weeks ago, FitzGerald tapped state Sen. Eric Kearney to join his gubernatorial ticket, a move that seemed to be aimed at shoring up Fitz's lagging support among African American leaders. (Kearney is black, FitzGerald is white.) That may have yielded some dividends, as one prominent holdout, Cleveland-area Rep. Marcia Fudge, subsequently endorsed FitzGerald.

But it looks like Kearney was barely vetted, if at all. It turns out that over the years, Kearney's amassed on the order of $1 million in tax liens from state and federal authorities—five times what he originally said he'd owed. The campaign's lack of forthrightness has helped keep this story alive as the number keeps growing, but it's not simply a matter of FitzGerald undermining his own image as a squeaky-clean reformer. There's also the question of how he allowed this debacle to unfold in the first place, which doesn't speak well of his campaign.

Fortunately, there's still time for him to turn things around, and few voters are paying attention at the moment. But FitzGerald has always had an uphill fight to unseat GOP Gov. John Kasich, and he hasn't made things any easier for himself.


CA-26: A second Republican has entered the race in California's 26th, businessman Rafael Dagnesses, and he may have at least some juice, seeing that prominent local Assemblyman Scott Wilk has already endorsed him. That's notable because one of Wilk's fellow assemblymen, Jeff Gorell, recently announced a bid against Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley. So she has to be happy that Gorell and Dagnesses, a Marine vet and former police officer, will keep each other busy through June's primary.

FL-13: Republican David Jolly is up with his first ad ahead of the Jan. 14 primary in the special election to replace his old boss, the late Bill Young, and the whole spot is basically aimed at linking Young and Jolly together. It features an endorsement from Young's widow, Beverly, and a narrator calling Jolly "a conservative in the tradition of Bill Young." There's also an endorsement from former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who emphasizes that Jolly is "from Pinellas County"—a jab at Democrat Alex Sink. First, though, Jolly has to beat state Rep. Kathleen Peters.

Oh, and the size of the buy? According to Roll Call's Abby Livingston, it's a joke-ass $5,800, all on cable, or what Nathan Gonzales would call a "video press release."

MN-07: The long Republican quest to find a legitimate challenger to take on Rep. Collin Peterson has finally yielded a candidate, state Sen. Torrey Westrom. Peterson still hasn't said whether he'll seek another term, though if he runs again, Westrom will face tough odds. But if Peterson bails, then Westrom will be well-positioned, as Minnesota's 7th is one of the reddest districts currently held by a Democrat. Should Peterson retire, though, other Republicans are likely to jump in. Westrom has an interesting personal story, though: As a teenager, he was blinded in a farm accident and later became the first blind member of the legislature.

LA-06: State Sen. Dan Claitor is poised to become the first notable local politician to enter the race for Rep. Bill Cassidy's open House seat, though he doesn't sound completely ready to commit, even though another potential candidate, state Rep. Steve Carter, opted to defer to Claitor and endorse him. Claitor also doesn't sound very much like you typical Republican these days, saying he wants to run because he's concerned about "extremists" take over Congress.

On top of that, he called the Family Research Council, which is run by another possible contender, Tony Perkins, a "hate group" and apparently likened Perkins to David Duke! FRC has indeed been branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but you don't usually see too many Republicans agreeing with a designation like that.

MI-14: State Sen. Bert Johnson says he'll announce on Monday that he's joining the race for Rep. Gary Peters' open House seat. Given that this district is safely blue, it's little surprise that the Democratic primary is already crowded, with the prime contenders so far probably state Sen. Vince Gregory and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs. Johnson ran for Congress last year, but in the 13th District, where he took an anemic 10 percent against Rep. John Conyers in the primary.

Other Races:

CA State Assembly: Republican Susan Shelley, who last month lost a special election for Assembly in California's 45th District to Democrat Matt Dababneh by a much narrower-than-expected 329 vote margin, has requested a recount. But just under 30,000 votes were cast, so Dababneh's margin is 1.2 percent—far wider than you ever typically see overturned in a recount, barring extreme irregularities.

Grab Bag:

Texas: The Lone Star State's filing deadline is Monday, but unlike in Illinois, where Democrats managed to field candidates in every congressional district, the party is still short in about a dozen seats, according to the Burnt Orange Report's Joseph Vogas. Now, it's not exactly fair to compare Texas to Illinois: The former is twice as large and has far more Republican-held seats, almost all in unforgivingly red turf.

But you always want to at least have someone running, no matter how unlikely a victory, just in case something crazy happens. And it's simply good for the party's overall long-term health to give people the option of voting for a Democrat in every corner of the country. So perhaps the better comparison is to Illinois Republicans, who (barring any petition challenges) will also have someone on the ballot in every district, despite their long odds. Texas Democrats still have a few more days to match that.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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