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10:46 AM PT: MA-Sen: Rep. Ed Markey has released his first negative ad of the campaign, a spot which lacerates Republican Gabriel Gomez on guns. In particular, it features footage of Gomez saying he opposes both an assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines, which the narrator compares to "the ones used in the Newtown school shooting." Gomez doesn't come off looking good in those clips, particularly since both bans register over 60 percent support nationally (and likely higher in Massachusetts). That probably explains his histrionic response, in which he outlandishly claims Markey "blames me for the horrific Newtown shooting." When you're attacking your opponent for politicizing something, it usually means you're on the losing end of the issue.

There's no word on the size of Markey's buy, but we do have a new FEC report showing sizable spending on his behalf by the SEIU. The union is shelling out $340,000 on canvassing efforts, the first independent expenditure by any group since the April 30 primary. Gomez has pointedly refused to sign the so-called people's pledge to bar outside advertising, so conceivably we could start to see third-party ads here. But Markey seems to prefer beating Gomez up for not taking the pledge, and by focusing their money on canvassing (which would be permitted even with the pledge), SEIU allows Markey to maintain the high ground while still helping him.

11:25 AM PT: GA-Sen: As expected, former Secretary of State Karen Handel has entered the GOP primary for Georgia's open Senate seat. Handel's path was cleared when Rep. Tom Price, a political ally of hers, decided not to join the race earlier this week. Handel is the only Republican running who's been elected statewide, and she also came exceptionally close to winning the governorship in 2010, when she lost a GOP runoff to now-Gov. Nathan Deal by less than half of one percent.

Handel is also notorious for her stewardship of the breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure, during which she cut funding for Planned Parenthood on utterly specious grounds that were a pretext for her anti-abortion views. The incendiary move led very quickly to her abrupt resignation last year and rendered her a true villain in the eyes of progressives. Of course, she also made herself a hero to the right, something that only ought to help her in the primary.

12:00 PM PT: Portland, OR: Have you ever seen a Commie drink a glass of water? You might soon get your chance, since SurveyUSA's new poll confirms their last one, which I first became aware of during the physical act of love. Our comrades in Portland now look set to defeat a measure to add fluoride to children's ice cream, Mandrake the city water supply by a 53-40 margin, up from 48-39 a week ago. Peace on Earth/Purity of Essence.

2:30 PM PT (David Jarman): House: If you like Stephen Wolf's series of diaries on what the House would look like under a nationwide regime of nonpartisan redistricting, then you'll want to also check out the new effort from Real Clear Politics' Sean Trende, which also tries to imagine that scenario. However, he comes to a different set of conclusions, that it wouldn't change the House's composition too much, largely because of Democrats' increasingly inefficient concentration in the nation's urban areas. Perhaps that points to the very Rohrschach-test-like nature of redistricting where one sees what one wants to see in the blots, though also Trende uses a slightly different set of assumptions on how a nonpartisan commission would do its work (and he also doesn't force the issue of additional VRA seats where possible, like Louisiana and South Carolina). Also, we don't get to actually see the maps he actually drew in DRA, just a chart of median Obama vote share for each state, so we can't do the kind of fun seat-by-seat analysis as seen in Stephen's work (though, of course, predicting real-world outcomes in fantasy districts is where the real Rohrschach-test stuff happens).

2:34 PM PT (David Jarman): Demographics: Pew Research has some fascinating new data on the changing map of where legal immigrants to the U.S. are coming from. Over the last 20 years, as you'd probably expect, the share of Europeans among all immigrants has fallen considerably -- but so too has the share of Latin Americans. Instead, there are percentage gains among Asians and Middle Easterners, but the most significant gains come among the oft-overlooked group of subsaharan Africans (9% of immigrants in 2012, up from 2% in 1992).

2:40 PM PT (David Jarman): Red vs. blue: No doubt you've noticed that the nation is gradually sorting itself out better at the downballot level as the parties lose their regional quirks and take on more national identities, especially at the congressional level but also at the level of state legislatures and statewide offices. But Governing's Louis Jacobson actually sets out to quantify just how much things have consolidated in the red and blue states. In state Senates, for instance, Republicans now have 4% fewer seats in blue states than they did in 2004, while Democrats have 12% fewer seats than they did in red states back then.

3:23 PM PT: RI-Gov: He gets credit for sticking to his timetable: In late December, Republican Brendan Doherty said he was considering a bid for governor and would decide in four or five months. Five months later, he has indeed decided, and not too surprisingly, it's a no. Doherty, a former state police chief, ran for Congress last year against in RI-01; though the seat is ocean blue, Rep. David Cicilline's personal troubles made it look like Doherty was poised for an upset, but he wound up falling far short.

A January PPP poll did show Doherty with narrow leads in some three-way matchups, assuming independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee were to run again, but there's no guarantee he will. Republicans very likely need him to in order to have a chance, though, because in direct pairings with Democrats, they fared much worse, Doherty included. But it would still be a bank shot even if the unpopular Chafee does try to seek another term, just given Rhode Island's strong Democratic lean, so it makes sense that Doherty would rather not try.

3:50 PM PT: SD-Sen: Proving that you can never be conservative enough for the nutters, the Club for Growth's communications director took to Twitter on Friday to slam GOP Rep. Kristi Noem, who has often been held out as a purer alternative to ex-Gov. Mike Rounds in South Dakota's open seat Senate race. But nope, Noem isn't good enough. The Club says she's "no fiscal conservative or darling of Tea Party" and adds that she sports "a very bad 62% on CFG Scorecard." This is actually somewhat discouraging for Democrats who still held out hope that a nasty Republican primary would give us a better shot at holding this seat next year. If the Club doesn't want to help Noem, that makes it all the less likely that she'd want to get in the race.

4:18 PM PT: NJ-05: I think we're going to have to call it the "Rick Nolan phenomenon": former Dem congressman, now in his 70s or thereabouts, hasn't served since the 1980s, but decides to stage a comeback in the twenty-teens. Nolan, of course, pulled this off in Minnesota's 8th District last year, and then, back in January, there was a bit of chatter that ex-Rep. Andrew Maguire might be interested in running in New Jersey's 5th. Maguire's 74 and left office in 1981, after losing to Republican Marge Roukema in an old district then numbered the 7th.

It seemed like an incredible longshot that he might actually get back in the game, but lo and behold, he's filed a statement of candidacy with the FEC. Maguire isn't commenting and he may not ultimately go through with it, but he'd certainly be an interesting opponent for GOP Rep. Scott Garrett.

4:33 PM PT: OH-06: State Sen. Vincent Gentile, who came up in politics as a driver for then-Rep. (and later Gov.) Ted Strickland, says he's considering a run against Republican Rep. Bill Johnson in Ohio's 6th Congressional District, but doesn't have a timetable for making a decision. This district is definitely a tough nut to crack, though: It went 55-43 for Romney last year, and at the same time Johnson fended off a stiff challenge from ex-Rep. Charlie Wilson, the man he'd unseated two years earlier. However, David Skolnick points out that Gentile was the GOP's top target in 2012, weathering a seven-figure assault to win by 5 points, so he certainly knows how to fight.

4:47 PM PT: IA-Sen: Man. This is some seriously bottom-of-the-barrel business. I hadn't even heard of West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer, who is just the latest Republican to decline a Senate bid, but I'm more amused at the roster of other potential candidates found at the link. Apparently, some mystery list of 13 GOP names "surfaced" recently, and Gaer's was on it, but so is that of one Kevin O'Brien, who is described as an "owner and operator of nine McDonald's stores, including one in Iowa City." And the rest of the bunch aren't really much more notable than that.

4:55 PM PT: MA-07: Local analyst David Bernstein, ensconced in his new gig at Boston Magazine, takes a look at possible Democratic candidates who could seek to replace Rep. Mike Capuano, assuming Capuano runs for governor (which Bernstein thinks he will). Bernstein names Boston city councilors Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo, as well as Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, but says that the rumor mill "has been pretty quiet" so far.

5:05 PM PT: CO-Gov: In a pretty stark about-face, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler now says he's considering a bid against Gov. John Hickenlooper, even though he declared months ago that he'd seek re-election instead. It's not at all clear what's changed in Gessler's thinking, and as Kurtis Lee at the Denver Post notes, his conservative activism as secretary of state could prove to be a real turnoff in a higher-scrutiny race. However, if he does run, it would open up his current job, giving Dems a good chance at winning back the SoS post.

5:14 PM PT: NC-Sen: Jim Cain, an ambassador to Denmark under George W. Bush, says he's considering a run against Dem Sen. Kay Hagan next year. Also of note in Kyle Trygstad's piece is that Rep. Virginia Foxx is supposedly taking a look at the race, according to unnamed "sources." I have to think her particular brand of crazy would contrast nicely in a general election.


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