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Portland, OR: Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?

My brain is thoroughly boggled, but apparently, the city of Portland, OR does not fluoridate its water—and even more mind-bendingly, a proposal to do so has generated intense controversy. Proponents have likened opponents to climate change deniers, but really, this is like saying Copernicus was wrong about the Earth orbiting the sun—or Pythagoras about the shape of the planet.

Sadly, it seems like Portlanders may be ready to burn a few scientists at the stake. Voters will decide on the fluoridation measure at the ballot box on May 21, and a new SurveyUSA poll shows an exasperating 48 percent plan to vote against it, while just 39 percent are in favor. Of course, polling ballot measures is inherently difficult, but really, this shouldn't be up for debate. Well, at least Portland will protect its precious bodily essences, and Gen. Jack D. Ripper's sacrifice won't have been in vain.


MA-Sen: Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez is touting a new internal poll from OnMessage showing him trailing Rep. Ed Markey just 46-43 in the upcoming June special election. That spread is similar to the 44-40 Markey edge PPP found, though OnMessage puts the Democrat even closer to the 50 percent mark. Of course, it's very different from numbers we saw late last week from both MassINC and, especially, Suffolk, though MassINC also had Markey at 46.

OnMessage didn't release any polling on the MA-Sen election in 2012, but digging deep into the archives, our own Steve Singiser found several ugly misses from the firm last year:

MN-08: 50-40 Cravaack (R) vs. Nolan (D) in late October; Nolan won 54-45 (this was one of the worst polls of the cycle)

RI-01: 45-39 Doherty (R) vs. Cicilline (D) in late October; Cicilline won 53-41

TX-23: 47-37 Canseco (R) vs. Gallego (D) in late September; Gallego won 50-46

Of course, if OnMessage is wrong, PPP (which performed admirably in Massachusetts last year) is also wrong… but there's still a good bit of time left, and I'm sure we'll see more polling soon.

MN-Sen, -Gov: Is GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen finally done jerking us around? Maybe. Twice this year, Paulsen plainly said he wouldn't run for higher office, only to immediately turn around and baselessly insist that everyone else was all wet and that no, he wasn't ruling anything out. Well, after repeated nonsense like that, it's obviously impossible to trust him, but his latest statement seems a little more definitive. I'm not going to try to paraphrase him, though—read his own words and judge for yourself:

The three-term Minnesota Republican issued a statement Monday saying he has decided "not to seek election for a different office in 2014." Instead, he said he plans to seek another term in the U.S. House. […]

Paulsen said his decision came after "thinking carefully about how I can best help my fellow Minnesotans." He added: "If the people of the Third Congressional District will allow me, I hope to continue my work in the U.S. House of Representatives, where I can be most effective."

If Paulsen's word holds, it's only because he knows that seeking re-election is a vastly safer bet than making a bid for governor or senator, not because he's suddenly become a straight talkin' dude.

NH-Sen: Dartmouth College doesn't seem to poll very often—just once every April, according to their press release (PDF)—so it's impossible to say whether they were at all accurate last year. They do, however, have some numbers on New Hampshire's 2014 Senate race, though those look a little funky, too. They find Dem Sen. Jeanne Shaheen beating former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown 44-30 and state Sen. Jeb Bradley 48-25. The numbers for both Republican candidates seem awfully low, but all other polling we've seen has had Shaheen in the lead, so that much is easy to believe.

SD-Sen: Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announced on Monday that she would not make a bid for South Dakota's open Senate seat next year. Polling had shown Herseth Sandlin as the most competitive potential Democratic candidate, but she still would have faced an uphill battle. She's also publicly said that she really enjoys her job as general counsel for high-tech manufacturing company Raven Industries, which is based in Sioux Falls and allows her to stay close to home, so her decision is not surprising.

After Herseth Sandlin, though, Team Blue's bench really thins out. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson (the son of Sen. Tim Johnson, whose retirement is leaving this seat vacant in the first place) also apparently won't run, though he hasn't actually said so himself. That leaves Democrats with former staffer Rick Weiland, who badly lost a race for South Dakota's lone House seat in 1996 and then fell in a primary to Herseth Sandlin in 2002. (Herseth Sandlin lost the general election that year, but went on to win a special election in 2004.)

At this point, the most interesting question is still whether former Gov. Mike Rounds will face a challenge from the right in the GOP primary, but whoever emerges as the Republican nominee will be favored in 2014.


CA-Gov: Jesus. Abel Maldonado is seriously pathetic.

FL-Gov: A good catch by DCCyclone, buried deep in this lengthy piece about GOP Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign effort:

Scott spent $75 million of his own money to narrowly beat Sink, the former chief financial officer, in 2010, and he told people afterward that he would spend none of his own money on the re-election.

His reported net worth has fallen from $218 million when he ran for governor to $83 million at the end of 2011, according to required financial disclosures. Scott's 2012 disclosure is due to be released this summer.

No one believes he would not dip into his own pockets if necessary, but Scott already is aggressively raising money for what he expects to be a $100 million re-election campaign. His political committee, Let's Get to Work, already has banked more than $10 million.

That's an extraordinary drop, particularly since that $218 million figure was from 2010. Even if you separate out that $75 mil from $218, that still leaves you with $143 million, which means that in the span of a single year, Scott's net worth fell by $62 million, or 43 percent. Could Scott's wealth managers really be that awful? Or did they just have terribly bad luck? Considering the S&P was up 13 percent in 2010, though, that makes Scott's decline look even more amazing. Maybe he's bounced back since—we'll know soon enough—but even if he has, this is still good news for Democrats, since he most definitely can't spend the same sums he once did.

Meanwhile, there's nothing newsy in this item from the Tampa Bay Times's Alex Leary, but I truly respect his tenacity and his understanding that subtle differences in phrasing can make a world of difference. From a new interview with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson:

Q: Are you ready to emphatically state right now you are not going to run?

A: Oh, come on. I've already told you: I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intention of running for governor. Why can't you accept the King's English?

Q: Well, you know nobody does until you say 'I am declaring right now I am not running for governor.'

A: Why do I have to declare? I never declared that I was. Why do I have to declare that I'm not?

Q: So let me just ask in plain, we will not see you running for governor?

A: I've said what I said.

Q: That leaves a little bit of wiggle room.

A: Well, that's because you guys need something to write about.

Q: But you could right now say 'I'm not going to run' and that will clear it up.

A: I have no plans to run. I have no intention to run.

Q: I know, but that's different from saying I'm not going to run.

A: Awww, come on. Come on. Look I'm enjoying being senator. But I must say I'm frustrated. I'm very frustrated. I mean the extremists around here. You can't get anything done. The filibuster is really being abused.

And at that point, Nelson changes the conversation, but Leary has him dead to rights. Nelson refuses to say one way or the other what his plans are—as is his right—but his attempt to pin it on the press ("you guys need something to write about") is weak. He's allowed to say he hasn't made up his mind, if that's what he wants, but all this parsing wouldn't be necessary if only he'd just be a little bit clearer.

More importantly, though, let Leary's doggedness be a lesson to all political observers. You really and truly have to listen to the exact words that politicians use if you want to avoid getting misled. A lot of headlines (see here and here, for instance) have declared that Nelson simply "is not" running for governor, but that's just not the case. I don't think Nelson sounds especially likely to make a gubernatorial bid, but that's not the point. The point is that he's holding open the door, and that's what matters.

NJ-Gov: I supposed when you have an enormous cash advantage, you can simply spend heavily to avoid leaving anything to chance. But still, I find it a little unexpected that Gov. Chris Christie, who has sported 30-point leads in the polls, would feel it necessary to run ads attacking Democrat Barbara Buono… yet here we are. It's only a radio spot, though, going after Buono (rather predictably) as a tax-hiker. It's not clear how much Christie is spending on this commercial, but it's part of his recent $800,000 paid media buy.

VA-Gov: Ken Cuccinelli is out with his second ad of the election, which is all about taxes. On the one hand, it's full of Republican boilerplate: Small businesses are "over-taxed and over-regulated" so we need to give tax cuts to "job creating small businesses and middle class families." On the other hand, he tries to strike a mildly populist note by saying Virginia needs to be "closing tax loopholes and putting an end to special interest giveaways" and complaining that the "powerful and well connected already get their breaks."

That last line might sound like Cuccinelli's biggest departure from GOP orthodoxy, but it also points to a major weakness—namely, the fact that nutritional supplement maker Star Scientific lavished him and other state officials with tens of thousands in gifts, which certainly weren't offered in exchange for nothing at all. If the rich and powerful are "already getting their breaks," it's because guys like Cuccinelli have been helping them all along.


CA-15: Presumably in an attempt to dissuade would-be intra-party challenges, freshman Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell announced the endorsement of none other than Nancy Pelosi on Monday. Of course, you'd expect the House Minority Leader to support members of her own party for re-election, but Pelosi's actually offered more than just words for Swalwell: She headlined a high-dollar DC fundraiser for him earlier this month. Swalwell's most likely opponent is state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, who, like Ro Khanna, declined to run against then-Rep. Pete Stark last year when she had the chance. But Swalwell knows how to make friends, unlike Stark, who could only make enemies, and Corbett would have been wiser to seize the opportunity Swalwell took last cycle.

GA-01: David Schwarz, a former staffer for Rep. Jack Kingston, announced on Monday that he'd run in the GOP primary for his old boss's seat. (Kingston is running for Senate.) The big cheese in the race so far, though, is still state Sen. Buddy Carter.

GA-11: As expected, Tricia Pridemore, a former official in Gov. Nathan Deal's administration, announced her campaign for Georgia's open 11th Congressional District on Monday. Pridemore recently resigned from her government post and joins three others in the GOP primary: state Rep. Ed Lindsey, ex-Rep. Bob Barr, and state Sen. Barry Loudermilk.

WV-02: Roll Call's Abby Livingston takes a broad look at possible Republican candidates for the seat Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is leaving open to run for Senate. We'd previously mentioned everyone she cites (here, here, and here), as well as a few others, but there is one brand new name, former U.S. International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane.

Other Races:

LA Mayor: SurveyUSA's newest Los Angeles mayoral runoff poll has it all tied up at 46 percent apiece between City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councillor Eric Garcetti. Two weeks ago, Greuel held a 45-42 edge. The election is on May 21.

Pittsburgh Mayor: If Keystone Analytics is right, then it looks like the air may be leaking out of former state Auditor Jack Wagner's campaign for mayor as quickly as it whooshed in. The firm's new poll has City Councilman Bill Peduto legging out to a 39-32 lead in the Democratic primary, up from 38-36 in late April. It's been a swift turnaround for Wagner, though, who had surged out to a 38-30 advantage in early April, after trailing 30-20 in March. It's quite the seesaw of a race, though it will all be over a week from Tuesday.

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso:

California SD-32: This is the runoff for the seat vacated by Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod. The candidates are Assemblywoman Norma Torres, a Democrat, and Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, a Republican. In the first round, Torres received 44 percent, while Leon got 26 percent.
Johnny adds that overall, Democratic candidates took two thirds of the vote in the primary, while Republicans got just one third, so it's hard to imagine this one being competitive.

Grab Bag:

Indianapolis Council: Appalling. Republican Gov. Mike Pence just signed a blatant power-grab into law, a measure that eliminates four at-large seats in Indianapolis's so-called City-County Council. (The body's unusual name stems from the fact that the council covers all of Marion County, including the entire city of Indianapolis and a number of other towns.) All four of these at-large seats are held by Democrats, allowing them to hold a narrow 15-14 majority overall in the chamber.

It's a pretty shabby state of affairs to begin with, given that Marion County went for Obama by a 60-38 margin in 2012. But even though lame-duck Republicans snuck through a last-minute redistricting plan in 2011 right before Democrats retook control, that apparently wasn't enough for the GOP, which has evidently decided it wants the council back by hook or by crook. The law, passed by the Republican-dominated legislature, won't go into effect until 2015, so Democrats will remain in power for now, but they'll have a difficult time doing so in the future—which of course is exactly the point.

Maps: Reuben Fischer-Baum of Deadspin has a great new map illustrating who the highest-paid public employee in each state is. More than half are college football coaches, and over a dozen are basketball coaches. A handful, concentrated in the northeast and the northern Great Plains, are school administrators, mostly at medical schools.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue May 14, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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