10:03 AM PT: TX Redistricting: Though the recently concluded special session of the legislature became absolutely consumed by the GOP's attempt to force through new abortion restrictions—and state Sen. Wendy Davis's already legendary filibuster that derailed the effort—lawmakers did meet their original aim of turning the interim maps used in last year's elections into permanent ones, and now Gov. Rick Perry has signed them into law.
Contrary to popular belief, the Supreme Court's evisceration of Section 5 of the VRA did not actually give Texas Republicans carte blanche to redraw the lines as they pleased, since they'd still risk running afoul of Section 2 and other legal minefields. Instead, realizing that the interim maps turned out to be pretty good, the GOP decided to accept getting 95 percent of what it wanted: They get to lock in their huge majorities in the state House and Senate, and on the congressional front, they still have a decent shot at taking back TX-23, the one seat they lost last year.
However, while Republicans (led by Perry) have convinced themselves that these maps are legally rock solid, there's still some serious wrangling going down in San Antonio, where the federal court that drew these lines is hearing further arguments about their sufficiency. So things could yet change. One positive worth noting, though, is that the GOP seems to have given up on eliminating Davis's district. They tried in 2011 but were over-ruled by judges in DC (who relied on, sigh, Section 5); Davis's seat was subsequently restored, and now even Republicans have given it their grudging blessing.
10:56 AM PT: IN Ballot: In the previous Digest, we mentioned that we hadn't seen any polling this year on a likely ballot measure pushed by Indiana Republicans that would add a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution. It turns out that local news site Howey Politics indeed sponsored another survey in April (conducted by their usual pollster, Bellwether Research) that found a small 50-46 majority would back such an amendment. That's very similar to the 48-45 spread in favor of the amendment Bellwether saw in October. If those numbers are accurate, then opponents might stand a chance of defeating the measure, particularly since attitudes keep moving in the direction of greater support for marriage equality.
12:26 PM PT: TX-Gov: Could state Sen. Wendy Davis, who was always awesome but has now catapulted herself to the tier of national progressive hero, run for governor next year? Well, back in March, Davis said she planned to seek re-election, but being the savvy pol she is, she told MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Wednesday that "I would be lying if I told you that I hadn't had aspirations to run for a statewide office."
That's a canny way of leaving the door open just a crack, but obviously, a statewide run would be a very high-risk, high-reward proposition. In an ideal scenario, Davis would face Gov. Rick Perry, yet even then, victory would be difficult, just given Texas's demographics. Moreover, Perry might not even be the GOP's nominee next year, if AG Greg Abbott seeks a promotion (as he's widely expected to do). Conceivably, Davis could also run for Abbott's seat, or even the post of lieutenant governor, where incumbent David Dewhurst is likely to face a primary challenge of his own. No matter what she does, though, Davis will undoubtedly have the full-throated support of Democrats everywhere.
12:41 PM PT: CT-Gov: State House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero promised a decision by week's end, and he delivered: He will not seek the GOP nomination for governor next year. Several other Republicans, including 2010 nominee Tom Foley, state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton are still considering the race, though.
1:13 PM PT: ME-Gov, ME-02: GOP Gov. Paul LePage was almost certainly just messing with reporters when he claimed last week that he was considering a run for Congress, so it's no surprise that he's now apparently said he'll do no such thing. (I'd love to see his actual quote, though; every press account just seems to offer a paraphrase.) LePage also added that he still hasn't made up his mind about whether he'll seek a second term as governor. Reading between the lines of that second link, it sure seems like LePage, whose relationship with even Republican lawmakers has gone south, is just about ready to give up.
2:26 PM PT: NYC Mayor: It looks like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has locked up the support of the last of the four big unions that hadn't chosen sides in the Democratic primary. According to the New York Times, the Hotel Trades Council will endorse Quinn on Thursday, and they also reportedly plan to spend up to $2 million in independent expenditures on her behalf. Amusingly, as Colin Campbell notes, a few months ago, when she was the target of an outside ad, Quinn called on her opponents to "condemn and reject all independent expenditures in this race." Bet she feels differently now.
2:35 PM PT: IA-Sen: Former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs, who reportedly met with the NRSC back in the spring, now says he's forming an exploratory committee to look at a possible Senate bid. Jacobs could potentially self-fund, which would be appealing to Republicans, but he didn't offer a timetable for making a final decision.
2:48 PM PT: CO-Gov: Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler says he is "seriously considering" a run for governor, even though he's only held his current post for half a year. It sounds like Brauchler is motivated in part by Dem Gov. John Hickenlooper's decision to defer the executive of convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap, which has engendered a lot of blowback from Republicans. But Brauchler is also in the midst of handling one of the most high-profile criminal cases in the nation, the Aurora movie theater massacre, which might augur against a bid.
3:12 PM PT: AR-Sen: In a press release riddled with typos ("Mark Pryors") and factual errors ("three-term incumbent), the Senate Conservatives Fund has put out some numbers on the Arkansas Senate race from Basswood Research that—surprise, surprise—show Sen. Mark Pryor (singular) in weak shape. Pryor barely edges GOP Rep. Tom Cotton 41-40, but of course, the SCF has some serious skin in the game, having already spent $400,000 to attack Pryor on the airwaves, so you'd better believe they're going to churn out a poll proving that they've "driven [his] numbers into the ground."
Meanwhile, the Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC and their buddies at Patriot Majority USA are running a new ad of their own slamming Cotton as a publicity hound who (to revive a 2012 theme) supports "a plan the Wall Street Journal said essentially ends Medicare." (That would be the Ryan plan, natch.) Cotton has rather steadfastly refused to say whether he'll actually run, so perhaps this spot is designed to convince him not to. There's no word on how big the buy is, though, but SMP and PMU will have to file independent expenditure reports soon.
3:28 PM PT: IA-01: Emily Cahn adds one more potential name to the surprisingly short list of Democrats who may yet jump into the race for Rep. Bruce Braley's open House seat: state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic, whom she describes as "a Bosnian immigrant who fled the war-torn country at the age of 10" and whom local Democrats believe has a "compelling life story."
4:43 PM PT: Only here's the sad part: The poll proves no such thing. Jair Herbstman astutely reminds us that this is actually the second poll Basswood has conducted for SCF this cycle. Back in March, they touted some absolutely non-believable numbers that showed Cotton ahead of Pryor 43-35. But hey, if you want to go by the trendline, Pryor's improved by 9 net points since then! Needless to say, SCF's release fails to mention any of this.