We got one piece of big news in the political game today, but that is not all that happened on Monday. Let's take a look at the other news making headlines on the campaign trail.
KY-Sen: Assessing The Senate Race, Post-Bunning
As Jim Bunning exits the stage, it is worth looking at the political landscape in this newly open-seat race.
Bunning's retirement, of course, makes it a matter of certainty that Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson will end his "exploratory" Senate campaign and jump into the race for good. Grayson was re-elected easily in 2007 to his post, and had been raising money at a clip far exceeding Bunning in the first two quarters of 2009. He had previously stated that he would only get in if Bunning elected to retire. Some past Bunning donors have already warmed to Grayson, which certainly played a role in Bunning's decision to hang them up.
Democrats, meanwhile, have two viable candidates. Both Attorney General Jack Conway (who doubled up Grayson in 2nd quarter fundraising, raising $1.3 million) as well as Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo (who took Bunning down to the wire in 2004 before falling 51-49) are in the mix.
Both Research 2000 (polling for Daily Kos) and PPP polled Grayson and the Democrats earlier in the year. PPP's numbers were a bit more optimistic, with Conway leading Grayson by four (37-33), while Grayson led Mongiardo by the same four-point margin (40-36). In our polling, Grayson had leads of a single-point over both men.
MA-Gov: Democratic Incumbent Struggles In New Poll
Heading into a campaign cycle that will likely include a three-way contest, these are not the poll numbers that you want to have: Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick would be in a dead heat with Democrat-turned-Independent Tim Cahill, according to a new Boston Globe poll conducted by UNH. Against either presumptive Republican rival (Christy Mihos or Charles Baker), Patrick is even with Cahill. When the race is measured only between the Democratic incumbent and his Republican challengers, the Republicans take a small lead (one point for Mihos, six points for Baker). This means, quite counterintuitively, that Cahill is actually taking his support disproportionately from Republicans, despite the fact that the state treasurer was a member of the Democratic Party until last month. For his part, Patrick told The Boston Herald that although he was disappointed in his slumping polling numbers (which included a 36% job approval rating), he felt that they were the price of leadership and having to make tough decisions for the state.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE: CQ Early Study Projects Slight Dem Gains
Congressional Quarterly released their first electoral map for 2010, with accompanying ratings for each race. Interestingly, only six races were cited either as toss-ups or leaning to the other party. Four of the six seats were Republican-held, including three (IL-10, LA-02, and PA-06) that CQ projects as either leaning Democratic or likely Democratic. The three tossups were a pair of Democratic seats (MD-01 and ID-01), as well as one Republican seat (NY-23). The map and analysis can be found here.
NY-Sen: Gillibrand Goes For Base Appeal, But Will There Be A Primary?
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand put repeal of DADT front and center today, announcing that she had secured a commitment from Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin to hold hearings on the matter. The only question now is one raised by Taegan Goddard today--will there be a primary challenge at all? Apparently, Carolyn Maloney was expected to announce her challenge to Gillibrand this week, and hasn't yet. In itself, this probably means nothing--several candidates have delayed announcements, and subsequently followed through on them (Mark Kirk is a recent example). But given that the White House has already actively tried to dissuade one potential Gillibrand challenger, the delay takes on slightly increased meaning.
MS-01: Childers Gets 2010 Challenge From GOP State Senator
This has long been rumored, but was made official today: Democrat Travis Childers, who won a stunning special election victory to take this solid-red Congressional district in NE Mississippi, has his first official challenger for 2010: Republican state senator Alan Nunnelee. Nunnelee made President Obama a talking point in his announcement, declaring that the region needed a Congressman that would hold Obama "responsible". Such rhetoric is probably a high-percentage play in the Mississippi 1st, a district that went for John McCain by a 62-38 margin.
VA-05: Former Congressman Thinks Comeback Would Be No Goode
His incredibly meager FEC report already tipped his hand (raising a whopping $154 in a quarter will raise eyebrows), but Virgil Goode made it official: he is not going to seek a rematch with Democrat Tom Perriello in 2010. This swing district will certainly see a viable Republican challenger, but Goode's vacillation on the subject might have bought Perriello some time--he will have, at least at the outset, a significant funding edge over whomever emerges from the Republican side.
VA-Gov: Obama Willing To Go To Bat For Deeds
Interesting news out of the Virginia Governor's race, as Barack Obama will be stumping for, and raising cash for, Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds. The event will take place late next week in Northern Virginia. The event, in McLean, will be a public rally, followed by a private fundraiser. (Hat tip for above two items: Crisitunity at Swing State Project).
TN-03: Lightning Rod For Controversy Seeks GOP Nod
The potentially crowded GOP primary to succeed Zach Wamp in the Chattanooga-based 3rd district just got a lot more interesting. Former state GOP chairwoman Robin Smith will throw her hat in the ring. Last year, she raised eyebrows (and more than a few shouts of protest) with some of her hyperpartisan antics, including firing off a press release proclaiming Barack Obama as an anti-semite, including the use of a photograph of Obama in Muslim garb. That particular release was so incendiary that many prominent Republicans (including John McCain and homestate senator Lamar Alexander) chose to disassociate themselves from it.