• WA-Sen: The Elway Poll has about as bad news/good news a set of findings for Maria Cantwell as you could possibly imagine. The bad news is that her job performance ratings are a dreary 40/52. It's worth noting, though that it's 40% "excellent" or "good" and 52% "fair" or "poor." There are a few other pollsters who occasionally use this four-way phrasing (like Marist) and it always seems to yield much worse results compared to a simple "favorable/unfavorable." "Fair" is ambiguous, and probably vacuums up a number of respondents who'd give a positive response if pushed to respond in one of two ways.
The good news is that her is that her actual electoral chances seem unharmed. Her re-elect is 46% (vs. 36% replace, numbers that are virtually identical to where she was six years ago). And in a hypothetical Top 2 primary that piles every viable Republican in the state into the clown car, she gets 47% to a composite 23% among all GOPers. That breaks down to 9 for Rep. Dave Reichert, 7 for former news anchor and losing '09 King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison, 6 for teabaggin' '10 Senate primary loser Clint Didier, and 1 for Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant. (The locally-based Elway is considered to be the 'gold standard' of Washington pollsters, although they were the only pollster to actually overstate Patty Murray's chances in their last 2010 poll.)
• WV-Gov: Democratic quasi-incumbent Earl Ray Tomblin had to be pretty heartened by last week's PPP poll of the primary, which gave him a 32-17-16-15 lead over John Perdue, Natalie Tennant, and Rick Thompson, and now he has an internal poll that closely confirms those numbers. Tomblin's out with an internal from GSG that finds him at 36, with 17 for Tennant, 15 for Thompson, and 12 for Perdue. (Speaking of state Treasurer Perdue, he's continuing to get negative against Tomblin in his latest TV ad, which hits Tomblin for ties to the casino industry.) That PPP poll also shows Tomblin a runaway favorite in the general; the only bad news for him is that this is a special election and, assuming he wins, he has to do it all over again next year.
• CO-07: Despite losing convincingly to Ed Perlmutter last year in the 7th, Republican Ryan Frazier, a city councilor in the mega-suburb of Aurora, still seems to have some of that 'rising star' halo over his head. Still in his early 30s, it looks like he's going to undergo some more seasoning before going big again; he's running for Aurora mayor now, which probably precludes a '12 rematch with Perlmutter.
• NM-02: Democrats have suddenly attracted not one but two credible candidates to go against Rep. Steve Pearce (or this could be an open seat, if Pearce tries another ill-advised Senate run). One is definite: Martin Resindiz is the mayor of Sunland Park, a mostly-Latino suburb of El Paso, Texas. (The 2nd would be a great place to run a Hispanic candidate, as the 2010 census found this is now a Hispanic-majority district.) The other likely candidate is Nate Cote, a former state Rep. from the Las Cruces area. The article also mentions real estate developer Edgar Lopez as another less likely option for the Dems.
• NY-26: Never underestimate the power of undisciplined hordes of teabaggers to screw a sure thing up for the GOP, especially when compounded by New York's wacky election laws. The presence of Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-"Tea Party" indie Jack Davis has turned the coronation of GOP Assemblywoman Jane Corwin in New York's reddest district (R+6) into a 3-way scrum. The Democratic candidate, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, just rolled out an internal from GSG showing her trailing Corwin only 31-30, with Davis hanging in there at 26.
So, it's no coincidence that the national GOP and its allies are starting to sweat this race. Karl Rove-linked dark money group American Crossroads sounds likely to start advertising, and the NRCC and Tea Party Express are setting up pro-Corwin phonebanking. Corwin's campaign is also changing tacks, as its new TV spot attacks Davis rather than Hochul (hitting him for his brief sojourn in the Democratic Party). (Speaking of Corwin, here's an example of why you should always buy up every online permutation of your name... check out what you get when you go to janecorwin.org. This much slicker-than-usual act of political sabotage/satire seems to come from Ian Murphy, the blogger from the Buffalo Beast best known for punking Scott Walker but who's now the Green Party candidate in the race.)
• OR-01: Game Theory 101 time: despite being badly damaged, Democratic Rep. David Wu could actually win his primary by virtue of his being so badly damaged, because he seems to be attracting so many potential opponents that they'll all split the non-Wu vote and let him win with a plurality. I can't see today's newest possible entrant getting much traction, though; it's ex-Rep. Betsy Furse, Wu's predecessor who held the district from 1992-1998. Furse was barely able to hold the district back then (although it was redder than it is today), and then in 2006 she raised eyebrows by endorsing GOP Sen. Gordon Smith, erasing whatever credibility she had left. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is Wu's only announced primary challenger, but four or five other prominent Dems are also circling around Wu. (In case Wu needed any more bad press regarding his sinking ship, it was also announced a few days ago that a former Wu '10 campaign aide was arrested for stealing and forging checks from the campaign account.)
• WA-02: He's baaaaack... Republican Snohomish County Councilor John Koster will be making his third run against Rep. Rick Larsen. (He lost in 2000 when it was an open seat, and again last year in the state's closest House race.) If he couldn't get it done last year, I don't see it happening in a presidential year in this D+3 district. One interesting addendum: he also mentioned that he'd be willing to consider the Senate race against Maria Cantwell (presumably if no one bigger gets in), but prefers the 2nd, saying that's "where his heart is."
• WA-??: We kind of shrugged when we first heard rumors a few days ago that Dennis Kucinich, facing the redistricting elimination of his suburban Cleveland seat, had been inquiring behind the scenes about the possibilities of moving to the potentially friendlier confines of Washington state... but as the story grows, it's increasingly clear he's actually serious about this. He's talked to local Democratic leaders about the possible shape of available districts in '12. It may be a bit of a fool's errand, though, as Jim McDermott looks like he has no intention of vacating the one district that would be likely to have Kucinich, Seattle's WA-07. The newly created WA-10, and WA-01, likely to be left open by Jay Inslee for a gubernatorial run, are likely to be fairly blue, but will be suburban seats where Kucinich wouldn't be a good fit and where they'd probably prefer a local at any rate. (And don't expect local Dems to roll out the welcome wagon for Kucinich, if reactions from state party chair Dwight Pelz, quite the liberal firebrand himself, are any indication...)
As for the actual mechanics of doing so, Kucinich would be entitled to run so long as he moved to Washington at least 30 days before the June 12, 2012 filing deadline. If you're wondering about the contours of the as-yet-created WA-10, comments from insiders seem to suggest it'll have at least one center of gravity in dark-blue Olympia, currently part of WA-03, as they're talking up Olympia-based Denny Heck (who narrowly lost the WA-03 open seat last year) or former state Rep. Brendan Williams as possible candidates for that seat.
• WI recall: With the signatures in, now the question in Wisconsin turns to who actually runs in these state Senate recall elections. On the Dem side, here's another good get, as state Rep. Sandy Pasch signed on to run against Republican Sen. Alberta Darling. (Pasch's Assembly district takes up one-third of Darling's district.) There were actually two credible Dems interested in the run... former state Rep. Sheldon Wasserman, narrowly who lost the 2008 Senate election to Darling, was also angling for it but seems to have gotten elbowed aside for Pasch. By contrast, two Republican state Reps. passed on the chance to run against Democratic state Sen. Jim Holperin, probably the most vulernable of the recall-eligible Dems. Instead, that leaves it to Kim Simac, the founder of the Northwood Patriots tea party group and the organizer of the Holperin petition. Sensing an enthusiasm gap here?
• Nevada: We're getting our first look at the proposed Democratic map of Nevada's U.S. House districts, and it's a nice one: it's configured to be 3 solid Dem districts and 1 solid Republican district, quite a change from the current 2-1 GOP edge. However, this map is likely to be a negotiating position rather than the actual map; Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval isn't going to approve such a Dem-friendly map.
• Texas: Texas seems to be a ways away from any consensus on its U.S. House map (where they have a windfall of four new seats to divvy up, but where the Republican legislature may need to concede two of those seats to the Democrats thanks to massive Hispanic growth). However, it sounds like their map of the state House is coalescing: it advanced out of committee and then was tentatively approved by the full House. (The GOP controls both legislative chambers and the governorship, so the VRA is the only real impediment stopping them from an unmitigated gerrymandering frenzy.)
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