• NJ-Sen: For the fourth time in three years, John Crowley has gotten close to seeking statewide office, only to bail at the last moment. He was talked up extensively in 2009 for a possible gubernatorial run, and in 2008, he almost decided to run against Sen. Frank Lautenberg — twice. Now the Republican biotech exec has decided he wants no part of a race against Sen. Bob Menendez. What's particularly odd about this latest scene in Crowley's Hamlet act is the fact that he left his post as chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics in April, which augured toward a run — but now he's going to go back to his old jobs at the company.
• OH-Sen: Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has been spending a lot of time pretending like he's not running for Senate, picked up his second big endorsement from a major conservative interest in recent days: The Club for Growth announced they're backing him, following Jim DeMint's earlier move.
• TX-Sen: GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who's taken his sweet time (and can afford to) about announcing a run for higher office, looks like he might be finally getting ready to take the plunge. In an email to supporters, Dewhurst wrote that after the legislative session, "we will have exciting news to share with you about what we will do next." The special session ended yesterday, so presumably he plans to say something soon.
• WI-Sen: Republican freshman Ron Johnson has been reeeeal cute about this whole "deferred compensation" scheme he rigged up. RoJo spent $9 million of his own money in his successful Senate race last year… and then got a $10 million paycheck from his former plastics company, Pacur, just before getting sworn in earlier this year. Pressed on the odd timing and similar amounts by TPM, Johnson refused to give an answer. If it turns out that this arrangement was just a charade to make Johnson's bank account whole, it could constitute an illegal corporate donation. I suspect Johnson can stonewall this one into oblivion, given how toothless Congressional ethics investigations tend to be, but the amounts here are so eye-popping that maybe there's hope.
• FL-Gov: Pollster, pollster, when you call — whose the suckiest one of all? Why, Rick Scott, of course! PPP shows him moving out of a tie with John Kasich and into first place all by himself as the most unpopular governor in these United States. Not only is his 33-59 job approval rating atrocious, but he'd get absolutely splattered in a rematch against Alex Sink (57-35) and similarly obliterated by Charlie Crist hypothetically running as a Democrat (56-34). Incidentally, voters think Charlie should fully come out as a Dem by a 43-26 margin.
• NJ-Gov: A new Bloomberg poll (possibly their first-ever in the state?) shows the Great Joisey Hope, Chris Christie, with a crummy 44-51 job approval rating.
• NY-Gov, NY-Sen: Democrats Andrew Cuomo and Kirsten Gillibrand match their highest-ever job approval ratings in Quinnipiac's latest: 64-19 for the governor and 54-22 for the senator.
• VA-Gov: Another Quinnipiac poll, and this one in a brand-new state for the outfit. For the very first time, Quinnipiac is testing the waters in Virginia, and finds that GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell sports an impressive 55-26 job approval rating. But as longtime Swingnut DCCylone points out, Quinnipiac's crosstabs show black voters approving of McDonnell by a hard-to-fathom 50-25 margin. PPP, by contrast, had it at 31-48 among blacks (PDF).
• PA-Gov, Philly Mayor: Wealthy healthcare exec Tom Knox said he won't challenge Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter as an independent this year, but is interested in running for governor in 2014.
• WV-Gov: Acting Dem Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin outraised Republican Bill Maloney in the most recent reporting period, $180K to $74K. However, the wealthy Maloney also loaned his campaign $150K (on top of $500K he loaned himself in the primary), leaving him with $88K cash-on-hand to Tomblin's $29K.
• FL-25: Democrat Annette Taddeo will reportedly announce a run against ethically dubious freshman GOPer David Rivera some time "in the next 30 to 60 days," according to Dave Catanese. Taddeo ran against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the 18th CD back in 2008; while she lost by a sizable margin (16 points), she raised well ($1.2 million), despite being undermined by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (then a top DCCC official in charge of the Red to Blue program).
• CA-37: Dem Rep. Laura Richardson has long had a large share of ethical troubles, and the new draft maps put a big squeeze on her in redistricting, with primaries looming wherever she runs. So maybe she won't: CREW has published new documents which show Richardson forcing her congressional staffers to do political work on her behalf, about as big a no-no as you can come up with on Capitol Hill. I have to wonder what planet Richardson was residing on when she required her employees to attend a fundraiser on her behalf.
• IL-16: Winnebago County Board member Frank Gambino says he's interested in running for Congress — and would apparently run in a GOP primary against veteran Rep. Don Manzullo to do so. Before you write this off as a hopeless bid, know that Gambino defeated Tim Simms in a primary for his current post, who was a former state rep and state senator.
• NC-11: Dem Rep. Heath Shuler, a prime Republican target in redistricting, is reportedly considering a job as athletic director for his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, instead of seeking re-election. Shuler of course was a star quarterback for the Vols in the early `90s.
• NV-02: The NRCC is out with an ad in the special election, which I guess has to mean they're concerned about their chances of holding the seat. But I think it's a pretty good spot, hitting Treasurer Kate Marshall on an issue we'll see a lot of demagoguery about this cycle: the debt limit. Non-insane, responsible people who don't want to induce an economic meltdown obviously know that the debt ceiling has to be raised, but attacking high spending and the scary-sounding $14 trillion national debt is an easy move for nihilistic Republicans to make. For good measure, the NRCC throws in some China fear-mongering in at the end, too. No word on the size of the buy.
• NY-09: Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich, who is probably the GOP's preferred candidate in the special election, says he's "50-50 right now" as to whether he wants to seek the seat, but the rest of his comments sound decidedly more hesitant (click through for them). Ulrich would have a free shot at this race, since his council seat isn't up until 2013.
• NY-25: Onondaga County legislator Tom Buckel, who had been considering a run, says he won't seek the Democratic nomination to take on freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle. Meanwhile, the guy Buerkle beat last year, Dan Maffei, just joined a lobbying firm… but swears he won't do any lobbying and says he's still interested in seeking his old seat back. In prior statements, Maffei sounded like he was leaning toward a run, and is now saying that he'll decide "this summer."
• OK-02: Yesterday morning, ex-Rep. Brad Carson emailed me to let me know that his plans have changed and he will not be seeking his old seat back in the wake of Dan Boren's retirement. Fortunately, Democrats have a strong bench here despite the red hue of the district, and there are several other possible candidates, including ex-state Sen. Ken Corn (who previously said he's "very likely" to run) and state Rep. Ben Sherrer. The Hotline also mentions state Sen. Josh Breechen as a possible GOP candidate.
• OR-01: It's good news… for David Wu! No, seriously. The embattled Democratic congressman, facing a stiff primary challenge from Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, just got a lifeline from Rep. Brad Witt, who now looks very likely to join the fray. This makes it much more likely that Wu, in the style of Indiana Rep. Dan Burton, will survive his primary thanks to a split field. Polling by Avakian (PDF) suggests that Wu could score around 40% and has a floor of about 30 — good enough to pull a Burton.
• IN-SoS: Indiana's Recount Commission rejected a complaint that Charlie White, the Republican Secretary of State, should be removed from office pending a trial later this summer for voter fraud. The decision can be appealed, however, and if White loses in court, he'd automatically have to resign.
• Michigan: It's about to get ugly out there. Michigan's Republican-led state Senate approved the House's legislative and congressional redistricting plans without any changes, sending the maps on to GOP Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. At least all the Democrats in the Senate voted against the federal map (as did one Republican, interestingly), but three Dems pathetically voted in favor of the legislative plans.
• South Carolina: Wow, things have gone seriously haywire in the Palmetto State. As Gina Smith of the Rock Hill Herald puts it: "A coalition of rebel Republicans and minority party Democrats in the state Senate approved a surprise redistricting plan Tuesday that creates a new 7th District that is centered in Beaufort County, running from Williamsburg to Jasper counties." This map (warning: large PDF) is completely different from the plan (see it here) recently passed by the state House, which, like the Senate, is also in Republican hands.
The Senate map is pretty clearly just a stalling tactic for Democrats, since it doesn't actually accomplish their aim of creating a second black-majority seat (or even come close). But if they can run out the clock, Dems can force this directly to court, which seems preferable to being forced to try overturning a Republican-passed gerrymander on VRA grounds. Given the remarkable collapse in Republican discipline here, that could well happen. Yet again, the redistricting process proves itself to be utterly bizarro!