• FL-22: Did you notice that GOP freshman Allen West managed to spend an amazing $1.4 million in the third quarter? West has long been notorious for raising money via direct mail, a scammy and expensive method which typically leads both to high receipts and expenditures. But last year, he managed to slow this absurd burn rate a bit, at least for one quarter. Now, though, he's back to his old ways, spending heavily on firms with mostly unfamiliar names like Vertis Communications, Mail America Communications, and Response America. In the past, he'd worked with the notorious BMW Direct/Base Connect, but I guess these days he's become more fickle. Regardless of who's making a mint off him, the fact that West's churning and burning like this is only a good sign for his opponents.
• NE-Sen: Aw, seriously? Ben Nelson hasn't made up his mind about whether he's seeking a third term yet? I didn't even realize this was still a subject for discussion, especially considering that the DSCC has already spent $800K on ads on his behalf. What's more, back in April, DSCC chair Patty Murray said (in Dave Catanese's phrasing) that "she was confident all of the remaining incumbents were running for reelection." Of course, Herb Kohl bailed a month later, but still, this is awfully late to be playing this sort of game. Now, I know it's easy to have mixed feelings about Nelson—he's a sucky Democrat, and his chances of winning next year aren't particularly good. But I can't imagine any Nebraska Dem has better odds, and if he doesn't run, that makes retaining the Senate even less likely. Of course, he pulled this Hamlet act back in 2006 as well, and Chuck Schumer supposedly had to coax him into running again, so it's not like being a pain-in-the-ass is anything new for Nelson.
• OH-Sen: Ah, damn. Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin just quietly dropped his Senate bid, filing a notice of termination (PDF) with the FEC rather than a standard fundraising report. While Coughlin had little chance of capturing the GOP nomination, I had hopes that he'd cause problems for state Treasurer Josh Mandel, since Coughlin had anointed himself as the "true conservative" in the race. But he must have given up the ghost some time ago, because he only took in $10K in the third quarter. Oh well.
• OH-Sen: For as long as he remains active in politics, 2010 OH-09 GOP candidate Rich Iott will always provide good fodder for headlines:
Nazi reenactor gave Mandel $1,000
• HI-Gov: After a long year of watching John Kasich and Rick Scott duke it out for the title of "least popular governor in America," the newest contender is… Democratic Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie? Yes, says PPP, who finds his approval rating dropping from 48-41 in March all the way to 30-56 today. Tom thinks Abercrombie's fall might be making Linda Lingle look good by comparison, but I'm really more curious to know why Abercrombie's doing so poorly in the first place. Kasich and Scott have been pursuing divisive policies in swing states, while Hawaii of course is solidly blue. So what gives?
• LA-Gov/LG/SoS: On Saturday, GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal was swept to re-election with 66% of the vote. Though nominally a (jungle) primary, Jindal doesn't have to face a second round in November because he cleared the 50% mark. Meanwhile, in the Lt. Gov. race, incumbent Jay Dardenne held off Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, but by a closer-than-expected 53-47 margin. And in the Secretary of State contest, SoS Tom Schedler looks to have held off House Speaker Jim Tucker by an exceptionally close 50.5-49.5 spread.
• MO-Gov: Alpha Packaging CEO Dave Spence, whose name first surfaced late last week, confirms he's interested in running for governor if Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder decides not to. Spence calls Kinder a "friend" and says they've spoken "several times by phone," but that he doesn't know what Kinder's plans are. For more background on Spence, one word: plastics. ("Our capabilities include superior-quality injection and injection stretch blow molding, as well as extrusion blow molding.")
• NH-Gov: Former Dem state Sen. Maggie Hassan, whose interest in running for governor has been well-established for some time, will reportedly launch her campaign today.
• VA-Gov: I've probably told this story before, but as wise man once said to me, "I'd rather get new friends that new stories." Anyhow, many, many years ago, a cousin of mine came home from a job interview one day and excitedly told my father that the company said they'd call him back in December. My father's response: "They didn't tell you which December."
Of course, my dad was right (my cousin was still waiting for that call when he passed away…), and now this is the dodge that AG Ken Cuccinelli is trying to use, too. Since getting elected in 2009, Cuccinelli has been locked in an awkward dance with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who likes to act as though he's the GOP heir apparent to the governor's mansion. Cuccinelli had been careful not to dispel Bolling's illusions, lest he foment an early start to open hostilities—until last week, when he told a high school student that there's a "good chance" he'll run for the statehouse. A spokesman tried to clarify, saying his boss didn't specify when he might run… but yeah, sure, whatever. Anyhow, the linked article has an interesting run-down on Virginia attorneys general who have tried to move up. Impressive stat: 10 of the last 11 before Cuccinelli have run for governor, and since 1958, five have won.
• AZ-04: Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says he may seek the GOP nod for the proposed new 4th CD, a huge district stretching from the center of Arizona to its western border—and which doesn't quite have an incumbent at the moment (though Rep. Paul Gosar could run there). Babeu's camp says he won't decide until next year, though.
• GA-10: Sounds a bit like a Some Dude, but businessman and Army vet Stephen Simpson just announced a challenge to Rep. Paul Broun in the Republican primary. Former GOP Rep. Mac Collins is also thinking about a run.
• IL-12, IL-13: Over the weekend, Jason Plummer, the 2010 Republican Lt. Gov. nominee, officially entered the race in the 12th CD, which retiring Dem Rep. Jerry Costello is leaving open. Plummer's name first came up as a possible contender in September, but earlier this month, he said he was "leaning toward" a run in the 13th CD instead. I thought that made no sense, because GOP Rep. Tim Johnson is already running there, and evidently, Plummer agreed.
• MD-04: Anne Arundel County Councilman Jamie Benoit says he is "not ruling out a run" in the Democratic primary against Rep. Donna Edwards, whose apparent fear of exactly this sort of development led her to (unsuccessfully) oppose the state's new redistricting map. Benoit, however, is white, and the district is still majority black (meaning the Democratic electorate is even more so). The linked report in Anne Arundel Politics also suggests that former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey could also run; given that both Ivey (who is black) and Edwards are from PG, they could conceivably split the vote. However, Ivey is at nothing more than the "rumored" stage—he considered a run last cycle but declined.
• MD-06: Though he hasn't actually announced his candidacy for the redrawn 6th CD yet, Dem state Sen. Rob Garagiola is already rolling out endorsements from a bunch of fellow legislators. I thought this was an interesting side-note from the WaPo's Ben Pershing:
It’s not clear whether any other high-profile Democrats will enter the race. With the help of a Garagiola ally, state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), the 6th District was drawn in such a way that it excludes the households of many prominent Montgomery Democrats who might be interested in a congressional run.
Asked this month whether he would consider a bid, former Montgomery county executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), a Rockville resident, said: “I don’t live in the district.” Duncan did not respond to subsequent phone calls seeking further comment.
Relatedly, the Baltimore Sun says that the new 6th is now a 56% Obama district (all the way up from 40%).
• MN-06: Teacher and military vet Mike Starr says he may run against Michele Bachmann and will decide in the next couple of weeks. Starr narrowly lost a race against GOP state Sen. Mike Jungbauer in 2006, by a 51-49 margin.
• OR-01: Dem state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici has a new ad out, a soft spot featuring mostly older folks talking into the camera about how they think she'll protect Social Security and Medicare:• SD-AL: Tim Johnson staffer Matt Varilek, whose name first emerged as a possible challenger to GOP freshman Kristi Noem back in May, says he doesn't "have a timetable" for getting into the race but he's "still interested." Another Democrat, Minehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth, has been in the race for a while, but he raised just $8K in the third quarter. Noem raised $285K and has an impressive $790K on hand.
• OH SB5: We Are Ohio is out with two new ads opposing the anti-collective bargaining bill SB5, on the ballot next month as Issue 2. Both focus on the response times for first responders, arguing that SB5 would prohibit negotiations over appropriate staffing levels. The stronger spot, in my view, is at the first link & below. (You can watch the other one here.)• WA-St. Sen.: Here's a sad story: 41-year-old Democratic state Sen. Scott White (both a freshman and majority whip, which tells you what you need to know about his rapidly-rising-star status) unexpectedly died last Friday of a previously undiagnosed heart condition. He leaves behind children ages 5 and 3. (Vacant legislative seats in Washington are filled until the next general election by appointment rather than special election, and at any rate, the north Seattle-based 46th went 83% for Obama in 2008.) (David Jarman)
• Caucuses: An interesting piece from Politico on how both the House and Senate Tea Party Caucuses have turned out to be total busts.
• Fundraising: In case you haven't seen it yet, we just published our massive third quarter House fundraising chart, with numbers for over 450 campaigns. And f you're looking for Senate stats, Roll Call has a good chart as well.
• WI Redistricting: I find this kind of redistricting story very interesting. Wisconsin, like a number of other states, has staggered, four-year state Senate terms: That is to say, half the seats in the chamber are up every two years. This causes problems during redistricting because map-makers are at risk of moving people from districts which have their next election in 2012 to those which aren't up until 2014, something which courts tend to view as a form of disfranchisement. Indeed, in a ruling late last week,
the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals a three-judge panel of the Eastern District of Wisconsin strongly suggested that it thinks Wisconsin Republicans have done exactly this, by shifting some 300,000 voters into seats which won't hold new elections for another three years. A similar case thirty years ago found that legislative maps which unnecessarily moved 174K voters constituted a constitutional violation.
Of course, the GOP engaged in such radical remapping in order to screw Democrats, so if they're forced to go back to the drawing board (or if a court does it for them), that could have some very salutary effects on Dem chances of retaking the Senate in 2012. On a related note, it now sounds like Republicans are thinking about passing new legislation to move up the effective date of the district lines so that they'd be used for any recalls this year. (After the Government Accountability Board ruled that the old lines govern, it sounded like the GOP wasn't interested in pursuing a legislative over-ride.) But if they're forced to scale back the aggressiveness of the new map, then perhaps changing its effective date won't be a priority.
By the way, if this issue sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because some people have raised similar concerns about California's new upper-chamber map. There, though, the issue hasn't arisen because of aggressive partisan gerrymandering but rather from a nonsensical provision in the law creating the state's new redistricting commission which mandates automatic numbering of new districts from north to south. (It's also why the congressional district numbers are such a chaotic mess.)