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Leading Off:

Election Night Wrapup: Democrats romped, as expected, in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear won a second term, and Dems carried all statewide races except agriculture commissioner (a Republican hold). The reverse was true in Mississippi, where GOP Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant was handily elected governor and Republicans retained every statewide post except attorney general (won by incumbent Jim Hood).

The good guys also won big on the three major ballot measures up last night: Ohio Issue 2 (repealing a bill that limited collective bargaining rights for public employees), Maine Question 1 (restoring same-day voter registration), and Mississippi Initiative 26 (turning back an amendment that would have defined personhood at the moment of fertilization). Not one of these three votes was even close, and the Ohio result in particular is a monstrous black eye for GOP Gov. John Kasich.

Democrats also held on to a crucial state Senate seat in Iowa, where Liz Mathis cruised to a double-digit win, ensuring the narrowly-divided chamber remains in Dem control. And two Republican state legislators were recalled: Sen. Russell Pearce in Arizona (who lost to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis), and Rep. Paul Scott in Michigan. (A special election will be held to replace Scott sometime next year.) In the OR-01 special primaries, Suzanne Bonamici cleaned up for the Dems and Rob Cornilles did the same for the GOP, as expected. They will face off on Jan. 31, 2012 for ex-Rep. David Wu's former seat.

The one big black mark appears to be the Virginia state Senate, where Democrats look to have lost two net seats to drop the chamber into a 20-20 deadlock. Though GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling would presumably break ties, some commentators are suggesting that a power-sharing agreement might be necessary.

Senate:

CA-Sen, CA-22: I knew this seemed totally fake. Just a day or two after pretending like he might run against Dem Sen. Dianne Feinstein, five-term GOP Rep. Devin Nunes now says he won't do any such thing. Nunes had run some $75,000 worth of ads attacking Feinstein, but only in his district. A statewide run would have been a ridiculous move for him, and now that he's had his fun, it seems like Nunes has decided to acknowledge that fact.

ND-Sen: Very good news for Team Blue: Former state AG Heidi Heitkamp just announced that she would in fact seek retiring Sen. Kent Conrad's seat. Heitkamp was originally thought to be looking at the governor's race this year, but last month, she surprised a lot of people by saying she was considering the Senate contest and would decide in 30 days. Now, right on time, she's jumped into the fray and will likely face freshman GOP Rep. Rick Berg next November. Dana Houle has a good writeup on Heitkamp's political career and her strengths as a candidate.

NE-Sen: If Democrats have any hope of holding on to Sen. Ben Nelson's Senate seat, we'll need a very screwed-up GOP primary. Fortunately, AG Jon Bruning, the nominal frontrunner, has stumbled badly over the last several months thanks to a number of unforced errors. And now we're getting another assist from the King of the Wingnuts, Sen. Jim DeMint, who is endorsing Treasurer Don Stenberg. DeMint's blessing will hopefully help anoint Stenberg as the One True Conservative—and help foment an ugly showdown with Bruning. Even if you have a hard time rooting for the likes of Nelson, you've got to be in favor of seeing the cat fud fly.

House:

FL-02: Bay County Democratic Party chair Alvin Peters just announced that he plans to challenge GOP freshman Steve Southerland next year. Peters lost a race for Panama City mayor earlier this year, 56-44.

MA-09, MA-06, MA-01: As expected, freshman Rep. Bill Keating has announced that he'd seek re-election in the proposed new 9th CD (map here), where he owns a summer home and which currently lacks an incumbent. That lets him avoid what would have been a wholly unnecessary primary battle with fellow Democrat Stephen Lynch (though before John Olver announced his retirement, plenty of progressives were hoping Lynch would become the all-Democratic delegation's lone redistricting victim). Keating may not have the race to himself, though, since this is, of course, an open seat. Possible candidates on the Dem side include New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang and Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter, while Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson could run for the GOP.

Meanwhile, former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo has confirmed he'll challenge Richie Neal in the Democratic primary in the new western Mass. 1st District. (Nuciforo had been eyeing a race against Olver.) And in the redrawn 6th in the state's northeastern corner, former Republican state Senate minority leader Richard Tisei says he will run against Rep. John Tierney. Note that the plan still needs to pass the legislature first, but no one expects it to get derailed. The current legislative session ends on Nov. 16, so look for a final resolution by then.

MN-01: State Rep. Steve Drazkowski says he won't challenge Dem Rep. Tim Walz and will back fellow Republican state Sen. Mike Parry instead.

NC-05: Wilkes County Democratic Party chair Treva Johnson says she's exploring a challenge to longtime GOP nutter Virginia Foxx. (The extra "x" is for extra crazy.)

SC-07: Huh, wow. An actual Democratic legislator says he plans to run for South Carolina's new 7th District, despite its decidedly red hue. Good on state Rep. Ted Vick, who is also a military veteran and a trained minister—which sounds like the kind of profile a Democrat needs to have a fighting chance in a seat like this.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Carroll "Tumpy" Campbell, who unsuccessfully ran in the GOP primary for the open 1st CD last year, says he's considering another bid in this district. Roll Call adds that state Rep. Phillip Lowe is still weighing the race, and a local news report says that Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice is looking at the contest, too.

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen.: The Daily News' Kenneth Lovett follows up on his story from the previous day and quotes some unnamed Democratic sources who say that primary challenges are possible for the four dissident members of the "Independent Democratic Conference" in the state Senate. The IDC is pledging not to support current party leadership if Dems retake the chamber next year, but Senate Democrats are deep in debt and probably can't afford to take them on. And publicly, at least one loyal Democrat, Sen. Eric Adams, is saying that Republicans need to be the party's first target.

Portland Mayor: The primary election is nearly half a year away (next May), so I'm not sure why this race is being polled already, but SurveyUSA (on behalf of KATU-TV) takes an early look. They're probably prompted by sudden rumors that Portland, OR police chief Mike Reese is interested in running, which would apparently upend this race. Without Reese, businesswoman Eileen Brady is at 23, former city commissioner Charlie Hales is at 19, and state Rep. Jefferson Smith is at 14. Add Reese, though, and he catapults to a small lead at 20, with Brady 19, Hales 13, and Smith 11. (Reese would apparently be a slightly more conservative alternative to the three progressives in the field—though conservative, by Portland standards, is a little different from national standards.) (David Jarman)

Redistricting Roundup:

NC Redistricting: This is really, really pathetic. Sure, small errors often happen in redistricting, when you're dealing with zillions of precincts. But this has to take the cake. In their zeal to gerrymander as aggressively as possible, North Carolina Republicans failed to assign almost half a million voters to legislative or congressional districts when they passed their maps earlier this year. That's because they insisted on splitting precincts to maximize their partisan gains. The legislature just passed some quick fixes, but now the maps need to be resubmitted to the Department of Justice for preclearance, and Democrats are also arguing that the new legislative plans constitute a re-redistricting—something barred by the state constitution. So we'll see how this all plays out in court.

TX Redistricting: Some great news: The panel of judges hearing Texas's preclearance suit in Washington, DC just denied the state's request for summary judgment that its legislative and congressional maps pass muster under the Voting Rights Act. Michael Li highlights the key portion of the court's brief order:

Having carefully considered the entire record and the parties’ arguments, the Court finds and concludes that the State of Texas used an improper standard or methodology to determine which districts afford minority voters the ability to elect their preferred candidates of choice and that there are material issues of fact in dispute that prevent this Court from entering declaratory judgment that the three redistricting plans meet the requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

This gives a green light to the court hearing the redistricting lawsuit in San Antonio to proceed with its efforts to put in place interim maps for the 2012 cycle. Permanent plans are still a long way off, but at least for next year, Democrats will have a much friendlier playing field than the GOP envisioned when the legislature passed its doomed plans earlier this year.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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