• AZ Redistricting: Hot damn! Late yesterday, Arizona's Supreme Court overturned GOP Gov. Jan Brewer's ouster of Colleen Mathis from the independent redistricting commission! (If you're new to this story, click here for the complete background.) This is a massively humiliating turn of events for Brewer—and an awesome win for the rule of law. It's also good news for Democrats (read on).
So what happens next? Well, simply put, the commission can get back to work. It published draft congressional and legislative maps last month, and since then, the commissioners have been hearing public feedback and have indicated that they plan to make changes to the maps in response. Once the revised maps are issued, they can then be finalized and put in place for next year's elections.
The congressional map in particular creates a very level playing field that is both fair and an improvement for Democrats from the existing district lines; assuming the restored commission doesn't alter things radically, that means a more competitive election environment for Team Blue in 2012. And while I wouldn't rule anything out, I just don't see how Brewer and her cronies can interfere any further at this point, short of impeaching the entire Supreme Court and then impeaching Mathis again (as andgarden darkly speculates).
Game, set, map.
• AZ-Sen: Businessman Wil Cardon formally launched his bid for the GOP nomination on Tuesday, but one thing Roll Call's brief writeup told me that I hadn't previously realized is that Cardon loaned his campaign over $800K in the third quarter. Reid Wilson tweeted a month ago that the wealthy Cardon hadn't "given his own money yet," but I guess that didn't include loans. Anyhow, this is interesting because Cardon started off in August by saying he'd self-fund, then sort of backed away from that pledge a few weeks later. But I guess he realized he needed a shot in the arm if he's to have a chance of beating Rep. Jeff Flake in the Republican primary.
• FL-Sen: I'm gonna miss having an excuse to link to pics of Sofia Vergara, but whatcha gonna do? The Modern Family actress's boyfriend, Nick Loeb, says he won't run in the Republican primary for Senate, after considering the race since January. Loeb doesn't have much of a track record himself, but he comes from a politically pedigreed family and may run for state Senate instead.
Meanwhile, Republican pollster Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research finds Dem Sen. Bill Nelson leading GOP Rep. Connie Mack by 45-39 in a new poll; that's wider margin than the two-point gap Quinnipiac saw last week. As for why this poll was undertaken, Ryan Steusloff of WPA informs me via email: "We did them on our own behalf. We added the questions on to a survey we had in the field for another client."
• MA-Sen: The Hotline says Elizabeth Warren is spending some real scrilla on her inaugural ad buy: $465,000, mostly in Boston and a little bit in Springfield. That compares with $238K for the Crossroads spot; the group initially claimed they were shelling out $600K but never contradicted Hotline's report of the much smaller amount.
• MI-Sen: Republican Clark Durant has been getting a ton of crap for his remarks last week that the wealth gap in this country "should be wider." Now he's predictably dancing away from those comments, with some ridiculous claims that he was misinterpreted. Good luck with that.
• CA-25: This is unexpected. Everyone's been expecting GOP Rep. Elton Gallegly to either run in the redrawn 26th CD or hang up his spurs once and for all. But now another veteran Republican congressman, Buck McKeon, says he thinks Gallegly plans to challenge him in the new 25th, which is actually where Gallegly's home now is. But for his part, Gallegly isn't saying anything more than "stay tuned."
• MD-04: Rep. Donna Edwards is touting a new internal poll from Lake Research showing her with a big lead in the Democratic primary. She takes 52% to 16% for former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and just 3% for Anne Arundel County Councilman Jamie Benoit. Ivey says he has his own poll in the field, so we'll see if he releases that any time soon. The primary is on April 3.
• ND-AL: Republican Shane Goettle just resigned as state director for Sen. John Hoeven and says he plans to explore a bid for the state's open at-large House seat. If he gets in (and it sounds like he will—why quit your job first?), he'd be the fourth candidate to enter the GOP primary.
• NY-24: Hmm. In a piece on various possible House retirements, Reid Wilson very briefly mentions that freshman GOP Rep. Richard Hanna could conceivably not seek another term due to health problems, especially if he's drawn into a district with Dem Bill Owens. Darth Jeff reminds us that in February, Hanna, age 60, had surgery to repair a heart valve, though a spokesman at the time said he was expected to make a complete recovery. However, his staff declined to release any details about the operation, including whether it was an open-heart procedure.
• FL-02: This panhandle district, occupied by Blue Dog Allen Boyd for many years until he got crushed in 2010's red storm, doesn't seem like the kind of place that's particularly welcoming to Democrats anymore, but that isn't stopping a whole boatload from lining up to challenge GOP freshman Steve Southerland. The latest is state Rep. Leonard Bembry, who joins Bay County Democratic Party chair Alvin Peters and activist Jay Liles in the race. What's more, former state Sen. Al Lawton, who very nearly beat Boyd in last year's primary, also says he is "likely" (in the article's words) to run again. And to make things even more complicated, former Republican state Sen. Nancy Argenziano is running as an independent; she had wanted to run as a Democrat, but state law precluded her from doing so.
• PA-04 (?): GOP state Rep. Jim Christiana said in September that he'd wait until after redistricting to decide whether to take on Dem Rep. Jason Altmire. I suppose he's still in something of a holding pattern, since he just announced the creation of an exploratory committee but hasn't fully committed to a run yet.
• TN-04: Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart says he'll take on GOP freshman Scott DesJarlais next year—and on paper at least, you always have to figure that a sitting state senator is a pretty good get. Regardless of what happens in redistricting, though, this is likely to remain a very tough seat for Team Blue, though DesJarlais may not wind up being the Republican nominee. State Sen. Bill Ketron, who is a big macher on the redistricting committee, has every intention of moving his home base of Rutherford County into the 4th so that he can stage what will be a serious challenge to DesJarlais in the GOP primary. Ketron would make a formidable opponent in the general, but Stewart can at least root for a clearance sale on cat fud.
• CA-Pres: PPP has some California presidential numbers out, and they have Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney by a 57-36 spread (all the other gaps are even larger). This compares to a SurveyUSA poll from last week which had Obama up just 11 on Romney (50-39). Given that Obama won the state by 24 points in 2008, that would represent a 13-point swing southward if SUSA's numbers are accurate, a swing that I don't think we've seen in other states or other polls.
• VA-LG, VA-11: The Washington Post has a lengthy piece looking at ton of possible successors to GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who long ago made clear that he'd run for governor in 2013. The LG job has taken on increased importance since, as you know, the Virginia state Senate is now evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and the Lt. Gov. gets to break ties. One potential Republican name stands out in the piece: businessman Keith Fimian, who lost back-to-back races against Gerry Connolly in the 11th CD in 2008 and 2010. Right after the election, Fimian sounded like he wanted to try once more, but perhaps he now realizes that if he couldn't beat Connolly last year, it's probably never going to happen.
• Polltopia: Public Policy polling has a pretty funny post out with numbers on the most favorably-viewed person in America. We often talk about "Republican Jesus," but it turns out that regular Jesus is actually only the second-most popular person in the country. (However, among Republicans, Jesus clocks in with a 96-0 favorability rating. Not bad!) Click the link to find out who's number 1… the answer certainly surprised me (in a good way)!
• PPP (PDF): Speaking of our friends at PPP, they're hiring! Specifically, they are looking for an issue polling specialist. Click the link for the job posting.
• Voting: All of a sudden, it seems that nobody likes ranked-choice voting anymore. The system, used in California's Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro, is apparently on the outs with a lot of politicos and activists, and it sees that there's a decent chance San Fran will repeal the system, possibly via the ballot box, next year. It's not entirely clear what the grumbling is about, though: Some people are unhappy that ranked-choice voting didn't lead to all sorts of imagined high-minded outcomes (no more negative campaigning! no more special interest money!), while others simply complain that the method is too complicated. But I have a feeling that former Common Cause official Charles Marsteller gets at the real reason:
"It's hard to estimate outcomes with ranked-choice voting," Marsteller said. "You don't know if the polls are right. The political consultants don't like it."
• MA Redistricting: Democratic lawmakers in the Mass. state Senate overcame a temporary procedural blocking maneuver by own of their own to pass the state's new redistricting map on Wednesday, without any amendments to the version previously okayed by the House. The legislation now goes to Dem Gov. Deval Patrick for his signature.