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Leading Off:

AZ Redistricting: Colleen Mathis is tanned, rested, and ready—and she's getting back to working heading up the independent redistricting commission. Contrary to Republicans' paranoid fears that she might rush through the maps that the IRC first proposed in early October, Mathis said she wants to complete the process by Christmas, which means she's serious about responding to the feedback the commission's received.

But she may not have the chance. Right after the state Supreme Court reinstated Mathis, a spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer started suggesting that his boss could seek to remove her a second time. Now Howard Fischer of the East Valley Tribune has a more detailed report about what Brewer and her minions are up to. Aside from re-impeachment, Brewer is reportedly considering a request to the high court "for a restraining order to block the commission from giving final approval to its draft maps." Some legislators are also proposing to put a measure on the ballot to repeal the IRC "in the next few months," which if successful would theoretically allow lawmakers to handle redistricting themselves.

Meanwhile, the state attorney general's case against the commission for alleged violations of the open meetings law is still ongoing. (It's now being handled by a local prosecutor after AG Tom Horne was removed.) At issue is whether the law even applies to the IRC, something the judge hearing the matter has yet to rule on. Even if he says yes, and even if he finds that the law was broken, it's not clear what kind of punishment or penalty would be appropriate.

Senate:

AZ-Sen: The hoppers at Magellan have a new poll out of the Republican primary, and as you'd expect, Rep. Jeff Flake crushes, with 52%. Wealthy businessman Wil Cardon (whose name they misspell) has just 4% and a host of Some Dudes have even less. The primary is not until Aug. 28.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, I'd thought the field was already pretty crowded, what with both former party chair Don Bivens and heavily-recruited former Surgeon General Richard Carmona now in the race. But Rev. Warren Stewart, a leader of the drive in the `80s & `90s to enact a state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, says he's thinking about joining the primary.

IN-Sen: Here's one thing which makes me feel that the Republican primary battle between Sen. Dick Lugar and Treasurer Richard Mourdock is closer than most tradmed accounts typically suggest: Lugar has kept up a steady stream of attacks on Mourdock, as evidenced by a recent spate of press releases, including one that called him "clueless." Now, maybe Lugar is just being smart and trying to define his opponent before the reverse can happen, but the fact that he feels the need to do so is meaningful in and of itself.

MI-Sen: Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow holds a 48-42 lead over Republican ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra in EPIC-MRA's newest survey, a slight uptick for the Incredible Hoek from August's 47-38 margin. It's also the first time EPIC's tested Stabenow against Hoekstra's chief primary challenge, Christian private schools entrepreneur Clark Durant. Stabenow leads that matchup 51-31, but as you'd expect, Durant has bupkes for name rec.

NY-Sen: Fred Dicker's one-man campaign to get 2010 Republican comptroller candidate Harry Wilson to run for Senate continues apace. The New York Post columnist now has a Wilson spokesman on record saying that his boss is giving a potential bid "serious consideration." Yeah, we'll see.

WI-Sen: I guess Tommy Thompson was starting to feel like a dolt for saying he'd delay his formal entry into the race until next spring, because the preternaturally reluctant former governor just moved up his launch date to December 1. So whaddya think? Will he actually go through with it and join the GOP primary field?

WI-Sen, WI-Gov: Tim Sullivan, the recently retired CEO of mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International, had previously suggested that he might run for Wisconsin's open Senate seat as an independent. Now he's saying any such run—or a possible gubernatorial bid in a potential recall election—is unlikely, "unless the wheels fall off the political process."

Gubernatorial:

AL-Gov: It's never too early: Craig Ford, the Democrats' Minority Leader in the Alabama state House, says he's thinking about a run for governor in 2014. He's from a politically well-connected family and claims polling he's done "looks good."

MO-Gov: Even with Peter Kinder dropping back down to run for a third term as LG, the Republican gubernatorial race could still prove quite entertaining. Dave Catanese reports (according to nameless GOP sources) that state Auditor Tom Schweich is considering a bid; he'd face plastics magnate Dave Spence in the primary. Schweich was elected to his current office last year, ousting then-incumbent Susan Montee in 2010's red tsunami by a 51-46 margin and proving himself to be an adept fundraiser.

House:

CO-03, -04, -06: Colorado's AFL-CIO endorsed three Democratic House challengers late last week: Sal Pace in the 3rd, Brandon Shaffer in the 4th, and Joe Miklosi in the 6th. It's a strong get for Miklosi in particular, since as you know other Democrats are thought to be eyeing the race as well (now that the 6th has been redrawn to be considerably more Dem-friendly).

MI-05: If you've been hearing weird stories about allegations of sexual abuse against retiring Dem Rep. Dale Kildee, read this post by Slate's Dave Weigel. In a nutshell, the woman who first "reported" the story is "a self-published author whose claim to fame was a book full of unsubstantiated claims, with a chapter all about 'the Rockefeller influence' in the plot against Jack Abramoff."

NJ-03: PolitickerNJ says that physician Thomas Sacks-Wilner is reportedly considering a run against GOP freshman Jon Runyan. Sounds like he may have some cash, as he's donated at least $13,800 to Democrats over the last few years, but it's always tricky to tell with doctors, and in any event, that's certainly not Wall Street-level money.

NY-01: The Suffolk County Democratic Party has a survey out (pollster unknown) which shows Dem Rep. Tim Bishop with a 58-31 favorability rating, while 2010 opponent Randy Altschuler (who is seeking a rematch) stands at 31-27. No head-to-heads were released.

UT-02: GOP state Rep. Dave Clark says he plans to run for Congress in the 2nd District, but we still don't know if Dem Rep. Jim Matheson will seek re-election here, in another district, or run for governor.

WA-03: With Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart having taken himself out of the running for the Democratic nod to challenge GOP freshman Jamie Herrera Beutler, attention is shifting back toward first-term Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, who suggested over the summer that he might enter the race. The problem, as we've noted before, is that Leavitt has steadfastly refused to identify as a member of either party, but his only shot against Herrera Beutler would be as a Democrat. To that end, Andrea Damewood of the Vancouver Columbian takes an in-depth look at Leavitt's electoral history and record as mayor and assess how he might fare if he joined Team Blue. He originally won office in 2009 by defeating longtime Democratic Mayor Royce Pollard, and it sounds like he's irked quite a few local Dems during his short tenure since then, so a transition may not be so smooth.

Other Races:

MI Recall: In retaliation for the Michigan Education Association's successful recall of GOP state Rep. Paul Scott earlier this month, Republicans had planned to launch recall efforts of their own against six Democratic legislators. But now, they've abruptly abandoned those plans, and it's not clear why. On the one hand, it's possible that signature-gathering simply wasn't going well (after 2010, Democrats were reduced to their bluest core of seats). On the other, it could be that Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who stated his personal opposition to the recall efforts, has reached some sort of accommodation with Democrats, perhaps a legislative deal touching on other issues. We probably won't know for sure, but either way, Dems have dodged a bullet.

Redistricting Roundup:

MA Redistricting: It's official: Redistricting is complete in Massachusetts. Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick signed the state's new congressional map into law on Monday.

MN Redistricting: On Friday, the parties to Minnesota's redistricting lawsuit filed proposed maps with the special panel hearing the case. Republicans simply submitted the same plan the GOP-held legislature passed earlier this year (which was vetoed by Dem Gov. Mark Dayton). Democrats, however, offered an interesting new map, which you can see below:

MN Democratic redistricting proposal
TonyAngelo runs the numbers on all of the new districts and concludes that "there's a lot for Democrats to like in this map." One Dem, however, disagrees (in extreme fashion). From Rep. Betty McCollum's chief of staff:
"The DFL Chair and his high-paid lawyers have proposed a congressional map to the redistricting panel that is hyper-partisan and bizarre. Their plan ignores the judge's redistricting criteria and it insults established communities of interest, particularly in the Twin Cities East Metro. Congresswoman McCollum has faith in the judges on the panel to draw fair political boundaries that will serve the best interests of all Minnesotans."

What is McCollum so upset about? Michele Bachmann was drawn into her district! But she has nothing to fear. As Tony points out, the proposed 4th CD is still a 62% Obama district, little changed from its current 64%. It's therefore exceedingly unlikely that Bachmann would want to run in this district, and would probably prefer the revised 6th (where she'd probably face a primary against Chip Cravaack, whose home was also drawn into this seat). Since McCollum is already raising money off the specter of a Bachmann matchup that almost certainly won't ever happen, perhaps her kvetching is based on a fear of a primary challenge.

For what it's worth, another Dem congressman, Collin Peterson, is also complaining that the map is "blatantly partisan," but he's saying the exact same thing about the GOP plan, so obviously he's just trying to burnish his grating bi/non-partisan cred. In any event, commenters seem to think that it's unlikely the court would just adopt this map straight out, but it's good to see Democrats pushing a smart plan. (Oh, and another advantage of this map: It would make Republican Erik Paulsen's 3rd District several points bluer.)

P.S. If you want to see all of the parties' filings with the court, including detail maps of the Twin Cities area, click here. Scroll down to the very last box, titled "Parties' Proposed Redistricting Plans." The Dem plan is "Martin," GOP is "Huppert," and "Britton" is a non-party to the case.

NY Redistricting: Who knows if it will gain any traction, but Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is proposing to create an eight-member redistricting panel, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, made up entirely of non-legislators. This move is undoubtedly aimed at placating Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has long insisted that the redistricting process be "independent." But I can't imagine for a moment that the fix wouldn't still be in, just because the mapmakers wouldn't be members of the legislature: A deadlock would lead to a court-drawn map, which obviously is the last thing Silver wants (and even more to the point, GOP Senate leader Dean Skelos wants that even less). So I'm skeptical, but maybe this is just "independent" enough for Cuomo to sign on, and as long as the puppet-masters install their paisans on the commission, everyone goes home happy.

Meanwhile, the existing redistricting panel, known as LATFOR, says not to expect any maps until January. The status of prisoners is also a big mess, since LATFOR claims it has no "last known address" for some 20,000 of its 58,000 inmates. The state's corrections department disputes this, claiming it has "detailed" records, so it's impossible to say where the confusion lies. All this matters because under a new law, prisoners must be counted as residents of their home towns rather than their places of incarceration.

VA Redistricting: Wow, this is some chutzpah! Tommy Norment, the GOP's incoming state Senate Majority Leader, says that with his party soon to be back in charge, he wants to revisit the matter of redistricting and re-do the new Senate map that was just passed into law earlier this year. This is exactly the kind of thing Republicans never hesitate to do, and ordinarily I'd be concerned that this would be just the first in a series of attempted re-redistrictings. But there actually aren't a whole lot of states where Democrats only narrowly stand in the way of such efforts. (Perhaps Minnesota, if the GOP can hold the lege and regain the governor's mansion in 2014?)

And it's actually still not clear exactly how much power Republicans will have in the Virginia Senate. While I link to the Washington Times only with extreme reluctance, this report about a new Democratic lawsuit over redistricting is actually pretty good. Plaintiffs (who are not affiliated with the Democratic Party) are formally asking the courts to draw Virginia's new congressional map because they say the legislature is deadlocked, the GOP disputes that notion, saying they'll have full control in January. But the piece says that a majority of the Senate is required to conduct any business, and since Democrats control exactly half the seats, they could deny the chamber quorum. If correct, that means Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's tie-breaking abilities might be less puissant than previously imagined.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Nov 22, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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