• MA-04: In case you missed it—though you probably didn't—in a major shocker, veteran Democratic Rep. Barney Frank announced his retirement on Monday. Frank in particular pointed to redistricting as one of his chief reasons for not seeking re-election. But while his district shed the Democratic stronghold of New Bedford and gained some conservative towns, the seat is still indisputably blue, so it's still a surprising catalyst, especially for someone who seemed to love his job as much as Frank did. In the end, though, Frank is 71 years old, and he also said he didn't want to endure the rigors of yet another campaign, which you certainly can't blame him for.
Immediately, of course, attention became focused on possible successors, and a ton of potential candidates have already surfaced, mostly on the Democratic side. Culled from a variety of sources (Roll Call | AP | Politico | CBS | Hotline), here's our most complete list, though note that some of these folks have expressed active interest while others are just in the "possible" category:
Cynthia Creem (state senator)
Deborah Goldberg (former Brookline Board of Selectmen Chair)
Alan Khazei (City Year co-founder)
Jesse Mermell (Brookline selectwoman)
Marc Pacheco (state senator)
Mike Rodrigues (state senator)
James Segel (former state representative & former Frank aide)
David Simas (former advisor to Gov. Deval Patrick)
Sam Sutter (Bristol County district attorney)
James Timilty (state senator)
James Vallee (state representative)
Jay Barrows (state representative)
Sean Bielat (2010 nominee)
Brian Herr (former Hopkinton selectman)
One Republican is already in the race: former state mental health commissioner Elizabeth Childs, who announced her candidacy before Frank said he'd retire. A few people have also said they won't run, including two Democrats, Newton Mayor Setti Warren and state Treasurer Steve Grossman, and one Republican, state Rep. Dan Winslow.
On a much more speculative level, there's also Joseph P. Kennedy III, son of ex-Rep. Joe Kennedy and grandson of Bobby Kennedy. Kennedy, a prosecutor in the region known as the Cape & Islands, was talked up as a possible successor to former Rep. Bill Delahunt after he announced his retirement last year, but he declined to run. Kennedy doesn't live in the new 4th and would pretty clearly have to carpetbag, but obviously his family name precedes him.
And here's another idea that's even more unlikely: Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who has been active in Republican politics for many years. The problem with this idea is that it's pure fantasy (inside) baseball, and what's more, Schilling very publicly left Massachusetts because the state of Rhode Island promised greater support for his video game company.
One other interesting tidbit: Wondering who's next in line (at least on paper) to take over Frank's #1 slot on the Financial Services committee? Maxine Waters! (David Nir & David Jarman)
• AZ-Sen: As promised, here's our complete rundown of PPP's Arizona Senate numbers, which come as a pleasant surprise for Democrats. Click the link for our full post at Daily Kos Elections.
• CA-Sen: Biting off more than you can chew? Autism activist Elizabeth Emken was last seen coming in fourth place (out of four candidates) in the 11th CD Republican primary in 2010, despite spending $300K of her own money on the race. Now she says she plans to seek the Republican nomination to take on Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Good luck!
• NE-Sen: Republican pollster Magellan takes a look at the Nebraska Senate race and finds Dem Sen. Ben Nelson trailing AG Jon Bruning 45-39 and Treasurer Don Stenberg 41-40. Nelson leads state Sen. Deb Fischer 41-35. These numbers are pretty close to an early October poll from PPP, and if anything are a touch more optimistic for Nelson. But once again, being mired in the low 40s in a red state is not exactly good news for a Democratic incumbent.
Perhaps in response, Nelson put out his own internal showing him in much better shape, both compared to Magellan and compared to his own numbers from earlier this year. In the survey (from Hickman Analytics), Nelson leads Bruning 47-45, versus 49-43 Bruning in June and 52-43 Bruning in February. Nelson showed similar improvement against Stenberg (now at 49-43 in the incumbent's favor) and he also leads Fischer by a wide margin, 50-37. Also noteworthy is the fact that Nelson is releasing this poll at all, seeing as he recently stated he hadn't decided whether to seek re-election.
• PA-Sen: The Senate portion of PPP's Pennsylvania poll finds Dem Sen. Bob Casey leading all the Republican halflings jabbing at his ankles by double digits in all cases, but Casey is at 47-49% in every matchup. We'll bring you a full post soon.
• WI-Sen: A couple other Senators on the mavericky end of the Republican caucus (Tom Coburn, Rand Paul) had already gotten behind ex-Rep. Mark Neumann in the GOP Senate primary in Wisconsin, rather than not-conservative-enough establishment figure Tommy Thompson. But today, so too did the one whose endorsement carries some real monetary weight, both in terms of motivating movement-conservative small donors and the CfGs and AfPs of the world: Jim DeMint. DeMint is also backing right-wing underdogs in primaries in Texas (Ted Cruz) and Nebraska (Don Stenberg). (David Jarman)
• UT-Sen: Hahah, man. I suppose I should care that the American Action Network (a major conservative front group) is running an ad on behalf of apostate Sen. Orrin Hatch for four weeks on Fox News, but really, I just can't get over the comically bombastic music that starts about 10 seconds in:Gubernatorial:
• MO-Gov, MO-02: It looks like teabagger darling Ed Martin may be considering yet another move. Martin, who narrowly lost to Dem Rep. Russ Carnahan last year, started off the cycle with a run for Senate. Once Republican Rep. Todd Akin got into the race, he dropped down to Akin's 2nd District seat… only to be joined by former state GOP chair Ann Wagner, who also bailed on a Senate run and has since been fundraising up a storm (thanks in large part to contributions by executives at her husband's company, Enterprise Rent-a-Car).
Now it seems that Martin might be eyeing the governor's race, which recently saw Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder depart and plastics magnate Dave Spence enter. Spence's conservative credentials were immediately called into question because a bank whose board he sat on accepted federal bailout money (bad enough), then refused to pay it back (worse). I mention all this because on Monday, Martin's political director sent around what was theoretically supposed to be an anonymous hit memo on Spence, particularly focusing on his TARP issues. Martin hasn't offered any comment yet, so this could be an aide going rogue, or it could be a particularly abrasive and ham-handed way of testing the waters.
• WV-Gov: Republican businessman Bill Maloney, who narrowly lost the gubernatorial special election in West Virginia last month, had told us to stay tuned last week for a big announcement today... and his big announcement is that he's formed an exploratory committee to run for Governor again in 2012. As for the more interesting question of whether he's actually running against Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin again or not, he kicks the can once more, though: "In the coming weeks, I will make an announcement regarding my future plans." In the meantime, this'll give him the chance to raise money, as he'd previously said that if he ran, he'd want to actually fundraise this time instead of just putting the whole thing on his credit card like his special election run. (David Jarman)
• KY-06: Another dinky NRCC ad buy ($10K on cable), the second targeting Dem Rep. Ben Chandler this year. As with most of their recent little one-off gambits, the NRCC tries to link President Obama's jobs bill with the stimulus, which despite its salutary effects has long been very unpopular in the public imagination. This comparison hasn't seemed to seep into any broader media narratives, though, perhaps because the jobs act is pretty much a dead letter in Capitol Hill and therefore isn't the subject of much day-to-day discussion.
• NV-01: Ruben Kihuen might be having a re-think today about what he's doing in the Dem primary for the open seat being left behind by Shelley Berkley. Ex-Rep. Dina Titus is out with an internal poll, via Anzalone Liszt, giving her a 77-11 lead over the state Senator, despite the fact that she used to represent a different district (the 3rd). I'm skeptical that she's so well-known by Dems in the parts of the new 1st that were also the old 1st (where her approval is 83-9), but if this is even remotely accurate, she's still starting out with a huge advantage here. This also doesn't give Harry Reid much of an argument for encouraging Titus to switch back to the swingier NV-03, which is what he'd apparently prefer. (David Jarman)
• NY-10: As expected, lunatic NYC Councilman Charles Barron entered the race to unseat Rep. Ed Towns in the Democratic primary over the weekend. Just to show you how crazy Barron is, he called Muammar Gadaffi a "freedom fighter" and a "hero" after his death. But Barron has managed to survive in office by generally being on the right side of the issues (pro-union, anti-developer), and he's capable of tapping into the serious discontent running through this country (and this district) right now. I'm not saying he can win, but I do think his entry poses a serious problem for Assembly Hakeem Jeffries, the "reformer" choice who has been gearing up to challenge Towns for quite some time.
• TX-27: Just to clarify something from the previous Morning Digest: It was ex-Rep. Solomon Ortiz's son, Solomon Ortiz, Jr., who tweeted about his possible interest in the redrawn 27th CD. The younger Ortiz was a former state representative who, like his father, also got swept out in last year's red tide, and I mistakenly got the two mixed up. But a separate (albeit very thin) report in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times suggested that the elder Ortiz might be interested in a comeback bid, noting that "Ortiz has said he might consider running depending on the maps." I wonder if this is some bad information, though, given that Ortiz, Sr. is 74 years old and presumably wouldn't want to get in the way of his son's political career.
• TX-33: A couple more potential names have emerged in the new, court-drawn 33rd CD, a heavily Democratic district that is very racially balanced: 28% white, 27% black, and 40% Hispanic. Rev. Kyev Tatum, a community organizer who says he was at one point a Republican but now considers himself an "independent Democrat," is looking the race. However, it seems like he'd be competing for votes with the much better-known and better-connected state Rep. Marc Veasey (both are African American), so I'd be surprised if he got in, or had much of an impact if he did. Meanwhile, attorney and former Tarrant County Democratic Party chair Art Brender (who is white) says he's also considering the contest, while civil rights attorney Jason Smith says he won't run.
• FL Redistricting: The Florida state Senate just released its very long-awaited redistricting proposals, including a congressional plan. More information (including regional detail maps) at the link, and our first-cut analysis is below:
Basically, it seems short of some small cleaning up in the panhandle, Republican map-makers chose to ignore the Fair Districts amendments. For example, FL-03 is perhaps more of an unholy mess than before, and FL-11 is still split across Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee counties. The brand-new FL-27 seems to be the Hispanic central Florida district.
In the southeast, things are as screwed up as always, with the FL-22 basically as ugly as before, with FL-19 and FL-22 (in addition to the majority-minority FL-23) crossing the Broward/Palm Beach County Lines. It really seems that the GOP used the Voting Rights Act as an excuse to skirt the preservation-of-county guideline, with both FL-17, FL-20, and FL-21 crossing the Broward/Miami-Dade County line (presumably since FL-17 is a VRA-protected majority-minority district). We may get a better chance at picking up FL-25—some of the Dem areas south of Miami proper (that are still heavily Hispanic) did get placed here. I wonder if this is their warning shot across beleaguered GOP freshman David Rivera's bow.
The new FL-26 looks like a GOP district while FL-27 would go to the Dems. FL-22 appears to have gotten a bit bluer, which may be enough to help unseat GOP freshman Allen West. But the bottom line is that a map like this makes litigation as inevitable as the morning sun. The only question is what things look like in their final form. Since this is just the Senate's proposal, presumably the state House intends to come up with a map of their own, which could mean some serious head-butting before any plan actually passes into law.
• TX Redistricting: The Supreme Court is now Republicans' last best hope of avoiding the implementation of the court-drawn maps unveiled last week. As expected, Republican AG Greg Abbott filed with SCOTUS for a stay on the new maps. (So far, stays have only been requested for the legislative maps, though one for the Congressional map is "in the works.")
Also, check out the judge-on-judge smackdown from the opinion from the federal court in San Antonio that's the source of Abbott's request. (For the non-legally-inclined among you, this kind of diss of the dissent by the majority is highly unusual, except in cases of extreme hackery.)
The dissent’s comments come as some surprise to the Court, and are clearly a last-minute gathering of public comments that were submitted to the Court after the plan, to which the dissent agreed at the time, was released for comments and objections. Many of the dissent’s comments do not appear to be based on any kind of independent analysis, and the dissent simply accepts each of the objections without any apparent verification or confirmation.