• TX Redistricting: This is some fun legal-flavored cat fud. If you've been following the Texas redistricting saga closely, you know that Republican AG Greg Abbott—tasked with representing the interests of his GOP colleagues in the legislature—has made a royal botch of the entire affair. Admittedly, he was handed a crappy map to begin with, but he's victimized himself with plenty of unforced errors of his own, too. Late last week, Abbott tried to deflect attention from his myriad mistakes by picking a fight with the Department of Justice, publicly accusing them of dragging their feet to screw up his case. The DoJ fired back and, in my opinion, struck a lot harder—but the heaviest blow of all was landed by Republican state Sen. John Carona, who in essence told Abbott to STFU and litigate properly, rather than try to "shift blame" to the Justice Dept. Choice quote: "The attorney general’s office appeared to be late in the game and they obviously made some critical tactical errors from a Republican perspective." Ouch!
While we're on the subject, Texas GOP chair Steve Munisteri is already threatening to push yet another round of redistricting if (as seems likely) his side doesn't prevail in the courts this year (via Michael Li):
Second, the Party supports the Attorney General's efforts to obtain a favorable final ruling from the Washington D.C. federal panel. As a safeguard and backup strategy, I will be asking the State Republican Executive Committee (which meets this weekend in Austin on Saturday, December 2nd) to pass a resolution authorizing the State Chairman to request that each of our legislative candidates pledge to support a new redistricting effort in the next session of the legislature, in the event that the maps drawn by the Legislature are not enacted by the courts. The resolution will also request the SREC to grant the State Chairman the authority on behalf of the Party, to request in such an event, that the Speaker, Lieutenant Governor and Governor, all support the efforts to lead a new redistricting effort in the 83rd Legislative Session. If granted the authority by the SREC, I will also instruct the RPT political staff to begin preparing a legislative lobbying blitz to push for redistricting at the next session.
Finally, if the legislative maps are not upheld prior to the next election, the Party will redirect resources toward swing districts under the court panel's maps, so that we minimize the damage of the Court's map and increase our chances of having a Legislature favorable to appropriate redistricting in 2013.
• CT-Sen: This isn't the most clear-cut indication that state Rep. William Tong is about to bail on the Senate race, where's he's been a minuscule third wheel (a training wheel, perhaps) in the Dem primary between Rep. Chris Murphy and ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz. But reading this article between the lines makes it sound that way: In response to reshuffling of his district lines under the new state House redistricting map in Connecticut, Tong says "I’m disappointed that I won’t be representing New Canaan anymore. I’m proud of what we accomplished there, and I’m looking forward to working with the people of Darien." And the article itself says "He said although some have reported he will not seek re-election to the state House of Representatives, he has not ruled out the option." That kind of lack of fire in the belly isn't the kind of thing that you publicly broadcast when your donors might be listening, so, between that and his lack of polling traction, it doesn't sound like he'll be in the Senate field much longer. (David Jarman)
• MA-Sen: The Center for Public Integrity has a good, in-depth report on the right-wing groups that are gearing up like never before to help Scott Brown ward off defeat at the hands of Elizabeth Warren, whom they view as enemy no. 1 (because she, you know, actually wants to protect people against the depredations of Wall Street). Click the link to read how these dark armies are preparing for battle.
• MT-Sen, MT-Gov: Well, this ain't something you see every day, or even every other day. Someone at the Montana Chamber of Commerce (or their pollster, Market Research Insight) leaked a recent survey they conducted to Dave Catanese, and the numbers are not what you'd expect. They show Dem Sen. Jon Tester ahead of GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg by a 42-37 margin, a contrast to other polls (particularly from PPP) which have found slight Rehberg leads. The poll also contained a presidential matchup (generic R leads Barack Obama 36-31), and a gubernatorial component on the Republican side (Rick Hill is at 29 and Ken Miller 15, but 40% are undecided).
• NE-Sen: Rolling out an internal poll showing that he has a lead over all comers (like he did last week), to me at least, seems like a pretty clear tell that Ben Nelson is running. But it's important to note that the Nebraska conservaDem hasn't actually confirmed that he's seeking another term. And according to Politico, Dem insiders are increasingly leaning on Nelson to actually say something one way or the other this month. Nelson, who has a knack for stringing the national party along and then climbing aboard at the last minute after extracting concessions, has already been the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside advertising from outside Dem groups bolstering his re-election case. (David Jarman)
• PA-Sen: Bob Casey, Jr. can breathe a little easier—not that, given his current dominance of the race, he was likely having heart palpitations over the specter of Dominic Pileggi. But the state Senate majority leader and consummate Harrisburg insider has, after a brief moment of being courted by national GOP powers, decided against a run against the first-term Democratic incumbent. Big-picture, it's not a surprise, but it is a unexpected given last week's news that Pileggi had started hiring campaign consultants. (I would guess the consultants' first order of business was to commission a poll, which didn't yield encouraging results for Pileggi.) (David Jarman)
Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO going up with a $170,000 buy to run a positive ad in favor of Casey. While Casey is certainly among the less-endangered freshman Democratic senators, he has a very strong pro-labor record, so it makes sense that unions would want to help him out. You can watch the spot at the link or below:Gubernatorial:
• AR-Gov: Businessman Curtis Coleman, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP Senate nomination last year, says he's now thinking about a run for governor, though that post isn't up against until 2014. Coleman pulled in a very unimpressive 5% in a huge field that was dominated by a much stronger candidate, then-Rep. John Boozman, who went on to defeat Dem Sen. Blanche Lincoln. If he makes a gubernatorial bid, he'd likely face another big name in the primary: Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who said in June that he was interested in the job.
• WA-Gov: Dem Rep. Jay Inslee just secured the backing of the state's largest teacher's union, the Washington Education Association. The move is no surprise, but it's the earliest the WEA has ever gotten involved in the governor's race—and they're doing so because Republican AG Rob McKenna completely blew them off rather than sit down with them for an endorsement interview.
• AZ-02: This profile of Gabby Giffords' chief of staff, Pia Carusone, includes an interesting tidbit near the end: She's raised her profile enough in the wake of Giffords' shooting that she's now getting mentioned as a potential candidate for office... including as a prospective Giffords successor, given that Giffords' slow recovery might preclude a re-election bid. (If you're having some nomenclature confusion, this is getting filed under AZ-02 since most of the old AZ-08 is now the 2nd under new Arizona draft maps, which seem to be back on track with the Colleen Mathis reinstatement.) (David Jarman)
• FL-27: Alan Grayson seems to have chosen where he's going to make his return engagement. Greg Giroux spots that in Grayson's latest filing with the FEC, he makes reference to the 27th CD. That's the newly-created Hispanic-plurality district in the Orlando/Kissimmee area, which is a probably-safe seat in the general election (59% Obama) but one where he'd have trouble emerging from a primary against a Puerto Rican politician. It's still likely the better of his two choices, the other of which was his old FL-08. It was already GOP-leaning and became a few points more Republican in redistricting. (David Jarman)
• GA-02: Republican businessman Rick Allen, who pulled in just 11% in last year's GOP primary for the right to take on Dem Rep. Sanford Bishop, says he'll run again this cycle. Former state Rep. Mike Keown, the guy who beat Allen and then nearly upset Bishop, lost a bid for local office in November and had previously said he didn't plan to run for Congress again.
• MA-06: I'm not my brother's keeper, and neither, I hope, is Dem Rep. John Tierney. But with the way things work these days (sigh), it's not especially helpful that his brother-in-law Daniel Eremian was just convicted of 50 racketeering-related charges in connection with running an illegal Internet gambling business. Last year, Tierney's wife, Patrice, pleaded guilty to helping her other brother, Robert (who was also involved in the gambling enterprise), file false tax returns and served a thirty-day jail sentence. While Tierney's never been accused of having any involvement in this whole mess, it has, unfairly or not, dogged him on the campaign trail.
• MS-04: Roll Call's Joshua Miller digs into the life and times of freshman GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo, who has backed his way into a few episodes of trouble in his short career. Miller summarizes:
He went through two chiefs of staff before hiring his current one during the summer. A raucous house party arranged by Palazzo staffers in October led to the dismissal of his scheduler and a legislative correspondent. And on Thursday, Roll Call reported that in complying with House ethics rules, Palazzo may have bumped up against Mississippi law when he moved his certified public accounting firm to his wife’s name.
One Republican consultant (who may have some self-interest here) calls Palazzo "a little toxic" and suggests a primary challenge could be in the offing in this very red district. One possible name belongs to state Sen. Michael Watson, while another state senator, Chris McDaniel, says he definitely is not running. (Palazzo, you'll recall, knocked off longtime Rep. Gene Taylor last year, an old-school Dem who had managed to entrench himself despite the seat's extremely conservative nature. Few Republicans had ever shown a willingness to take Taylor on until Palazzo emerged, though of course he got a huge assist from the prevailing winds.)
• NM-01: This poll's pretty old (dating back to June!), but it's new to us (and probably you). An internal from Lake Research for former Albuquerque mayor Marty Chavez gives him a substantial lead over his more progressive challengers in the open seat Democratic primary, state Sen. Eric Griego and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, thanks to a big name rec advantage. Chavez leads Griego and Grisham 32-15-8, with 41% undecided. (David Jarman)
• NV-03: Hmm. Harry Reid just endorsed Assembly Speaker John Oceguera in his race against Joe Heck in the swingy 3rd CD, which makes it seem like he's either trying hard to box out ex-Rep. Dina Titus, or he's just given up entirely. What am I talking about? Well, as Anjeanette Damon of the Las Vegas Sun explained last month, Reid is widely understood to be supporting state Sen. Ruben Kihuen in the much bluer 1st, where Titus is also running (and kicking ass, if her Democratic primary poll is to be believed). Reid's preference apparently is (or was) for Titus to run in the 3rd, which she represented for a term until losing last year. But since he's backing Oceguera now, that would seem to preclude any further efforts at getting Titus to switch over to that district. So either he's now going to play Byron Georgiou-style hardball on behalf of his man Kihuen, or he's making peace with a perhaps inevitable Titus victory.
• TN-03: Chris Carroll of the Chattanooga Times Free Press nails Zach Wamp and his son Weston pretty good:
Behind in the polls a day before he lost Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial primary last year, former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp skewered the eventual nominees — Bill Haslam and Mike McWherter.
“Both of them are really running on their daddies’ fumes,” Wamp told supporters near Nashville. “They wouldn’t even be in this game if it weren’t for their fathers.”
He might regret saying that.
Wamp’s 24-year-old son Weston recently mounted a primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the man who replaced the elder Wamp in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District. Records show 72 percent of Weston Wamp’s top donors to date gave money to his father’s gubernatorial campaign, congressional campaigns or both.
Zing! Carroll details exactly who some of these big donors are and unsurprisingly also learns that the elder Wamp has been making fundraising calls on behalf of the younger. What a miserable way to spend your (unexpectedly early) retirement. A couple of major Wamp supporters from yesteryear aren't playing ball, though, and plan to back Fleischmann.
• PA-Auditor: Outgoing Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato will not run for state auditor after all, contrary to expectations; instead, he's endorsing state Rep. Eugene DePasquale for the post and taking a job in the private sector. This downballot race was only on our radar because it looked like Onorato, who was the Democrats' unsuccessful nominee for governor last year, might have used the auditor position as a stepping-stone for another gubernatorial bid in 2018 or perhaps for Senate in 2016.
• WI Recall: An organizer says that Democrats have collected 59% of the petitions they need against state Sen. Terry Moulton in the 23rd District, in just 25% of the time available. A positive sign, if accurate.
• Michigan: Republicans in Michigan, smarting over last month's recall of GOP state Rep. Paul Scott, are proposing to make it harder to initiate recalls of elected officials… but Democrats are apparently interested in the idea, too. (Good for goose = good for gander.) However, it would take a constitutional amendment, which requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature and a statewide vote of approval by the public.
• Minnesota GOP: Here's the first of two state Republican Party organizations in turmoil: Minnesota, where chair Tony Sutton resigned on Friday, leaving his party over a million dollars in debt (that includes a special recount fund from last year's close gubernatorial race). Activists have appointed an interim leader, but it sounds like things are still quite a mess.
• Ohio GOP: I hope you're not feeling too full, because this here is a very generous helping of cat fud. Gov. John Kasich and state House Speaker William Batchelder are both trying to oust their own party's chairman, Kevin DeWine, a cousin of AG and former Sen. Mike DeWine. This feud is a long-standing one, since Kasich wanted DeWine to step down after defeating Ted Strickland last year (DeWine refused), and also personal rather than ideological. Some highlights:
On Friday night, Batchelder sent a memo to House GOP members accusing DeWine of undermining the incumbents among them during the 2010 election campaign. Batchelder said DeWine attempted to persuade donors not to give money to the members’ campaigns. Batchelder also said in the memo that DeWine, in a speech to central-committee members on Friday, accused Kasich of trying to push him out as chairman “for personal profit, ego and power.” […]
“This has nothing to do with ideology or political philosophy. It has nothing to do with performance,” DeWine said. “It’s about the consolidation of power, it’s about money, and it’s about trying to control as much of the process as they can.”
DeWine added: “I refuse to let this party be overtaken by lobbyists. I will not let this party be dominated by a single officeholder.
• Primary Calendar: We missed this last month, but Wisconsin moved its primary from Sept. 11 to Aug. 14, to make it easier to comply with the federal MOVE Act, which requires that absentee ballots be mailed to overseas voters at least 45 days before election day. Meanwhile, for the same reason, the state of Massachusetts recently shifted its primary as well, though the move was as minimal as possible: From Sept. 18 to Sept. 6. But then someone realized that the new date conflicts with the Democratic National Convention, so there's some half-hearted talk about changing it yet again. Anyhow, to keep up with all of these moving targets, be sure to check out (and bookmark) our sortable primary calendar, which includes filing deadlines and is fully up-to-date.
• CO Redistricting: Add one more state to the finished pile, redistricting-wise. The outcome probably isn't a surprise to redistricting watchers, given the tenor of last week's oral arguments, but the Colorado Supreme Court signed off today on the map that a state district court had earlier picked (after the split-control legislature deadlocked). The map that had been picked was the one favored by Democrats, which turned suburban CO-06 into a swing district at the expense of briefly-Dem-held CO-04. (David Jarman)
• FL Redistricting: I hope you haven't gotten too attached to the Florida redistricting map that came out last week from the state Senate (I know I have); remember that the state House hasn't even weighed in with its version yet, to say nothing of the inevitable litigation that will occur over whether it comports with the Fair Districts initiative. At any rate, another puzzle piece will get added tomorrow, as the map from the state House (also GOP-held) is reportedly scheduled to be released tomorrow. Sources say they'll "follow the Senate's example," so the changes may not be too great (if any at all). (David Jarman)
• NM Redistricting: Trial began on Monday in the redistricting lawsuit in New Mexico, where, interestingly, Republicans and a number of Democrats actually agree on what the state's new congressional map should look like, a so-called "least change" plan to balance out population disparities between the three districts. However, a group of dissident Dems is pushing a separate plan that would make the swingy 1st CD bluer, while the civil rights group LULAC wants to create a majority-Hispanic district in the south-central part of the state.
• DRA: Dave has a new version of his world-famous redistricting app out. Click the link to check out the new features and maps available.