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Leading Off:

VA-Sen: Dayumn! Democrat Tim Kaine sounds like he was feisty in his debate with George Allen on Wednesday, their first of the campaign. There are a lot of good bits in Kyle Trygstad's review, but here are a couple I liked best:

The first sharp elbow was thrown on the third question, when Kaine was asked whether Allen’s use of the term “macaca” when describing an Indian-American video tracker during his 2006 re-election campaign — something he’s since apologized for — should be brought up nearly six years later. Kaine campaign officials said Tuesday that it was fair game, and Kaine did not back down from that position.

“The implication was that this young student was less of an American than George or than you and me,” Kaine said. “I don’t know why he would say that, but for whatever reason he said it, it’s part of the divisive politics that we have to put behind us in this country.” […]

The candidates at times butted in during the other’s answers, most notably when Kaine took exception to Allen’s description of his role as DNC chairman as “advocating for the likes of ... President Obama’s policies” rather than focusing on Virginia’s interests.

“The likes of President Obama?” Kaine asked, as the two talked over each other. “Wiping out al-Qaida, stopping the Iraq War, saving the auto industry. That’s not being consistent with Virginia’s interests? I see it differently than you do.”

Senate:

MI-Sen: Hey, Pete Hoekstra, it's your lucky day! You just got endorsed by Paul Ryan! What a lovely anvil around your neck for the general election (if you get by Clark Durant in the primary, which is obviously why you courted Ryan in the first place).

MT-Sen: As part of their pile of Montana miscellany, PPP once again asked about a hypothetical 2014 Democratic primary matchup between Sen. Max Baucus and outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer—and once again, Schweitzer crushes, 51-35. That's almost identical to the June spread of 51-34. As Tom notes, Baucus is one of the most unpopular senators in the whole country, so "Democrats might need Schweitzer to replace Baucus as their candidate in order to hold onto this seat."

NE-Sen: Shira Toeplitz has a juicy piece on the brewing fratricide that is the Nebraska Republican Senate primary. As you know, Gov. Dave Heineman unexpectedly said the other day that he wasn't ruling out a run, and it would of course delight the NRSC if he got in. But problems are already brewing. Wingnut crown prince Jim DeMint, who is backing Treasurer Don Stenberg, is pissed that further recruitment efforts are still underway, and Shira adds that local Republicans think neither Stenberg nor AG Jon Bruning would drop out to clear the field for Heineman.

The Bruning angle is even more fraught. Shira notes that back in 2006, he endorsed Tom Osborne, Heineman's chief rival for the gubernatorial nod. I would also add in the fact that Bruning was shoved aside in 2008 after ex-Gov. Mike Johanns jumped into the race—something Johanns only did after then-Sen. Chuck Hagel said he wouldn't seek re-election. Bruning, though, had been willing to take on the apostate Hagel before he announced his retirement, so I could imagine feeling especially bitter that Johanns waltzed in only once the coast was clear. And that would likely make Bruning even less likely to want to do the same thing once more.

In the midst of all this, it sounds like Heineman is trying to walk back this whole Senate thing without really walking it back. At a Tuesday news conference, Heineman said (in a reporter's phrasing) that "there are already several Republican candidates who could beat Sen. Ben Nelson." And in his own words, he added: "I have the best job in America and I love being the governor of this state." But while perhaps he's trying to soothe some egos and downplay expectations, none of this is actually the same as saying "no, I'm not running."

One final related note: Bruning just went up with his first ad, a spot attacking Nelson over healthcare reform. The weird thing is that he posted it to his "Bruning2010" YouTube channel—an account he used last year for his re-election campaign as attorney general. (And yes, he has a Senate YouTube page.) So, WTF?

Gubernatorial:

MT-Gov: In case you missed it, PPP published a new Montana gubernatorial poll this week, and once again they find the contest a dead heat, making it the closest 2012 governor's race in the nation. Click the link for our full post at Daily Kos Elections.

VT-Gov: State Sen. Randy Brock announced on Wednesday that he'd challenge freshman Gov. Peter Shumlin next year, the first major Republican to do so. As late as last week, Brock had been toying with other races, including attorney general or auditor, a post he held for a single two-year term before getting ousted in 2006. An August poll from PPP had Shumlin beating Brock 51-29.

House:

AK-AL: Though a spokesman for Joe Miller (remember him?) says that a recent tweet about a possible ethics inquiry into Rep. Don Young is not a sign that his boss plans to challenge Young in the GOP primary next year, Miller's campaign also says that he isn't closing any doors.

CO-02: Even though the re-drawn 2nd CD remains very blue, Republican state Sen. Kevin Lundberg says he's forming an exploratory committee to look at a challenge against sophomore Rep. Jared Polis. Amazingly, though I'm linking to what is purportedly a straight news story from KWGN-TV, Polis is described as a "gay millionaire from Boulder." Sheesh.

CT-05: Whoa. It sounds like an entire battalion of Democratic legislators is set to endorse state House Speaker Chris Donovan's bid for Congress. According to Daniela Altimari at the Hartford Courant, almost 100 state lawmakers are co-hosts for a Donovan fundraiser in Waterbury on Thursday, along with U.S. Rep. John Larson. Several other Connecticut officials are supporting Donovan as well, including Secretary of State Denise Merrill and Comptroller Kevin Lembo. Yowza!

IA-03: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is going in big in the redrawn 3rd CD, with another $150K on a new ad trying to link Dem Rep. Leonard Boswell to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama over healthcare reform. Dave Catanese notes that Crossroads has now spent over $300K in this district alone. That's a lot of money, especially this early. You can watch the spot here or below:

IL-08 (?): GOP freshman Joe Walsh was supposed to announce his re-election plans on Monday but never did. Now Aaron Blake says he'll allegedly do so on Thursday. We'll see.

MD-04: The progressive bandwagon continues to circle around Rep. Donna Edwards: Democracy for America just announced their endorsement, a week after Daily Kos did so. (FWIW, DFA also endorsed Raul Grijalva in AZ-07.)

NC-08: Republican state Rep. Fred Steen, who's been kicking around the idea of a possible congressional bid since October, says he will indeed run for the seat currently occupied by Rep. Larry Kissel. But Steen is far from the only GOPer interested in the race. Karissa Minn of the Salisbury Post runs down the rest of the field:

Dan Barry, mayor pro tem of Weddington; Richard Hudson, a Concord business consultant; former Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle; former Winston-Salem City Council member Vernon Robinson; and John Whitley, a Fairmont neurosurgeon.

NV-04: Danny Tarkanian is out with a new poll from Public Opinion Strategies, which he's clearly trying to use to knock out his main rival for the Republican nomination, state Sen. Barbara Cegavske. In a hypothetical GOP primary, Tarkanian—who has built up name recognition thanks to three failed runs for offices and a famous (or infamous) dad—leads 73-9. Tark is also trying to show he's more electable, since the general election matchup shows him beating state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford 47-36, while Horsford beats Cegavske 43-32. While I can believe the primary numbers, as lopsided as they are, I'm having a hard time accepting the Horsford head-to-heads. I just can't imagine that Tarkanian (whose wife, after all, is chair of the state GOP) has that much crossover appeal to Democrats.

OH-02: Roll Call's Amanda Becker checks in on GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt, who still hasn't repaid half a million dollars in free legal services she improperly received from two Turkish interest groups, the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund and the Turkish Coalition of America. The House Ethics Committee ordered Schmidt to reimburse this money back in August, but didn't sanction her because they concluded Schmidt didn't know about the deal between her lawyers and the Turkish organizations to cover their expenses. If you're wondering why on earth Schmidt got wrapped up with these Turkish groups to begin with, you can get the complete background here.

OH-16: Yet another incumbent vs. incumbent matchup has been confirmed: Dem Rep. Betty Sutton says she plans to seek re-election in the redrawn 16th, which is home to freshman GOPer Jim Renacci. If the current map stands, it'll probably be pretty tough sledding for Sutton, since this district was definitely designed to be GOP-friendly. It might also mean that ex-Rep. John Boccieri won't be making a comeback. Last month, Boccieri said he hadn't ruled out a run, and presumably his most likely option would be a rematch with Renacci. But I can't imagine him wanting to go through a primary against a Dem incumbent and then a general against a sitting Republican. Another possibility for Boccieri would be the 7th, against Bob Gibbs, since ex-Rep. Zack Space sounds very unlikely to attempt a return to Congress.

OR-01: Not taking any chances this time, I see. Reid Wilson reports that the DCCC will soon go up on TV in the Jan. 31 special election, with an ad attacking Republican Rob Cornilles for his tea party ties. After the NY-09 debacle in September, even the D-Trip itself acknowledges that it's "not taking anything for granted." I suspect (or maybe it's more like hope) that Democrats are simply trying to take this one off the table for the GOP, much like the NRCC did with the NV-02 special earlier this year. But we haven't seen any internal polling on the race, so it's impossible to say either way.

In any event, the ad doesn't appear to be available online, and there's also no word on the size of the buy—yet. But there should be soon, since this is presumably an independent expenditure, which means the D-Trip will have to file a report that'll appear here. Meanwhile, though, Suzanne Bonamici is out with an ad of her own (the first of the general election), which you can watch here or below:

While the spot doesn't pack a big emotional punch, I think this framing is actually decently clever: Going after "debt" and "spending" generically, but saying we need to fix those problems specifically by ending tax cuts for the wealthy and subsidies for big oil companies. You think you're getting a conservative twinkie, but the middle is full of creamy progressive goodness.

TX-30: Attorney Taj Clayton, who had been weighing a bid since October, formally entered the Democratic primary to take on veteran Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. This may actually be the move that saves Johnson's bacon, though, since she was already facing a challenge from state Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway. As seasoned observers know, every office-holder facing a fight for survival in their own party's primary wants to face at least two opponents—and never just one—so that anti-incumbent votes are more likely to get split multiple ways. Johnson, though, is 76 years old and has never had to deal with a serious re-election campaign in her two decades as a member of Congress, so I'd say she's still vulnerable.

TX-35: As expected, Dem ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez formally filed paperwork with the FEC to seek the new seat in TX-35, something he indicated he'd do when Rep. Charlie Gonzalez announced his retirement a couple of weeks ago. If you're wondering about what one event has to do with the other, it's because state Sen. Joaquin Castro, who had been running in the 35th, switched over to the 20th after Gonzalez said he wouldn't seek another term. That freed up the 35th for Ciro, though I'd be surprised if there isn't a very competitive primary there. And one side-note: Greg Giroux notes that the only current member of the House with three non-consecutive tenures is Ron Paul, something that Ciro is also trying to accomplish.

WI-02: A good score for state Rep. Mark Pocan, who just secured the backing of a couple of local AFSCME councils in his bid for the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who of course is running for Senate. Pocan's chief rival in the race is fellow state Rep. Kelda Roys.

Grab Bag:

DGA: The Democratic Governors Association just re-elected Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to a second year-long term as chair of the organization.

Florida: PPP's out with a batch of Florida miscellany, the usual pile of sports-n-odds-n-ends.

Polls: With countless media outfits ramping up their polling operations in anticipation of the GOP presidential primaries, the number of polls coming out every day is fast turning into a flood. But you can get a handle on it all thanks to our new feature, the Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap, which summarizes every new presidential poll released in the previous 24 hours. You can generally expect it to go live in the late evening (East Coast time) each weeknight, and you can also follow it with our new tag, DKE 2012 Polling Wrap.

Polltopia: PPP is looking for suggestions for questions to ask in its upcoming polls of New Mexico and Virginia, as well as for its second of five weekly tracking polls in Iowa.

Pres-by-CD: Good news, sports fans: We have Obama-McCain results by revised congressional districts for four more states: Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland & Michigan. We also have population distribution charts for each of these as well, so that you can see how the old districts got divvied up among the new ones. And, in case that's not enough, we also have elegant Google Maps versions of the new redistricting maps for each of these states. Have at it!

Redistricting Roundup:

CT Redistricting: The state supreme court just gave the legislature's redistricting commission an additional 15 days to hammer out a compromise congressional map, meaning it's due on Dec. 21. The real question is whether Republicans decide to make a deal or take their chances with the high court (since their downside risk just isn't all that great). You can see the maps each side has proposed at the link, and you can also probably figure that the GOP would hope that the judges fall in love with their deceptively "clean" lines. But more likely is that the court will prefer the Democrats' very minimal changes to the existing map.

Redistricting: One more link you'll want to keep handy: We've compiled our congressional district redistribution charts into one handy place at the link—just look for the tabs at the bottom, one for each state. These charts show you how the population of all the old districts gets divvied up between the new seats. For instance, if you look at Iowa (which dropped from five seats to four), you can see that almost 57% of the constituents in the new 3rd CD came from the old 3rd CD, giving Democrat Leonard Boswell the best claim to that district. But Republican Tom Latham, who preferred to avoid a primary with fellow GOPer Steve King, is seeking re-election in the 3rd, even though only about 17% of the new 3rd's residents come from Latham's old 4th.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by These Green Mountains and Daily Kos.

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