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Leading Off:

OH Redistricting: Here's some very unhappy Ohio referendum news: Democrats say they're short of funds to complete their petition drive to put the new Republican-drawn congressional map on the ballot. Dems apparently tried to do this one on the cheap, going the all-volunteer route, but it evidently isn't working out for them. The firm which organized the drive to put SB5 up for a vote this past November says that they're still ready to help, but that they just need to get paid. Even if they do get involved, time is incredibly short—and if they don't, then I just don't see how we can get it done. Ohio Democratic chair Chris Redfern says they've only collected 135,000 signatures, but a minimum of 231K are needed by Dec. 26. (And really, you need to file more to survive inevitable challenges.) Ugh. I just have a sick feeling in my stomach about this. If Democrats fail here, then the GOP's brutally gerrymandered map will go into effect for next year, all but ensuring a 12 Republican, 4 Democrat split in Ohio's congressional delegation—even though Ohio is a 50-50 state.

Senate:

FL-Sen: Rep. Connie Mack picked up what I believe is his first congressional endorsement as he seeks the GOP Senate nomination, from five-term FL-01 Rep. Jeff Miller. Trivia: The man who preceded Miller in his seat? MSNBC's Joe Scarborough.

HI-Sen: Rep. Mazie Hirono just released a month-old internal poll (taken by Benenson Strategy Group) showing her with a 54-36 lead over ex-Rep. Ed Case in the Democratic primary. Hirono also had 72-21 favorables, while Case was at 61-28. You may recall the DSCC took the extremely unusual step of smacking Case down for a touting a bogus poll of his own back in August, which purported to show him up 53-37 over Hirono.

MA-Sen: State Rep. Tom Conroy became the latest Democrat to defer to Elizabeth Warren, bowing out of the primary and endorsing her candidacy instead. Three other Some Dudes are still in the race, but as the AP notes: "For any of them to earn a spot on the September primary ballot, they would have to earn the support of at least 15 percent of the delegates to the Democratic State Convention next spring."

NE-Sen: Please, dear god, do not let this come to pass: former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey says he won't rule out a comeback bid for Senate if Ben Nelson decides not to run for another term, but mercifully, he called the possibility "highly unlikely." Even this much is probably b.s., though, as Kerrey enjoys seeing his name in the press. You may recall he even managed to flirt with a run for mayor of New York City (!) back in 2005, and somewhat less loonily thought about seeking Chuck Hagel's Senate seat when he announced his retirement in 2007.

Meanwhile, Crossroads GPS says that on top of the $123K they already claimed to be spending on a new ad targeting Nelson this month, they plan to go back on the air from mid-January through March with another $400K. They're being totally forthright about their aim, which is to convince Nelson not to run for a third term. That suggests to me this race might not be quite as in-the-bag as many observers think. For his part, Nelson is now saying he expects to decide whether to seek re-election "before New Year's," in the AP's phrasing.

Finally, on the GOP side, this is pretty gross, and probably something Republican AG Jon Bruning should have thought twice about before doing, given his already-dodgy record on money changing hands between his office and private entities. His latest move was to award $100,000 from a special attorney general's fund to a group called "We Support Agriculture." The organization exists to "oppose efforts of the Humane Society of the United States and other animal advocacy groups to change livestock practices" and admits that "there could be a political element" to its spending. In other words, Bruning just used state money to give a six-figure donation to a conservative political action group! Hah, but wait—We Support Agriculture promises: "This money will be separated out and segregated out and it will only go to educational efforts." Uh huh. Sure.

NY-Sen: The spitballing continues, and now it's taken an even more amusing turn. Lacking potential candidates of any stature, New York Republicans are just randomly tossing names out there to see what might stick. Rep. Bob Turner is the newest flavor-of-the-day, and while you could make the sin of underestimating him in the NY-09 special election, it's essentially impossible to imagine him beating Dem Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand next year. Of course, if Turner gets iced in redistricting, I suppose it might be an option… but is schlepping across New York State for the better part of a year in a hopeless race really something a septuagenarian wants to do? Anyhow, also mentioned in the article is Marc Cenedella, founder of the job website TheLadders.com. There are no quotes from either man, just some touting by self-interested consultants.

TX-Sen: In the midst of an article about the GOP Senate primary, Gary Scharrer of the Houston Chronicle notes that the Democrats' expected candidate, retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, has not yet filed, even though the deadline is Thursday. Plenty of candidates file at the last minute, though, so no cause for alarm just yet. (And yes, while congressional and legislative elections are totally up in the air, last I checked, Texas's borders were still intact—despite some pesky 19th century legal documents—so statewide candidates should have no trouble filing.)

Gubernatorial:

MO-Gov, MO-02: Despite the odd shenanigans he deployed to test the waters on a possible gubernatorial bid, tea partier Ed Martin says he'll stick with the 2nd CD House race, where he faces the much-better-funded Ann Wagner in the GOP primary. The alternative was facing the much-better-funded Dave Spence in the governor's race… and then Gov. Jay Nixon in the general. MO-02, at least, is solidly red.

ND-Gov: As expected (albeit a little behind schedule), state Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor just made his candidacy for governor official. He'll likely face incumbent Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple next fall. This move gives Democrats a very strong trio for North Dakota's three marquee statewide races next year: In addition to Taylor, former state AG Heidi Heitkamp is running for Senate and former state Rep. Pam Gulleson is seeking the at-large House seat, both of which are open.

WA-Gov: For the first time in these monthly fundraising reports, there's a big gap between Republican AG Rob McKenna and Dem Rep. Jay Inslee. In November, McKenna pulled in $1.1 million and now has $2.1 mil cash-on-hand, while Inslee raised $400K and has $1.9 mil in the bank. As PubliCola notes, it's also the first time Inslee's fallen behind in terms of total cash. But there's good news: As we mentioned last month, McKenna is now barred from fundraising until the new legislative session ends in March. That probably explains why he went hog wild in November, and hopefully Inslee can make the most of this free-fire period.

WI-Gov: Yet another Scott Walker ad, with another dude talking to the camera in front of a jet-black background (wearing a dark suit no less). This time, it's meandering praise for Walker's supposed business mojo, including a weird moaning pause at the 11-to-13-second mark, followed by a creepy declaration that Walker's policies are "comforting." Also, at the end, doesn't it sound like the guy is praising libruhl New York and California for their "pro-business strategies"? Look, man, I don't create these ads—I just write about 'em. Anyhow, you can watch it at the link or below:

House:

IN-08: Unless someone else gets in before the filing deadline, former state Rep. Dave Crooks will be the Democrats' choice to take on freshman GOPer Larry Bucshon next fall. Crooks defeated Patrick Scates, a former aide to ex-Rep. Brad Ellsworth (the guy who held this seat before Bucshon), in a vote taken at a meeting of 38 local party leaders on Saturday. Both Crooks and Scates agreed to abide by the results of this caucus rather than contest a primary. There was no word on how the final vote went, though: Crooks said Scates dropped out and gave his support to Crooks, but Scates' camps didn't make any public remarks.

NY-28: This isn't really news, since she's been constantly talked up for various higher offices over the years, but Jill Terreri of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle takes another look at Maggie Brooks, the Republican Monroe County Executive. One persistent rumor—which Terreri takes a look at, and which Brooks has refused to comment on—is that she might take on veteran Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter. Of course, redistricting still looms large, and wherever Slaughter winds up seeking re-election (as she's promised to do, despite her 82 years) won't even be numbered the 28th, seeing as New York is dropping from 29 to 27 districts.

The piece also mentions that Republican Mark Assini, supervisor (sort of like a board president) for the town of Gates (pop. 28K), says he's considering a possible run as well, though he wants to wait for the outcome of redistricting to decide.

OR-01: Over the weekend, the DCCC made its first independent expenditure filing with the FEC, showing a total of $185K spent producing and airing the television ad it's using to attack Republican Rob Cornilles. Based on Jess Taylor's reporting, though, there's about another $800K yet to come. To keep tabs on all new IE reports, bookmark this link at the FEC's website.

UT-02: The NRCC is spending $60,000 on a new ad trying to use Dem Rep. Jim Matheson's own words to link him to President Obama—and perhaps trying to get him to consider retirement instead of re-election. As Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune notes, this is the most the NRCC has spent on any single race this year outside of special elections, which makes me wonder if it's a sign of things to come, or just a one-off effort. Interestingly, the quotes the ad uses came from a speech Matheson gave in his own defense at last year's state Democratic convention, when he was forced into a primary by the much more liberal Claudia Wright. You can watch the ad here or below:

House: Democracy Corps' poll of a thousand likely voters across 60 "Republican battleground districts" finds some improvement for Democrats across a variety of metrics since their September survey, but even the new numbers still look to be worse than those from D-Corps' March findings. There are several different things you can check out at the link, but this PDF probably lays things out best. (It also includes a list of exactly which districts were polled, though it's not clear whether old or new lines were used in states where redistricting is complete.)

Other Races:

WI Recall: While Democrats have been very busy gathering signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker and several more Republican state senators, the GOP has so far not fought fire with fire. Only now are some Republicans gearing up for a possible recall of Dem Sen. Bob Jauch, but even that effort is described by organizers as "exploratory." I'd also describe it as "wishful thinking," seeing as John Kerry won 56% in this district and Barack Obama took 59%. That actually trails Obama's 14-point improvement over Kerry's statewide performance considerably, but seeing as Democrats handily kept challengers at bay on much more difficult turf in August, I'm having a hard time seeing the GOP be successful here.

Grab Bag:

OH HB194: Good news: The Ohio Secretary of State has verified that organizers have submitted enough petitions to put HB194, a new restrictive election law, on the ballot for a referendum next November. This also temporarily suspends the law, meaning it won't be in effect for the 2012 elections. For more on the changes HB194 would wreak, follow this link.

Redistricting Roundup:

AZ Redistricting: Another thumb in the eye for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer: A judge just ruled that the members of Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission are not subject to the state's open meetings law. Allegations that the IRC had violated this law were at the center of Brewer's thwarted attempt to remove commissioner Colleen Mathis, so this delivers a further blow to any possible future attempts at re-impeachment. Republicans, though, are vowing to appeal.

NV Redistricting: Now it's really and truly finished. Though the court-drawn maps had been complete for some time, a few ancillary redistricting issues had remained, all of which were resolved in District Court Judge James Russell's final order on Thursday, Dec. 8. As we noted previously, no appeals were filed, so the district court's ruling stands.

TX Redistricting: So what the hell is going to happen next in Texas? There are as many questions as answers, but I'd strongly encourage you to read the incomparable Michael Li's Q&A on the topic. The San Antonio three-judge panel (whose map just got blocked by the Supreme Court) is holding a status conference Tuesday morning with all parties, so we'll know more after that. One issue on the table is whether the state should conduct two primaries: Republicans want legislative and congressional elections moved to May, but all others to take place in March, as originally scheduled. Democrats and civil rights group LULAC are opposed and want the primaries to stay together, whether or not they have to get moved. By the way, I believe the presidential primary would also have to be delayed, because Texas awards some delegates by congressional district.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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