• HI-02: Adrienne LaFrance at Honolulu Civil Beat does the work of angels in pinning down all the Democratic candidates running for the open 2nd District House seat for their views on key social issues: former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Office of Hawaiian Affairs advocate Esther Kiaaina, Honolulu City Council member Tulsi Gabbard, and attorneys Bob Marx and Rafael del Castillo.
What's so depressing (and distressing) is that we have to worry about electing someone wobbly—if not downright conservative—in a district as liberal as this one. Particularly disgusting is Hannemann, who outright opposes same-sex marriage, only grudgingly supports Roe v. Wade (calling it merely "the law of the land" and weirdly saying "any attempt to overturn should come from the states"), and even has qualms about gay adoption. The best set of answers belong to Kiaaina, but from a progressive point of view, it looks like stopping Hannemann, who is widely regarded as the frontrunner, ought to be priority number one.
• NC-Gov: Pat McCrory (R): $1.5 mil raised, $2 mil cash-on-hand (for last 6 months of 2011)
• PA-Sen: Tom Smith (R): $4.25 mil self-loan, $4.4 mil cash-on-hand
• RI-01: Rep. David Cicilline (D): $250K raised, $500K cash-on-hand
• UT-Sen: After teasing us for a while, former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist finally pulled the trigger on a long-awaited challenge to Sen. Orrin Hatch for the Republican nomination. (Liljenquist resigned from the legislature last month to pursue a federal bid, but had held out the possibility he might run for the House rather than the Senate.) Aside from being highly regarded by the movement conservative base, though, Liljenquist doesn't have much of a profile: He was only in his first term as a legislator when he quit and is just 37 years old. (Fun fact: Liljenquist also worked at Mitt Romney's infamous Bain & Company after graduating from law school.) Meanwhile, Hatch, though often regarded as an apostate, has $4 million in the bank and looks a lot stronger than Sen. Bob Bennett did before he got ousted in an intra-party battle in 2010. Obviously, we can only wish Liljenquist the best and hope that the NRSC has to plunk down money to help save Hatch, but I'm not terribly optimistic.
• MD-Sen: State Sen. C. Anthony Muse, who launched an exploratory committee back in September, plans to formally announce a challenge to Sen. Ben Cardin in the Democratic primary on Thursday. When he first began mooting a run, Muse told a radio host: “There is something to be said about the fact that we don’t have an African American serving in the United States Senate.” Even if Muse does intend to play up the racial angle, I can't see him gaining much traction. (And remember that Cardin won a primary against former NAACP president and ex-Rep. Kweisi Mfume in 2006, when this seat was open.)
• NC-Gov: It's the ultimate non-campaign: State Rep. Bill Faison, who said back in September that he wouldn't challenge Gov. Bev Perdue in the Democratic primary, has nevertheless kept hectoring her ever since. Now he's managed to roll out a campaign platform and lend his own campaign half a million bucks. As Laura Leslie of WRAL.com points out, Faison had only loaned himself $17,000 when he was seeking re-election to the state House last cycle, so this obviously ain't legislative race money. Even so, PPP's polling has shown Faison getting crushed by Perdue in a hypothetical matchup, so I'm not sure he'd have much hope… especially since, of course, he isn't running, right?
• WV-Gov: Despite an error on invitations to a fundraiser which heralded "Rick Thompson for Governor," the state House Speaker says he plans to seek re-election next year and won't challenge Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in the Democratic primary. Thompson, you may recall, ran against Tomblin in the primary last year, after Tomblin became acting governor when Joe Manchin was elected to the Senate. Thompson ran to Tomblin's left on an economically populist platform with a lot of union backing but fell short, losing 40-24. According to the linked article, the two men had a frosty relationship for over a year, but lately there's been something of a "rapprochement."
• AZ-04: Unsurprisingly, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who first started talking about the race in October, officially launched his campaign for Congress on Wednesday. At the moment, the redrawn 4th CD lacks an incumbent, but 1st District Rep. Paul Gosar may seek re-election here instead, given the seat's much redder hue. That would set up a pretty serious battle in the Republican primary, since Babeau has shown some early fundraising chops and also featured prominently in a somewhat notorious John McCain ad in which McCain exhorted Babeau to "complete the danged fence."
• MD-06: This was quite unexpected: Former Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg, who was the first Democrat to announce for this race, right after redistricting was completed, is dropping out because of a recurrence of breast cancer. It goes without saying that we wish her the best.
Meanwhile, two other candidates who had both been looking at the race jumped in on Wednesday: wealthy financier John Delaney on the Democratic side and state Sen. David Brinkley for the GOP. Brinkley, of course, will have to face off against the incumbent, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who has pledged to seek re-election even though this district was made much bluer. Quite awkwardly, Bud Otis, who was Bartlett's chief-of-staff until just last month, is also looking at the race, as is state GOP chair Alex Mooney. Delaney, meanwhile, joins state Sen. Rob Garagiola and physician Milad Pooran in the Democratic field.
• MN-06, MN-Sen: Will Michele Bachmann go from 6th place (in the Iowa caucuses) back to the 6th District (in Minnesota)? So far, she isn't saying. She has plenty of time to decide, though. The nominating convention in MN-06 isn't until April 14, and even then, it's still possible to run in the primary without going through the convention. Not that Bachmann is likely to go that route, but since potential Republican replacements would probably like a chance to organize before the convention if she doesn't run again, I expect she'll get some pressure to make up her mind relatively quickly.
There's also been a little renewed chatter that Bachmann could turn her failed presidential bid into a campaign against Dem Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Chuck Todd mentioned the possibility, for instance), but I'm skeptical. Almost a year ago, Minnesota's (now-former) state GOP chair Tony Sutton said that Bachmann was "very emphatic" in telling him that she had no interest in running for Senate, and Bachmann herself has refused to comment on this possibility. In fact, I'm even dubious that she'll seek re-election, but we'll see soon enough.
• NJ-03: Even though Olympic champion Carl Lewis was quite clear that he wouldn't run for Congress after getting removed from the ballot for a state Senate race over residency issues last fall, Blue Jersey pressed a spokesman to see if Lewis's mind had since changed, especially in light of a new draft movement. It sounds like the answer is still no, at least as far as a run against GOP freshman John Runyan is concerned, but the spokesman did say "never say never." However, it also seems that Lewis is interested in another bid for office in 2013, though for what exactly—governor? state Senate?— remains unclear.
• NJ-09: Here's that list of endorsers Dem Rep. Bill Pascrell's camp promised the other day, and it's definitely quite lengthy, from former Gov. Jim Florio on down to various local officials. But here's something weird, though: The URL of the story I linked to at PolitickerNJ ends with "pascrell-lands-ganz-endorsement-bergen." That's a reference to Bergen County Freeholder David Ganz, which would probably have been a pretty good "cross-county" get for Pascrell. (Pascrell's from Paterson, which is in Passaic County, the other key county in the district.)
So what happened? It turns out Pascrell jumped the gun and put out bad information. Ganz (who lives outside of the district in Fair Lawn) was on the initial list Politicker published, but when he saw his name there, he immediately put out a statement saying he was endorsing neither Pascrell nor his primary opponent, Rep. Steve Rothman. Pascrell's camp claims that they had Ganz's support but that he "changed his mind"—but no matter what, this kind of stumble never looks great.
• NV-04: The Las Vegas Review Journal (Jon Ralston's favorite so-called "newspaper") reports that Danny Tarkanian will quit nosing around the 4th CD race and actually jump in next week—and that his wife Amy will "likely" resign as state GOP chair to avoid any conflict of interest. Tarkanian, who doesn't have much on his resume except for three losing campaigns and a famous name, will join state Sen. Barbara Cegavske in the race for the Republican nod.
• OH-09: Aww, isn't that nice: Alan Grayson says he's helped raised $50,000 to keep Dennis Kucinich in Congress—the same Kucinich who paid for robocalls in support of a GOP-drawn gerrymander of Ohio that would lock in a 12 Republican, four Democrat House delegation for the state.
• PA-08: Back in November, when ex-state Rep. Sam Rohrer left his post as head of the Pennsylvania chapter of Americans for Prosperity (the Koch brothers' front group), my strongest reaction wasn't about Rohrer's entrance into the race but rather that a "plum gig in the Wingnut Welfare Program has just opened up." Well, if you were angling for the job, I'm sorry to tell you it's been filled: Tea Party activist Jennifer Stefano has gotten the gig, which means she won't launch a primary challenge to GOP freshman Mike Fitzpatrick in the swingy 8th. That has to have Fitzpatrick—and the NRCC—quite pleased. Maybe the lesson is this: Threaten to challenge a vulnerable Republican incumbent from the right and David Koch will hire you.
• RI-01: That was quick. Former state AG Patrick Lynch quashed any speculation that he might challenge freshman Rep. David Cicilline in the Democratic primary in the simplest way possible: by endorsing him. Just a day earlier, Ted Nesi reported that Lynch was considering a bid, but in reporter Scott MacKay's phrasing, Lynch said "he is not and never has been interested in running for Congress this year."
• WA-10: Democrat Denny Heck pulled in a reasonable fundraising quarter, raising $240K and finishing with $580K cash-on-hand. Those numbers are much more like his 2Q pace ($230K) rather than the weaker 3Q haul he posted ($123K). And speaking of old donations to Heck, here's an interesting one: Back in June, attorney Wayne Williams gave $250 to Heck's campaign. Why does this matter? Because Wayne Williams is the father of former state Rep. Brendan Williams, who has been considering a run in the Democratic primary against Heck. The younger Williams hasn't sounded particularly enthused, though, and if pops is already backing Heck, that may be yet another signal he won't actually move forward with a bid.
• CA-St. Sen.: Good news for Democrats: Republican state Sen. Sam Blakeslee says he won't seek re-election if the redistricting commission's new Senate map is upheld, seeing as his district got nuked under the new lines. What's left of it is an excellent Democratic pickup opportunity, and it also means that Team Blue needs only this seat and one other to reach an all-important two-thirds majority in the chamber. Hitting that goal is crucial because it would actually allow the legislature to start raising badly-needed revenues, something the rump GOP has blocked since forever.
• IN-SoS: Judge Louis Rosenberg, who ruled that Secretary of State Charlie White was ineligible to serve in his current post, has stayed his ruling pending White's appeal. (I thought that Rosenberg already issued such an order before the holidays, but it was just a temporary ruling until a hearing could be held.) Also of note: White's long-awaited trial on voter fraud will begin on Jan. 30.
• WA-Init: There's a new Elway Poll of Washington out (so keep an eye out for a WA-Gov portion too). Their look at marijuana legalization shows some diminished support for the idea since last summer (now only 48-45 in favor, down from 54-43), but the real news here, deep in PubliCola's writeup, is that legalization supporters already have gathered the 355K signatures to put the topic on the ballot in November as I-502.
Another potential initiative on the November ballot may be same-sex marriage, but the odds just increased that it may be implemented legislatively this session. Gov. Chris Gregoire announced on Wednesday that she supports gay marriage and will sign legislation that's currently queued up, assuming it clears the Dem-held legislature. (Of course, then it may still show up on the November ballot as a repeal referendum, but recall that domestic partnership laws survived a similar referendum several years ago.) (David Jarman)
• Close Calls: Reflecting on Tuesday night's insanely tight Iowa caucuses, Aaron Blake has a great roundup of the 10 closest major races in US history.
• GOP Primary: Remember the excellent site Democratic Convention Watch? Well, they're back—in Republican convention watching-form! DCW did an awesome job in 2008 tracking the difficult-to-pin-down Democratic "superdelegates," party bigwigs who got an automatic ticket to the convention and were free to support whomever they liked. It turns out that the GOP has something similar, although they're formally called "automatic delegates" and there are a lot fewer of them: only 132 are free agents, compared with some 800 on the Dem side. Anyhow, DCW is keeping tabs on this batch of superdelegates, only a handful of whom have actually made endorsements yet. So far, Mitt Romney has 12, Rick Perry two and Rick Santorum just one, but click the link for the complete (and continually-updated) list.
• Passings: Perennial candidate Gatewood Galbraith, who frequently sought office in Kentucky on a sort of weirdo blend of liberalism and libertarianism, died on Wednesday due to complications from chronic emphysema. Galbraith (who was not all that old, only 64) most recently ran for governor as an independent last year, scoring a sizable 9% and, despite his left-ish leanings, appeared to pull votes almost exclusively from the Republican side of the ticket.
• Polltopia: Tom Jensen has a helpful new chart of all the swing state polling PPP did in 2011. Depending on how you read the numbers (specifically, how you think the undecideds will break), Barack Obama has anywhere from 255 to 337 electoral votes—quite the spread, but even that low number looks like good news for the president.
• KY Redistricting: Kentucky's legislature is back in session, and both Republicans and Democrats are hoping to get redistricting out of the way quickly. The state's filing deadline is Jan. 31, so time is of the essence (though that date could be delayed if necessary). House Speaker Greg Stumbo says that legislation could be passed as early as next week, but the real question is whether the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-held Senate can reach an agreement.
• NY Redistricting: When this idea first percolated back in September, it was purely at rumor level, but now Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is running with it. He says there's a "good chance" that a forthcoming GOP-drawn Senate map will include a brand-new 63rd district, one more than the 62 that exist currently. The idea, of course, is to somehow squeeze another Republican-leaning seat out of a state that is already gerrymandered within an inch of its life, and so Democrats are crying foul. They're calling the plan "illegal" and previously published a memo in support of that argument. The matter is pretty complicated, though, and it's worth noting that the Senate added a seat in 2002 and in 1982.
• TN Redistricting: New proposals for the state House and Senate were unveiled by Tennessee's Republican-controlled legislature yesterday, and you can see both at the link. However, the congressional map isn't out yet, though it's expected soon. It should appear here when it's available.
• WI Redistricting: Wow. If I'd ever been on the receiving end of a court ruling like this in my lawyering days, I'd have gone and hidden underneath my bed for a week. The judges hearing a lawsuit on redistricting in Wisconsin just absolutely sandblasted Republican attorneys for their failure to comply with repeated orders to make witnesses and documents available to the Democratic plaintiffs. Rick Hasen has the best excerpts. A taste:
But this new motion—in reality, the Legislature’s second collateral attack on the wisdom of the Court’s prior orders in as many weeks—is completely devoid of merit. In the Court’s eyes, this motion is nothing more than a third bite at an apple that the Court has twice explained is a bitter one to chew. In reality, the Court can deny the Legislature’s motion without reaching its merits; but, even quickly reaching the merits, it is clear that the Legislature’s motion fails. And, thus—for the third time—this Court rules that neither Mr. Handrick nor the documents he holds are protected by privilege. But, this time, beyond once again directing that the Legislature comply with the Court’s orders as related to discovery, the Court goes further, by sanctioning the Legislature’s attorneys. […]
Thus, here, where the three-judge panel twice considered the Legislature’s arguments and entered orders denying their motions, any further three-judge review is inappropriate. To clarify, if perhaps the Legislature’s lawyer’s failed to read or understand the Court’s prior orders entered under the heading “Before WOOD, Circuit Judge, DOW, District Judge, and STADTMUELLER, District Judge,” the full Court considered the arguments of the parties, conferred and agreed upon an appropriate resolution, and entered both challenged orders accordingly.
And on and on like so. The thing is, like I said, it's Republican attorneys we're talking about, and they simply have no shame or fear. Hell, even if they get disbarred, they know they'll get taken care of.
• WV Redistricting: Thanks to Bobby Big Wheel in comments, we can now take a look at "Cooper Plan 4," one of two congressional redistricting proposals a three-judge federal panel says it may impose on the state if the legislature doesn't adopt a new map that passes muster by Jan. 17. (You'll recall that on Tuesday, the court found the map passed by West Virginia legislators last year to be unconstitutional due to excessive population differences between districts, violating the principle of one person, one vote.) Details on the other map, the so-called "Perfect Plan" are also available at the link.
But it sounds like key players in the legislature would rather implement a new congressional map themselves, instead of having the court do it for them, though time is quite short. (Ry Rivard suggests it's about preferring the devil you know.) An appeal to the Supreme Court is also possible, though that would almost certainly force a Texas-style postponement of the filing deadline, which is soon (Jan. 28).