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Leading Off:

CA-31, CA-08: It was no surprise, but it's still big news: Rep. Jerry Lewis announced his retirement from Congress on Thursday, the third California Republican to do so in less than a week. Our full post analyzing Lewis's decision can be found at Daily Kos Elections, but there's already been a bunch of subsequent fallout, affecting two districts: the 31st, which contains Lewis's home, and the 8th, which houses most of his current constituents, either one of which he might have sought re-election in.

The biggest news was out of the 31st. GOP Rep. Gary Miller unexpectedly declared that he'd run here, abandoning his incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary battle against Ed Royce in the 39th. This is a pretty surprising move, given that Miller doesn't even represent a single constituent in the redrawn seat and will have to carpetbag here from his home in Diamond Bar in the 39th. On top of that, the redrawn 31st is a blue-tilting district: It went for Obama by a 56-41 margin, not friendly turf for a conservative Republican like Miller.

But Miller's own polling of his race against fellow GOP Rep. Ed Royce in the 39th must have looked pretty ugly. What's more, Royce was definitely the establishment favorite: NRCC chair Pete Sessions (in his personal capacity, of course) even hosted a fundraiser for Royce. Sessions was clearly relieved at this turn of events, though, because he immediately came out with a statement saying that the NRCC intends to support Miller in the 31st.

Miller is far from a safe bet to win re-election, though, and it's conceivable he won't even be his party's nominee, in spite of Sessions' warning. While other Republicans had been waiting on Lewis's decision and were likely to defer to him, they may not do the same for Miller. Indeed, before Miller's announcement (and even before Lewis's), state Sen. Bob Dutton had said he's opening an exploratory committee, and San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos had also expressed interest. Will they now bow out?

One other wildcard is Rep. David Dreier, a redistricting victim who had been left with few good options for re-election, the best of which was probably right here in the 31st. With Miller's move and Sessions' endorsement, will he give up any hope of running in CA-31? Or might he say "nuts to that" and go up against Miller anyway? Apart from retirement, there's only one real alternative: a bid in the incumbent-less 8th. However, San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt and Assemblyman Paul Cook are both very likely to make a go of it here, and Dreier, who represents just a smidgen of the 8th, would (like Miller in the 31st) be carpetbagging.

(By the way, here's some helpful background on Miller, who has some dodgy ethical dealings in his jacket, and, according to CREW, is under investigation by the DOJ and the House Ethics Committee. The stories CREW links to are quite old, though, so it's impossible to say what the status of those inquiries is now.)

Finally, on the Democratic side, Pete Aguilar, the mayor of Redlands (pop. 69K), declared on Thursday that he's entering the race. Aguilar's entry probably makes him the most prominent Dem running so far; you can see a list of other candidates at the indispensible Race Tracker Wiki. And with or without Miller, the 31st remains a key Democratic pickup opportunity, and a race to watch.

4Q Fundraising:

CA-07: Ami Bera (D): $256K raised, $919K cash-on-hand

CT-Sen: Rep. Chris Murphy (D): $720K raised, $2.5 mil cash-on-hand

FL-Sen: Sen. Bill Nelson (D): $1.4 mil raised, $8.5 mil cash-on-hand; Rep. Connie Mack (R): $758K raised, $918K cash-on-hand

FL-08: Val Demings (D): $239K raised

FL-22: Patrick Murphy (D): >$300K raised

HI-Sen: Rep. Mazie Hirono (D): $624K raised, >$1 mil cash-on-hand

MI-Sen: Pete Hoekstra (R): >$1 mil raised

NH-02: Annie Kuster (D): $325K raised, >$800K cash-on-hand

NV-Sen: Sen. Dean Heller (R): $1.1 mil raised, $3.7 mil cash-on-hand

Senate:

NE-Sen: Karl Rove's American Crossroads is going up with a small ($30K) radio ad buy trying to dissuade ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey from returning home and running in place of the guy who succeeded him, retiring Sen. Ben Nelson. The spot (which you can listen to at the link) repeatedly mentions the fact that Kerrey has lived and worked in New York City, and features an almost comical quote in Kerrey's own words about how "the longer I've been here, the further to the left I get on healthcare." I imagine Crossroads is just trying to give Kerrey a taste of the kind of attacks he'd be able to expect if he did decide to make the race.

VA-Sen: After teasing us all for quite some time, "Sideshow" Bob Marshall is now saying that he will, in fact, run for the Republican Senate nomination against George Allen… but that he's still working out "a few mechanical steps" and isn't quite ready to make a formal announcement. Dammit, stop teasing us, Bob!

WV-Sen: If this is the best West Virginia Republicans have to offer, then Democrats are in pretty good shape for the Senate race. Wealthy businessman John Raese, who has run for statewide office five times now, says he plans to seek a rematch against Sen. Joe Manchin this fall. All of Raese's prior bids have, of course, been unsuccessful, including his ten-point loss to Manchin in the special election last cycle prompted by Sen. Robert Byrd's death. Obviously Obama will be on the ballot this year and that will change things somewhat, but if you get spanked that badly in West Virginia in a year like 2010 while running as a Republican, that says something.

Gubernatorial:

NH-Gov: Democrat Gary Hirshberg said back in November that he wasn't going to run for governor, but now comes news that he's stepping down from his job as CEO of Stonyfield Yogurt (though he's staying on as chairman). Could he be getting ready to change his mind? It seems unlikely, but then again, the Democratic field has been slow to take shape, with only ex-state Sen. Maggie Hassan actually declaring. So anything is possible.

PA-Gov: Wealthy businessman Tom Knox says "strongly considering" a run for governor in 2014, and presumably that would be as a Democrat. Knox has unsuccessfully run for office several times before, and during his most recent attempt (for Philadelphia mayor in 2011), he flirted with an independent bid. But as Adam Bonin points out, it's exceedingly hard to get on the ballot as an indie for a statewide race in Pennsylvania. Then again, with Knox's money, anything is possible.

WA-Gov: That Republican AG and gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna is in a constant state of dancing the hokey-pokey, sticking his moderate foot out and putting his conservative foot in, should come as no surprise at this point. PubliCola, however, has a nicely nuanced take on McKenna and his attempts to stay in the state's middle currents on the issue of gay marriage (an issue which looks poised to pass the state legislature in the coming weeks, thanks in part to the votes of at least several moderate King County suburban Republicans—and an issue showing majority support statewide according to recent polling). (David Jarman)

WI-Gov: Wisconsin Democrats say they will deliver their petitions to force a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday, the deadline for submitting them. The only question now is how many more signatures than the legal minimum of 540K will they submit. (A month ago, they said they had 507K.)

House:

AL-06: State Sen. Scott Beason announced on Thursday that he plans to challenge veteran Rep. Spencer Bachus in the Republican primary. Beason had his hand on the magic marker when it came time for redistricting and tried to keep the home base of another senator, Cam Ward, out of the 6th so that he could have a shot at Bachus all to himself, but Ward proved more popular and his own plan won out. Ward, however, seems content to bide his time and run for Congress some other day, so Beason will get his chance this year.

But boy does he bring a lot of baggage with him. I hesitate to summarize because Beason's record is really quite appalling, but if you want the headline version, he was caught on tape (while wearing a wire for the FBI, which was investigating illegal gambling) calling black Alabamians "aborigines." That's really just the tip of the iceberg, though. To learn more about how this came to pass, I strongly encourage you to read this report by Kyle Whitmire at Weld for Birmingham. A taste, from a judge's ruling in the gambling case:

“The evidence introduced at trial contradicts the self-serving portrait of Beason and Lewis as untouchable opponents of corruption. In reality, Beason and Lewis had ulterior motives rooted in naked political ambition and pure racial bias.” […]

“Beason’s and Lewis’s statements demonstrate a deep-seated racial animus and a desire to suppress black voters by manipulating what issues appeared on the 2010 ballot,” Thompson wrote. “Lawmakers who harbor such sentiments lack the integrity expected from elected officials.”

CA-30: Look out! Harry Reid is hosting a D.C. fundraiser in March for Rep. Howard Berman, who of course is in the midst of a monster incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary against fellow Dem Rep. Brad Sherman. Berman's hoovered up most of the establishment support so far, though, and this is just his latest get. As Dave Catanese alludes, it'll be interesting to see what their 4Q fundraising reports look like.

CT-04: Yet another Republican is considering a late entry into the 4th District race: Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti. (Just the other day, state Sen. Toni Boucher said she was looking at the contest, too.) Shelton, a city on the eastern edge of Fairfield County, has a population of about 40K and Lauretti has served as mayor for 10 terms, dating all the way back to 1991.

FL-06: Clay County Clerk of Court Jimmy Jett says he's considering a run for Congress… but that would set him on a collision course with Rep. Cliff Stearns in the Republican primary. Jett is waiting on the final outcome of redistricting to decide, so perhaps he's hoping to wind up in an incumbent-less district, or that the new lines will make Stearns vulnerable.

IL-10: PCCC is touting a new poll of likely voters, conducted by PPP, which shows activist Ilya Sheyman (whom they've endorsed) narrowly leading the Democratic primary field in the 10th CD. Sheyman takes 23%, while businessman Brad Schneider is at 21, businessman John Tree at 5, and attorney Vivek Bavda at 2. Still, it's anyone's race, seeing as fully half of voters haven't made up their minds yet. The primary is on March 20, and the winner gets to take on GOP freshman Bob Dold!.

MD-06: After all that mishugas, it turns out that Bud Otis isn't running for congress after all. Otis, you may recall, was chief-of-staff to Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett as recently as Nov. 30, when Roll Call reported that he was looking at a primary challenge against his own boss. Awkward! Otis resigned that very night, which seemed to give credence to the original report, but now he says he never had any plans to go after Bartlett's seat. Rather, he claims that state GOP chair Alex Mooney was behind the story, something Mooney of course denies. (Mooney himself was also interested in the seat but ultimately decided not to run after receiving a few brickbats. It's not exactly good form for a party chair to challenge one of his own party's incumbents in a primary.)

Bartlett did, however, wind up with two notable challengers from his own party, as expected: State Sen. David Brinkley and state Del. Kathy Afzali both filed for the race.

PA-08: As expected, attorney Kathy Boockvar officially launched her campaign against GOP Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick on Thursday, the first Democrat to enter the contest. Boockvar ran for Commonwealth Court last year, a statewide position, and lost a close race to Republican Anne Covey, 52-48. As for this race, the 8th was made touch redder in redistricting, but it still went for Barack Obama by a 53-46 margin, making it a tough but winnable seat for Team Blue.

UT-02: Republican state Rep. Dave Clark, a former House speaker, announced on Wednesday that he's running for the open 2nd Congressional District. He joins a pretty busy GOP field.

WA-01: Suzan DelBene, director of the Washington State Dept. of Revenue, just announced that she's entering the race for the redrawn (and open) 1st CD. DelBene, you'll recall, ran in the 8th against GOP Rep. Dave Reichert last cycle, performing admirably in a very difficult year. Thanks to her good showing, she had been mentioned as a possible repeat candidate, but when new congressional maps were released last month, DelBene found herself moved into in a new seat. That prompted her to tweet: "Looks like I now will be in the new 1st Congressional District." So this news comes as little surprise, given that strong hint. DelBene joins a crowded Democratic field that includes 2006 & 2008 WA-08 candidate Darcy Burner, state Rep. Roger Goodman, state Sen. Steve Hobbs, and ex-state Rep. Laura Ruderman.

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen: Democratic state Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, who barely won re-election in 2010, will not run again this fall due to health reasons. Republican Bob Cohen, Oppenheimer's opponent last cycle, is running again, but Democrats have a credible replacement in the wings in the form of Assemblyman George Latimer, who says he's interested. This is a 65% Obama seat, which would be a stretch for Republicans, but not impossible. It's also possible the GOP will sense an opportunity to try to draw the lines here more in their favor, though that may not be so easy in this part of lower Westchester County.

PA-AG: Ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy is touting an internal poll showing him with a plurality lead in the Democratic primary, but a lot of voters are still undecided. Murphy takes 36% in the survey from Global Strategy Group, while former Lackawanna County assistant district attorney Kathleen Kane gets 15 and former Philadelphia prosecutor Dan McCaffery gets 8.

Murphy's also taken some hits recently because he never sat for the Pennsylvania bar exam, but rather became licensed to practice in the state through a very common process known as "reciprocity," which involves passing another state's exam and then gaining sufficient legal experience. Speaking as a lawyer, this kind of criticism is manifestly stupid—if Pennsylvania thought it necessary for all lawyers practicing there to take the PA bar, they'd make that a requirement. But they don't, and it's not. That said, things play differently on the campaign trail than they do at bar committee meetings, and McCaffery has been making a big deal of this story.

Grab Bag:

DCCC: The D-Trip is once again touting its recruitment efforts, sending around a press release listing a whole bunch of candidates in a whole bunch of races. (I believe this is the third such email they've sent this election cycle.) Click the link to see who made the list, and who didn't. (Note that they helpfully include the names they've previously mentioned at the end of the list.)

Maryland: The Old Line State's filing deadline was Wednesday, and the Secretary of State's office has helpfully put together a complete list of every candidate for every office. You can also check out the Race Tracker Wiki's Maryland page.

North Carolina: Tom Jensen's got some tarheel miscellany, focused especially on the proposed anti-same sex marriage amendment to the state constitution that will go before voters this May. Support for the measure keeps ticking downward, but overall, it still looks like it's passing by a big margin, 56-34.

Passings: Former Republican Gov. and Rep. Bill Janklow of South Dakota died on Thursday of brain cancer at the age of 72. Janklow spent many decades in public service (which you can read about at the link) but will probably be best remembered for the fatal accident he caused in 2003 that ended his career, when he sped through a stop sign and killed a motorcyclist. He was convicted of manslaughter, and his resignation from the House prompted a special election which was won by Democrat Stephanie Herseth.

WATN?: Finally, someone who can actually teach Harvard kids something! Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is spending the spring semester at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, which is run by none other than Trey Grayson, the former Republican Secretary of State from Kentucky. Hopefully Strickland can take an occasional break from teaching to torment Artur Davis in the schoolyard.

Redistricting Roundup:

FL Redistricting: The state Senate's new senate and congressional maps just passed through committee on Wednesday and are expected to come before the full body for a vote next week. (A number of Democrats voted in support of the GOP's gerrymanders in both cases.) The Senate and House have agreed to each draw their own maps for their own chambers, but they're working on different congressional plans which will ultimately have to be reconciled.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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