• WV-Sen: Hahahahahahahahah! Oh, too, too priceless! Uber-rich businessman John Raese received a ton of crap last year (deservedly so) for actually being a resident of Florida while running for Senate in West Virginia. (Here's a sample DSCC ad.) So how did he launch his bid for a rematch against Dem Sen. Joe Manchin, the guy who thoroughly beat him last year?
"It just seemed like a good day," he told reporters. "The weather was clear, the clouds parted and I just came in."
According to the FlightAware online flight tracking service, Raese flew to Charleston from Palm Beach International Airport in his Cessna Citation jet, arriving at Yeager Airport at 3:34 p.m.
Oh man! Just perfect! But wait, it gets even better:
However, the jet is hangared, not in the University City, but at Cumberland (Md.) Regional Airport, about 70 miles east of Morgantown.
Why? Unlike West Virginia, Maryland does not collect aircraft registration fees or charge personal property taxes on aircraft. Purchases of aircraft are also exempt from Maryland sales taxes, if the company that owns the plane is engaged in interstate commerce.
For a Citation CJ2, domiciling the jet in Maryland saves about $240,000 in sales taxes, and about $52,000 a year in personal property taxes.
Even Raese's plane isn't a resident of West Virginia! And all to deprive the state he supposedly cares so much about some badly-needed tax revenue. The attack ads have already been produced, but in case Democrats need to freshen them up, well, the new ones just write themselves.
• FL-13: Keith Fitzgerald (D): $223K raised
• MO-Gov: Gov. Jay Nixon (D): $1.3 mil raised, $5 mil cash-on-hand
• NV-Sen: Rep. Shelley Berkley (D): $1.1 mil raised, $3.75 mil cash-on-hand
• NE-Sen: Okay, I'll give Bob Kerrey credit for a pretty funny response to Karl Rove's radio ad attacking the former Dem senator for living in New York City for the past decade. From Cameron Joseph in The Hill:
Kerrey has sent a letter back to Rove that was obtained by The Hill pointing out that he owns restaurants and a chain of gyms in the state.
"I heard your very funny radio ad and would like to invite you to come to Nebraska and have a burger with my family at one of my restaurants. Or better: Let's work out at one of my health clubs," Kerrey wrote to Rove. "I am certain you'll be glad you did."
Kinda sounds like Kerrey is actually giving serious consideration to this thing, huh?
• PA-Sen: Republican Tom Smith, who has kicked $5 million of his own money into his campaign kitty, is up with his second TV ad. No word on the size of the buy, but it'll supposedly air statewide on cable. While the spot's message obviously doesn't resonate with me (it's about cutting government spending), I actually think the production values are pretty decent, and the campaign rally bit at the end feels reasonably authentic. So I'm starting to wonder if Smith, by virtue of his money and perhaps a little bit of skill, might wind up as the GOP nominee despite being a political newcomer.
• WI-Sen: Well, it sure looks like Tammy Baldwin has the Democratic nomination locked up: Former Rep. Steve Kagen, who was probably the last remaining potential candidate of any notability, just endorsed her. All in all, some pretty nice work by Baldwin in terms of securing this opportunity for herself. Now she can let the GOP field tear itself apart while she focuses on winning in November.
• AL-05: This is so hilarious and so absurd that I can hardly believe it. Everyone, of course, remembers ex-Rep. Parker Griffith, the turncoat chump first elected in 2008 who then switched parties from D to R in Dec. of 2009, thinking it would save his sorry ass at election time. Well, his ass was sorry indeed, because he immediately got teabagged to death in the Republican primary, losing 51-33 to Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks. (Surprise! Alabama Republicans aren't interested in lifelong Democrats who donated money to Howard Dean and Harry Reid.) After that humiliating defeat, you had to figure Griffith was gone for good. I certainly did.
But no! He's back! And he says he's going to run against Brooks again… yes, in the GOP primary! (Snapped Brooks: "The immediate thought that came to my mind when I heard Parker Griffith was running, was, which party?") Once again, Griffith is demonstrating his remarkable stupidity, because he has only two months until the election, and what's more, he has almost no chance of defeating the incumbent. So I, for one, will be glad to see him get spanked one more time. What a moran.
• AZ-04: So what's the deal with Paul Gosar, anyway? The freshman Republican, who just announced he was switching districts from the 1st to the 4th, saw a whole bunch of staff-related turmoil that Dave Catanese wrote about over the summer, centered around a pair of top staffers who had no prior congressional experience and were tight with none other than Sarah Palin. Now Arizona's Yellow Sheet reports that Gosar's general consultant, who managed his 2010 campaign, is leaving, apparently in response to the drama caused by these poor hiring choices. Gosar also supposedly had a weak fundraising quarter, which supports my belief that he could very well lose the GOP primary this year.
• AZ-09: I try never to shy away from taking a critical look at fellow Democrats, even when such an examination might reveal unpleasant things, so in that spirit of due diligence, I think this piece by Stephen Lemons in the Phoenix New Times on ex-state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is worth a read. Lemons discusses recent attempts by Sinema, who has a very liberal profile, to moderate her image, such as refusing to back the recall of Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's notorious immigration law SB 1070, whom she called her "boss." At the same time, her résumé also includes things like supporting Ralph Nader in 2000. Lemons thinks Sinema is unlikely to win over middle-of-the-road voters with these shifts, but that she does risk alienating her current base of supporters as she pursued her bid for Congress.
Meanwhile, Sinema, the only declared Democratic candidate so far, just received the endorsement of former one-term Rep. Sam Coppersmith. Coppersmith won a major upset in AZ-01 in 1992, but gave his seat up after a single term to run for Senate when Democrat Dennis DeConcini retired. 1994 obviously wasn't an auspicious year for Democrats to seek higher office, and he lost to Jon Kyl (who is now mercifully retiring this year).
• CA-31, CA-08: San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, who had expressed interest in running in the 31st District if Rep. Jerry Lewis retired, now says he won't run in spite of Lewis's decision not to seek another term. Presumably Ramos doesn't want to have to deal with a Republican primary battle against Rep. Gary Miller, who immediately said he'd run here after Lewis made his announcement. But Miller may still have some competition for his party's nomination, since it sounds like state Sen. Bob Dutton is still looking at the race. Dutton said he's "seriously headed in that direction" and will "make a decision fairly quickly."
Meanwhile, two Republicans who had been closely eyeing the race in the red 8th District (where Lewis might also have sought re-election) both jumped in on Thursday: San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt and Assemblyman Paul Cook.
• NJ-12: Venture capitalist Scott Sipprelle, who held Dem Rep. Rush Holt to his narrowest re-election margin in 2010 since his 651-vote escape a decade earlier, says he won't seek a rematch. No surprise: Holt's seat was made considerably bluer in redistricting, and if Sipprelle couldn't win 2010 under more favorable lines, it's quite hard to see him winning in 2012 under a tougher map. Holt will get a Republican challenger, though: Eric Beck, a businessman and former state director of the Concord Coalition, says he'll run.
• OR-01: Democrat Suzanne Bonamici has a new ad for the special election to replace ex-Rep. David Wu, which you can view at the link. (I'm pretty lukewarm about it.) It's also worth noting that ballots in this all-mail election were sent out to voters on Friday, and they must be returned by Jan. 31. Postmarks are insufficient—ballots actually have to be received by county officials no later than 8pm on election day.
• PA-12: Mark Critz just received the support of the United Mine Workers in his Democratic primary battle against fellow incumbent Jason Altmire, the first union endorsement in the race, though I wonder how many miners are still left in this district.
• PA-18: I'd rather see them spend this money against Fred Upton in Michigan, but any time the Club for Growth wants to blow their scrilla attacking a Republican incumbent, I'll take it. The latest is a $61K buy on two 15-second spots hitting Rep. Tim Murphy, whom they'd targeted with some previous ads as well. The claim is the same as ever: He's a "liberal" who supported all kinds of ungodly liberal liberalism. I find the ads themselves amusing—you can click through and watch `em at the link.
• WI Recall: A challenger has emerged for Republican state Sen. Pam Galloway in the 29th District, should a recall go forward: Marathon County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Johnson, who took a leave as party chair in order to declare his candidacy. Johnson is also a former AFSCME member.
In related news, organizers of the drive to recall state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald say they have enough signatures to force a recall. Given that this is the fifth-reddest senate seat in all of Wisconsin, though, I'm not really sure I understand the motivation behind this push (though conceivably Fitzgerald could be beaten by another Republican in a recall primary).
• DCCC: Apparently, the D-Trip recently told a whole bunch of Democratic hopefuls that, as part of being considered for the DCCC's "Red to Blue" list, they need to raise 100 donations on ActBlue by today. I haven't seen this reported anywhere, but a lot of campaigns are mentioning it (or alluding to it) on their ActBlue pages. Ami Bera, running in CA-07, offers the most explicit confirmation, saying: "The DCCC has challenged us to reach a goal of 100 donors by Monday." Several other candidates have also made reference to this challenge, including Christie Vilsack (IA-04), Brendan Mullen (IN-02), Annie Kuster (NH-02), and Nick Lampson (TX-14). (Hat-tip to trowaman, who told me about this story and is helping Lampson with his efforts.)
• Polltopia (PDF): On Friday, Democracy Corps came out with one of their frequent "state of play" memos, and, as we've been seeing all year, we're looking at a 2012 election that's a scrum at the 50-yard line, not a wave one way or the other. What's probably most noteworthy here, though, is that the Democrats have pulled ahead on the "named" House ballot (where the actual name of the incumbent in the interviewee's district is included in the question, though the Democrat is still asked generically) for the first time since early 2010, 47-44. That includes a 44-42 lead among independents.
At the presidential level, 44% approval for Barack Obama is good for a 47-46 lead over Mitt Romney. Down in the weeds, but maybe most noteworthy—and consistent with an apparently improving economic picture—is that the Democrats have also drawn even with the GOP on the question of who would do a better job with the economy (at 42-42). That's after three straight years of a big Republican advantage there (it was 48-36 for the GOP at the time of the 2010 election). (David Jarman)
• Voter Suppression: Some rare good news on the voter suppression front: A new voter ID bill was pulled from the legislative docket in Nebraska and won't (at least for now) come up for a vote. Of course, it could rise again, zombie-like, at some point in the future, but for the moment, I'll take it.
• CT Redistricting: Nathan Persily, the special master drawing Connecticut's new congressional map, just released a draft proposal, and it looks like the changes are very minimal—exactly what Democrats, who currently control the state's delegation 5-0, were hoping for. Click the link for more detail (including the master's report). The map is below:a federal investigation for corruption.)
Persily also hammered the Republican proposal:
The Republican Proposal shifts more population, land, and towns than is reasonably necessary to comply with one person, one vote. It moves 185,726 people (or 5.2% of the state’s population) out of their current district. The plan makes changes to fourteen towns, seven of which would be moved into entirely new districts. Neither the one person, one vote rule, nor the Voting Rights Act requires that such changes be made.
• MI Redistricting: What a bunch of stupids. Michigan, you may be surprised to learn, is required to seek preclearance from the Department of Justice for its statewide redistricting plans because two townships (Clyde and Buena Vista) are covered jurisdictions under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Well, like a lot of states with Republicans at the helm, they got all paranoid and decided to seek preclearance through the courts rather than via the DoJ. So what happened? The DoJ still went ahead and signed off on the maps, but because Michigan chose to litigate, Justice's decision has no legal effect and the plans are still without preclearance because the courts haven't ruled yet.
A while back, redistricting expert Gary Hebert (who happened to be my election law prof in law school) predicted exactly this sort of problem with regard to another state that went this route:
Louisiana has foolishly sought preclearance simultaneously in the DC court and at DOJ. I say foolishly because Louisiana says it wants "expedited review." But filing in the DC court can only slow the process down. First, any proceeding in the DC court is an adversarial one and will likely take more time to resolve than simply proceeding administratively before DOJ.
Second, the legal standard is the same in both the DC court and before DOJ, so what's there to gain? Perhaps the State thinks that by going to the DC court, it can avoid the Obama Justice Department. It can't. DOJ is the statutory defendant in such a DC preclearance case and its views and review of the Louisiana plan will get a full airing.
Third, filing in the DC court could see groups opposed to the redistricting plans intervene in the suit and delay the process even further. DOJ rightfully has told the DC court that it will review the maps and data, but it needs time to do so. If other states follow Louisiana's lead and file simultaneously in the DC court and before DOJ, they invite delay, not expedited consideration. That's something else to watch in the aftermath of Louisiana's dual submissions.
• MO Redistricting: It looks like the Russ Carnahan-backed suit against Missouri's new congressional map might have gotten a little traction with the state's supreme court justices, but not in the way Rusty would have hoped. At oral arguments on Thursday, the judges didn't seem to care much about line-drawing in the St. Louis region, where Carnahan saw his district get dismantled, but they were intrigued by the odd little "teardrop" carved into the western chunk of Democrat Emanuel Cleaver's 5th CD outside of Kansas City (see it here).
Missouri's state constitution has a requirement that districts be drawn as "compact" as possible, and this small carve-out seemed to catch the bench's attention. But even if the court rules that some changes need to be made to clean up the 5th, it's unlikely that any kind of ripple effect will be enough to save Carnahan, all the way on the other side of the state.
• VA Redistricting: If you blink, I think you might miss it. Virginia's long-delayed congressional remapping process is kicking back into high gear, now that Republicans have taken back control of the state Senate, giving the GOP control of the proverbial redistricting trifecta. The House passed an incumbent-protection plan last year to lock in the state's 8-3 Republican delegation, but it died in what was then the Dem-held Senate.
Now a revived version of that bill (which you can view here, including the map) is once again quickly sailing through the House and should soon land in the upper chamber, where it will almost assuredly pass easily, and then get signed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. Had Democrats hung on to the Senate, we might have wound up with a much better court-drawn map, which made that loss the most painful of Nov. 2011.
• DRA: Twohundertseventy is compiling DRF files of official state-drawn redistricting plans for use in Dave's Redistricting App. Click the link to see how you can help.