• NC-04/NC-13, NC-Gov: There were two major developments in North Carolina politics yesterday, both involving Democrats who said they would not seek re-election—developments which may yet wind up inter-related. Early on Thursday, Rep. Brad Miller, a strong progressive and a great friend to the netroots, announced that he would drop his congressional bid in the 4th District, where a new Republican-drawn map had pitted him against fellow Dem Rep. David Price. (You can read more about our thoughts on what led to Miller's decision, which was immediately felt hard by his many fans, here.)
A little later that same day, Gov. Bev Perdue, who sported bad-to-awful poll numbers almost from the moment she took office, declared that she, too, would not run again this November. (Our reaction to Perdue's move, and the reasons for it, can be found here.) Perdue's departure set off a wave of speculation, public statements, and hearsay about who Democrats might tap to replace her. (Hey, I hear Brad Miller might be available....) The situation has been moving very quickly—and one major candidate has already joined the race—so here's our best attempt to keep tabs on the very broad field that's under discussion:
• In: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton — "I am the only candidate who has run and won statewide and I look forward to waging an aggressive campaign,"
• Likely in: State Rep. Bill Faison —"You should probably expect the announcement will be in that direction"
• Considering: Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx — "I will spend the coming weeks talking with my family and friends about how I could best serve our city and state"
• Considering: 7th CD Rep. Mike McIntyre — "I am always open to considering broader opportunities to serve, including the possibility of governor"
• Reportedly considering: Former 2nd CD Rep. Bob Etheridge — "A former aide... said he should be considered possibility"
• Reportedly considering: 11th CD Rep. Heath Shuler — "A source close to... Shuler... [says] he is strongly considering and leaning towards running for governor"
• Not ruling it out: State Rep. Dan Blue — "Didn't rule out a campaign, although he said he wasn't positioning himself for one"
• Not ruling it out: Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines: "I'd say it's too soon to rule anything out"
• Not ruling it out: 13th CD Rep. Brad Miller — "I haven't given it a first thought ... There are other qualified candidates out there"
• Not ruling it out: Former state Treasurer Richard Moore — "Said he hasn't decided whether to enter the race, but he said he's not sure he's the right person to run this year"
• Out: State AG Roy Cooper — "I am honored to serve as attorney general and plan to file for re-election"
• Out: State Treasurer Janet Cowell — "I intend to seek re-election as state treasurer"
• Out: Ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham — "I am actively having conversations about the office of Lieutenant Governor"
• Out: Former Gov. Jim Hunt — "A secretary said he wanted everyone to know that he has no plans to run again"
• Out: SoS Elaine Marshall — "I have important business to finish at the Secretary of State's office and I hope I can count on your support in my campaign"
• MO-Sen: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D): $1.4 mil raised, $5 mil cash-on-hand
• MT-Sen: Sen. Jon Tester (D): $1.2 mil raised, $3.8 mil cash-on-hand
• NE-Sen: Jon Bruning (R): $400K raised, $1.7 mil cash-on-hand
• NY-23: Matt Doheny (R): $306K raised, $316K cash-on-hand
• IN-Sen: We don't see a lot of polling out of Indiana, in large part because the state attorney general still insists that robocalls are against the law there. But a super PAC supporting GOP Sen. Dick Lugar ponied up for a live interviewer survey by Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies—taken in December—which purports to show Lugar up over Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly in the general election by a wide 58-32 margin. The poll also has Donnelly tied with Lugar's Tea Party primary challenger, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, at 42 apiece, so obviously the point of releasing this poll is to demonstrate the electability gap between Lugar and Mourdock.
But it's also very notable that the sponsors, Indiana Values PAC, didn't provide any head-to-heads for the primary matchup. Could Lugar be in serious trouble there? Well, check out this amazing quote from the poll's sponsors:
“We say, look, if Sen. Lugar is the (Republican) candidate, he wins walking away” against Donnelly, said Andy Klingenstein, treasurer of the political action committee and a Lugar aide in the early 1980s. “If, on the other hand, Mourdock squeaks by in the primary, it’s messy. It’s going to be a battle. We’re not saying he definitely won’t win, but it’s messy.”
That's a shocking admission coming from a group that exists purely to support Lugar. If you're going to make the electability argument, go strong! But hedging like this? That's a pretty stunning thing to say. You'd only cop to a serious problem like this if you were actually worried you'd lose and you wanted to scare donors and supporters into higher gear—otherwise you'd act like you were going to crush and you'd show Mourdock the back of your hand. So I'm gonna read this one as a sign that Lugar's camp is definitely concerned about losing the primary. And that is good news indeed.
• AZ-04: One of the more questionable choices we've seen all cycle was the decision by Republican freshman Paul Gosar, post-redistricting, to walk away from the Republican-leaning district that he represents and that he lives in, to run in a more safely-Republican district to its south and west. (Not that we're complaining: That instantly elevated Democratic chances of taking back AZ-01.) After all, only a minority of Gosar's constituents are in the new 4th, and there was already a strong GOPer running there, in the form of Pinal Co. Sheriff Paul Babeu (of "complete the dang fence" fame, and something of a rock star in right-wing nativist circles).
Now a new Babeu internal (taken by Public Opinion Strategies) makes it clear what Gosar has gotten himself into. The survey shows Babeu well ahead of Gosar, 31-23, with 19 for state Sen. Ron Gould—a rather unusual place for an incumbent to be. But seeing as Gosar's brief tenure has been most distinguished by constant staff turnover, that suggests he's either not getting good advice or just incapable of heeding it. (David Jarman)
• CT-05: Democratic state House Speaker Chris Donovan continues on his roll when it comes to union endorsements. The latest comes from the Connecticut arm of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents more than 28,000 members throughout the state.
• IA-03: Thanks to reader JL, here's a link to the House Majority PAC ad attacking Republican Rep. Tom Latham, who faces an incumbent-vs.-incumbent matchup against Dem Rep. Leonard Boswell. For some odd reason, HMP has placed the spot in that YouTube limbo which comes with the warning banner: "This video is unlisted. Only those with the link can see it." Why do this? Don't you want maximum exposure for your content? And in the case of HMP, they certainly post lots of other stuff to their account, so why make this one hard to find? In any event, I actually find this spot somewhat amusing:• MO-02, MO-AG: I'll give GOPer Ed Martin credit for one thing: He knows how to cast a wide net. Martin, you may remember, beat expectations in losing to Russ Carnahan in old MO-03 in 2010, then almost immediately started running for the GOP Senate '12 nomination. With Rep. Todd Akin's entry into the GOP field, though, Martin dropped down to running in MO-02, left open by Akin, but then found himself getting bigfooted again, this time by the more establishment-flavored ex-RNC vice-chair Ann Wagner, who's been dominating Martin on the fundraising front.
But after briefly exploring getting into the gubernatorial race post-Kinder-blowup (but then getting bigfooted yet again, this time by rich guy Dave Spence), it looks like Martin's finally found a niche that he can keep. He's now running for Attorney General, and he actually got some establishment endorsements behind him this time. He'll take on Democratic incumbent Chris Koster. (David Jarman)
• OH-09: Zuh, whut? Here's some Barney Frank news, and no, it's not about his impending nuptials. Rather, the retiring veteran congressman from Massachusetts is wading into the incumbent-vs.-incumbent fight in the Democratic primary in Ohio's redrawn 9th CD and is backing Dennis Kucinich over Marcy Kaptur. Can't really say I saw that one coming—not that I think it'll move any votes, though.
• OR-01: I think Sean Sullivan is exactly right when he says: "A review of the closing TV spots from the two candidates running in Oregon's 1st District special election tells you about all you need to know about the race's likely outcome." Republican Rob Cornilles went negative to lead off his final ad, while Democrat Suzanne Bonamici stays positive. You can watch her ad at the link or below:And here's further confirmation: Bonamici's campaign says that of the ballots returned so far in this all-mail election, registered Democrats have cast 48%, Republicans 34%, and unaffiliated voters 18%. With any luck, Tuesday night will be a boring affair.
• PA-12: Keegan Gibson at PoliticsPA reports that Republican power-brokers (led by Gov. Tom Corbett's political team) are trying to convince businessman Tim Burns to drop down from the crowded Senate contest to the 12th District congressional primary. Corbett already endorsed another businessman, Steve Welch, for PA-Sen, so that half of the cajoling makes sense. But PA-12 already features attorney Keith Rothfus, who has twice refused to make way for establishment candidates, both this cycle and last. So Burns, who lost in the old 12th twice in 2010 (in the special to replace Jack Murtha and in the general), would still have to get past Rothfus in order to face either Rep. Mark Critz (the guy who beat him two times) or Rep. Jason Altmire in November.
• WA-07: You might remember Andrew Hughes, who was running in the Democratic field in WA-01 before redistricting—and the entries of Darcy Burner and Suzan DelBene—prompted his exit. Hughes was boosted from Some Dude status by virtue of leading the field in fundraising in the third quarter, thanks to connections in downtown Seattle's legal community. (Not that his fundraising was spectacular, but everyone else's was worse.)
Now it turns out supposedly may have an ambitious four-year plan for succeeding Jim McDermott in the works, which involves running and losing in the primary this year to gain name rec, then using that to leap to the head of the field in 2014 when the 70-something McDermott retires. I can think of two things wrong with that: One, there's no indication that the hale 'n' hearty McDermott is retiring any time soon, and two, when he does, Hughes would have to face any number of long-time, better-positioned local elected officials who've been eyeing that lifetime sinecure for ages. (Hughes hasn't announced anything yet, but has reportedly been shopping the idea around.) (h/t ratcityreprobate) (David Jarman)
• ME-Init: Excellent news: Activists in Maine announced on Thursday that they intend to put a referendum allowing same-sex marriage on the ballot this November. Organizers collected 100,000 signatures, almost double the number necessary. You'll recall, of course, that the state legislature passed a law approving gay marriage in May of 2009, but it was overturned at the ballot box that fall. If this effort is successful, Maine would be the first state to establish marriage equality by a popular vote.
• ID redistricting: Considering that Republicans control all the levels of power in Idaho, it seems like a total waste of time and effort for them to devolve into a frenzy of Jan Brewer-style power-playing over their legislative map (and note that it's just their legislative map, too... in a state where they're in absolutely no danger of losing control of the legislature). Yet that's exactly what they've been doing, with the state's GOP party chair and House Speaker first trying to sack two members of their redistricting commission for being insufficiently compliant, and then suing the state's Republican SoS for not doing the firing for them.
Well, that all appears to have petered out, with the Idaho Supreme Court stepping in on Wednesday. The court sided with the Secretary of State and thus the commissioners, who apparently get to keep their jobs (and who now have to redraw the map according to Supreme Court specifications, seeing as how the old map split too many counties). (David Jarman)
• MI Redistricting: Michigan's new maps have finally succeeded in gaining preclearance (the process was delayed because the state insisted on taking the matter to court), though there's still an NAACP-led lawsuit pending against the state House plan.
• NY Redistricting: New York state's proposed new legislative maps were finally released on Thursday. While I doubt many people care about the Assembly plan, lots of eyes are focused on the new Senate lines, which were drawn by the GOP in a desperate attempt to cling to a narrow majority in a state in which they are a small and shrinking minority. Well, I gotta hand it to Republican map-makers, because they produced a hell of a gerrymander. Indeed, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is already threatening to veto the new proposals. Says a spokesman:
“At first glance, these lines are simply unacceptable and would be vetoed by the Governor. We need a better process and product.”
But why don't you take a look for yourself:
• The map rearranges Timothy Kennedy (D-58) and Mark Grisanti (R-60) so there's a complete Dem vote sink
• They concede a Syracuse-Utica seat to David Valesky (D-49)
• Rochester is now cracked three ways to help James Alesi (R-55) and Joe Robach (R-56) (who had a 65% Obama district)
• As is expected, "upstate" Dem centers—Ithaca, Ulster, the North Country—get cracked at least three ways each
• Neil Breslin (D-46) loses rural Albany Co for the brand-new 63rd seat; he takes parts of Troy in Rensselaer to relieve pressure on Roy McDonald (R-43)
• They concede a seat to David Carlucci (D-38) by adding Ossining
• They want Suzi Oppenheimer's (D-37) open Westchester seat—bad
• Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35) gets appreciably safer, due to adjustments to Oppenheimer's SD-37.
• Adriano Espaillat (D-31) gets a much more Hispanic district, with the Bronx portions removed.
• They sliced Queens to hell and back to get Frank Padavan's seat back, won last cycle by Tony Avella (D-11)
• They're gunning for Joseph Addabbo (D-15), too, with that ugly Middle Village-Rockaways district
• Toby Ann Stavisky (D-16) gets a (barely) Asian-majority Flushing-based district, probably with the tentacle through Jackson Heights to keep the Asian percentage up
• 17th is the rumored "Orthodox" seat, which looks tailor-made for Dem Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an absolutely grotesque figure
• Marty Golden (R-22) stays remarkably consistent in Brooklyn
• Long Island remains cracked—they're clearly going for 9-0 here; Lee Zeldin (R-03) doesn't really change, while Jack Martins (R-07) gets the more Republican parts of adjacent towns
• Finally, it seems that they've screwed Democratic NYC Councilman Lew Fidler, who is running in the special to replace ex-Sen. Carl Kruger in the 27th; even if he wins (under the old map), he'd wind up in the same seat as John Sampson (D-19) on the new map in November
This thing is really a piece of work and Democrats have to hope Cuomo stands firm on his veto threat.
• TN Redistricting: Add Tennessee to the list of states which have completed their congressional redistricting process: Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed the new maps into law on Thursday, Jan. 26.
• UT Redistricting: Listen. This isn't very hard: When you're drawing new maps during redistricting, you need to double-check the census blocks provided by the Census Bureau. They often contain flaws and don't accurately describe municipal boundaries. Republicans in Wisconsin have caused a ton of agony because they tried to draft maps based on census blocks that literally cannot be complied with, and now, it turns out, Republicans in Utah did the same thing and have to make a bunch of fixes. This is terribly shoddy work, not least because this kind of problem is well-known and very predictable.
• VA Redistricting: On Wednesday, GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell signed Virginia's new Republican-drawn congressional map into law. The redistricting process derailed last year because Republicans (who controlled the state House) and Democrats (who at the time were in charge of the Senate) couldn't reach an agreement on a new plan—not least because Republicans hoped to take back the Senate. They were successful in that endeavor last November, and once the legislature reconvened in January, the new map (which was the same as the map the GOP had proposed in 2011) zipped through both chambers.
But there's a problem. Virginia's constitution contains a very particular provision regarding when new lines are supposed to be drawn. It says: "The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter." When it became clear last year that redistricting had ground to a halt, a group of plaintiffs filed suit, arguing that a court had to draw a new congressional map because the legislature had forfeited its opportunity to do so by waiting until 2012. The state filed a motion to dismiss the case, but that motion was just rejected by the judge hearing the challenge, who opined that the constitution "speaks in mandatory, not directory, terms." That is to say, performing redistricting in the appointed year is obligatory, not optional. However, the court continued:
[W]hether the General Assembly’s failure to reapportion Virginia’s congressional districts in accordance with this constitutional mandate is a bar to its exercising this authority in 2012 is not decided at this time.
And that's the crux of the matter: Whether delaying past 2011 means that the legislature no longer has the power to conduct congressional redistricting. The court ultimately may or may not decide in the plaintiffs' favor, but the fact that they survived a motion to dismiss is a positive sign. And if the final ruling does take redistricting out of the legislature's hands and results in a court-drawn map, that could prove to be a real boon for Democrats.