• Fundraising: You've asked for it, and now here it is: our gigantic roundup of House fundraising reports for the fourth quarter of 2011. We've gathered numbers for 478 candidates—incumbents, challengers, and open-seat aspirants alike—in 203 different races around the country. Click the link for our entire spreadsheet, as well as a look at which current members of Congress need to really watch their backs, since they're getting out-raised by opponents who want their seats... badly. (David Nir)
• MI-Sen: Are you ready for some [expensive political advertising during an important game of] football?!? Pete Hoekstra hopes you are, as the Republican ex-Rep. looks for something to help close the polling gap (usually in the high single-digits) against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. He just spent $144K to air an ad (in Michigan only) during the Super Bowl. People are abuzz about the ad because it's from Republican ad impresario Fred Davis, whose success in Michigan with Rick Snyder's "one tough nerd" ad (which catapulted Snyder from rich-but-unknown status) is balanced out against other duds like Carly Fiorina's "Demon Sheep." Also, if you were dying for a sneak peak of the ad before the big game, Hoekstra was ready to e-mail it to you in advance, for a mere $7.50! (Not sure I've ever seen that kind of fundraising gimmick before.) The spot made its way on to YouTube before Sunday, though, and wow is it a piece of work. (David Jarman & David Nir)
• NM-Sen: When you're spending all your time putting out press brush fires that you're about to drop out of the race, well, suffice it to say, you're probably about to drop out of the race whether you want to or not. That's the state of things for Republican Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, who, as we mentioned in Thursday's digest, was rumored to be on the verge of quitting the Senate race and possibly dropping down to NM-01. While Sanchez is continuing to push back on the rumors, sources tell NM Politics' Heath Haussamen that the decision to bail has already been made—and the evasive knots that Sanchez ties himself into certainly don't instill much confidence (the whole story is worth a read). Haussamen also notes that Sanchez's 4Q fundraising report still isn't available, and that it's been months since anything has changed at his website or Facebook page
• OH-Sen: Public Policy Polling is out with the Senate portion of their newest Ohio poll, and find Dem incumbent Sherrod Brown with his usual double-digit lead over GOP state treasurer Josh Mandel, 47-36. That's still a little closer than their November sample, where Brown led 49-34.
• UT-Sen: Orrin Hatch, potentially in trouble in the Republican primary in Utah, seems to have some anonymous big-dollar friends in high places. Freedom Path, a 501(c)(4) that seems only involved in Hatch's race, is out with a new direct mail blast that doesn't mention Hatch but goes after his two state legislator opponents, Dan Liljenquist and Chris Herrod. (Don't confuse them with FreedomWorks, which is actively opposing Hatch.)
• WA-Sen: I don't think anyone gave much weight to persistent Dave Reichert-for-Senate fantasies other than Seattle Times writers trying to drum up eyeballs, but those rumors can finally be put to rest. The four-term Rep. from WA-08 in the Eastside suburbs gave official word on Friday that he'll be seeking re-election to the House, probably feeling happier that he got a decidedly safer seat out of redistricting (trading Bellevue for Wenatchee).
That leaves the GOP without a top-tier challenger to Maria Cantwell; they do have state Sen. Michael Baumgartner in the race, but his 4Q fundraising was weak ($120K) and most people's first exposure to him was him sticking his foot in his mouth by saying Cantwell didn't have standing to talk about teenage girls' right to access the "morning after" pill because she isn't married. The story does mention that Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant is still interested in the race; Bryant would give the GOP someone with a more moderate presence and a King County base, but the downside is that Port Commissioner is a pretty obscure position and few people even in King Co. have heard of him.
• MO-Gov: Here's one more sizzling poll hot off the PPP grill: To perhaps no one's surprise, Dem incumbent Jay Nixon has huge leads over his token GOP opposition. I feel confident calling them both "token opposition" seeing that he leads Some Dude Bill Randles by a smaller margin (18) than he leads the rich guy who was supposed to ride to the GOP's rescue after the Peter Kinder implosion (Dave Spence, at 20).
• NC-Gov Rep. Brad Miller, who's looking for a new job once his term ends and who had expressed a bit more interest in a gubernatorial run with each passing day last week, publicly said that he'd make a decision over the weekend whether or not to join the race. (If he does, he'd face Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, ex-Rep. Bob Etheridge, and state Rep. Bill Faison in a Dem primary.)
• FL-22: The newly Allen West-free 22nd is already turning out to be a magnet for Dems looking for a promotion, as Adam Hasner may not look as imposing a threat to keep this Dem-leaning district in GOP hands. The newest entrant is Kristin Jacobs, considered one of the more liberal members of the Broward County Commission, who confirmed earlier chatter and said on Friday that she'll run. Fellow Broward Co. Commissioner John Rodstrom is also scoping out the race, but West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel and accountant Patrick Murphy have already staked out the pole position by virtue of a year's worth of gangbusters fundraising.
• FL-26: Anybody remember Karen "Snakes in a Pool" Diebel? The Republican Winter Park city councilor was widely hyped in the 2010 FL-24 GOP primary for a few weeks (until less-than-flattering news about her mental stability started to come out). She lost that primary to now-Rep. Sandy Adams, but resumed running in early 2011, signing up with the FEC for the not-yet-existing 26th. Well, while combing through the FEC Q4 dump, we wondered why her latest report had six figures worth of refunds... and, after a little research, it turns out that she dropped out from the race last November. I'm mentioning that partly just because we like to be thorough, but also because it's amazing that someone of her (well, one-time) stature could drop out so quietly, with, as far as we can tell, nary a peep from even the local, let alone Beltway, press.
• HI-02: Former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann is out with an internal poll giving him a showy lead over Honolulu city councilor Tulsi Gabbard and the minor players in the Democratic primary race to succeed Rep. Mazie Hirono. The poll, from never-heard-of-'em-before pollster QMark, finds Hannemann at 57% and Gabbard at 14%, with Esther Kiaaina, chief advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and attorney Bob Marx both at 4%. This seems credible based on the huge name rec disparity that must exist between Hannemann and the rest of the field—the Honolulu mayor has jurisdiction over the entire island of Oahu, giving him 953K constituents, almost 3/4ths of the state's entire population. However, this gap will presumably tighten as the other candidates get better known. (If you aren't familiar with this race, it's a common source of consternation among our commenters that with either Hannemann or Gabbard, this 73% Obama district seems poised to elect a social crypto-conservative; the question is which of them fits that bill more?)
• IL-11: It's always a little embarrassing for any politician to flub getting on the ballot because of signature-gathering snafus, but this has a whole new dimension of chagrin to it, because of the day job of the politician in question. Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham was going to run against Rep. Judy Biggert in the GOP primary in the 11th—already a tall order, given her long incumbency... though redistricting essentially dismantled her old 13th and left her best option as running in the new 11th, sort of a descendant of the Kane County-centered old 14th. Turns out he can't, because only 526 of the needed 600 signatures were valid (out of the 1,265 he submitted). For Kane County's chief elections officer, that's a whole new level of fail.
• ME-02: Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who's held the rural 2nd for 10 years (which holds 1/2 of Maine's population and maybe 80% of its area), is out with a survey from Normington Petts that gives him a 55-32 lead over his Republican rival Kevin Raye. That's not surprising given the power of incumbency and the district's Democratic lean, but perhaps somewhat more favorable than you'd expect given that Raye is a cut or three above Michaud's usual Some Dude-level opposition. Raye is the state Senate president and narrowly lost to Michaud once before, in 2002 when the seat was open. But you can bet Raye's wishing he tried this in 2010.
• MI-11: We see a lot of weird fundraising reports during the reporting season, but this one really raised our eyebrows. You may remember Republican ex-state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, who lost pretty narrowly to Rep. Gary Peters in MI-09 in 2010. Despite early signals he'd run again for Congress, in October he verified he wouldn't run in the 11th and would be supporting Thad McCotter in his reelection bid. Nevertheless, he continued to raise and spend throughout Q4 like a man intent on running for something, with $107K raised and $192K spent. The explanation? Turns out he's still getting scammed by Base Connect, the churn-and-burn Republican direct mail fundraising operation (formerly known as BMW Direct) that, unless your name is Allen West, leads to high yields and even higher costs. (Even West's burn rate is still pretty remarkable, though.)
• NC-10, NC-11: Democratic State Rep. Patsy Keever, despite (or perhaps because of) being targeted by the Great Mentioner on Friday morning, has announced that she will not switch from her run against Patrick McHenry in the 10th, to the open seat race in the 11th (vacated by Heath Shuler's early retirement). That switch would have made sense under the old lines, as not only was the 11th friendlier than the 10th but it was where Keever ran well against Rep. Charlie Taylor in 2004. But under the new lines, though, the 11th is now redder than the 10th and the odious McHenry may present a better target than whatever blank slate emerges from the 11th's GOP primary.
As for the 11th, Roll Call's Joshua Miller reports that, according to an unnamed source, Dem Rep. Heath Shuler's chief-of-staff, Hayden Rogers, is thinking about running to replace his boss in Congress.
• NJ-09: "Celebrity rabbi" isn't a very common job description, but it looks like the GOP might actually land one in an interesting race: Shmuley Boteach, author of "Kosher Sex," frequent Oprah guest, and spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson. Boteach, who lives in Englewood, put his name in for the GOP nomination just ahead of the filing deadline. The 9th does have a significant Orthodox population, but the winner of the Bill Pascrell/Steve Rothman primary slugfest should have little trouble in November; this was a safely Democratic district even before redistricting (61% Obama), and the new addition of Paterson ought to push it even further in the blue direction.
• NJ-10: Quite a few members of the Congressional Black Caucus are facing primary challenges this year (about the only way you ever get turnover, in most of these deep blue districts), and we can add one more to the list: Donald Payne, Sr., who represents the Newark-based 10th. The 77-year-old Payne will face much younger Newark city councilor Ronald Rice, in what seems more like a generational changing-of-the-guard primary than one motivated by ideology; Rice made his long-awaited bid official on Thursday.
• OK-02: Here's one more amusing find from our trolling of a quarter's worth of FEC data. Marine vet and defense consultant Dakota Wood is one of the Republicans running to succeed the retiring Democrat Dan Boren, but his latest FEC filing won't do a lot to give potential backers much confidence that he knows what he's doing. Not only are the actual numbers down in Some Dude territory ($20K receipts in Q4), but he used a Presidential reporting form to report those numbers (despite the fact that it clearly asks him to break down primary expenditures by state). Well, can't fault him for dreaming big, I guess.
• TN-03: Ice cream mogul Scottie Mayfield just confirmed plans floated a few weeks ago that he's going to run in the GOP primary in the 3rd, where freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is still trying to get entrenched. Mayfield owns a prominent dairy products company, so he's wealthy and, given that his name is plastered all over supermarket aisles, has name rec... but he may suffer the curse of the clown car, as Weston Wamp, son of ex-Rep. Zach Wamp, is also in the field and together they're liable to split the anti-Fleischmann vote.
• AZ-St. Sen: Much like the namesake of his metropolitan area—Phoenix—former state Senate president Russell Pearce hopes to rise up from the ashes of the pyre that was his recall election last year and take flight once more. (Maybe he can use a convenient unfinished offramp to get his orange Pinto aloft.) While he hasn't formally declared his intent to run for his old seat, Pearce has filed state paperwork allowing him to do so, and says he's being pushed by a lot of people to run.
• DCCC (PDF): The D-Trip is touting some cool numbers: The average 4Q fundraising haul for its Red to Blue candidates was better than the average 4Q for their Republican opponents, by a margin of $201K to $178K. You can click through to their PDF to see the individual race-by-race breakdown, where Dems won 10 of the 19 faceoffs. Of course, you'll also want to hit up our own mega fundraising chart, which has all these numbers and more—a lot, lot more.
• Jobs: I know that a lot of our readers like to analyze the monthly jobs numbers, since there's no doubt that the health of the economy plays a role in determining who wins at the ballot box. So on that note, I want to recommend this post by my colleague Tim Lange (aka Meteor Blades), who, like clockwork, is always Johnny-on-the-spot with a clear-eyed take on the new employment report each month. (David Nir)
• FL Redistricting: As expected, the Florida state House passed its version of the state's congressional map Friday afternoon, and it goes this week to the state Senate. The Senate has been pushing its own similar-but-visibly-different map, so it remains to be seen whether they pass the House's plan or come up with something else. (Most commentators seem to expect the Senate will sign off on the House's work, though.) And here's something to be said in favor of Florida's beleaguered Dems that can't be said about a lot of other Democratic lawmakers in swing states with GOP-held legislatures: They held the line against the map, with not one voting in favor of it. Regardless of what happens in the Senate, expect this one to go to litigation, as Florida's anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts Initiative, vague as it is, gives Dems a potentially strong weapon here.
• FL Redistricting: All of the attention lately has been on the Rooney/West/Hasner reshuffle along Florida's Gold Coast, brought on by the new maps heading toward completion in the state legislature. But there's a similar dance going on in the state's north, where long-time Rep. Cliff Stearns is trying to figure out where to run. If he stays in the district where he lives, he keeps Ocala but gets mostly new territory to Ocala's south (instead of north like current FL-06, which stretches up to Jacksonville's suburbs)... and possibly also a primary matchup with fellow GOP Rep. Rich Nugent, who lives in that 11th district under the state House's map (but not under the state Senate map, called the 26th on that map, which puts Hernando County in a different district).
Alternately, Stearns can move one district to the north, to the one centered in Jacksonville-burb Clay County (the House 3rd/Senate 6th), which is incumbent-free but seems likely to attract Clay County Clerk Jimmy Jett, or maybe more imposingly, state Sen. Steve Oelrich. And there's yet one further possibility for Stearns: He could move full-time to his beach house in the St. Augustine area, but that would put him in the House 6th/Senate 7th, where Rep. John Mica is likely to run (as it's most of his old turf, though Mica's Winter Park house isn't there anymore). If none of this makes any sense, the linked article has a very helpful closeup map.
• PA Redistricting: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally released its hotly anticipated opinion explaining the reasoning behind its recent ruling that the state's new legislative maps violate the state constitution. The main opinion is 87 pages long, so there's a lot to digest—plus there are also two opinions which concur in part and dissent in part (here and here), as well as a full-blown dissenting opinion. DKos Electioneer andgarden has taken a first stab at analyzing the whole thing, so we suggest you check him out here. (David Nir)
• TX Redistricting: I could have predicted this just based on, y'know, the last few decades' worth of attempts by Democrats to negotiate with Republicans... but it looks like the proposed settlement of the Texas redistricting logjam, which seemed promising a week ago, is now on the verge of being DOA. With no new court-drawn map forthcoming soon, that makes it likelier Texas will have to push its primary back from April (or spend millions to have split its presidential primary vote off from the rest).