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Leading Off:

WI Redistricting: Wow. Remember those documents related to redistricting that Wisconsin Republicans had bitterly resisted sharing with plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit against the new legislative maps? You'll recall that last month, the three-judge federal panel hearing the case sanctioned the GOP's attorneys for failing to produce the materials, and excoriated them in the harshest of terms. Well, since any further resistance probably would have meant jail time (I mean, I don't even really know, but if you're held in contempt, that's certainly a possible punishment), Republicans finally caved and forked over the goods.

And ho-lee sh*t. I'm not even sure I can do justice trying to summarize what they produced, but it all describes a remarkable conspiracy to draw the new maps in utter secrecy and try to protect the process from public scrutiny by covering it with a bogus cloak of attorney-client privilege. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tasked no fewer than three reporters to come to grips with this document dump, and here's how they lead off:

As legislative leaders secretly developed new election maps last year to strengthen their majority, Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private strategy sessions, according to a GOP memo that became public Monday.

Other newly released documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed. [...]

"Public comments on this map may be different than what you hear in this room. Ignore the public comments," the talking points also say.

There is just a ton of stuff at the link, and I really encourage you to read the article in full. But here's one little excerpt that's particularly worth sharing:
Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) said Monday he had never before been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement during his four decades in office.

He said he visited Michael Best's office to review his map last year but those at the office would not permit his aide to see it. He said the meeting lasted about five minutes.

"It was a pain in the you-know-what," he said.

The reporters don't quite explain why the GOP's attorneys would insist on this, but I can. The lawyers were trying to limit who had access to which documents in order to better preserve a claim of privilege or confidentiality—the more people who see something, the harder it is to argue it's secret. On top of that, they made lawmakers come into Michael Best's offices (funny enough, I've been there myself—they're literally adjacent to the capitol, so it's not exactly that big of a pain) because they didn't want to send any documents by email or hardcopy. That is, they wanted to minimize the number of documents that could become discoverable in litigation (i.e., materials that you're obligated to share with the other side). The smaller the paper trail, the better—in their view.

So is any of this going to matter? I think so, yes. One key argument in the lawsuit (which has already gotten a favorable hearing from the judges) is that Republicans deliberately disenfranchised excessive numbers of voters on the state Senate map to maximize their electoral gains. (Some 300,000 voters will go six years between electing senators, rather than the normal four.) The court has previously said that maps must strive to minimize the number of people so affected, and since the GOP's nakedly partisan aims are exposed for all to see thanks to these new documents, it will be very difficult for Republicans to argue that they moved 300,000 people out of necessity. I'm really looking forward to this trial beginning... though if the GOP had any sense, they'd cut a deal now.


AZ-Sen: I wonder if one-term Dem Rep. Sam Coppersmith is thinking about getting back in the game in some way, shape, or form. Coppersmith just gave his backing to former US Surgeon General Richard Carmona for Arizona's open Senate seat—the same seat Coppersmith ran for himself 18 years ago—which makes this his second endorsement inside of a month. (In January, Coppersmith also got behind Kyrsten Sinema in the new 9th CD.) Maybe this is a regular sort of thing that Coppersmith does and we're only hearing about it more often these days thanks to social media. But I'll note that he's just 57, and his congressional career, which began with an upset win in AZ-01 in 1992, was brought to an early end just two years later, when he made his ill-fated Senate bid. I'm not sure what opportunities might be available to him nowadays, but you never know.

CT-Sen: So the conservative Yankee Institute is out with a poll of Connecticut Senate race, and they find Dem Rep. Chris Murphy leading wrestling impresario Linda McMahon by 49-40 and ex-Rep. Chris Shays 45-39. Murphy's main rival for the Democratic nod, ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz, leads McMahon by a smaller margin, 43-40, and trails Shays, 42-41. But not only was this poll conducted by the for-hire arm of Rasmussen Reports, known as Pulse Opinion Research, if you check out the other questions they included (PDF), you'll see how axe-grindy they are. (One asks about a "forced-unionization scheme," for instance.) So I'm not really willing to credit this survey a whole lot.

MI-Sen: Well, double-wow. I always wonder what inspires people to check out the underlying HTML of random websites, but props to whoever decided to peek under the hood of Pete Hoekstra's super-offensive "Debbie Spend-it-now" site. A still image of the young woman of Asian descent featured in Hoekstra's outrageous new ad appears prominently on the page, and amazingly, whoever put together the site labeled the picture "yellowgirl". It was subsequently changed to "yellowshirtgirl" (uh huh), but the ad and the website remain the same.

NE-Sen: I can't say I'm surprised: Former Dem Sen. Bob Kerrey has announced he will not try to reclaim his old seat in Congress, which is being vacated by the man who succeeded him, Ben Nelson. Kerrey, who hasn't held office in over a decade, has often flirted with various comeback bids but has never pulled the trigger. This time was perhaps a little different: He seemed to enjoy firing off a feisty (and funny) letter to Karl Rove after Rove's front group, Crossroads, aired radio ads attacking Kerrey, and he even started house-hunting back in Nebraska. (Kerrey's been living in New York City for the last ten years.) At age 68, this was likely to be his last, best opportunity to return to public office, but the odds would still have been sharply against him. So now Democrats are back to the drawing board, though several potential candidates had been waiting on Kerrey's decision, which means we should be hearing from them soon.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side, AG Jon Bruning is out with a new ad and... oh, I really don't care. It's boring, it has weak if not goofy production values, and we don't even know how much he's spending on it (probably not a lot). Whatever.

PA-Sen: Former coal company owner Tom Smith is clearly undeterred by the fact that the state GOP gave its official endorsement to his fellow rich-guy rival, Steven Welch. He's going on the air with a pair of ads, backed by a $275K buy (good for 1,000 gross ratings points). You can watch them at the link, though I'm pretty sure only the first one (a bio spot) is new.

UT-Sen: Not that this was ever going to happen, but former Obama administration official Jon Huntsman says he won't run against GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch as an independent this year. (Oh yeah, that's right... Huntsman is also an ex-governor and a failed GOP presidential candidate.) Huntsman is only 51, though, and he didn't rule out a future bid for office.


NH-Gov (PDF): So UNH is out with some gubernatorial head-to-heads, buried deep on page 8 of this PDF. The number of undecideds are pretty ridic, and they only test two matchups, including one guy who hasn't even decided on a run, Ted Gatsas, the Republican mayor of Manchester. But anyhow, in a head-to-head with former Dem state Sen. Maggie Hassan, Gatsas gets 29% to her 27%, with 43% unsure. Against attorney Ovide Lamontagne (who is actually running), it's 32 Ovide, 26 Hassan, with 41% who haven't made up their minds. Keep in mind that UNH's surveys often show a lot of hard-to-explain swings, so these numbers could change a lot the next time they go into the field. (For instance, the same poll (PDF) now has Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 50-40. In October, Romney was up 50-42—an 18-point shift.)

OH-Gov: This tidbit from PPP's batch of Ohio miscellany made me snort: "If voters could do the 2010 election over again they'd vote for [former Dem Gov.] Ted Strickland by a 20 point margin, 56-36, numbers that not coincidentally track closely with the Senate Bill 5 repeal result from last fall." 20 points! Oh John Kasich, they really do hate you, huh?


CA-01: Former state Sen. Sam Aanestad, who had been considering a bid for Congress despite retiring Rep. Wally Herger's attempt to coronate a successor, will indeed go ahead with a run. That means he'll face off against Herger's choice, state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, in the Republican primary in this decidedly conservative district. Aanestad isn't without a patron of his own, though: Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-04) will serve as Aanestad's campaign chair.

IL-16: You'd have figured an organization calling itself the Illinois Tea Party would prefer freshman insurgent Adam Kinzinger to ten-term dinosaur like Don Manzullo in the GOP primary, but you'd be wrong. (And so would I.) Anyhow, yeah, this group went with Manzullo, but given how fractured the Tea Party movement is in so many places, I wouldn't be surprised if a rival gang with a similar name (The Tea Party Front of Illinois?) got behind Kinzinger at some point. It's also true that these groups tend to have little in the way of resources or ability to motivate voters, but I'm taking note of this endorsement simply to point out that Manzullo is apparently capable of passing at least some conservative litmus tests.

KY-04: Kentucky's filing deadline managed to pass without a new congressional map in sight—and the deadline wasn't extended, either. Despite not knowing the exact district lines, however, a whole bunch of candidates did file in the open 4th CD, though the notable Republicans had all long since made their intentions clear. However, on the Dem side, the one guy who might have made the race interesting, state Democratic Party vice chairman Nathan Smith, seems to have gone completely silent, despite having promised an announcement "after the holiday season." (Ryan Alessi says Smith wanted to wait to see the final map; when that day finally comes, I'm guessing filing will be re-opened.) Attorney Bill Adkins, chair of the Grant County Democratic Party, did file, but the action here will be on the GOP side.

NC-09: Well whaddya know. Republican Rep. Sue Myrick, a member of the infamous GOP class of 1994, says she'll retire at the end of this term, her ninth. It was a real struggle to think of much to say about her (beyond taking note of her notorious Islamophobia), but you can click the link to see our full post at Daily Kos Elections. As per usual, the interesting news is all about what happens next. In this very conservative district, almost all attention will be focused on the GOP primary, where one candidate has already said he'll run to succeed Myrick: Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph says he'll run in the GOP primary to succeed her.

Pendergraph's actually not the first Republican to enter the race: A couple of Tea Partiers (Michael Shaffer and Mike Steinberg) were already running against Myrick (though they've filed nary an FEC report between `em). Of course, the Great Mentioner is also chattering away, with Roll Call's Joshua Miller suggesting a couple of other Republicans as potential candidates: state House Speaker Thom Tillis and state Rep. Ruth Samuelson. State Sen. Bob Rucho, a key figure in this year's redistricting process, is out, though. Rather remarkably, he says: “Having drawn the districts, it would be unethical” to run. Maybe he actually believes that!

The Charlotte Observer adds few more Republican names to the pile: former state Sen. Robert Pittenger and former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot, as well as another Mecklenburg county commissioner, Bill James, who says he's considering the race. As for Pittenger, back in 2007, when Myrick was hit with a batch of retirement rumors, he was definitely interested, saying of Myrick: "At such a time that she does not plan to run, I do plan to run for Congress"—though of course that was five years ago. The Observer reminds us that Pat McCrory was also thought to be interested in Myrick's seat at the time; now he's in the pole position in the governor's race, so it's hard to imagine him switching races... but, as the Observer points out, there are no term limits in Congress....

NY-09: What does Rory know? Democratic Assemblyman Rory Lancman has been angling to take on Rep. Bob Turner from the moment Turner won his upset victory in last year's special election to replace ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, but like any sensible pol, he said he was waiting on the outcome of redistricting. Except that all changed on Monday: Lancman launched his campaign against Turner despite the fact that no maps have been made public yet... and despite the fact that many analysts expect the 9th District to get chopped up for parts. So has Lancman seen a draft—and if so, does this mean something resembling the current 9th will live on into the next decade?

Politicker's Colin Campbell did his best to find out, reporting that Lancman says he's "confident" (Colin's word) that the 9th CD will survive redistricting. (This echoes earlier remarks made by Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, who is certainly in a position to know.) Colin speculates that this could be accomplished by mashing up the Nassau County sections of the districts represented by Democrats Carolyn McCarthy and Gary Ackerman, though of course the possibilities are endless. And one other note: The New York Times article which first broke the news of Lancman's entry also mentioned that he somehow managed to raise $130K so far. He hasn't filed any FEC reports, so we can only take him at his word, but it's still pretty amazing that Lancman could pull together that much cash without anyone getting wind of his planned congressional run.

OH-09: Marcy Kaptur is out with the first ad in her primary battle against fellow Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich. (I think it's also the first TV spot in any incumbent-vs.-incumbent race anywhere in the nation.) Props to Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz for scoring the size of the buy ($90,000), and also informing us that the ad is airing in Cleveland, which is Kucinich's end of the district. That makes sense, of course, because Kaptur will want to introduce herself to voters there. In any event, it's a positive spot (with a touch of bio) that hits some light populist notes; pretty decent, I think. Have a look:

SD-AL: You may have caught some fragmentary details about a December poll taken in South Dakota on behalf of the DCCC, one which reportedly showed ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin up 53-43 over freshman GOPer Kristi Noem in a hypothetical rematch. Herseth Sandlin has since said she wouldn't run, but we were still interested in the results, which we've now obtained. And I don't just mean your usual one-page polling memo, but rather the poll itself (or at least, a good chunk of it). The survey was taken by the firm of Normington Petts and, including leaners, did indeed show Herseth Sandlin up by ten in an initial ballot.

But if you click through the link, you get a peek at some stuff you don't ordinarily get to see: a second, informed ballot test (with the full positive bios read before the question), and a third ballot test, after a whole battery of negative messages about each candidate (with the full text of those as well). Herseth Sandlin led by a big margin in both of these as well. Now, she won't be on the ballot, of course, but Noem will—and I think you've gotta like these numbers, especially since Democrats have a legit candidate in Matt Varilek, a former staffer for Sen. Tim Johnson. Varilek raised a creditable $100K last quarter even though he was officially in the race for just a month (and December is always tough for fundraising). Also, if you're wondering about the lean of this survey, it was 49% Republican, 39% Democrat, and 13% independent, quite a bit redder than the five-point GOP margin from 2008.

Grab Bag:

NRCC: As part of its ongoing efforts to wring the maximum amount of media attention it can for its favored candidates, the NRCC just "elevated" 11 dudes from "On the Radar" status to the "Contender" level. I believe, thought, that their full-fledged "we like you, no, we really like you" tier is called "Young Guns" (which is also the name of the whole program), and it seems that no one has made it that far yet. Anyhow, if you're interested in knowing who got the bump, click the link.

Redistricting Roundup:

KY Redistricting: That was fast! A state court judge hearing a lawsuit against Kentucky's new legislative maps—which were just signed into law a couple of weeks ago—has struck them down and ordered this fall's elections to proceed under the old lines, saying that the new legislation "is worse than the malapportionment disease that it is legally required to remedy, at least for two years." The judge, Phillip Shepherd, faulted both the House and Senate map for population variances between districts that we too large (violating the one person, one vote doctrine), and also took exception to the House plan for splitting too many counties. Shepherd did not, however, rule on the issue of whether swapping numbers between two Senate districts disenfranchised voters, but promised a "full adjudication" of the matter. An appeal is expected.

Meanwhile, on the federal side of things, Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a compromise on a new congressional map on Tuesday, so the matter will almost certainly wind up in court as well. This means Kentucky doesn't have a single operative new map in effect anywhere, though Judge Shepherd said the legislative elections can go forward using the maps drawn a decade ago (a ruling that could very well get challenged in federal court, as we're seeing in a similar situation in Pennsylvania).

TX Redistricting: Michael Li recaps Monday's craziness regarding a potential redistricting settlement and also answers a few questions about the primary date. (Short version: The scheduled April 4 primary definitely isn't happening.) Li also tallies who was for and who was against Republican AG Greg Abbott's proposed deal; in the end, it turns out almost all of the plaintiffs were opposed, contrary to what Abbott claimed to the court. Indeed, a couple of parties accused Abbott of "grossly misrepresenting" their views, which has to make you wonder yet again, what kind of stunt was Abbott trying to pull? Katherine Haenschen, fortunately, is at hand with some thoughts on that very topic.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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