• FL-18, FL-22: Democrat Patrick Murphy is refusing to let GOP freshman Allen West out of his grasp. A week ago, West declared he'd flee the proposed new 22nd Congressional District for the friendlier confines of the 18th. Now Murphy—who'd been running against the Tea Party favorite West for a year—has decided that he'll chase West one seat up the Florida coastline in order to continue the fight. That should set up a colossal one-on-one battle between West and Murphy in the 18th, seeing as there's been almost no mention of other possible Democratic candidates (outside of some speculation on this very site). Murphy is a first-time candidate but has raised a boatload so far ($1.4 mil), though West of course is a prodigious fundraiser himself.
In any event, I think Murphy's move is great for Democrats, because he's probably the strongest candidate we have to take on West, and it helps avoid an expensive primary fight with fellow Dem Lois Frankel in the 22nd, who is well-situated to take down Republican Adam Hasner. (Frankel still has to contend with newcomer Kristin Jacobs for the Democratic nomination, but I'd be surprised if she could match Frankel's own impressive fundraising, especially given her late entry.)
• MO-Sen: Though he's been rising in the polls thanks to his free-spending ways, I'm really not sure that John Brunner, former CEO of his family-owned cosmetics company called Vi-Jon, is really ready for prime time. First came his embarrassing attempt to back out of debates he himself had demanded, earning him a righteous body-slam from GOP primary opponent Sarah Steelman. Now comes word that while at Vi-Jon last year, Brunner paid himself a salary of $372,000—at the same time the firm was laying off workers. Not really an auspicious profile for an aspiring public servant.
• NE-Sen: Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Kim Robak says she won't run for the Senate—and took a shot at Bob Kerrey, saying his delay in making up his mind cost her too much time in terms of being able to gear up for an effective campaign. On the one hand, I don't know why it took Kerrey over a month to figure things out after Ben Nelson announced his retirement, but on the other hand, is a month really going to make that much of a difference at this point?
• VA-Sen: Quinnipiac's newest poll of Virginia finds Tim Kaine leading George Allen 45-44 (up from a 2-pt. deficit in December). Barack Obama improves even more, vis-a-vis Mitt Romney, now leading 47-43. Click through for our full post at Daily Kos Elections. (David Jarman)
• NC-Gov: PPP is out with a poll of North Carolina's all-of-a-sudden-wide-open Democratic gubernatorial primary. Among announced candidates, we've got Bob Etheridge at 34, Walter Dalton at 24, and Bill Faison at 6. But this is PPP, so Tom Jensen also tested a ton of hypothetical variants, including one giant kitchen-sink matchup of every major name still thinking about the race. That yielded the following results:
Etheridge gets 21% to 13% for Dan Blue, 10% for Dalton, 8% for Brad Miller, 7% for Richard Moore, 6% for Mike McIntyre, and 2% for Faison.But since the field is rather unlikely to develop that way, PPP also tried four different setups with the three actual candidates and a fourth undeclared name. All of the results were pretty similar, though:
Etheridge 24, Dalton 20, Blue 11, Faison 4As you'd expect, though, all of these people have low name rec (Etheridge is the highest with 50%), and obviously there are a lot of undecideds, so it's clearly anybody's game.
Etheridge 25, Dalton 22, McIntyre 7, Faison 6
Etheridge 24, Dalton 20, Miller 11, Faison 4
Etheridge 24, Dalton 21, Moore 8, Faison 5
• OH-Gov: Passed along with only one comment: WTF?
John Kasich’s second State of the State speech Tuesday was rambling and at times bizarre. Among his head-jerking references, Kasich told the first three winners of a newly-created state courage award not to sell the medals on eBay; pointed out his “hot wife;” and imitated someone with Parkinson’s disease when he talked about “deep brain massage.”• WI-Gov: After strongly suggesting she would for a couple of weeks, Dem state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout formally entered the gubernatorial recall race, joining former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. Vinehout has taken a few somewhat conservative stands in recent years, like on concealed weapons and access to contraception, the latter of which led NARAL's Wisconsin chapter to put out a statement opposing her candidacy. Falk, meanwhile, is a favorite of labor unions, so we could see something of a left-right divide in the primary if no other candidates enter.
Meanwhile, the forces of darkness are gathering to protect GOP Gov. Scott Walker, as we knew they would. The Koch brothers-backed front group Americans for Prosperity is throwing down $700,000 to run a minute-long ad defending Walker's record. Of course, as Greg Sargent notes, the spot doesn't mention Walker by name because AfP is using the "issue ad" a loophole to run the advertisement through its non-profit arm. But you can watch it yourself at the link: it's a clear recitation of everything Walker and his supporters are most proud of.
• AZ-09: With GOP Rep. Ben Quayle deciding to seek re-election in the 6th District, the hunt is on for a Republican replacement in the new 9th CD. Paradise Valley Councilman Vernon Parker says he's interested, though Philip Haldiman of the Arizona Republic runs though a whole bunch more names:
[2010 AZ-03 candidate] Steve Moak, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce, Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio and former Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda• CA-30: The "-erman vs. -erman" Democratic primary in the newly-drawn 30th is shaping up to be a fascinating case study in whether money and endorsements can triumph in the end over geography. Brad Sherman has three advantages here: (1) the war is being fought on his turf (he represents 58% of the new district, while Howard Berman represents 20% of it); (2) he has a cash-on-hand edge, at least for now; and (3) he has a lead in the polls, including 42-17 (with 26 for GOPer Mark Reed in the top 2 primary) in his own internal and 34-14 (with 30 for Reed) in a weird poll from IVN. On the other hand, Berman has been outraising Sherman many times over, boasts the backing of most of the state's House delegation and other prominent politicos, and has a lot of labor endorsements. And now the final category includes one of the biggest prizes: This week, Berman got the endorsement of AFSCME. (David Jarman)
• FL-07: There were pretty fragmentary for much of Wednesday, but later in the day, Roll Call's Joshua Miller reported that a source confirmed to him that GOP Rep. John Mica plans to seek re-election in the proposed new 7th CD, which would set him up for an incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary battle against freshman Sandy Adams. The new Florida map still hasn't passed the state Senate yet (let alone been signed into law), but it's already proving to be a rather thorny tangle. Once we have final lines, we will, as usual, sort it all out.
• IL-16: We've got ourselves a tasty Republican-on-Republican battle in Illinois, in the new 16th, which links up some of the most distant exurban reaches of the Chicago area. Rep. Don Manzullo, who's held the old 16th for almost two decades, is in a pitched battle with much younger freshman Adam Kinzinger, whose 11th got nuked from under him and opted for a difficult primary in a safe R district instead of a difficult general election in a Dem-leaning district. And now Kinzinger is out with a poll (from Wilson Research, on behalf of pro-Kinzinger Super PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability) showing the two men tied at 43 each, ahead of the fast-approaching (!) March 20 primary. They both have high approvals, so it's looking like a question of seniority vs. up-and-comer-ness.
And here's one more thought about this duel, not just in light of this poll but also the Illinois Tea Party's endorsement of Manzullo earlier this week. Kinzinger has turned out to be a lot more moderate than one would have thought—I don't know if the insurgent thing was a convenient act for herding tea partiers, or if he decided to tack left once he started to see his redistricting fate. He currently has a Progressive Punch score of 8.8, putting him at 236 overall in the House and in the second decile among House Republicans for liberalness. Manzullo's at 307, almost dead-center in the GOP caucus. (David Jarman)
• MI-14: A big endorsement for Rep. Gary Peters as he pursues re-election against fellow Rep. Hansen Clarke (and a couple of other local elected officials) in the Democratic primary: SEIU's Michigan State Council just gave him their backing. I also like the fact that the press release quotes an SEIU official as saying they know Peters "will continue to provide a strong voice for the 99% in the halls of Congress." In any event, this adds to Peters' pile of union endorsements, which are helpfully all listed out at the link.
• MN-08: Lost amidst the hubbub of Mitt Romney's stunning loss in Minnesota on Tuesday was the fact that there were DFL caucuses that night, too. The fates of Barack Obama and Amy Klobuchar certainly didn't hang in the balance, so the biggest prize was the Dem primary in the 8th, where they need to pick a new Dem for the first time since 1974 (seeing as how Jim Oberstar lost unexpectedly to GOPer Chip Cravaack in 2010, who's now considered very vulnerable). If you're thinking that ex-state Sen. (and more memorably, '10 MN-06 loser) Tarryl Clark's fundraising advantages in this race would translate into a good caucus showing, though, that didn't happen.
Instead, geography seemed to carry the day, as Iron Rangers dominated. Long-ago ex-Rep. Rick Nolan won the straw poll, getting 1,088 votes to 642 for Duluth city councilor Jeff Anderson and "about 200" for Clark (who instead hails from St. Cloud at the district's south end). The district-level DFL endorsement (a much bigger deal in Minnesota than in most states) comes May 5, though Clark and Anderson have suggested that if they don't get the endorsement (as now seems likely) they'll keep fighting on to the primary. (And one other thought about the MN-08 caucuses. There's no new Minnesota congressional map yet, as we wait for the courts to do their work... so were they using the old lines? Strange to have candidates picked, in part, by people who won't even be in the district come November.) (David Jarman)
• NC-11: Young Ethan Wingfield sure seems like he's earned the enmity of Politico's Dave Catanese. You'll recall that Wingfield tried to snow Catanese last week by acting as though he put up some gaudy early fundraising numbers. Turned out (as we suspected) that half of it was Wingfield's own money. Now Catanese is tossing some brickbats Wingfield's way, calling his plan to raffle off an iPod Nano to people who "like" his Facebook page "a bit tawdry." Catanese also passes along a bit of oppo from what I have to imagine is a rival Republican campaign, pointing out that Master Wingfield's fundraising report was even less impressive than it appears to be, since 70% of his haul came from family members (including his own $125K check). Let this be a lesson to you!
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Roll Call's Joshua Miller says that retiring Rep. Heath Shuler's chief-of-staff, Hayden Rogers, will seek his boss's seat, confirming Miller's reporting that Rogers was thinking about the race just a few days ago.
• NV-01: State Sen. Ruben Kihuen may be a rising star in the Nevada Democratic Party, but he's putting his ascent on hold for now. Though Kihuen was believed to be the favorite of Silver State power-broker-in-chief Harry Reid, he was facing a very uphill primary battle in the open 1st Congressional District against ex-Rep. Dina Titus, who is making a comeback bid after getting narrowly turfed in 2010. Back in November, Titus released an internal poll that showed her with a monstrous 77-11 lead over Kihuen, who never responded with one of his own. Titus also swamped Kihuen on the fundraising front last quarter, $220K to $88K. This race was a free shot for Kihuen, who was elected to his first four-year term in 2010; he pledged to remain in the Senate, where he won't have to go before voters again for another three years. As for Titus, she's now the overwhelming favorite to return to Capitol Hill in this very Dem-friendly district (and she also picked up Reid's endorsement, too).
• NY-12: Hmm. This is somewhat unexpected. We mentioned that New York City Councilman Erik Dilan could conceivably challenge Rep. Nydia Velazquez in the Democratic primary back in October, but Dilan never made any public statements to that effect and never seemed particularly interested. But now comes word that he's raising money for a federal campaign account, which sure makes it seem like he might want to take on Velazquez. There is, however, a whole lot of backstory here—and many reasons to believe that Dilan still isn't serious—which Colin Campbell ably explains.
• NY-22: Attorney Leslie Danks Burke, who is also chair of the Town of Ithaca Democrats, says she plans to run for the open 22nd Congressional District—but she also adds that she's willing to take on an incumbent if the seat is dismantled for parts, saying: "I am running for whatever district my house lands in." That could very well put her up against GOP freshman Richard Hanna, whose 24th CD entirely surrounds Ithaca, though of course anything is possible. Also of note is that Danks Burke says she's already raised $100K, even though her campaign has only been up and running for a week.
Former Ulster County Democratic Party Chairman Julian Schreibman is already in the race, and another Democrat, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, says he's thinking about it but is waiting on the outcome of redistricting.
• WATN?: Oh man, this is terribly sad news. Former Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore, who represented KS-03 until his retirement last cycle, just revealed that he has Alzheimer's disease. Moore is just 66 years old. He reiterated that his decision to step down in 2009 was not due to health reasons, but apparently his friends had been worried about his health for some time, and his decision not to seek re-election was a surprise. Regardless, we're very sobered by this announcement and, it goes without saying, we wish Moore the very best.
• NY Redistricting: This is just appalling beyond words. Read the blurb below, and check out the map:
I should also add that Sasha Chavkin and Michael Keller have much more on the new maps in their extended interactive feature focusing on a number of dastardly tactics, including the familiar cracking, but also what they call kidnapping, diluting, dividing, and decoying.
• PA Redistricting: Much to my surprise, a federal judge just ruled that Pennsylvania's legislative elections can proceed this year under the 2001 maps, even though those lines now have enormous population variances of some 30-40% that really undermine any notion of "one person, one vote." (You'll recall that the state supreme court ruled the new House and Senate plans violated the state constitution, so Pennsylvania is currently map-less.) I would think an appeal would be likely, though note that unlike a lot of similar litigation, this case was heard by a single federal judge, not a three-judge panel. That means appeals would go to the Third Circuit, rather than directly to the SCOTUS.