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8:26 AM PT: CA-21: Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong, whose name surfaced as a potential Democratic replacement candidate last month in the wake of state Sen. Michael Rubio's departure from the race, has decided to run for the open 21st Congressional District. Xiong isn't alone in seeking his party's nomination, though: Businessman John Hernandez also entered the contest a few weeks ago. But it's a free shot for Xiong, whose city council seat isn't up for re-election until 2014. The winner of the Democratic primary (well, technically, it's a top-two primary, but one D and one R are very likely to advance) will face Republican Assemblyman David Valadao in November.

8:32 AM PT: FL-Gov: Former state CFO Alex Sink, the 2010 gubernatorial who lost to Republican Rick Scott by just 1%, definitely sounds interested in a rematch in a new interview. This quote of hers stood out to me:

"Some days I wake up and I think, 'Why couldn't I find those extra 60,000 votes?'" Sink says. "And with a great sense of regret that we didn't get the Democratic turnout, particularly in South Florida. It was very low. But then the next day, I wake up and say, 'How in the hell did I come so close?'"
Me too, Alex, me too!

8:34 AM PT: PA Redistricting: A fresh set of Pennsylvania legislative maps (remember, the last batch was struck down by the state supreme court) are reportedly due out on Wednesday afternoon. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission is meeting at 1pm, so presumably we'll see something around then.

8:45 AM PT: FL-22: Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel has scored a couple of congressional endorsements in her bid for the Democratic nomination, from freshman Frederica Wilson and, quite surprisingly, from veteran Alcee Hastings. Frankel and Hastings ran against each other in an extremely nasty primary for what was then the newly-created 23rd Congressional District in 1992. Frankel led with a plurality after the first round of voting, but Florida employed a runoff system at the time, and Hastings pulled off a victory in the second round. Anthony Man of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reminds us of this little tidbit from the race:

Hastings, who is black, told a Palm Beach Post reporter, speaking about Frankel that "the bitch is racist." The Associated Press reported he later said his comment may have been "intemperate."
It seems that twenty years has been enough time to heal these wounds.

9:30 AM PT: AZ-04: Here's one little detail from the whole Paul Babeu saga that hasn't gotten much attention, but which my fellow blogger-in-arms James L took note of. The Phoenix New Times article which broke the whole story included this passage about Jose, Babeu's former lover:

Jose admits that he lashed out on news websites featuring stories about Babeu. He says he commented anonymously that the sheriff was not who people thought he was. He says he once wrote a comment on Chino Valley eNews that Babeu had an account on, where gay men arrange sexual liaisons.
The comment in question was posted back in January, long before the New Times piece exploded on to the scene. When the comment appeared, though, eNews followed up on the story with Babeu's campaign, and this is what they were told:
However, in that Phoenix New Times article, there is mention of a comment that was left on one of the eNewsAZ networked websites. When that comment, dated January 7, 2012, was posted, it was immediately deleted by the eNewsAZ editorial staff due to the nature of the content.

At the time, we asked Chris DeRose, Babeu's campaign manager, about the comment, and he responded that Babeu had a sister with a mental illness who was posting comments like this on various websites. We had already deleted the comment, so we pursued it no further.

Did you catch that? Babeu, in trying to hide his relationship with Jose, tried to blame these comments on his mentally ill sister. What a guy.

10:16 AM PT: IN-Sen: GOP Sen. Dick Lugar is out with what is apparently the first negative ad of his career... and does anyone else find it weird and confusing? It starts off with a clip from a positive ad, then (borrowing a page from Rick Santorum's recent Michigan ad), then features the screen getting pelted with mud, while the announcer declares in faux disbelief, "Mud? Really?" At least in Santorum's spot, the mud never hit its target—I find it very strange that Lugar would actually get pelted in his own ad. Thing is, if you're going to complain about "mud" ("really"), you kind of lose whatever high ground you think you've achieved if, in the next instant, you start slinging attacks yourself, which is exactly where this spot goes next. I can't say I find any of the particular hits on Lugar's Republican primary opponent, Treasurer Richard Mourdock, very compelling, though, so the whole thing feels like a waste to me. But judge for yourself:

The most important thing to take note of here, though, is not the ad's content but the fact that Lugar's running it at all. Polling has been scarce in Indiana, thanks to local officials threating to prosecute any robopollsters under state laws of dubious constitutionality, but what little we've seen suggests Lugar is in for a serious fight. The fact that he's going negative only confirms that.

Lugar's also been flailing badly on the issue of his residency—if you've been following this story, you know that he hasn't lived in Indiana since 1977 and is still registered to vote at a home he sold 35 years ago. Lugar's had no choice but to double down, insisting that he had to give up the house for financial reasons and that the state AG's office has given approval to his arrangement. But reporters are asking questions that are becoming even more amusingly awkward, like how does Lugar renew his license if the registration forms are getting sent to the wrong address, year after year? (Lugar says he visits the DMV in person. I guess some poor schnook keeps getting his mail.)

Buried at the end of the article is a note that the Indiana Election Commission is meeting this week to consider Lugar's residency situation, but don't expect anything but a whitewash on that front, since it's a partisan, pro-Republican board. But no matter how rubbery their stamp, the issue isn't going away any time soon.

10:20 AM PT: MN Redistricting: Get your engines ready! In less than an hour (at 2pm Eastern Time), the Minnesota Supreme Court will release new congressional and legislative maps. You'll be able to find them at this link, and Joe Bodell of MN Progressive Project promises "wall-to-wall coverage," so you'll want to check out his site as well.

10:35 AM PT: AZ-04: One more note on Paul Babeu. A number of news outlets have incorrectly reported that he's come out in favor of gay marriage. Not so. Read what he actually told Wolf Blitzer—he's done nothing of the sort:

BLITZER: Should gay men and women have the right to get married?

BABEU: And this is where I go Ron Paul on people, that in terms of the libertarian. I believe in less government at the federal level. They should get out of people's lives. Unless it's an enumerated power in the Constitution, it falls to the states. This is where it falls to the states. And we have—we had Washington, we have had a number of other states, Massachusetts and now we have...

BLITZER: Maryland.

BABEU: Maryland. And they have all made decisions. Arizona has made a decision. That's the law of the land. I enforce the law.

I can tell you my—my personal beliefs and my political beliefs is I believe in freedom of religion. And there are faiths and religions that our government shouldn't get involved in that absolutely do not condone gay marriage.

The government shouldn't tell those faiths and those religions that they have to. At the same time, I don't believe they should tell other faiths that they can't. And this is where our government needs to get the heck out of the way.

And if it's not harming somebody else, then what does it matter?

And you can't legislate love.

Ah yes, Babeu takes his cues from noted gay rights activist Ron Paul. Anyhow, in this incoherent mish-mash of a response, Babeu quite simply refused to answer Blitzer's very direct question of whether same-sex couples should "have the right to get married," employing the old dodge that "it's up to the states." Indeed, Babeu says that as a law enforcement official, he'd uphold Arizona's decision to ban gay marriage. So no, he's not pro-gay marriage—not at all.

10:56 AM PT: FL-22: For an entire year, Democrats Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy never laid a glove on each other (at least in public), preferring to concentrate their fire on Tea Party exemplar Allen West. But Murphy and West are out of the picture now: West abandoned the 22nd for the 18th, one seat to the north, and Murphy chased after him. That led Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs to jump into the Democratic primary, and she immediately went negative during her campaign kick-off on Monday afternoon, saying it would be "insanity" to elect a "divisive insider" and "pay-to-play Tallahassee politician" like Frankel, whom she snarled has "gotten what she wanted by fear and intimidation." Sheesh! Frankel refused to take the bait, but Jacobs doesn't seem to understand that if you start attacking your opponent for being "divisive," well, you're the one who winds up looking divisive!

I was also particularly unimpressed with Jacobs' answer when asked why she didn't get into the race when West was still running here. (It's in this video, at about the 2:40 mark.) Said Jacobs: "When [West] was running for election, I had just gotten sworn into my office and it  wasn't something I was considering at that time. I had just gotten into my last term in office." Nonsense. Jacobs was unopposed in 2010, both in the primary and the general. She literally won by default when the filing deadline closed—which was in April, half a year before West even won his first term in Congress! She had all the time in the world to gear up for a run. The fact is that she was unwilling to take a major risk in challenging West, when Frankel and Murphy both had the guts to do so.

11:11 AM PT: MN Redistricting: Minnesota's new congressional and legislative maps are out. Here's the new congressional plan:

MN congressional map
(click for larger)
At the link, you'll also find PDFs for a close up of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, and a comparison of the old lines with the new lines, plus a many other informational data files. We'll bring you our initial analysis shortly.

12:11 PM PT: As promised, here's our review of the new Minnesota congressional map, courtesy of David Jarman. Also included in the post is our usual redistribution analysis, which shows you just how "least change" this plan really is.

12:12 PM PT: WATN?: So perfect:

Former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who is working with NFIB on a campaign to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses, said the poll showed the public thought that not only were there too many government regulations, but that new rules were coming too swiftly as well.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Lincoln told The Hill. “There is no doubt that people do negatively react in large numbers to 4,200 new regulations in the pipeline.”

12:16 PM PT: WATN?: Well, whaddya know. A little while back, some eagle-eyed John Ensign watchers noted that the disgraced former senator had renewed his license to practice veterinary medicine... and indeed, that's exactly what Ensign is doing these days, working for the man he sold his old clinic to years ago.

12:41 PM PT: FL Redistricting: Remember that insidious bit of legislation we learned about last week which would have given Florida lawmakers and their staffs complete immunity from testifying on redistricting matters? Well, good news: the bill is dead. I guess public pressure still can play a role in even the smokiest back rooms, since leadership in the Senate backed away from the proposal even though they'd helped draft it, leading to the House to do the same thing.

12:51 PM PT: PA-18: Keegan Gibson at PoliticsPA has the goods on an internal poll that Rep. Tim Murphy is touting from Public Opinion Strategies. It's a month old, but Murphy has only just now published it, which makes me wonder if he's a bit more worried than his massive 74-12 lead over former congressional staffer Evan Feinberg would seemingly warrant. Feinberg is a young conservative darling who has attracted endorsements from all over the wingnutosphere (including, just recently, one from his old boss, Sen. Tom Coburn), but more importantly, the Club for Growth has taken an interest in sacking Murphy. The CfG has aired a few ads but hasn't spent a lot yet, though, so Feinberg, who's raised just $50K so far, will need them to step up their pace if he hopes to stage an upset.

1:00 PM PT: NC-Gov: State Rep. Bill Faison, who's suffered from poor poll numbers and some recent family drama exploding into the press, is nevertheless forging ahead. He's going up with the first TV ad of the Democratic primary (currently a three-way affair between himself, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, and ex-Rep. Bob Etheridge), a biographical spot in which he also focuses on jobs. As per usual, there's no word on the size of the buy, though the News & Observer reminds us that Faison recently loaned his campaign half a million bucks.

1:03 PM PT: Polltopia (ZIP file): It's a treasure trove for researchers that I'm sure is unmatched in the world of modern polling: We've assembled all the raw data for every single Daily Kos/SEIU poll conducted in 2011 into a single file. That's 46 polls, including questionnaires (we take major holidays off) in a nifty 623 KB package. No one else releases information this granular, so if you've ever wanted to take a deep, deep dive into raw polling data, this is your chance.

1:14 PM PT: MN Redistricting: Found some more goodies for the congressional and legislative plans. I believe under the "Download Files" drop-downs, you can find files that are uploadable into DRA.

1:22 PM PT: FL-22: Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom, who had considered a run in the 22nd after Allen West left this seat open, has decided against a bid. Instead, he's endorsing fellow Democrat and county commissioner Kristin Jacobs.

1:24 PM PT: NY-13: Man, GOP Rep. Mike Grimm is pretty delusional, though his claim that the New York Times is out to get him fits in perfectly in the paranoid Republican worldview:

"I hit the trifecta for the New York Times," Grimm said. "I'm a conservative Republican. I'm an outspoken Catholic and, at the end of the day, one of the things that they also despise are people that are pro-Israel. I'm all three. For them, it's the perfect hat-trick."

1:38 PM PT: NY Redistricting: There are some new developments on the Cuomo Kremlinology front, and Politicker's Colin Campbell is on top of them. I've been pretty convinced that Dem Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose redistricting-related veto threats always sounded pretty incoherent to me, won't actually follow through—and an interview he did late last week with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle made it seem pretty plain that he was indeed planning to go back on his word:

He said the lines must be more fair — “less hyper political” than they are now — the State Legislature must commit to passing a constitutional amendment, and a law must be passed to reform the system, in case a constitutional amendment, which requires passage over two years, is never passed.

“I think that is the optimum you could have,” he said.

So basically Cuomo would accept some slightly tweaked maps in exchange for reforming the process a decade from now. Pathetic. (I think it also explains some of the bizarre lines on the GOP's state Senate map: I think Republicans overmandered and presented a needlessly ugly plan in parts so that they could then clean it up a bit at no cost to themselves but allow the governor to call it "less hyper political.")

But Colin points out that on Tuesday, an unnamed Cuomo aide told the Daily News that the governor is "not backing off his position" and, in the News' phrasing, "still stands ready to veto" the legislative maps. That actually doesn't mean very much, though, because this anonymous staffer is talking about the existing maps, not potentially revised plans. What's more, if Cuomo really meant it, he could say so himself, or at least have an aide go on the record, rather than peddle this on-background b.s. So I'd definitely still expect a cave.

1:45 PM PT: AZ-Sen: Public Policy Polling is out with a new survey of the Arizona Senate race, and the results are, unfortunately, a lot less rosy for Democrats than the last time they went into the field. GOP Rep. Jeff Flake leads both Dems, Richard Carmona and Don Bivens, by identical 46-35 margins—which is weird, because in November, there was a considerable gap between Carmona and Bivens: Carmona trailed by just 40-36, while Bivens was much further back, at 43-32. We'll have a detailed post looking at these new numbers on Wednesday.

1:48 PM PT: NJ-05: Bummer if true: Bergen County Democratic chair Lou Stellato says that former New York Giants hall-of-fame linebacker Harry Carson, who had been considering a run against GOP Rep. Scott Garrett, will not enter the race.

2:07 PM PT: CA-Sen: Dem Sen. Barbara Boxer is jumping into the –erman fray on behalf of Rep. Howard Berman—in response, she says, to Rep. Brad Sherman's mailer which tries to connect Berman to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people. You can view the flyer here, which blames utility company PG&E for the deaths and points out that Berman has received $10,000 from the corporation's super PAC. Given the blowback, though, it seems like Sherman may wind up taking the bigger hit from this move.

2:16 PM PT: NE-Sen: Another sketchy Citizens United/Wenzel Strategies poll, this time of the GOP Senate primary in Nebraska. CU has endorsed AG Jon Bruning, whom they find at 48%, with Treasurer Don Stenberg at 19 and state Sen. Deb Fischer at 10. Other polling has tended to show a tighter race, and Wenzel's track record is sketchball, so you've been warned.

2:56 PM PT: NY-13: Gotta love this excuse from Mike Grimm, a former FBI agent, about all the shady characters he's worked with over the years:

“With the nature of the work that I did, I met a lot of people that have gone to jail or are presently in jail.”
Or to paraphrase: Of course my friends and business partners are criminals! Who else do I know?

3:33 PM PT: FL-16: Hot cat fud, comin' through! Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Don Manzullo are both going up on the air with dueling ads, which you can watch at the link. Both try to attack each other on spending, with each touting their conservative credentials. Kinzinger's spot, in which he talks directly to the camera, is filled mostly with platitudes (and cheesy, quasi-martial music), though he does specifically call out Manzullo by name for supporting "failed programs like Obama's cash for clunkers." Manzullo's ad is a bit more traditional, with a voiceover announcer ominously declaring that Kinzinger voted to spend $209 billion more than Manzullo. While I'd like to see these two beat on each other all year long, sadly, the primary is just a month away—but at least that means the next few weeks should be pretty hardcore, since for Manzullo at least, everything is on the line. (Kinzinger is only 33 and could live to fight another day even if he loses.)

3:44 PM PT: Passings: Former Indiana Rep. Katie Hall died on Monday, and though her tenure in Congress was very brief, that's precisely why I mention her. Hall, a Democrat, won a special election in 1982 to replace Rep. Adam Benjamin after he died, but lost narrowly in the first primary she faced in 1984 to Rep. Pete Visclosky, who still serves in the 1st District today. Hall subsequently held other local offices but was unsuccessful in two later attempts to challenge Visclosky. She was later indicted on charges of racketeering and mail fraud, to which she pled guilty but avoided jail time.

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