• ME-Sen, ME-02, ME-01: Hel-lo! After an absolutely frenzied couple of days filled with endless maneuvering and speculation, Dem Rep. Mike Michaud has announced that, in the end, he's decided not to run for Senate. This means two things for sure: (1) Michaud's fellow Rep. Chellie Pingree is now the undisputed front-runner for the Democratic nomination (even though she hasn't formally said she's running yet), though ex-Gov. John Baldacci seems quite interested as well; (2) all those hopefuls who started gathering signatures for a run in Michaud's 2nd Congressional District are now out-of-luck, especially former SoS Matt Dunlap, who previously was running for Senate.
The one open question is whether state Senate President Kevin Raye, a Republican who had been looking at the Senate contest, will opt for that race, or whether he'll stick with his plans to challenge Michaud for the House seat. In other words, will Raye become Pingree's problem, or will he remain Michaud's? I'm sure we'll find out soon.
As for the GOP side of the Senate field, things have been slower to develop. In fact, not a single candidate had, as of Thursday, taken out papers from the Secretary of State's office to begin signature gathering. (One GOP strategist tried to explain away , saying: "Republicans are more thoughtful in our policies and our politics." That made me LOL.) Roll Call's Abby Livingston, though, has what's probably the most up-to-date list of legitimate contenders who are weighing the race. One of them, incidentally, is state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin... but does he really want to run with headlines like this? The lede kind of says it all:
The Maine House of Representatives unanimously passed an order Thursday requesting the state’s highest court to issue an opinion on whether Treasurer Bruce Poliquin has violated the state constitution by engaging in commerce while in office.Livingston's story also brings us up to speed on the status of Eliot Cutler, the independent who nearly won 2010's gubernatorial race, and whose presence in the Senate race could scramble the calculus. (All we had to go on previously was a year-old report that he wasn't interested in running in a hypothetical Senate race against Olympia Snowe.) A former Cutler aide says his old boss is "considering" but remains "undecided," though he adds that Cutler probably wouldn't run if ex-Gov. Angus King does. King is the state's other prominent indie, who said went on record to say that he's "actively considering."
Finally, as for ME-01 (which looks likely to be vacated by Chellie Pingree), the Portland Press-Herald has what they say is a complete list of all candidates who have taken out papers so far. (David Nir & David Jarman)
• MA-Sen: It's just what the doctor ordered for Scott Brown, if the surgeon was Dr. Nick and the operating theater filled with the kind of people who think stuffing magnets in their socks will cure whatever ails them. After several months of watching his Democratic opponent, consumer advocate and law professor Elizabeth Warren, soar in the polls, Brown finally got a respite a couple of weeks ago in the form of a new survey from Suffolk University, showing him up 49-40. It smelled very outlierish to everyone, though, even Republicans, so it didn't do much to stem the growing narrative of Brown in trouble.
Now two more polls have surfaced which also have Brown in the lead... but again, each of them has definite problems. One, which has Brown ahead 49-44, is from Rasmussen Reports, a pollster whose reputation has been so thoroughly chewed over and spat out that I don't think I need to spend any more time vivisecting them here. The other is a private poll from Republican pollster Opinion Dynamics, which used to conducting polling for Fox News. This survey was taken for Mass Insight, a self-described "market-driven solutions" think tank, and it has Brown on top 52-43. Aside from the poll's questionable provenance, it was also in the field a full month ago but has only "leaked" out now. It's also unclear what kind of poll this horserace question was part of—for instance, it may have been a throw-in on a larger poll of non-political topics.
You may be tempted to call this special pleading, an attempt to wave away three bad polls in a row for Elizabeth Warren. If you know me, you know that's not my style, but if you're nevertheless inclined to think along those lines, just ask yourself if you truly believe Scott Brown has something like a nine-point lead in this race. I think that's a hard conclusion to come to, even in the face of "evidence" such as this. But I'm going to suggest we all wait until another pollster, one whose credibility is above reproach, comes back with fresh numbers. If they look like these, then I'll gladly eat crow and do a re-think. But my instincts are telling me it's likely they won't.
• MO-Sen: Mediocre fundraising by the two non-self-funding Republican candidates in the Missouri Senate race may have something to do with insiders standing back and asking "is that all there is?" But one key in-state Republican player has finally gotten off the fence, and thrown his support behind ex-state Treasurer Sarah Steelman: state house speaker Steve Tilley. (Dave Catanese says that Tilley is, after Roy Blunt, the state's best Republican fundraiser, so this may help Steelman—who raised all of $83K in Q4, bad even for a House race—show some signs of financial life.) (David Jarman)
• MN-Sen: Minnesota Republicans have landed a new candidate in the race to unseat the extremely popular Amy Klobuchar: Army National Guard Capt. Pete Hegseth, whom The Hill's Cameron Joseph describes as an "upgrade" over the current field. Now, given the state of that field, that really isn't saying much, but Joseph points out that Hegseth "has a national fundraising network from his time running Vets for Freedom, a hawkish foreign policy advocacy group." Still, I can't see Hegseth attracting the support he'd need from the NRSC in order to unseat Klobuchar; national Republicans simply have too many higher priorities.
• NJ-Sen: I'm really not sure what's up with the sudden deluge of polls we're seeing in the New Jersey Senate race, though I've gotta guess it's just happenstance. But regardless, SurveyUSA is now out with the third survey in a week of this rather sleepy race, following on the heels of Rutgers-Eagleton and Quinnipiac. Though the margins have all differed from poll to poll, SUSA also shows Dem Sen. Bob Menendez with a sizable lead over state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, 46-31. They also find him beating former Highlands mayor Anna Little 38-49, though Little's status in the race still seems ambiguous. She's had an "Anna Little for Senate" website up for a while now, but recent news reports say she's still in the "considering" phase.
• NJ-Gov, NJ-Sen: It's starting look like Newark mayor Cory Booker, who has had the "up-and-comer" label affixed to him practically since birth, might have nowhere left for his star to actually rise. Dem Sen. Frank Lautenberg, despite his 88 years of age, sounds like he'll run for yet another term in 2014, and Booker doesn't seem interested in a primary challenge. Booker also doesn't appear to be eager to run next year against Republican Gov. Chris Christie, whom he's long been allied with. So what's left? Well, it may be a third term as mayor, when he's next up in two more years.
• UT-Gov, UT-Sen: This might have some indication of how the relative positions of strength of Gov. Gary Herbert and Sen. Orrin Hatch have changed over the cycle. At the outset, Hatch was considered very vulnerable to a primary challenge, while Herbert was kind of an afterthought... but at this point, Hatch seems to have weathered the worst of the storm (having dodged a Jason Chaffetz challenge) while Herbert's woes have grown. And now, Hatch apparently feels he has enough political capital to extend an endorsement to Herbert... but Herbert hasn't responded in kind, declining to endorse Hatch. (David Jarman)
• AR-01: Prosecutor Scott Ellington entered the Democratic field in the 1st Congressional District at the filing deadline, joining state Rep. Clark Hall and Arkansas State econ prof. Gary Latanich for the right to take on freshman GOPer Rick Crawford. Ellington achieved some notability over the last couple of years because he was responsible for the unusual plea deal which set the West Memphis Three free. (If you're unfamiliar with this complex and long-running case, you'll want to check out Wikipedia's entry.)
• AR-02: Well, with Thursday's filing deadline now passed, it seems Democrats won't get their man in AR-02. Former state Rep. Jay Martin, who had looked like a likely candidate, says he won't challenge freshman GOPer Tim Griffin, and state party chair Will Bond won't run either. (I'm guessing ex-LG Bill Halter also won't make a last-second bid.) Instead, kind-of-awesomely-named former state Rep. Herb Rule will run... and in this case, let me emphasize "former." Rule, an attorney with the Rose Law Firm (where Hillary Clinton once worked), last served in the legislature in 1970.
• FL-13: A second Democrat is entering the race to take on longtime (long, long, longtime) GOP Rep. Bill Young: Former Pinellas School Board member Nina Hayden says she'll run, joining attorney and former congressional aide Jessica Ehrlich.
• IA-03: Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell, who faces a redistricting-created member-on-member battle against Tom Latham, has been Crossroads' favorite punching bag so far, and they're back with another hit. The cheaply-animated, Obamacare-centered ad—$77K worth of time in both the Des Moines and Omaha markets—is their third one of the cycle (bringing the Rove-linked super PAC's spending so far here to $373K). (David Jarman)
• IL-10: Though pre-primary FEC reports aren't due in Illinois for another week, the books have already closed on the most recent fundraising period, which ran from Jan. 1 through Feb. 29. Democrat Ilya Sheyman is therefore touting his haul, which he says was over $200K, making this his best fundraising report so far, despite the shortened timeframe.
• MI-03: We mentioned former state Rep. Steve Pestka's possible challenge to GOP freshman Justin Amash just a day earlier; now, unknown Democrats (the DCCC, perhaps?) have leaked a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll conducted a couple of weeks ago to Dave Catanese to try to tempt Pestka into the race. The initial ballot has Amash up 50-39, but of course subsequent informed tests are more positive for Pestka.
• NC-06: It's very much a longshot, but we've got an actual former legislator running here now: Democrat Tony Foriest, who served two terms in the state Senate before losing in 2010, is running in the 6th Congressional District, a seat currently held by GOP Rep. Howard Coble. But Coble, as we've noted, is vulnerable to a primary challenge, so this race could wind up being more interesting than meets the eye.
Speaking of Coble's primary, one non-Some Dude candidate seems to have screwed up his efforts to get on the ballot. Forsyth County Republican Party chair Nathan Tabor showed up just moments too late to submit his paperwork by Wednesday's noon deadline. (Tabor says he'll appeal.) Still, Coble may yet get saved by the clown car effect, since there are two seemingly plausible guys in the race against him even without Tabor: former radio announcer Bill Flynn and Guilford County Commissioner Billy Yow.
• OH-09: So Bob Dole, Tom Hanks, and John Dingell walk into a bar together and say... "I'm supporting Marcy Kaptur over Dennis Kucinich?!?" Not a very funny punch line, I suppose, but there's some logic behind their joint endorsement: the three of them worked together with Kaptur on the creation of the World War II monument on the Capitol Mall. Dole and Hanks don't seem to have put any money behind the backing, but Dingell is Kaptur's neighbor (across the Ohio/Michigan state line) and could probably lend some field staff for GOTV. (David Jarman)
• North Carolina: The Tarheel State's candidate filing deadline was on Wednesday, and you can find a complete list of filings at the link.
• Texas: With maps in the Lone Star State seemingly settled (I guess the plaintiffs are figuring an appeal to the SCOTUS would be pointless?), the candidate filing period will reopen on Friday and continue through March 9. The primary will now be held on May 29 and any runoffs on July 31.
• NY Redistricting: For some reason, the court's docket sheet isn't listing all the maps that were submitted on Wednesday, but you can find additional maps in this directory, including those from the Assembly and Senate.
• TX Redistricting: In case you missed it, David Jarman put together a comprehensive analysis of the new Texas interim congressional map, focusing on the districts which were changed the most (or which look like they might some day become promising for Democrats). The bottom line, though, as we've been saying, is that this map is pretty terrible for Team Blue: It yields a net of two Dem seats and 2 GOP seats, but it also weakens another seat that should lean Dem, and ultimately gives minorities—who are responsible for the bulk of Texas's population growth—no more seats than they had before. How this is acceptable, I cannot understand. In any event, in addition to our run-down, you'll also find our patented population redistribution chart at the link.