• WA-06: The dust is starting to settle from veteran Dem Rep. Norm Dicks' surprising retirement announcement on Friday morning, and the Great Mentioner has now kicked into full effect. The name seemingly at the top of everyone's mind is, as I predicted, state Sen. Derek Kilmer, designated the frontrunner by both Roll Call and local wags PubliCola. RC's Kyle Trygstad even got Kilmer on the record; he says he's "seriously considering."
Other Democratic names culled from these articles include Kilmer's fellow state Sens. Jim Hargrove and Christine Rolfes, Kitsap Co. Commissioner Josh Brown, state Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, and Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland. Indicative of the relative strengths of the benches in this light-blue, 57% Obama district: No Republican names seem to have surfaced, leaving IT consultant Jesse Young as the only GOPer on the table.
• ME-Sen, ME-02, ME-01: The Democratic side of the brand-new Maine Senate race already looks pretty set, even though neither of the big-name contenders, Rep. Chellie Pingree and ex-Gov. John Baldacci, have formally declared their intention to run. (Both are gathering signatures to get on the ballot, though.) The Republican field, though, has been in a state of flux, with a flurry of announcements late last week. Here's where things stand:
The biggest name, ex-Sen. and ex-SecDef William Cohen, confirmed he won't run, though he was probably always a pipe dream to begin with for the GOP. Neither will 2002 Gov. nominee and ex-Ambassador Peter Cianchette (who initially seemed the likeliest best, and who might have had Paul LePage's backing had he run), nor will former Susan Collins CoS and 2010 Gov. primary loser Steve Abbott. And finally, state Sen. president Kevin Raye will keep his bid in ME-02 against Mike Michaud going, rather than heading for the Senate race.
But four big-name Republicans did finally take out papers from the Secretary of State's office to begin the process of getting on the ballot: state AG Bill Schneider, SoS Charlie Summers, Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, and long-ago Maine Senate President Rick Bennett. Assistant State Senate Majority Leader Debra Plowman also says she's considering the race, since her previous plan of running in ME-02 is out (with Raye staying put). One other possible name, on the "fairly obscure but probably rich" side: Georgette Mosbacher, the former wife of Bush 41's Commerce Sec., Bob Mosbacher.
There's also the 600 lb. independent lurking in the corner: popular former Gov. Angus King, who said on Friday that he'd decide whether to run "in the next 48 hours" (according to the Lewiston Sun Journal). We've been running Twitter searches on King all weekend to stay on top of any potential announcement, but most of the tweets we've seen are Burger King-related. (I guess they have an angus burger on the menu.) In any event, a King entry would seriously up-end the race, but despite his self-imposed timetable, he actually has until June to make up his mind, thanks to Maine's generous ballot access deadlines for independents.
The musical chairs are also continuing downballot in ME-01, which Pingree is expected to vacate. State Senate Minority Leader Barry Hobbins has pulled papers to run in the Democratic primary, and Westbrook city councilor Brendan Rielly also says he'll make a bid. They join a large and growing field of hopefuls which, like everything else in Maine politics, keeps changing by the day. (David Jarman, James L & David Nir)
• NE-Sen: Well, Bob Kerrey got quite the welcome to the Nebraska Senate race from the local Republicans, on just his third day in the race. The GOP is already talking about challenging Kerrey's residency, though it doesn't seem as though there's any hope they'll prevail legally; rather, it looks more like a ploy to keep Kerrey's long sojourn in New York City in the news. (Kerry's in the process of buying property in the state and initially listed his sister's residence when he changed his voter registration before switching to a friend's guest house... but there's no constitutional requirement that he live in Nebraska for any specific period of time before filing.)
And AG Jon Bruning, the likeliest GOP nominee, is already out with an attack ad, using the plainly obvious "New York liberal" line of attack. The buy is for $70K (which seems small, but goes a lot further in Nebraska than, well, in New York). You can watch it at the link or below:
• UT-Sen: I'm not sure too many Senate candidates would be enthused to have Mitt Romney cut a radio spot on their behalf, but Utah's a special case. Orrin Hatch is probably glad to have Romney record an ad for him, aimed at rousting Republicans for local caucuses. (Delegates for the state convention will be picked at the caucuses, and thanks to Utah's weird nominating process, Hatch's fate could be determined there before even facing GOP primary voters.)
• MD-Gov: Never too early to get a jump on the 2014 Governor's race in Maryland, which will be open after Martin O'Malley's second term ends. This hasn't been an even remotely hospitable state for Republicans in recent years, but "moderate" (or at least non-labor-hostile) Harford Co. Exec David Craig has started to lay public groundwork for a run in two years.
• IA-02: Rep. David Loebsack may be getting a credible primary challenge this year, seeing as state Sen. Joe Seng says he's "considering" a bid. While Seng sounds like he'd carve out a niche to Loebsack's right (he says he's a moderate "upset at the lack of bipartisan action" and is anti-abortion), it looks like Seng's real base that he'd rely on would be regional. He's from Davenport, and the Quad Cities are a recent addition to the 2nd (formerly in Bruce Braley's 1st district), so Loebsack is new to them too.
• IN-05: It's hard to imagine a primary in the 5th without Dan Burton (and without a bunch of other clowns in the car), but that's what we've got. Now, though, the retiring Republican has given his blessing to one of his many would-be successors: Marion mayor Wayne Sebold. Ex-Rep. David McIntosh, ex-Marion Co. coroner (and narrow '10 primary loser) John McGoff, and former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks are the main GOP opposition.
• NJ-10: 77-year old Democratic Rep. Donald Payne, who's held this Newark-area seat for decades, is reportedly "gravely ill," with reports that he has cancer and that his condition has "greatly deteriorated" in the last few days. We wish him and his family the best. (Payne had been planning on running for re-election, though he faces a likely primary challenge from Newark city councilor Ron Rice.)
• NY-10: Lots of people have tried to dislodge Brooklyn's immovable object—long-time Rep. Ed Towns—and failed. But state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries may have a better shot at winning the Dem primary than those who've come before him, as he's getting some key union backing, something which usually has gone to Towns before or else stayed on the sidelines. Friday he rolled out district-level backing from the Communication Workers of America; he's already scored UFCW and Machinists support as well.
• NY-25: It's not every day when you see a local GOP county chair advise the local U.S. Rep. that maybe she should find a different district to run in, but that's what Onondoga Co. party chair Tom Dadey has suggested to freshman Ann Marie Buerkle. Buerkle was going to have a very hard time winning even under the old lines—it's a Dem-leaning district, and ex-Rep. Dan Maffei, whom Buerkle barely defeated with 2010's wave in full effect, is seeking a rematch. What's more, both of the dueling plans submitted to the court in redistricting litigation by Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature would make her district even more Democratic (though as we've noted, these proposals have no legal force).
In any event, Dadey is suggesting Buerkle move over to the Dem Bill Owens's 23rd, where nobody would know her (maybe a good thing, considering how out of step she is with the district; she's by far the most conservative member of New York's delegation). The only advantage there is that the 23rd is a few points less Democratic, though 2010 nominee Matt Doheny has been running an aggressive campaign and has raised a lot, so he likely wouldn't want to step aside. (For what it's worth, Buerkle is already haranguing the court that will be charged with the final redistricting decision, saying the legislature-proposed maps are politically motivated. What maps aren't?)
• NY-26: Remember David Bellavia, the tea-partier and co-founder of astroturfers Vets for Freedom, who tried to get picked for the GOP nomination in the NY-26 special election... then considered an independent run after he wasn't picked, and finally threw his backing behind Crazy Jack Davis's own indie run that helped get Dem Kathy Hochul elected in this red-leaning district? Well, maybe he's sensing that the tea party's moment has passed, because now Bellavia's decided to ingratiate himself with the GOP again, saying he's "strongly leaning" toward a run in the Republican primary. Local officials sound pretty skeptical, as the Orleans Co. chair says (with some understatement) that Bellavia "burned some bridges" with the party.
• PA-12: Not a surprise, since he's from Johnstown and has deep roots at that end of the district: Mark Critz got the unanimous endorsement of the Cambria Co. Dems over Jason Altmire in their member-on-member redistricting-forced primary. (Correspondingly, Altmire has been getting all the endorsements in the western half of the district, his old turf.)
• RI-01: Cumberland mayor Dan McKee had been a rumored primary challenger to Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who finds himself vulnerable, at least on paper, both in a primary and the general despite the 1st District's very blue hue. (That's thanks to stories of Cicilline's alleged financial mismanagement as Providence mayor, which mostly emerged after the 2010 election.) McKee ruled out a bid on Friday, though, leaving conservaDem businessman Anthony Gemma the only major Democrat who still seems to be gearing up for a bid against Cicilline.
• TX-23: Democratic state Rep. Pete Gallego staked out his ground in the 23rd, rolling out a list of 140 endorsements, including former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros and a variety of state legislators. That's important because he's our best shot to take out GOP freshman Rep. Quico Canseco in what's really the only swing district left in Texas in the wake of the new court-drawn interim map. Gallego still faces lawyer John Bustamante (son of long-ago ex-Rep. Albert Bustamante) in the primary, this show of force was mostly oriented toward someone else: Dem ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, who lost the 23rd in 2010 and is looking for someplace to run. (Ciro could seek out the open 20th, though state Sen. Joaquin Castro has laid a claim to that seat, or possibly the Austin-dominated 35th, but Rep. Lloyd Doggett seems poised to run there.)
• MD-Init: Maryland, as you probably know, became the eighth state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, with Gov. Martin O'Malley signing the legislation on Thursday. Much like Washington—which also enacted marriage equality through legislative action earlier this year—it looks like there will also be a "people's veto" referendum putting the matter on the November ballot, as opponents are organizing a signature drive to do just that.
• AL & MS Fundraising: Congressional primaries are happening in Alabama and Mississippi on March 13, so Thursday night was the deadline for filing of pre-primary fundraising reports with the FEC, covering the period between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22:
• AL-05 (R): Parker Griffith Can Lose! (...but he'll raise a good amount of scratch doing it!) Griffith outraised the man who defeated him two years ago, incumbent Mo Brooks, $175K to $128K. Brooks has a solid cash-on-hand advantage though, $392K to $27K. Perhaps this is what Griffith gets for entering the race so late. Or just for sucking.(jeffmd & David Nir)
• AL-06 (R): Insider-trading posterboy Spencer Bachus is being challenged by state Sen. Scott Beason, who, like Griffith, also joined the party late. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bachus has a massive fundraising advantage here, having raised $303K to Beason's $54K. Bachus' CoH advantage is even greater, $646K to $17K.
• MS-02 (D): Former Greenville mayor Heather McTeer is challenging incumbent Bennie Thompson, but her FEC filings wouldn't have you know that—at least, as of Thursday, when reports were due. McTeer filed two days late, which isn't exactly the sign of a well-organized campaign. Another sign of weakness: she raised just $8K. Thompson only raised $48K, but he has a massive, almost comical cash edge: $1.6 mil to $33K.
• North Carolina: I seriously have no idea who most of these people are, but if you have the patience, PPP has GOP primary numbers for the many, many statewide offices that are up for grabs in November. (In case you're wondering about the higher-profile stuff, at the presidential level, it's Rick Santorum 31, Mitt Romney 25, and Newt Gingrich 23, while Pat McCrory is at 57% in the NC-Gov primary vs. a bunch of no-names, none of whom top 3%.)
• Polltopia: You might see less polling of New Hampshire in this cycle, thanks to the chilling effect of a new enforcement action by the state's Attorney General, intended to limit the use of true "push polling" but throwing such a wide net that it could snare any poll that includes information about a candidate's "character, status, or political stance or record." Republican pollster OnMessage has already settled with the state for alleged violations, and the American Association of Political Consultants is warning its other members about polling the Granite State.
• WATN?: A lot of people have been eager for Steve Novick to run for something again, and now it looks like he finally will: Portland city council. (Novick, if you've forgotten, was the 2008 Democratic Senate opponent to Jeff Merkley, in one of those rarest of beasts: a mostly-positive battle between two solid progressives and all-around good guys.)
• Wisconsin: PPP is out with its usual grab bag of state lege numbers, approvals, and sports miscellany, this time for the Badger State. Voters would prefer a return to a Dem-controlled state Senate by a 48-41 margin, which bodes well for the upcoming second wave of recalls. Herb Kohl leaves office very popular at 54/28, while Ron Johnson remains a cipher, 36/35.