• ME-Sen: Well ugh. Late on Monday evening, independent former Gov. Angus King, as expected, threw his hat into the Senate ring. This seriously screws up Democratic hopes of capturing Olympia Snowe's seat, given that King generally seems to have more appeal on the left than the right. He endorsed both John Kerry and Barack Obama, for instance... and he also endorsed the most likely Democratic nominee in the Senate race, Rep. Chellie Pingree, when she ran for re-election last cycle.
This isn't to say Pingree can't win should she get in—quite the contrary. In a tease of a poll expected out on Tuesday, Public Policy Polling says that they show Pingree leading all Republicans "by a good margin," and they also suggest that this applies matchups which include King. But PPP nonetheless calls King "competitive," and though he hasn't held office in a decade, he still has an incredibly impressive 62-44 favorability rating. PPP's numbers also confirm that King draws more Democratic votes than Republican votes; in a nightmare scenario, he and Pingree would split the left-hand side of the electorate and allow a Republican to win—something that happened in Maine's 2010 gubernatorial race.
Of course, if King pledges to caucus with Democrats and winds up winning, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. And it may even turn out that Pingree will now decide not to run—her response to King's announcement was only to say that she'll "continue thinking very carefully" about the race. It's possible that the fix is in, and that power-brokers are encouraging Pingree to stand down in exchange for a promise from King to organize with the Dems in the Senate. The filing deadline is in just ten days, though, so we'll know soon one way or the other.
P.S. The state's other prominent independent, attorney and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, says he won't run, but predictably, he's throwing his support to King.
• MA-Sen, OH-Sen, VA-Sen, NC-Gov: A ton of new polling just got blasted out over the weekend—far too much to cram into the digest. Fortunately, David Jarman wraps it all up in one handy post, looking at three new Senate polls (in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia), and one gubernatorial survey (of the Democratic primary in North Carolina).
• WI-Sen: This is pretty funny. In his final act as George W. Bush's Secretary of Health and Human Services, ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson granted a waiver to then-Gov. Mitt Romney that allowed him to establish the universal healthcare program in the state of Massachusetts now known as Romneycare—aka the forerunner to Obamacare, aka that government program which makes veins pop out on the necks of conservatives like few other things.
• NJ-Gov: Newark Star-Ledger reported Jarrett Renshaw takes a very comprehensive look at the field of Democrats who might challenge Gov. Chris Christie next year. The eight names he looks at: state Sen. Richard Codey, state Sen. Barbara Buono, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, EPA chief Lisa Jackson, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Rep. Frank Pallone, and state Democratic Party chair John Wisniewski.
• AZ-09: There aren't very many female Air Force pilots, either retired or on active duty, so it seems a bit remarkable that a second one is now running for Congress in Arizona, Wendy Rogers. (A couple of districts over, Martha McSally is seeking the GOP nomination in the AZ-08 special election.) Rogers joins three other Republicans in the race: Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda, Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley, and Arizona Air National Guardsman Travis Grantham.
• CA-21: It's about a week old, but this is still an interesting link. The Fresno Bee's John Ellis reports that former state Sen. Dean Florez, the "please save us!" candidate many Democrats have long been hoping would enter the race for the open 21st CD, recently met with former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to discuss the contest. Bustamante, you'll recall, began expressing interest in running here late last month, and in the wake of this meeting, he said he's "coordinating" with Florez. Ellis takes this all to mean that Florez won't make a bid and that it's "all about Bustamante and whether he's in or out." We'll know very soon, though, since California's filing deadline is on Friday.
• CO-05: Robert Blaha, the wealthy businessman trying to challenge Rep. Doug Lamborn from the right (no mean feat!) in the Republican primary, is already on the air with TV and radio ads introducing himself to voters. In fact, according to Kurtis Lee at the Denver Post, he spent $75K last month and plans to spend the same this month as well. Colorado's primary isn't until June 26, so if Blaha keeps ramping up, he should have some pretty good name rec by the time election day rolls around.
• FL-06: This is a little old, but a fourth Republican has jumped into the race for this red-leaning open seat along Florida's northeastern coast, Jacksonville City Councilman Richard Clark. He joins state Rep. Frank Costello, former steakhouse CEO Craig Miller, and attorney Ron DeSantis.
• FL-19: Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall, one of a large group of Republicans vying to replace Rep. Connie Mack, is dropping out of the race. You can keep tabs on the rest of the field with our handy Florida cheat sheet.
• IL-10: There's nothing newsy in this piece, but it's a pretty good compare-and-contrast profile of all four Democrats seeking the nomination to run against GOP freshman Bob Dold in the 10th District.
• MD-06: Bill Clinton is endorsing financier John Delaney in the Democratic primary, and at this point, you don't even have to guess why—you just automatically know that Delaney must have been a big supporter of Hillary Clinton's. Indeed, according to the Washington Post, Delaney raised over $800,000 for HRC's presidential run. Meanwhile, Delaney's opponent for the nomination, state Sen. Rob Garagiola, picked up the support of the Sierra Club.
• ME-01: While we're waiting on Chellie Pingree to make up her mind, there's still some motion elsewhere in the ocean. Peter Chandler, the chief-of-staff to Dem Rep. Mike Michaud, is apparently looking at running in the 1st CD; though Michaud of course represents ME-02, Chandler lives in ME-01. Meanwhile, though Pingree still hasn't formally announced a run for Senate, she took the time to say that she thinks her daughter, former state House Speaker Hannah Pingree, is "very seriously thinking about" running to replace her in the House—should she make the jump, of course. (Otherwise, we'd have a really weird Francis H. Powers vs. Francis M. Powers situation on our hands.)
• MI-03: This off-the-radar race went from "nowhere" to "huh, that might be interesting" to "okay, we've scored a really good get" in almost no time flat. Ex-state Rep. and former judge Steve Pestka announced on Monday that he'd take on dystopian freshman GOPer Justin Amash in the 3rd CD, less than a week after we first learned he was considering the race. Though Pestka hasn't served in office for some time, he's well-connected, has a good profile for this red-leaning district, and may, from what I understand, be wealthy. Pestka will first face Trevor Thomas, a gay rights activist and former staffer for ex-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, in the Democratic primary. Apparently in anticipation of Pestka's entry, Thomas rolled out endorsements Granholm and former LG John Cherry, though given that he used to work for her, would have been somewhat surprising had she not offered Thomas her backing.
• NC-08: Physician John Whitley is up with his first ad of the election season, which I believe may also make him the first candidate to take to the airwaves in the Republican primary (which is on May 8). In the spot, he touts his credentials as a "conservative" and a "Christian," and his support for "repeal[ing] Obamacare" and "traditional marriage values." A spokesman says via email: "It’s a full Fox News and News 14 buy on every cable system in the 8th district. It’s about a $35,000 buy over the next two weeks."
• NJ-05: This is freaking ridiculous. Just a day before he was set to announce, political commentator and former Frank Lautenberg chief-of-staff Jim McQueeny pulled the plug on his candidacy. Democrats had seemed pretty excited about him entering the race, and at least one actual candidate, Passaic County Freeholder Terry Duffy, was ready to defer to McQueeny in the event he joined the contest. But after all that, McQueeny cited "professional responsibilities" as his reason for declining—though of course I've gotta ask, did he forget about these professional responsibilities when he started telling everyone he would run? Argh, whatever.
In any event, that leaves Duffy, Teaneck deputy mayor Adam Gussen, and 30-year-old Marine Corps. vet Jason Castle (who just joined the race) still vying for the Democratic nod to take on GOP Rep. Scott Garrett.
• NV-02: It looks like Republican Mark Amodei, who won the GOP nomination in last year's special election via a disputed party committee selection process rather than a primary, won't face a primary this year either. The two most likely challengers, former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle and Navy veteran Kirk Lippold, don't sound eager to take him on. Angle says only that "I’m keeping my options open" and will decide "in the near future." Lippold is even further from making a bid, saying "I don’t intend to run," but that if Amodei runs into any ethical or legal troubles, "I reserve the right to change my mind."
• NY-13: Ah, sweet vindication. Local Republicans went semi-nuts with both glee and anger late last week when ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner reached out to the media to say that he informed the FBI back in 2010 that a local rabbi, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, complained to him that Republican Mike Grimm, then running for Congress on Staten Island, was extorting contributions from his congregants. (This is another angle to the major story about the same congregation the New York Times broke back in January.) Indeed, ex-Rep. Guy Molinari even bellowed that Weiner was a "pervert and proven liar"... but the only problem is that the FBI has confirmed Weiner's version of events—and then some!
Indeed, the AP managed to get a source to confirm that not only did Weiner bring these allegations to them, but that the feds are also "gathering information and considering whether or not to open a formal investigation into fundraising for Grimm by Pinto's followers and associates." Of course, don't forget that Grimm himself is a former FBI agent, which makes this prospect even more delicious.
• NY-21: Republican banker Bob Dieterich says he plans to run against third-term Dem Rep. Paul Tonko in whatever becomes of the 21st Congressional District, but this isn't an auspicious sign for his nascent campaign. Even though he's staging a formal announcement on Wednesday, an item in the Daily Gazette of Schenectady reports: "Dieterich wasn’t immediately available for comment."
• OH-09: Ohio's congressional primaries are on Tuesday, and the race between Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich has now reached maximal hostility, so I thought this was a pretty good observation by a local strategist:
In one Kaptur radio ad that Kucinich’s campaign has called despicable and dishonest, she hits her rival for praising Jimmy Dimora, a former county commissioner now on trial in Ohio for racketeering. Kucinich’s campaign pointed out that he routinely honors constituents from his district — hundreds per year — by entering their names in the congressional record.The Cleveland Plain-Dealer points out that the ad (which you can listen to at the link) targets a resolution honoring Dimora for his birthday over a decade ago, years before he faced criminal charges, so yeah, it does seem like a rather extreme attack. In any event, Kaptur has the geographic advantage in this race, and observers (myself included) have generally figured her to be favorite. But one thing we haven't seen is a single poll here, so perhaps the contest is more up-for-grabs than we've imagined.
"You have to ask yourself whether this race is a lot closer than anybody thinks, or whether Kaptur’s people smell blood and understand that she could put him away," said Bill Burges, a Cleveland political consultant.
Burges pointed out that Kaptur must have data to back her decision to use such an odd line of attack against a politician with such obvious vulnerabilities; Kucinich is one of the most liberal members of the House, and has faced criticism for focusing too much on his national profile.
Apart from this Dimora spot, there've been a flurry of last-minute ads from both sides. Kucinich finally seems to have gone on TV with this positive ad touting his work on behalf of "the people," while Kaptur has an ad featuring a World War II veteran praising her efforts to support vets. Kaptur also has another radio ad comparing Kucinich to Art Modell and LeBron James, two famous Clevelanders who bailed on the state—something Kaptur says Kucinich is still contemplating, given his recent refusal to rule out a second run for Congress this year in Washington state should he lose on Tuesday.
P.S. We will, of course, be liveblogging the Ohio primaries tonight, as well as all of the other Super Tuesday contests, so please join us when polls close on Tuesday evening.
• PA-12: It looks like Rep. Jason Altmire has survived the legal challenge to his petitions by fellow Rep. Mark Critz—for now. A quickie post in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says that following a court ruling, Altmire is now just 150 over the 1,000-signature mark he needed to stay on the ballot, though you've gotta check out Altmire's wildly over-the-top language in his press release. Sample: "Mark Critz has lowered himself to tactics usually reserved for elections to high school prom king." I didn't realize that in Pennsylvania, "prom king" was usually decided at the appellate court level. Meanwhile, Critz's camp tells PoliticsPA that they're "currently exploring" their "legal options" (i.e., the possibility of an appeal).
• TX-27: This seems like an incredibly tough row to hoe: Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald is stepping down from the bench to consider a possible run for Congress in the redrawn 27th. McDonald is a Democrat, though, and the redrawn 27th plummeted from a district Barack Obama won by 53-46 in 2008 to one he lost by a huge 40-59 margin, so a Dem win here would be nothing short of stunning. If anything, I'd expect some action on the GOP side, given how fluky freshman Blake Farenthold's win was in 2010, plus the fact that he only represents about half of the constituents of the revised 27th. That kind of situation makes you think that some more established Republican office-holders might like to try making TX-27 their new home.
• WA-06: We've got our first entrant in the race to replace Norm Dicks, who retired on Friday after 36 years in the House. And it's not surprise, but rather the guy who immediately got tagged "frontrunner" before the ink was dry on the Dicks announcement: state Sen. Derek Kilmer. Kilmer, 38, in his second term in Kitsap Co.'s swingy LD-26, knows how to win tough races; he was re-elected pretty easily in 2010 at the same time as several other Dem freshmen in the Seattle 'burbs were losing much friendlier seats.
Kilmer may not have the race to himself: The Olympian got three other Dems on the record about it over the weekend, though they all sound ambivalent. DINO-ish state Sen. Tim Sheldon says he'll "leave the door open," Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland said it's "something I will take into consideration," and retiring state Auditor Brian Sonntag said it's "certainly worth taking a look at." Two Democrats did decline, though: Pierce Co. Prosecutor Mark Lindquist took to Facebook to say he won't make a bid, and state Sen. Christine Rolfes from Bainbridge Island also said she wouldn't run.
As for Republicans, state Rep. Jan Angel (the only GOP state legislator anywhere in WA-06) said she "hasn't yet had time to think about" it, while both of the credible GOPers running in WA-10, Dick Muri and Stan Flemming (neither of whom live in WA-06 in any event), said they're staying in the 10th. (David Jarman)
• Arkansas & Nebraska (PDF): Filing deadlines in Arkansas and Nebraska passed on March 1, and you can find complete candidate lists for each state at the respective links. You'll also want to check out the Race Tracker Wiki, which not only lists actual candidates but everyone who considered and declined as well.
• WA Redistricting: Jeffmd has crunched the numbers, and now we have 2008 presidential election results and gubernatorial results (from the Chris Gregoire-Dino Rossi race) for Washington's new congressional districts. Below are all the numbers in handy table form: