• Ohio Primaries: Last night, Ohio held the first-in-the-nation non-presidential primaries, and one House race saw a major upset. In OH-02, Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt, who first won office in a 2005 special election and has always had a rocky road to re-nomination, was knocked off by surgeon and Iraq war vet Brad Wenstrup, 49-43. Wenstrup was outraised by Schmidt but ran a vigorous campaign and also ran up the margins in turf that was new to the incumbent (thanks to redistricting) in Hamilton County. Wenstrup will have an easy time winning in the general election in this dark red district in November.
Another incumbent also lost in the Democratic primary in OH-09, but that was going to happen no matter what, since the race pitted two sitting members of Congress against each other: Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur. As expected, Kucinich drew the short straw, losing 56-40. While Kaptur always had the geographic edge (she represented more of the new 9th than Kucinich did), Kucinich made what looks like a serious tactical blunder late in the game, dissing the city of Toledo in a radio ad. That helped Kaptur run up a truly comical 94-4 margin in Lucas County, home of Toledo (which is also Kaptur's home turf). Of course, Kucinich hasn't ruled out moving to another state (such as Washington) and running for Congress again this year—hey, the filing deadlines haven't passed in most places yet! So, rather improbably, this may not be the last we've heard of him.
Finally, in OH-03, a new heavily Democratic open seat created by GOP map-makers to ensure surrounding districts would remain safely Republican, former state House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty won something of an upset over former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, 38-35. The winner here will almost certainly go on to victory in the fall. Worth noting: Public Policy Polling conducted an internal poll for Beatty just a couple of weeks ago, which had Kilroy up 35-34 but indicated that Beatty had the momentum. Pretty accurate results for a tough-to-poll, low-turnout primary in a brand-new district.
• IN-Sen: How would you like some lead in your cat fud? The NRA is endorsing Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who for a year has been challenging incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar from the right in the Republican primary. Let's see, though, if the NRA actually puts any money behind Mourdock, or if they're all clip and no ammo.
• ME-Sen: As promised, we've got our full writeup of PPP's poll of the Maine Senate race, which shows indie ex-Gov. Angus King leading a three-way race against Chellie Pingree and Charlie Summers. That's just one of many, many matchups PPP tested, so click the link for our complete take on all the results.
Not much will be clear, though, until we know whether or not Pingree is running, and now she says she's waiting on the results of a different poll—one conducted by the DSCC, which was slated to be completed on Tuesday night. Pingree adds that she still might not decide "for a few days" (in the words of the Portland Press-Herald), and in a non-encouraging sign, calls a three-way race "really tricky."
Why am I discouraged? Well, speaking of the DSCC, the organization's chair, Sen. Patty Murray, "did not rule out the possibility that the DSCC could back" King on Tuesday, despite the fact that King is an independent and not a Democrat. And King has busy emphasizing just that. Check out this nonsense:
King said he could envision himself caucusing with either party, depending on the issues at the time, or neither party at times.That's just simply not how it works. You can only get assigned to committees if you caucus with a particular party, and if you aren't on any committees, then there's nothing for you to do in Congress except write back to constituents' emails and hang around waiting for the occasional roll call vote. A senator who refuses to join a caucus would be a joke of a senator, and what's more, the Senate isn't some kind of parliament. You don't just get to randomly switch sides as it suits you.
You know, Charlie Crist tried this ridiculousness last cycle, saying he'd "caucus with the people of Florida." He was roundly mocked for attempting to have it both ways, and in the end, it got him nowhere. King may be able to coast on his personal popularity all the way to election day, but he's going to have to answer this question eventually. And the fact that he won't do so now ought to make Democrats very wary.
Indeed, I'm starting to feel like King's nascent campaign is quickly turning into a weird joke that I'm just not getting. In a new interview with the Portland Press-Herald, he says "I have no intention of being a spoiler," and adds that he'd drop out if he didn't think he could win. When, exactly, would that decision take place? What's his timetable here? What metrics would he use? What level of certainty would he require? What...ever.
King also reiterated his refusal to declare which party he'd caucus with, saying "If I announce now, I would be giving up a lot on what I have said I would sell down there." As my colleague David Jarman says: "Cue up the scenario next January of 50 GOP Senators, 49 Dem Senators, Joe Biden holding the gavel, and then King falling off the turnip truck like he's Jimmy Stewart." Only I don't think King will have much luck working the humble Mr. Smith routine, seeing as he's already offering to sell himself to the highest bidder.
And I find this public display of King's inferiority complex to showcase exactly the kind of defensive crouch that so often makes Democrats look so weak and contemptible. So why is King engaged in this kind of shtick?
The Dartmouth College graduate and Bowdoin College lecturer also took umbrage at criticisms that he is an “elitist,” volunteering that he came from an unassuming family in which his grandparents quit schooling after the eighth grade.What an absurd, fearful posture. Ya know, if you know enough to include "brie" in a litany of things that have supposedly elitist connotations, then you know what fucking brie cheese is, no matter what anti-intellectual airs you put on. If you have to go to such lengths to convince people you're a just a reg'lar guy, then you're probably not. So yeah, I'd really like it if Chellie Pingree got in and won this thing.
“I don’t drink wine, I don’t know what brie is, I bowl every Thursday night and my idea of fun is to go RVing,” he said. “If that’s an elitist, this country is in trouble.”
• UT-Sen: The right-wing American Action Network is running a "low-six figure" ad buy (good for 800 points) on behalf of Sen. Orrin Hatch, but what's interesting about the spot is that it's a negative attack on Hatch's main opponent for the GOP nomination, state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. Hatch, long regarded as a conservative apostate, began the cycle looking quite vulnerable but seemed to shore himself up over the course of the last year. So does the AAN (or Hatch, or the NRSC) have some polling we haven't seen showing Hatch is weaker than he's let on? Anyhow, you can watch the ad here or below.
• NC-Gov: The conservative Civitas Institute is out with a new survey of the general election in North Carolina's gubernatorial race, conducted by pollster National Research. They find Republican Pat McCrory leading all three matchups they tested: 46-32 over Bob Etheridge, 49-30 over Walter Dalton, and 48-27 over Bill Faison.
• AZ-04: I guess this won't help the story go away: Jose Orozco is apparently suing his former lover, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, claiming $1 mil in damages for as-yet-unspecified wrongs. Babeu, as you know, is a Republican running for Congress in the 4th CD and allegedly threatened Orozco with deportation for refusing to stay silent about their relationship.
• CA-21: So after all that, former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante won't run for Congress in the open 21st District. That leaves businessman John Hernandez as the only Democrat in the race, though Fresno councilman Blong Xiong seems poised to enter. (At least some press reports a little while back said Xiong had joined the race, but more recent accounts put him back at the "considering" phase.) I guess there's also a dim chance that former state Sen. Dean Florez could still get in, but that seems very unlikely. We'll know for sure on Friday, the filing deadline.
• FL-07: It's another one of those rare internal polls released by a campaign that's down double digits. Freshman GOPer Sandy Adams, who has to deal with veteran Rep. John Mica trying to bogart her district, put out a survey from Public Opinion Strategies showing her trailing in the Republican primary, 46-30. (The sample size was just 300.) Obviously the memo included some "if the stars align perfectly" numbers that have Adams leading, but I wouldn't take a lot of solace from a poll like this if I were her.
• IL-02: Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who of course used to serve in the House himself, just endorsed his former colleague, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Jackson is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson, whom Emanuel never overlapped with in Congress, since he resigned in 2009 to become Barack Obama's first chief-of-staff just before Halvorson took office.
• IL-10: Businessman Brad Schneider is the second Democrat to go up on TV in the Democratic primary, following on the heels of activist Ilya Sheyman. In his spot, he goes after the "Tea Party and Republicans like Bob Dold," and says he'll "fight for a woman's right to choose" and will "protect Social Security and Medicare." The production values are, well, a bit unusual, though, featuring nothing but a series of still photos. Kind of reminds me of those ancient filmstrips we'd watch in class back in the `80s. Anyhow, you can watch the ad yourself here or below:
• IL-16: GOP Rep. Don Manzullo is out with yet another ad attacking his primary opponent, fellow Rep. Adam Kinzinger, for being insufficiently conservative. One data point the spot relies on are the National Journal's new congressional rankings, which purport to empirically classify members based on how "conservative" or "liberal" they are; Kinzinger managed only a 58% "conservative" score, while the woman he replaced, Dem Rep. Debbie Halvorson, managed a 48%. (Manzullo was at 74%.) You can watch at the link or below:
• MI-14: Dem Rep. Gary Peters keeps on picking up union support: Three more—branches of the Machinists, Steelworkers, and Utility Workers—all just gave him their backing, bringing his total list of labor endorsements to 14.
• NC-09: Retiring GOP Rep. Sue Myrick just gave her backing to Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph to succeed her. Pendergraph would be out-of-place in Lake Wobegon, though, seeing as Myrick called him "an average guy" in her endorsement. (Strong statement!) Meanwhile, NC-10 Rep. Patrick McHenry endorsed a different Republican for Myrick's seat, state Sen. Robert Pittenger, with whom he once served in the legislature. (McHenry also currently represents a small chunk of the redrawn 9th so he may have a little name rec there.)
• NJ-10: Veteran Democratic Rep. Donald Payne died on Tuesday, after a battle with colon cancer. Payne revealed that he'd been diagnosed with cancer just last month; over the weekend, he was reported to be gravely ill. Payne, who was first elected to Congress in 1988, was 77 years old. Our condolences go out to Payne's family.
• PA-12: On Monday, as we noted, a judge turned back Dem Rep. Mark Critz's challenge to the signatures fellow Rep. Jason Altmire submitted to get on the ballot. The ruling (which you can read at the link) hinged on whether one petition-gatherer who recently graduated college was actually a resident of the 12th District (where her parents live), or the 14th (where she rents a home). The judge chose to credit her claim that she maintained her residency with her parents and intends to return there when her lease is up, thus making the signatures she collected valid. Color me skeptical of this story (it sounds like a classic case of a college grad moving out but occasionally returning home for a meal), but given that the decision turned on a witness's credibility, it'll probably be difficult to overturn on appeal. Still, no word yet on what Critz plans to do.
• TX-35: Not that there was really any doubt about where he'd run, but the Texas Democratic Party confirms that Rep. Lloyd Doggett has filed to seek re-election in the new 35th District.
• Voter Suppression: Good news on the voter suppression front: A local judge just granted a temporary injunction against Wisconsin's new voter ID law, saying plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their suit seeking to strike down the law. The state (i.e., Republicans) says it's likely to appeal.
• WATN?: What do you do after you raise and spend $1.5 million to score just 19% in a Democratic congressional primary where you ran to the right of the incumbent? Why, you parlay that into a bid for citywide office, of course! Reshma Saujani, a former hedge fund attorney who got creamed by NY-14's Carolyn Maloney in 2010, recently quit her job at the Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio's office, apparently as a prelude to running for her boss's job. (DeBlasio is widely expected to run for mayor next year.)
• FL Redistricting: Just FYI, the Florida Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling, mandated by the new Fair Districts amendments, on the validity of the state's new legislative maps by the end of the week.
• NY Redistricting: That was fast! The special master charged with drawing a new congressional map for New York State just a couple of weeks ago released draft plans on Tuesday. You can find PDFs of close-up versions for each region of the state and detailed maps of each individual district. The full map is below:
Meanwhile, even though the maps are not final, several folks have already announced their plans in response to the new lines:
• NY-06: Rep. Gary Ackerman, as expected, says he'll seek re-election in the proposed 6th CD, which contains more of his current constituents than any other new seat. (He currently serves the old 5th.) But not a whole lot—just 38%—which means he'd be vulnerable to a challenge in the Democratic primary. And that's exactly what he might get from Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who had been eager to challenge GOPer Bob Turner in the old 9th but is now closely eyeing the redrawn 6th. (Turner's district was utterly shattered, so it's not like Lancman could go against him even if he wanted to, unless Turner decides to make a suicide run.)
• NY-18: Wappingers Falls mayor Matt Alexander says he'll continue with his plans to challenge freshman GOPer Nan Hayworth in the district that's the clear successor to the old 19th. He'll likely face physician Richard Becker in the Democratic primary, since Becker previously said he'd keep running against Hayworth pretty much no matter what happened in redistricting.
• NY-19: Freshman Republican Chris Gibson finally has a Democratic opponent: attorney and former prosecutor Julian Schreibman, who had previously expressed interest in running in Maurice Hinchey's old 22nd CD before it was dismantled. However, Schreibman's hometown of Kingston wound up in the new 19th, the successor to the 20th. It's good to see that Gibson's presence didn't scare him off.
• NY-21: After moping around for a year and raising no money, could two-time loser Doug Hoffman finally motivate and run for Congress? Hoffman said on Monday that he wouldn't make another bid if he wound up in Gibson's district, but that he'd consider a third run if he wound up in Democrat Bill Owens' seat. (That's the guy who beat him twice last cycle.) And indeed, it looks like that's what happened: Hoffman's current hometown of Lake Placid has been placed into the redrawn 21st, which is the successor to Owens' current 23rd CD. Hoffman claims he'd run on both the Republican and Conservative Party lines, but given that he twice split the vote running on a third-party ticket and, more importantly, given that local Conservatives are now much more enamored of Matt Doheny, I doubt he's going to get that chance. It would be great, though, if Hoffman wound up with the GOP nomination but Doheny scored the Conservative nod.